The Definition of This

britainLast year a damning report by the Children’s Commissioners for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland warned that rising levels of child poverty require “urgent attention” from the Westminster government. Austerity policies it said have “resulted in a failure to protect the most disadvantaged children from child poverty, preventing the realisation of their rights”.  It outlined that the number of British children living in poverty is set to rise to 4.7 million in the next five years. The cuts were described as a “disgrace” by Tam Baillie, Scotland’s commissioner for children and young people. “It is deeply disturbing that the UK Government, aware of the current and future impact of its cuts, appears to be targeting the most vulnerable people in our society,” he said.

The Governments response? To try and redefine what is means to be poor.

Now they’re doing the same with war crimes.

David Cameron is now attempting to deflect the coming revelations from the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) which is currently considering at least 1,515 possible victims, of whom 280 are alleged to have been unlawfully killed. On the 22 January the Prime Minister said: “It is clear that there is now an industry trying to profit from spurious claims lodged against our brave servicemen and women who fought in Iraq.”

No 10 followed it up with a statement saying: “The prime minister is deeply concerned at the large number of spurious claims being made against members of our armed forces. He is absolutely clear that action needs to be taken and has asked the national security council to produce a clear, detailed plan on how we stop former troops facing this torment.”

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon claimed to be “enraged by ambulance-chasing lawyers” – so much so that he wants to stop human rights law covering troops in action.

Remembering the appalling torture and murder of Baha Mousa in 2003, and considering that the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (running into millions) is still investigating a military mission what ended in 2009, this is an astonishing response from David Cameron. Given that the government has now paid compensation for over 300 other cases relating to abuse and unlawful detention of Iraqis, the idea that soldiers being equal in law isn’t ‘spurious’ – in fact it makes a mockery of the entire raison d’être of the war itself. If you’ll remember we were told endlessly we were “defending freedom”?

As even veteran Iraq-apologist Nick Cohen puts it: “We are now in a grimly comic country, where in one breath Cameron rightly denounces Vladimir Putin’s contempt for the rule of law. In the next, he proposes to exempt British troops from legal accountability.”

The government we didn’t elect is attempting to re-frame the world to defend itself. It’s imposing ideology over reality.

This is the twilight zone – where the never-present Chilcot inquiry struggles to make an appearance despite years and millions poured into it, and now, Leigh Day (the law firm representing hundreds of Iraqis claiming abuse and unlawful detention by British troops), has been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. This is government bullying and intimidation of the law process. It’s only in a country without a written constitution that this could happen.  As Richard Norton Taylor reports here “How many Iraqis were killed or abused by British soldiers? We may never know”, saying:

“…despite the plethora of allegations and investigations – more than 1,000 cases before IHAT, more than 1,000 allegations before the ICC – it is unlikely that any British soldier or veteran will be successfully prosecuted, as unlikely as the prospect of Paras being successfully prosecuted for shooting unarmed civil rights marchers on Bloody Sunday, more than 40 years ago in Northern Ireland.”


Comments (6)

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  1. Jim Bennett says:

    Another great article, concise and punchy! Thank you.

  2. Stuart says:

    There’s a weird formatting error on the site which is showing each instance of “f i” as “if”?
    (Even in the comments I’ve had to type separately to stop it autocorrecting.)

    1. Thanks yes – we know – we’re trying to sort it

  3. Valerie says:

    A good piece. The hypocrisy of Cameron’s gov’t is relentless. I seethe when Fallon appears, with his faux outrage at all our imagined enemies, trying to kill us, when the UK gov’t is doing that.

    Iraq is important for analysis, because the conditions there birthed Da’esh. Cameron and Fallon are trying to appeal to those who support the fading empire, and troops that trampled all before them.

    I have respect for our troops, but they have to be subject to the law, and conventions around war, or we are no better than Da’esh.

    There must be something nasty uncovered, and they are whipping up emotions around our brave soldiers, to lay the ground.

    Those acting properly have nothing to fear from ambulance chasers who are more than likely pursuing justice, as who would waste time on trying to smear soldiers.

  4. Blair paterson says:

    What do you expect we are being governed by liars and cheats the only grace they have is disgrace this is not democracy it is hypocrisy so thanks a lot no voters we have you to thank for this

  5. Alex Beveridge says:

    And all the while the real criminals, the politicians who involved our armed services in these, probably illegal conflicts, go scot free. Of course, they are free to traverse the world, handsomely rewarded by private companies with more money than morals, or feted at home with political baubles. It’s they who should be in the dock, and not some serviceman/woman, who was thrust into harms way, and may, or indeed may not, have misjudged any given situation. Anybody commenting here who has never been in a position where your life is in danger, upholding what you have been told is law and order, is not qualified to judge others. Believe you me, sometimes decisions have to be taken in seconds, and since no one is perfect, mistakes can, and do, happen. As has been said, politicians use these matters to further their own agenda, and in Westminster’s case, to cover their own culpability in the present set of wholly unnecessary conflicts.

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