THE LIBERAL Democrat MP and mayoral hopeful Simon Hughes never misses an opportunity to have a go at the Tory candidate Steve Norris’s links with big companies. Hughes linked Norris to the Potters Bar train crash in a London mayoral election leaflet. Norris is chairman of Jarvis, the company that recently accepted joint legal responsibility.
But perhaps Hughes should look closer to home with his criticism in future. Lib Dem Lord Clement-Jones is the party’s health spokesperson. He pockets £100,000 a year running a lobbying firm for City lawyers DLA. Top of the list of clients is AB Foods-the food giant that sells Silver Spoon sugar.
Clement-Jones says he wants the government to create an “obesity tsar”. But he has yet to comment on whether such an official would be asked to target the sugar companies. The government of the Cayman Islands tax haven is also a client. Meanwhile another Lib Dem peer, Lord McNally, rakes in £35,000 a year from PR firm Weber Shandwick.
The Lib Dems are not only as grasping as New Labour and the Tories, they also share the hypocrisy. Their conference passed a motion two and half years ago “banning” Lib Dem MPs and peers from working for lobbying firms.
IN THIS WEEK
THE ANTI Nazi League held its carnival in Brockwell Park, Brixton, which attracted 150,000 people, on 28 May 1994. It was the biggest anti-Nazi mobilisation in Britain since the 1930s.
The British National Party had its first councillor elected in east London in 1993. It brought a 300 percent rise in racist attacks in the area. The anti-Nazi response, including a 40,000-strong march by the TUC in March 1994, helped ensure the BNP councillor was booted out.
TORY frontbencher James Paice cracked a joke with fellow hyenas recently. He said British jails are so full “there is not enough room to swing an Iraqi”. Michael Howard is refusing to discipline him as he made an apology.
It might also have something to do with the fact that, according to a source, most of the senior Tories who heard the sick “joke” laughed.
THE DEPUTY head of the CIA is very clear about what the US war on terror really means. James Pavitt says the CIA needs “thousands” of new operatives.
He told the New York Times that the period of the 1990s, when the CIA was at least formally banned from recruiting war criminals and human rights abusers, was over. “I’m not going to succeed against terrorism unless I recruit terrorists,” said Pavitt.
SYSTEMATIC TORTURE by US forces is also taking place in Afghanistan, say the monitors of Human Rights Watch. “Afghans have been telling us for well over a year about mistreatment in US custody,” says John Sifton, Afghanistan researcher for the human rights body. We warned US officials repeatedly about these problems in 2003 and 2004. It’s now time for the US to publicise the results of its investigations of abuse, fully prosecute those responsible, and provide access to independent monitors.”
Human Rights Watch made “several formal requests to visit US detention sites in Afghanistan through 2003 and 2004, none of which received any response. “In March of this year, Human Rights Watch again called on the US to release the results of its investigations into three deaths. These requests were ignored.”
Testimonies handed to Human Rights Watch show torture is widespread with “many detainees beaten during the initial stages of detention”.
THE WIFE of disgraced Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black managed a parting shot before her column on the paper was dropped last week. Barbara Amiel took aim at what she called the excessive zeal for corporate governance after billions of dollars of corruption were uncovered at the Enron multinational.
She didn’t mention that she, along with hubby, is being investigated in court action over the disappearance of funds at Hollinger International, the company that has put the Telegraph up for sale. The fraud investigation could now be extended to the company’s non-executive directors.
They include Republican hawk and war criminal Henry Kissinger and neo-conservative guru Richard Perle. Questions could centre on the head of Hollinger’s audit committee, James Thompson. He is a former governor of Illinois, who sits on the National Commission on Terrorist Acts upon the US.
That is the body that is supposed to find out the truth from the Bush administration about what it knew in the run-up to the 11 September attacks.
Figure it out
The number of people George Bush had executed while he was governor of Texas. While Bush attacked Iraqi militants for beheading a soldier last week, he has executed more than any governor in US history.
“We cannot deny Saddam Hussein is our president. We want him back.”
AHMED, assistant to military council secretary who is paid by the US in Samarra
“The weight problem is a concern. From our perspective these problems do not undermine the programme or our choice of aircraft.”
SPOKESPERSON, Ministry of Defence puts a brave face on the new US jets too big to make vertical takeoffs or fit on aircraft carriers
“Various allegations could be put to the prime minister, there would be glaring headlines about the allegations, and I did not think it was appropriate to do that.”
LORD HUTTON, explains how he protected Blair from cross-examination over the war by not recalling him to answer questions for his report into the death of Dr Kelly
“People think we export democracy. We don’t.”
LORNE CRANER, US assistant secretary of state responsible for promoting human rights and democracy when questioned last week
“The UK’s entry, James Fox, could manage only a lowly 16th position, possibly due to Britain’s unpopularity over Iraq.”
DAILY MAIL, claims that even last week’s Eurovision song contest recorded an anti-war vote
The US defence department announced last week that a satellite positioning device had been found in an Afghan cave. They said the equipment was lost in Somalia in 1993. The discovery, they proclaimed, was concrete evidence at last that Bin Laden's Al Qaida network was behind the deaths of 18 US soldiers in the disastrous raid on Mogadishu.