The aftermath of the atrocity in Manchester is now upon us. Dozens are dead and many more injured. We know who committed the crime and we think we know why. We know what their background is. People are still grieving and will grieve for a lot longer. Now the police and MI5 are investigating what happened, and already rocks are being turned over and links made with other terrorist atrocities.
This appalling attack has taken place in the middle of an election campaign, and it’s sad to see that the government seems to have opted for grandstanding, posturing and playing the same old ‘we shall keep you safe’ card. How that card must be looking a bit ragged and torn around the edges. It’s also cliched and simply not true. But consider Theresa May's actions at this time before you read more into this article.
And it has to be said that May’s performance was spluttering and pathetic. It’s the usual rallying cry, that we can and must defeat terrorism, that the war on terrorism is being won by we, the people in the right, and that the terrorists are facing total obliteration, thanks to our armed forces, our intelligence services and the co-operation with trusted allies. Which is fine, because let’s face it, we expected nothing else from May other than the trot-out-the-same-old-hackneyed rubbish and get home in time for tea. Government by cliché. So on that front she delivered spectacularly. But what is worrying is the pre-election posturing, the need to be seen to be doing something, the yearning to be seen as a serious stateswoman.
May called on the army to be present on the UK’s streets, in sufficient numbers, and at a time when police numbers have been slashed (thanks to a certain Theresa May, a one-time Home Secretary), we see soldiers doing what police should be doing. Of course May denies there’s a link, but if you cut and cut and cut, what other conclusion are people supposed to arrive at? When will the soldiers be withdrawn? When the election is over? Oh I feel so safe, knowing that police numbers have been slashed and more and more crimes are going uninvestigated by police, but look, there’s a soldier. Ooh, aren’t we feeling so safe? Theresa May is such a comforting presence. (It’s a bit like income tax, which was brought in as a ‘temporary measure’ in 1799.)
The background of the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, born in Libya and with family ties still there, is still being investigated, but it is known that MI5 were aware of him in some capacity and for some time. Perhaps some believe he should have been pulled and in doing so, we avoided the Manchester bombing. Salman Abedi's father, Ramadan Abedi, was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya, founded approx 1995, and who lived in Britain for over a decade during the 1990's and 2000's and now resides in Libya with other members of the family, "We don't believe in killing innocents. This is not us," said Salman's father, but has refuted this allegation since. Mr Abedi had allegedly made the comment during the arrest procedure of himself and another of his son's, Hachem Abedi, in Tripoli.
Britain's military intervention in Libya makes for interesting reading and was based on “erroneous assumptions” and an “incomplete understanding” of the rebellion against former dictator Col Gaddafi. In a report, issued by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, they heavily criticised David Cameron for turning a limited intervention intended to protect civilians into an “opportunist policy of regime change” based around less than inadequate intelligence. It said the then Prime Minister's failure to develop a coherent strategy to support the country following the overthrow of Gaddafi had led to political and economic collapse, warfare, humanitarian crisis and the rise of Islamic State in north Africa.
Ministers and officials had information at hand and should have realised that the rebels included a “significant Islamist element”, Theresa May herself at that time was indeed home secretary. It was May who gave the orders so LIFG members could travel to Libya. Ramadan Abedi being one of those who did. She also lifted embargoes on LIFG's funders in the U.K. which, when you consider is quite damning in itself. Since then the LIFG are known to have disbanded, and also known were of course it's links to Al Qaeda. Mr Cameron argued the intervention was necessary to prevent a massacre of civilians. The Commons report however showed Gaddafi had no record of large-scale attacks on Libyan civilians. David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy. He failed and failed miserably, his teniorship had cost many lives and still does to this day. His home secretary is now the Prime Minister, but for how long? The question of resources to enable the coalition government to stockpile weapons in the aftermath of the Gaddafi overthrow meant failure to support security services which in turn rendered the Libyan reconstruction an impossible task. We now suffer endless act's of terror as a direct result of that damning inefficient policy.
Libya is still a very dangerous place after its post-Gadaffi fragmentation and looks like it will long continue to be so. It can’t go unsaid that Britain played a role in bringing about the current plight of Libya. We should also never forget that Blair and Jack Straw sided with Gadaffi, in the apparent interests of peace and negotiation, and allowed MI6 to ‘render’ (kidnap, in old money) his political opponents. Of course such actions are illegal, and even now as Libya implodes, the full role of the security services and government is still murky. Indeed, it was only a few months ago that the CPS decided against prosecuting former head of counter terrorism at MI6 Mark Allen, and former foreign secretary Jack Straw. This was despite a police investigation (Operation Lydd) that ran to thousands of pages. But any role the UK played in Libya doesn’t mean the bombing of innocent people can be justified. Absolutely not. How depressing that we have to play this; ‘they started it; we will finish it’ game.
