Sixteen!

The Chris Lightfoot Memorial Naziometer (see sidebar) was recording pretty low values over the Summer. It was zero for quite a while, and although things have been improving recently, I’ve only been noticing scores hovering around the three / four mark. So I’m thrilled to report that it’s hit sixteen!, which may very well be an all-time high, thanks entirely to this fine post.

FriendWatch

Chris Bertram points out that our mutual friend Martin O’Neill has an article about inheritance tax in a recent New Statesman. I hadn’t noticed this, as the postal strike means that my copy hasn’t arrived yet, and while the NS was nice enough to (e)mail out a pdf (no, not that kind of pdf), I thought I’d wait for the paper copy to arrive, which perhaps it will one day. It’s a good piece, and one that incorporates my favourite Ben Franklin quotation, and the intro blurb suggests that Martin’s going to be the NS in-house political philosopher, at least for a bit, and that can only be a good thing.

While I’m on the subejct of recent stuff by my mates: here’s Rory Stewart on Gertrude Bell in the New York Review of Books; here’s Raj Patel being interviewed in Australia’s finest newspaper, the Age (and do buy his book if you haven’t already); and while you’re in the bookshop you might want to pick up a copy of Patricia Owens’ new book, Between War and Politics: International Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt, which ought to be hitting the shelves about now.

Dead Socialist Watch, #287

Fred Bramley, trade unionist. Apprenticed as a cabinet-maker, he joined the ILP and worked for The Clarion, campaigning against tariff reform after 1903. Active in the National Amalgamated Furnishing Trades Association (acronym’d to NAFTA!), he became its national organiser in 1912 and was fully engaged in industrial struggle until the outbreak of war in 1914. He opposed British entry into the war, chaired the London branch of the Labour Party and campaigned for women’s suffrage. In 1920 and 1921 he was centrally involved in the restructuring of the TUC, with its General Council replacing the old Parliamentary Committee. He became the first full-time General Secretary of the TUC in 1923, and in post through the period of the first Labour Government. Born near Otley, W. Yorkshire, 27 September 1874, Bramley died in Amsterdam at an IFTU meeting, 10 October 1925.

Twisting in the Wind

The ministerial statement is here; comments from Dan Hardie, Daniel Davies, Jamie Kenny, Tim Ireland.

I agree — and I also have the same reaction I used to have when Michael Howard used to beat up on refugees and asylum seekers.

It seems to me extraordinary that the Foreign Secretary, whose father escaped from Ostend on the last boat to leave for England in May 1940 and was granted refugee status while at sea, should sign his name to a document arbitrarily abandoning some of the Iraqis whom we employed in and around Basra to the tender mercies of the Shi’ite death squads, and to whom we can easily offer sanctuary, just because they were employed for less than a year. That’s pretty disgraceful, and I expected better from Ralph Miliband’s son.

UPDATE [6.45pm]: Also: Sunny Hundal.

Yet More Iraqi Employees

There was a pretty good segment on the Today Programme this morning at about ten to eight. You can listen to it (I think) by clicking this link (at least for a bit, at any rate).

And then the Prime Minister made his statement this afternoon about Iraq, in which he said this:

Mr Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of our civilian and locally employed staff in Iraq, many of whom have worked in extremely difficult circumstances exposing themselves and their families to danger.

And I am pleased therefore to announce today a new policy which more fully recognises the contribution made by our local Iraqi staff who work for our armed forces and civilian missions in uniquely difficult circumstances.

Existing staff who have been employed by us for more than twelve months and have completed their work will be able to apply for a package of financial payments to aid resettlement in Iraq or elsewhere in the region, or – in agreed circumstances – for admission to the UK. And professional staff — including interpreters and translators — with a similar length of service who have left our employ since the beginning of 2005 will also be able to apply for assistance.

We will make a further written statement on the detail of this scheme this week.

Well, obviously we’ll have to wait to see what’s in the further written statement.

But if anyone thinks this campaign is over, think again. We don’t want a quota of 500 (as floated in the papers quite recently), we don’t want the “financial packages” and the “agreed circumstances” to mean “bullying people into not seeking refuge in Britain”, and we badly need an explanation of why the assistance will only go to those who “have been employed by us for more than twelve months”, as it’s not unreasonable to think that there are people who worked for the British Armed Forces in Iraq for shorter periods of time who are nevertheless being threatened, tortured and killed. (If the death squads don’t make these fine discriminations, it’s not especially clear why HMG should, either.)

So tomorrow’s campaign meeting will still go ahead, as planned, but please note the change of venue: it’s now in the Attlee Suite in Portcullis House, but at the same time, from 7-9pm. We haven’t seen the written statement, and there’s still time to make a difference, and to tell the politicians what we think of them.

Iraqi Employees Campaign

Dan Hardie, who is not and has never been any kind of doctor, writes:

Gordon Brown may apparently be making a statement on Iraq to the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon, sometime after 2pm. He may or may not mention Britain’s Iraqi employees and the need of some of them for asylum. The Times article of Saturday promises nothing but gave the Government a big, positive headline: classic spin. I have always said, when writing to Jacqui Smith and other Ministers, that to pre-announce asylum for Iraqi employees before they’d actually been taken to safety would increase the risks to them and to the British soldiers who would have to evacuate them. I hope desperately that this won’t happen. I also hope that we will see a genuine promise of resettlement for all who are identified as being seriously at risk for having worked for the British in Iraq.

Brown may or may not promise this on Monday afternoon: frankly they have been so grudging that I doubt it. The Government are going to have to be pushed to do the right thing, so the meeting on Tuesday, October 9th is now more important than ever: we can win if we keep pushing. It’s at Parliament, Committee Room 14, St Stephen’s entrance [UPDATE!] in the Attlee Suite in Portcullis House, which is the MPs’ own office block, opposite the Houses of Parliament from 7-9pm. Invite your MP and come yourself.

I can’t make it down to London on Tuesday, owing to teaching commitments. But I’ve urged my MPs to attend; and if you’re around the capital, perhaps you’d like to show up, too?