The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
Watching Tony Blair appear this week before the British judicial inquiry into press standards in London has left me feeling a little queasy. What began as an open-minded investigation into how to protect individuals from the snooping of the press in the age of the Internet has turned into a show trial to shame politicians who fell under the spell of Rupert Murdoch.
Now, heaven knows, I’m no apologist for Murdoch. His cynical approach to his readers and viewers and employees belies the fact that he is descended from sternly moral Scottish Presbyterians. He declares that the buck stops with a newspaper owner when one of his papers or journalists or printers fouls up, but when widespread illegality happens in his name, right under his nose, he forgets his fine words and lets it be known he has no intention of stepping down from his dual role of CEO and chairman of News Corp.
But I can’t help thinking that there is an unattractive element of hypocrisy when hearings into the intimidation of politicians by Murdoch and his henchmen end up as a means of intimidating politicians into confessing they were in cahoots with Murdoch. Blair was honest with Justice Leveson about the tacit deal he did so that Murdoch’s tabloids would not trash him as they had done his predecessor as Labour leader, Neil Kinnock.
Explaining why he agreed to fly halfway round the world to appear as the star turn at a News Corp. executives’ retreat, an action that inevitably sparked suggestions he had entered a Faustian pact with Murdoch to go easy on press regulation in exchange for support in the 1997 election, Blair said: “The minimum objective was to stop them tearing us to pieces and the maximum objective was, if possible, to open the way to support.” There was no specific deal, Blair said, because no deal was necessary. He needed Murdoch to win in a landslide, and Murdoch needed him to back off from interfering with his business.
-Javaid Rehman is a professor of law at Brunel University. The opinions expressed are his own.-
For British Muslims, the new coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats represents an alliance of strange and awkward bedfellows.
- Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’. He is participating in the Reuters Election 2010 politics live blog during the leaders’ debates and on election night. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The veteran Channel 4 presenter, Jon Snow, lamented to the Guardian on Wednesday that the fire has gone out of the election campaign because of the televised leader debates.
Amid a stand-off between British Airways and the Unite union, the Labour Party’s main financial supporter, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a planned strike by BA cabin crew workers “unjustified and deplorable” last week and said both sides should return to talks.
Who will be the first president of the European Council of EU leaders? Anyone but Tony Blair. That is the only clear message to emerge from a European Union summit, where the appointments of the EU's two new senior office-holders is not on the agenda but is on everyone's mind.
The appointment process is typical of the surreal way in which the 27-nation bloc does business. The job is poorly defined in the Lisbon treaty reforming the EU's institutions, which is expected to come into force in the next few weeks. But it is clear that most leaders are looking for a consensus-building summit chairman rather than a high-profile president of Europe.
from UK News:
Once he was regarded as an obvious front-runner for the job of EU president, then it was pointed out that it was unlikely anyone would be chosen from a country that is not in the eurozone, not in the Schengen border-free area and which has an exemption to the bloc's charter of fundamental rights.
Ah, but if you don't choose someone with proven political clout to fight Europe's corner, a G2 of China and the United States will have things all their own way soon, declared Foreign Secretary David Miliband over the weekend.
The EU show is back on the road. Sixteen months after Irish voters brought the European Union's tortured process of institutional reform to a juddering halt by voting "No" to the Lisbon treaty, the same electorate has turned out in larger numbers to say "Yes" by a two-thirds majority.
This is an immense relief for the EU's leadership. After three lost referendums in France, the Netherlands and Ireland, and a record low turnout in this year's European Parliament elections, the democratic legitimacy of the European integration process was increasingly open to question. The Irish vote will not completely silence those doubts. Opponents are already accusing the EU of have bullied the Irish into voting again on the same text, and of blackmailing them with economic disaster if they did not vote the right way this time.
- Daniel Gorevan is head of Amnesty International‘s Counter Terror with Justice campaign. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Tony Blair’s government reportedly advised MI5 officers that the UK must not be “seen to condone” torture. However, evidence is mounting that British agents knowingly exploited torture perpetrated by others.
from UK News:
Justice Minister Jack Straw has blocked the release of cabinet minutes on the subject on the grounds that to open them up would undermine democratic decision-making. If ministers thought everything they said in cabinet was going to be made public, his argument ran, they might be reluctant to express their full and frank views and therefore the principle of collective cabinet responsibility would be undermined.