At this point i'd like to address the real burning issue and explain in small detail my loathing for Neo Liberal politics to which Theresa May, David Cameron, Jack Straw and Tony Blair to name but a few are all converts of. The Neoliberalist agenda always serves the rich and never so much as touches the poor. Under such an agenda we see large scale cuts and unbelievably where the poor pay the rich. It's insulting beyond belief, but we should remind ourselves all now and at this point, if Neoliberalism didn't exist we wouldn't be in the mess we are today. We wouldn't have foodbanks and we wouldn't see this relentless war on the poor. We'd not see the victimisation of disabled people and we'd never know or hear about terminally ill cancer sufferers being forced to work for benefits. Something for everyone to think over as we approach the final days to GE2017.
But there is hope. Jeremy Corbyn gave a brave speech on Friday the 26th May about how the usual responses have to change, and how the war on terror, just like the West’s war on drugs, is a failure. Jeremy Corbyn is a Left Wing leader of the Labour party. The party is rejuvenated and no longer are advocates of Neo Liberal politics. New Labour is finished and no more thanks to Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour party under Jeremy's leadership are gaining huge ground. It's looking very clear to all concerned, Corbyn will be the next P.M. People have finally had enough of the corrosive way previous governments have failed British people. It's not only in England we see a turnaround, it's in Wales and Scotland and in Northern Ireland also. People are asking for change and in Jeremy they're getting it. He's listening and he's doing something about it; He said:
“No rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely
excuse, or adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre.
But we must be brave enough to admit that the war on terror is
simply not working.”
Brave words indeed. He even went on to add that a Labour government would suspend British air strikes against targets in Syria. And in a direct reference to May’s panic-strewn strong arm posturing he address the military directly when he said they would only be deployed abroad when there is a clear need, when they have the resources, and when there is a plan. (All of which was absent in Iraq.)
Naturally the Tories hate this sort of talk. They think that the war on terror is winnable and that in some twisted way we’re to believe we're winning it. This is dangerous and delusional. We only have to go back to 2003 and the start of our disastrous interference in Iraq to note that British intelligence was warning Tony Blair about the possible consequences of that wrong-headed and stupid decision. In fact, Jeremy Corbyn also echoed the same sentiments. Only a few months ago May, in a UN speech, warned of the dangers of trying to police the world. How quickly we forget our past and so are destined to repeat it. And then there’s the warnings given to May in 2015 (as police numbers were cut again) that protecting the public is going to be difficult with far fewer officers on the street. In fact it was at PMQ's in 2015, after yet more frontline police cuts, that Jeremy Corbyn criticised then prime minister David Cameron over his Home Secretary’s plans, only to be told that he “should put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem.” There’s nothing like trying to create a distraction when you’ve been caught, and how quickly Theresa May has learned to create a whole hatful of them.
This is never about one thing, but several. And the government response tells you everything you need to know about them. Army replacing police, demanding more access to citizen information, grandstanding, and all the while selling arms to some of the world’s biggest sponsors of terrorism. But like I said at the outset, this is government by cliché, and every terror attack has to be met with the same old tired response: we refuse to be bowed; this is an attack on our freedoms; we need access to yet more of your communications, and by doing so we make fortunes from you into the bargain.
An attack on innocent young people can never be justified. This is work of deluded sectarian idiots with a headful of stupidity and a heartful of hate. Targeting children and teenagers is particularly sick. But they don’t care because they don’t act out of rationality. And our government could learn a few things from this and start to act rationally itself, but that would entail learning from the past, listening to dissenting voices, and not selling arms to any old murdering dictator who wants them. Saudi Arabia is a particularly noxious presence, and its war with neighbouring Yemen has already cost the lives of thousands. The Kingdom continues to spread extremist Wahhabist Islam to every corner of the Muslim world. And yet not a peep from Boris Johnson or any other senior Conservative minister.
But May (who voted for the Iraq war, and Syrian airstrikes) is incapable of change; she is only able to trot out the cliches Lynton Crosby writes down for her before she makes a speech. She is deluded and dangerous, and highlights the different approach Jeremy Corbyn has made with his thoughtful response to the Manchester bombing. Labour can get us out if this spiral of needless death; the Tories will never change or accept that alternatives are available. Yes, the Iraq war didn’t herald the start of terrorism in the West, but it has served to accentuate the resentment felt by many in Islamic countries. And when you hear Boris Johnson attacking Corbyn for stating the obvious links between terror and foreign policy, remember that Johnson himself has said very similar things in the past. But there’s no cliché like a Foreign Secretary in full hypocrite mode. Never forget that no less than the Joint Intelligence Committee concluded that Britain’s role in the Iraq war would increase the terror threat. And as for our toxic relationship with the Unites States, well, that would require a whole series of articles in itself.
In 2015 the Police Federation warned the now prime minister that the cuts she made to police numbers could put us all in danger. And so did Jeremy Corbyn (who voted against the war in Iraq and against Sryian airstrikes). May accused the police of ‘crying wolf’. And here she is in 2017, putting soldiers on the streets because there’s not enough police to do just that. Could she be running the police force down in order to replace it with a private force? G4S for example? If she had shares in such a private force, she'd be worth a pretty penny. But who know's, if we elect her as P.M. we'll likely discover how it all works out sooner rather than later. Of the earlier point however, ask yourself: which of the two has been right each time, and who would make Britain safer? I think you know the answer to that. I know I do.
Max Webster is the editor of Political Provocateur