We were told that Saddam Hussein was an enemy of mankind because he used torture. Now we witness the gruesome spectacle of President Bush endorsing torture by vetoing the Bill from Congress outlawing “waterboarding” and other equivalently barbaric forms of interrogation.This must be the first time in modern history that a head of state has openly and officially endorsed torture.
Alongside that, there is reason to believe that the U.S. continues with its secret “extraordinary rendition” flights to take suspects – remember that is all they are – to countries where they apply even more savage torture.
This is an American President who prides himself on his moral sense, a born again Christian who starts the day with prayers and has forsworn alcohol following a very boozy youth. The humbug makes one gasp.
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President Bush: Endorsing torture by vetoing the Bill from Congress
What does he say in his prayers? “Oh Lord, make me a decent human being, but not yet”?
So we have the free world, as we call it, the Western Alliance, the proclaimed centre of civilised values, led by a man endorsing methods applied by Hitler and Stalin. What do we do about it?
The British Government insists it is opposed to all torture and refuses the use of our air space for planes on rendition flights – a rule the CIA has not always obeyed. But our indignation stops there.
We continue to heap fulsome praise on the value of the Anglo-American special relationship which must never be upset.
The Foreign Office will say only that Washington knows our attitude to torture. There has been no protest about Bush’s latest move.
Just imagine what our Government would say if Russia, China or India were officially and openly to say they sanctioned torture. Our noisy indignation about human rights would know no bounds.
But in the American case, we do nothing. Perhaps that is part of the “Britishness” which even school children are now invited to celebrate.
The fact that it is considered “daring” for the BBC to make a series of programmes about the problems and fears of the white working class (i.e., the majority) tells you all you need to know about the BBC and much of what you need to know about Britain.
Richard Klein, the series commissioner, must have fought hard to get sanction for programmes about the mere majority.
The most daring programme so far (in media eyes) has been the sympathetic picture of Enoch Powell.
It conveyed his rage that the populace was never consulted about the drastic change being made in its composition and culture without so much as a by your-leave.
Politicians on both sides, furious about the “river of blood” speech in 1968, claimed then – and some still do – that Powell’s speech hindered reform.
It was so extreme, you see, that it made it difficult for us moderate men to do something about immigration, which we obviously had intended to do when the occasion was suitable, when the time was right, at the appropriate juncture, etc.
I promise you as God is my witness that what the two frontbenches wanted to do was nothing, nil, zero, rien and nicht. It was this conspiracy of silence and inertia which enraged Powell and much of the public.
It is understandable why he became hated by Labour figures like Roy Hattersley, interviewed on the programme. For it meant that he and his fellow socialists had been found out.
For all their supposed unique contact with the masses, and their beliefs that the proles would naturally trust Labour to be told what was right, here was an aroused and angry public indicating the opposite.
It undermined the very basis of many a Labour politician’s lifelong belief along with his faith in the universal brotherhood of man.
Powell was scarcely less hated by various Tory politicians because an election was looming and here was this bloody man turning everything upside down, enraging the opinion-forming elite and insisting that the party had jettisoned its responsibilities.
Interestingly enough, a middle-of-the-road Tory from that elite assured me the other day that immigration was not a problem, though he admitted “there are still some difficulties with the white working class”.
It is a remark worth treasuring. Framing, if not embalming.
Powell was always an uncomfortable man politically, his impassioned attack in 1959 on the official hushing-up of atrocities in Kenya’s Hola Camp for Mau Mau terrorists – Denis Healey describes it as the finest Parliamentary speech he ever heard – was a nuisance for the Macmillan Government.
Powell also deplored our nuclear deterrent: he wanted an end to our bases East of Suez and an end to posturing as a world policeman.
He saw the Soviet threat as greatly exaggerated and the Anglo-American alliance as a menace. Ted Heath’s prices and incomes policy was “madness”.
Enoch was my oldest friend in politics, and in later years he would regularly invite me to scrutinise his speeches in advance. I would sometimes comment that his remarks would upset many people. His usual reply was that they needed to be upset.