This summer 2023 we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the military coup in Chile, which Britain supported and which launched the murder of over 3,000 Chileans. This criminality is fairly well known since Thatcher brazenly wined and dined the Chilean dictator as a way of endorsing Pinochet’s mass murder of the opposition. (Israel was a major arms seller to the Pinochet dictatorship.)
The long bloody trail of British government savagery is not usually so well-known. Few realise, to take one grim example, that Britain openly supported the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia between 1978 and 1993, voting annually in the UN to allocate that country’s seat to the genocidal group over the pro-Vietnamese government that controlled virtually the whole of the country. Thatcher appeared on a BBC children's programme (she could hardly try to persuade adults) to defend her alliance with the supposedly "reasonable" but actually non-existent wing of the Khmer Rouge.
From Britain’s support for Apartheid South Africa, the US invasions and devastations of Iraq, Afghanistan (at a cost of $2.3 trillion) and Vietnam; from Britain’s launching of the Zionist sthnic cleansing of Palestine – British foreign policy is one of constant complicity in aggressive wars for control of resources and strategic advantage against competitors.
The Tory legislation currently making its way through the Westminster parliament with Labour support explicitly aims to prevent any democratically elected local authorities and other bodies from expressing “political or moral disapproval of a foreign state...when making decisions about procurement and investment”. For ‘foreign state’ read ‘apartheid Israel'.
When an SPSC delegation made a presentation to Edinburgh City Council in 2010 on Veolia’s fitness to empty the city’s bins given its involvement in Israeli crimes not even the Tories tried to challenge the accuracy of the case being made. Instead a legal officer was wheeled out who claimed that the assembled councillors could not legally take into account Veolia’s complicity in Israeli crimes when evaluating fitness to be awarded council contracts. This was due to legislation from the Thatcher era designed to prevent boycotts of apartheid South Africa and still, she insisted, in force. This claim was sucessfully challenged
We know that some UK local councils defied Thatcher on that issue and four Scottish local authorities have already adopted a policy of boycotting Israeli goods and services, in each case following an Israeli massacre of Palestinians. This legislation is designed to protect Israel from popular anger at its behaviour; those promoting it are well aware of that country’s pariah status in world public opinion and fear that mood being channelled into action.
The bill is an extension of the UK Government’s arming and defending the apartheid state and attacks on local democracy that might challenge such barbarity, as was the case with apartheid South Africa.
10 September 2023