The idea that Westminster is the “mother of all parliaments,” representing a democratic model for the world, is a cultivated myth, writes Mark Curtis.
On Tuesday in the British parliament, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry asked an urgent question relating to allegations that British troops have been covertly fighting in Yemen and supporting the Saudi-led coalition.
As reported in the Mail on Sunday, five British special forces troops from the elite Special Boat Service (SBS) were injured while “advising” Saudi Arabia on their deadly campaign in Yemen.
The commandos were injured in gun fights as part of a top-secret campaign, and other reports have claimed British troops have been killed in such battles. British soldiers from the Special Air Service (SAS) have reportedly been secretly deployed and operate “dressed in Arab clothing.”
Responding to Labour’s questions, Mark Field, a minister in the U.K.’s foreign office, said that he would seek to get to the bottom of these “very serious and well sourced” allegations.
The presence of British soldiers in Yemen, secretly fighting a war that has brought death, famine and destruction to millions of innocent civilians, raises an age-old question: why does British foreign policy in the Middle East support dictatorships, abuse human rights and prioritize Britain’s power status?
It’s tempting to say the reasons are simply geopolitics, oil and other commercial interests. But there is a deeper explanation: Britain, far from being a true democracy, is in reality an oligarchy that promotes the interests of a privileged domestic elite. The idea that Westminster is the “mother of all parliaments,” representing a democratic model for the world, is a cultivated myth.
An Elite Few
The U.K. has elections every five years, an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and association, and strong laws protecting the equality of all citizens and civil liberties. Yet real power rests in the…