The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has reached a new low in opinion polls. Instead of leading his country, he seems more inclined to follow slavishly the route of his predecessor, Tony Blair, in attempting international fame and recognition at the expense of the needs of his voters at home.
Brown has just been handed a perfect method to redress that balance, but it’s extremely unlikely he has the balls sufficient to do so.
Politicians can be thoroughly reliable when it comes to avoiding issues. By a process of pontification and verbal hedging they frequently sidestep specifics and leave one wondering just exactly where they’re coming from. Nevertheless, after reading a recent report of the British parliamentary foreign affairs committee, few can harbor doubt that the British government has reached the unequivocal conclusion that when George W Bush categorically stated to the world, “America does not do torture”, he was lying.
No British politician, with the possible exception of George Galloway, would ever risk calling the American president a full blown fibber, of course. The US/UK ‘Special Relationship’ is far too politically sensitive for that, but this report comes as close as it’s possible to get without causing a serious rift, given George W Bush is fading gradually away into the twilight of his incumbency.
Unfortunately, even this damning report is unlikely to alter anything.
Special relationships are all well and good, but most of us at sometime in our lives have had a close friend, or lover, go sour on us. To do nothing and pretend all is well just leaves a festering resentment. Usually it’s better to make a clean break, walk away, even though the pain of separation may be hard to bear for a while.
If prime minister Gordon Brown is keen to remain in the position bequeathed to him by Tony Blair, and right now his chances of doing so past the next general election seem slim at best, he should act on this report in the only honorable manner possible.
Informing the US administration that the British people find its inhumane methods unacceptable, followed by an announcement that, until America recovers the honor and integrity once its proud heritage, the ‘Special Relationship’ is suspended, would not only show the rest of the world that Britain wasn’t afraid to stand up for its principles, but would engender sufficient support from the British people to ensure Gordon Brown a landslide victory in 2010.
 “US does not torture, Bush insists” BBC, November 7th 2005
 ” UK ‘must check’ US torture denial” BBC, July 19th 2008
Filed under: Principles