Britain prides itself on being a liberal state, tolerant of diverse points of view with a judicial system based on law and evidence, but its recent behavior has been anything but that, reports Alexander Mercouris.
By Alexander Mercouris
Special to Consortium News
The British in their own self conception are the great pioneers of the rule of law and of human rights.
Nor has this view of Britain always been wrong. The British were genuinely horrified by the McCarthyite campaigns in the US in the 1950s, and British public opinion supported the civil rights movement in the US in the 1960s. The Britain I first saw in the 1960s was a genuinely tolerant, law abiding and liberal place.
The events of the last couple of weeks should however dispose of any notion that Britain really is the paradigm liberal state that it claims to be.
Political news in Britain over the last few weeks has been dominated by three concurrent scandals.
The Silence of the Skripals
The first—and the one which has attracted the most international attention—is the Skripal case, in which a father and daughter – Sergey and Yulia Skripal – became the subject of a massive international campaign after they were both found incapacitated on a public bench in the British provincial town of Salisbury, victims it is claimed of a deadly nerve agent attack.
The fact that Sergey and Yulia Skripal are Russians, that Sergey Skripal is a former Russian spy who defected to the British, and that the nerve agent used—supposedly A-234, one of the so-called ‘Novichok’ family of nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union in the later stages of the Cold War—immediately led to charges by the British government that the Russian authorities were responsible.
This is despite the fact that at the time when the first accusations against Russia were made the investigation of the attack on the Skripals by the British police had only just got underway, and as of the time of writing has still failed to produce a suspect.
The Russian authorities had…