Blood is thicker than Water... But Oil is more valuable than Blood...

I used to be a supporter of Gordon Brown. I've been left-leaning in my political sensitivities for decades, and while I supported the "modernisation" of the Labour Party under the leadership of Blair, I was always deeply suspicious of his grinning spin. Whilst I appreciated that he claimed a Christian moral compass, I believed that it deviated because of his proximity to the bigger, brasher version used by George W. Bush.

I believed that in Brown, you still had a profound sense of Christian (Presbyterian) morality, leading to his interventions on global debt etc., but that it was more substantive and less about surface impressions... that is, that what you saw was what you got.

Sadly, over the past months I am more and more convinced that he's just the same as Blair (and Cameron), just not as good at the game.

Almost since he took over as PM he has been flailing around like a drowning man. Some of the circumstances, such as the global recession and the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, have been beyond the power of the PM to change quickly if at all, but there is no doubt that some earlier decisions made when he was chancellor eg. "light touch" regulation of banks, budgetary restraints on military, have made it more difficult for Britain to face these challenges. Some of his recent decisions have not seemed terribly assured either... the cut in VAT which seems to have had no real effect on spending, but has, and will cause extra work for shopkeepers and has depleted the treasury, and encouraging a relatively secure bank, Lloyds, to take on the basket case that is HBOS, forcing them into a financial crisis. Other PR disasters like the right to British residence of Gurkha veterans, the home-allowance chiccanery of ministers and the recent Al-Megrahi debacle have created a picture of complete and utter incompetence.

Now, as to the latter, unpopular though the decision is, the Scottish Government were the ones who made the decision, and seemed to do so entirely in keeping with Scottish law and precedent. Compassionate release is part and parcel of the British justice system, even if it is not part of the American system, and if the FBI director or the US administration is unhappy with that, then they should never have agreed to the process for Megrahi's trial and imprisonment in the first place. For American leaders to subsequently treat Scotland like some sort of pariah nation, urging the boycott of Scotch whisky and Pringle knitwear, because they have given succour to terrorists, is rich coming from a nation which for years was the main source of funding for the IRA and is still best buddies with Saudi Arabia, the real source of most funding for international Islamic terrorism. Everyone is entitled to their opinions about it, but no-one else had the difficult decision to make that Kenny MacAskill did. And he, nor Gordon Brown, are responsible for the all-too predictable behaviour of the Libyans on Megrahi's return to home soil.

However, I fully believe that whilst he was not directly responsible for the release of Megrahi, Brown's government clearly have been trying to clear the way for "normalisation of relations" with Libya, including the negotiation of lucrative oil deals. Megrahi being in jail was clearly inconvenient in this process, and his diagnosis with cancer, whilst unfortunate for him and his family, offered a fortuitous way out of this impasse.

Another inconvenience was the fact that Libya had been a supplier of arms to the IRA and whilst the US, with greater economic and military muscle negotiated a financial settlement whereby Libya compensated the victims of alleged Libyan terrorism (as well as the victims of the American bombing of Libya), Britain had neither the same clout nor will, and did not take up the case of those affected by Libyan-sourced IRA weapons... The calculation had clearly been made that oil was more valuable than people's lives (if I was being particularly cynical, I might suggest that the majority of those lives were worth even less because they were Northern Irish and don't vote for Gordon Brown and Labour). The pathetic recent U-turn, backflip or triple somersault with a 180 degree rotation, call it what you will, with Gordon Brown offering official "support" to those seeking compensation, is nothing more than another feeble attempt to regain lost ground in the pursuit of improved public opinion.

But it has always been thus in democratic society. In the public eye politicians will promise almost anything to gain popular support... otherwise they cannot gain or retain power to do what they want to really do, for good or ill. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, cold calculation occurs, including the assessment that oil is more valuable than blood. They will never say such callous things in public, but it's true... And every government makes such assessments. It was true in the 70's at the time of the first major oil crisis, when the magazine cover above was produced, illustrating the USA's foreign policy under Ford and Kissinger... It was true in the First Gulf War and the fabricated rationale for the subsequent toppling of Saddam... It is true in the US's continued support of the heinous Saudi regime. Indeed, with the increasing depletion of world oil reserves this equation will get more and more biased in favour of oil over blood... And, if we mess with our climate any more, then we may be asserting that blood may be thicker than water, but water (like oil) is more valuable...

And that is an equation that all our political leaders are likely to make, whether in the US or UK, England Scotland or Northern Ireland, new labour or old labour, conservative or even lib dem...
Although we may never find out with the latter as they are unlikely to ever be elected...


snauzer said…
Hi,You say that you thought Brown had a sense of (Pres) morality.
Can Pres's have a sense of morality when they follow a founder John Calvin the protestant pope,who had a physician burned to death without scriptural justification because he was an unbeliever?
A death recorded to have taken over 30 minutes because green wood was used
It is recorded that a cry from the flames was heard "Jesus, Son of
the eternal God have mercy on me" if he did it was abit late.
Jonny said…
I've been trying to gather some thoughts on all these issues recently but you've done it for me thanks!

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