Jason Langley: Silencing the British People, The Legacy of Thatcherism and the Iraq War!
It is often said that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. If a person or a group of people has the power to do as they wish, without fear of having to answer for their actions in a meaningful manner, would they feel obligated to listen to those who protest against their actions? Would they feel that those with less power than their own, are worthy of being heard? Since the War on Terror began, Britain has followed the example set by the US, clamping down on civil liberties, protest and dissent. Not all actions taken in this regard, have been related to the alleged threat of Islamic terrorism. Some have come about through a need to alter a historical narrative. Some have come about through chances offered by legal fallout, some have come about, in order to keep an agenda on track, and so on. Below are some examples of such moments in the recent history of Britain, where chances to silence, or at the very least, downplay dissent, have been seized upon with gusto by the British elite. February 2003 saw the largest political protest in British history. An estimated two million Britons took to the streets of London, as part of a wider global movement to march against the looming Iraq war. The protest united people of all ages, ethnicities, faiths and political persuasions. The noise was deafening. A rolling forest of placards and flags covered the streets around the heart of the British capital, calling for peace. In places, parts of the route became so packed with marchers, that movement slowed to a standstill. The establishment's response to the march was to ignore it. Then Prime Minister Tony Blair, a disciple of Margaret Thatcher, was elected by a landslide in 1997. He dominated the British political landscape, and apparently became so used to getting his own way, that he felt the concerns of the protestors bore no consideration as his government continued to plan their attack against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Blair, with the backing of the media, had done everything possible to sell the Iraq War to the British public, a hindsight of which was the now infamous September Dossier. The dossier, among other things, alleged that Hussein would have been able to attack Europe with his fictitious arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, within forty five minutes of the order being given. On a related note, there is the case of Dr David Kelly. Kelly was a Ministry of Defense biological warfare expert, and former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, who came to public notice in July 2003, when he was revealed to be the source cited in a report by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan. The report alleged that the dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been sexed up,, and that British intelligence were concerned about some of the claims made.