Monday, October 04, 2004

Blair and Iraq

Will Blair survive another 4 or 5 years, as he has said he wishes ? Many commentators, for example John Kampfner on C4 News Thursday, think not. For them, Iraq is a mistake that will not go away.

However, the arguments of the hard left, or so-called left, with their support of the 'heroic resistance', appear increasingly threadbare and the mood, at least in the Labour Party, seems to be swinging in favour of solidarity with those Iraqis, like trade unionists, who oppose theocratic fascism (see Harry's Place's 'Meanwhile in the real world...' ). I commented there as follows, in particular on this link :

When you get past all the stuff (from US and UK people) about 'the occupation of Iraq by US and UK governments' , you get this :
Abdullah Muhsin of the IFTU gave an account of the history of the independent democratic labour movement in Iraq, from Saddam Hussein’s brutal suppression of the tobacco workers’ strikes organised by the Workers’ Democratic Trade Union Movement in Kurdistan in the 1980s to the foundation of the IFTU in May 2003.

Abdullah pointed out that the Iraqi people’s language and culture is rich in words and ideas expressing revolt and liberation; the ‘intifada’ of the Iraqi student movement in the 1950s and ‘Al Thawra’ (the revolution) the proper name for the area of Baghdad often referred to now as ‘Sadr City’. Abdullah reminded the meeting that the so-called ‘Iraqi resistance’ referred to in the media represent neither a national liberation struggle (but rather an attempt to ‘balkanise’ Iraq) nor the possibility of re-building Iraqi civil society (except on the model of a mediaeval theocracy).

It was Abdullah Muhsin I was taking about in this email from 18 Aug, in response to a post of Norman Geras', 'Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions letter' :
BBC Radio 4's PM programme picked up the story Wednesday evening. I didn't catch all of it, but they had on the IFTU man, stating that he was also opposed to the war (implying that otherwise he wouldn't be worth listening to and neglecting to mention that trade unions could hardly operate freely under Saddam Hussein).

Then over to Mark Seddon. Didn't the conference have Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton ? Yes, we welcomed them, but we prefer to have elected leaders. What about Hamid Karzai a couple of years ago, one thinks. Even The Guardian mentioned that.

I see from the latest report that the closed-mind anti-war faction in the Labour party seems to have got its way, having 'threatened demonstrations and walkouts'.

There is much speculation also that Blair might go 3 years after the next election or, as Tony Robinson argued, we could get 4 years of Blair followed by a year of his successor. The idea is that the new man would need at least 6 months before an election. They seem to do things differently elsewhere, the most obvious example being Spain, where if the PP had won the election, the leader would not have been Aznar but someone else, whose name I forget, but the FT did a profile of him, assuming the PP was going to win, before the impact of events became clear that fateful weekend in March. The Independent mentioned this too Saturday.

Anyway, Gordon Brown certainly deserves the succession and I do not see that at 59 he would be too old. Otherwise, what to make of Chirac, who may well stand at the next presidential at the age of about 74 ? But then, Brown does not have to worry about keeping immunity from prosecution.


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