Friday, June 23, 2006

Go Home Bliar

Following on from getting an egg thrown at him in Southville, Bliar arrived at the Wills Memorial Building at the top of Park Street to a noisy protest. People from Bristol Stop the War, Bristol No2ID and others staged a spirited rally to show Bliar that he was not welcome with chants like, "Blair out of Bristol, troops out of Iraq."

The protest gathered on one side of the road, while on the other members of the hand-picked invited audience queued to be searched and enter the building. Alongside the invited guests was a line of police. What was interesting about the two 'sides' was there was no sense of defense of defiance from the guests. They just stood around looking at their feet and shifting nervously as the waves of chants about war crimes and complicity in torture washed over them. Normally at a protest with 'sides' you get angry exchanged across the divide. Here is was all one way.

Its a sign of the popularity of Bliar that his visit has to be so secret. One may argue that this security is about terrorism, but the policing on show with its choppers and Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT – the coppers with cameras) was more geared to crowd control than anti-terror. The venue was kept unannounced (though word had been leaked out before) and the audience had to be selected. Even the 50 'public' who attended via an application to the evening post were diluted down the the hundred or more neo-labour supporters to dilute the possibility of people who are not 'on-message' spoiling the plans to spin crime as a method of distracting the public from the mess that is Iraq and in particular Basra.

Iraq is a mess. In Basra, guerrillas fired mortar rounds at official buildings, but they missed and wounded 9 Iraqi civilians. Just north of Basra, gunmen invaded a school and assassinated its principal. Al-Zaman [an Arabic newspaper] says that security is collapsing again in Basra – and this is despite the big security operation the Iraqi army have mounted. There are more bombings and shootings there than listed. But that gives a flavor.

The hypocrisy of Bliar to talk 'tough on crime' while flouting international law with his complicity in war in Iraq (aka crimes such as mounting a war of aggression, use of illegal weapons such as depleted uranium and phosphorus shells ), extraordinary renditions (aka kidnap and torture), Guantanamo (aka illegal detentions without trial and more torture). The list goes on.

As one protester shouted, "Arrest Blair!". Indeed - we need to be tough on Bliars and tough on the causes of Bliars.

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