Monday, November 06, 2006


The abolition of the death penalty is one of the proudest legacies of our democratic past. The word 'past', incidentally, is imperative, given the current alienation between Parliament and electorate. It is a level of 'democratic deficit' not witnessed since the 19th century, before the great enfranchisements in 1832, 1867, 1884 and 1918
that grew out of the Chartist and Suffragist movements.

The abomination of the death penalty is a barbaric practice which appeals to the lowest instinct of humanity - the impulse towards vendetta. It is also a dereliction of the duty to punish wrongdoing: a life in prison, with large segments of solitary confinement, is a far more fitting punishment for those found guilty, after assumption of innocence, of crimes against humanity.

For those who want to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the show trial of Saddam Hussein (a theatrical event whose denouement is probably timed to coincide with the US midterm elections), one need only consult Robert Fisk. Fisk is the Orwell of our epoch, a real journalist dedicated to the "revolutionary act" of "telling the truth in an age of universal deceit". Rather than a verdict in a court which eschews basic legal principles, and overrides our domestic prohibition on the state retribution that is the death penalty, Fisk's article on the kangaroo court in the "Independent" newspaper of Monday 6th November 2006 is a caesura to the sorry episode that has been the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. As Sarah Bear sings, we reap what we sow (see below). As Robert Fisk exhorts, those accomplices who provide weapons to war criminals are themselves guilty. A justice system which indicts 'them' and exonerates 'us' when both are caught red-handed is no justice system at all. In this case, 'they' were the gangster of Saddam Hussein and his entourage; and 'we' were the gangsters who sold him the chemical weapons he used. This show trial was merely the sound of one hand clapping.

The stage is set for the midterms. One does not need to be an eminent military historian to see that a war on two fronts, with a winter campaign in inhospitable territory, is the ultimate tactical error and the ultimate ethical betrayal of the complex responsibilities of Government. The third war the Bush regime faces is the final frontier - not its plans to militarise and privatise outer space, but its increasing inability to convince the people of its inner space, the people of the United States of America. From the UK we watch with anticipation, and we send our hopes that liberty, democracy, justice and peace will prevail at the polls.

Over here we are glad to have Fighting For Those Forgotten on the Million Campaign Homepage. We must ensure that our abolition of the death penalty remains in force, and that the United Kingdom is not reduced to being the set of a Wild West tragedy. Violence begets violence. An eye for an eye is making the whole world blind. The crude binary of 'us good, them bad' is making the planet ugly.

The illegal occupation of Iraq was a failed idea from its inception. In post-imperial Britain, the only thing we could have possibly added to it was humility and the wisdom of a long history. Our 'unelected dictatorship' chose to contribute neither. At no point whatsoever did they act in our name. Although we informed them relentlessly of that fact, they never deigned to listen. For that arrogance, history will judge them very severely indeed.

An elephant never forgets, and Bush's derogation of international laws are an ass. All decent Republicans should be shocked by the scale of the checks and balances the Bush regime has removed in office - and act accordingly, and patriotically.

To all future honourable US representatives: George W Bush, Senators, is no Abe Lincoln.

George W Bush, Senators, is no FDR.

Big UK Brother is watching you - with hope in our hearts. May life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness prevail at the polls.

We have declared our independence from George W.

Even the neo-cons are declaring their independence from George W.


Matthew Edwards

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