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Friday, December 15, 2006 

The death of Blair's essential values.

Lord Bell, described by the Guardian as an "arch-propagandist", who led the hysteria for the SFO investigation to be dropped.

December the 14th will go down in history as the day that the prime minister was questioned by police over the loans for peerages scandal, but the real outrage should be over two things: the shameless and overt attempts to overshadow the prime minister's questioning, and the decision to cancel the Serious Farce Office's investigation into corruption involving BAe Systems and Saudi Arabia's despotic monarchy.

The Grauniad reports that the Dear Leader hadn't informed other members of the cabinet that he was to be interviewed by Inspector Knacker yesterday, meaning that Alistair Darling, announcing the plans to close 2,500 post offices, and Douglas Alexander, publishing a report recommending new runways at Stanstead and Heathrow most likely had no inkling of how they were going to be pawns in Blair and 10 Downing Street's spin game. They had known for weeks that Lord Stevens was also going to be holding a press conference stating his findings from the inquiry into the death of Princess Diana. That meant that the tabloids were the following day bound to be heavily distracted in the least, and lo and behold, so it came to pass.

The broads and television news had to be additionally bought off, though. Enter stage left Lord Goldsmith, who decided to pick yesterday afternoon to inform the House of Lords that he was dropping the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into allegations that BAe Systems was running a slush fund through which notable Saudis were getting such perks such as prostitutes, Rolls-Royces, and holidays in California.

His statement to the Lords is one of the most mendacious of recent times. He said:

"It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest. No weight has been given to commercial interests or to the national economic interest.

The prime minister and the foreign and defence secretaries have expressed the clear view that continuation of the investigation would cause serious damage to UK/Saudi security, intelligence and diplomatic cooperation, which is likely to have seriously negative consequences for the UK public interest in terms of both national security and our highest priority foreign policy objectives in the Middle East."

The only conclusion that can be come to, other than the one that Lord Goldsmith is a fucking liar, is that the Saudis had threatened to withdraw from the intelligence pact which means that all "intelligence" is pooled between the security services. Rather than call their bluff and accuse the Saudis of blackmail, interfering with the right of another sovereign nation to investigate possible corruption, Blair and Goldsmith rolled over. The message seems to be that even if you're a despotic regime that practices torture, bans women from driving cars, and stands for pretty much everything that the Labour party has historically opposed, all you have to do is threaten to stop cooperation and our politicians will drop everything to make it right.

OK, let's face it, the above is a load of bollocks. Goldsmith is a fucking liar. We already know this from when Blair more or less told him, or to give it Lord Hutton's take on why Alastair Campbell sexed up the Iraq weapons dossier, subliminally inferred that he had to change his mind over the fact that it is was possible war would be illegal. The Saudis may have threatened to withdraw cooperation in the wider "war on terror", but it was an empty threat. There's no way that the Saudis would have stopped giving the same material to the CIA, and the CIA would have passed it on to MI5/6 as a matter of course. The reality is that the SFO, for once, was very close to getting to the bottom of the whole corrupt concealed payments and perks packages which have been wetting the Saudis' whistles for decades. They'd either got the Swiss to hand over the details about Swiss bank accounts, or were just about to. Potential charges for current/ex-BAe salesmen/board members/executives might not have been that far off (the SFA apparently had informed Goldsmith they would need another 18 months, but that they were certain a case could be put together), with all the bad publicity and revelations about just how the taxpayer has been paying through subsidies for Saudi princes to bang whores likely to come out in the midst of any trial. This was something that BAe and the Saudis could not allow at any cost.

Hence the hysterical campaign by BAe, taken up nobly by the Daily Mail and the Sun, as described here by Unity, that tens of thousands of jobs were at risk, with the Saudis threatening to go elsewhere. It was all bluster. There had been some negotiations with the French, but they hadn't got anywhere. Local constituency MPs, worried that anger would be directed at them, also took up the cause, as Lyndsay Hoyle continued to do today, showing that he didn't have the faintest clue what he was talking about:

"Quite rightly they were happy with the news," he said, adding that it was a boost to a wide range of companies including Rolls-Royce, which builds engines.

"Tens of thousands of jobs were put at risk by a 1980s issue."

He said that the investigation had been going on for too long and there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. "Jobs would have gone," he added.

On the contrary, documents seized from a warehouse in Hertfordshire and obtained by the Guardian back in 2004 showed that payments from the alleged slush fund had contained past the date when corrupt deals were made illegal in 2002. As for evidence of wrongdoing, there was plenty of circumstantial, and it was the possibility of the SFO getting access to Swiss bank accounts that resulted in BAe and the Saudis realising they were deadly serious.

Whether Goldsmith's announcement was brought forward once Blair and Downing Street realised that the amount of cover they had counted on hadn't done the job, or if it was just a happy coincidence, we probably will never know, although we all know about this government's record.

The lie still had to be decided upon though for cancelling the SFO investigation. Whether doing so on the basis of jobs and "saving" the deal was potentially against international law is uncertain, but was likely to cause further anger among those who wanted to see the SFO finish its probe. Instead, the government hid once again behind "national security" and "counter-terrorism", when its clear that it had absolutely nothing to do with it. This was a political decision taken from up high, with Goldsmith playing the fall-guy and our "strategic interest" providing the fig leaf. That the courts are also less likely to disagree with a decision in the "national interest" was also a factor. The lefties are pissed off, but the majority of the right agrees with the decision, and everything balances out.

The further explanation given today by Blair 'n' Goldsmith is laughable. How could they possibly know that if the investigation had been allowed to continue that it wouldn't have resulted in a successful prosecution anyway? The attorney general could have waited until it was finished, then decided that there wasn't a case to prosecute, as would be within his rights. Instead he's brought further shame on his supposedly independent position by discontinuing it before it was even finished.

In the midst of all this the death of the Labour party becomes apparent. Cozying up to brutal dictatorships, selling them weapons and allowing them to torture our citizens without them then being able to seek recompense is one thing, but interfering blatantly with the rule of law and the right of government agencies to investigate when a crime has believed to have been committed is quite another. It's effectively given the Saudi royal family the right to do whatever they want, as it obviously won't effect them because of the "strategic interest". We've made clear that they and BAe are entirely above the law. Last week the following passage made up a part of Blair's speech on multiculturalism:
But when it comes to our essential values - belief in democracy, the rule of law, tolerance, equal treatment for all

By Blair's essential values, he is no longer British, and no longer is the Labour party. It is now nothing more than a vessel used by those who are doing so for power, and for power's sake only. If yesterday isn't the beginning of the end for this government, then something really has gone wrong.

Related posts:
Chicken Yogurt - The Pariah Sketch
Nether-World - A Shameful Day for Blair and Britain

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