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Churchill and the Saudis


Churchill After the sycophantic tributes paid by various world leaders to the passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia , many people are angered (including this blog writer) that people such as David Cameron, the Queen and even President Obama have felt the need to offer “touchy feeling diplomacy” following the Monarch’s death.

The lowering of flags in the UK on Government Buildings; Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace have not only angered people who are genuinely appalled at Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights abuse for a monarch who’s countries laws meet out sadistic and barbaric sentencing but point to double standards when on one hand our governments over the years have deplored it’s laws and on the other our praising a man in passing because we wish to maintain our relationship with an oil rich country.

When actually asked as to confirm who is responsible in the government for the decision to lower the flags as to honour the late Saudi King (a gesture normally only befitting the passing of British royalty or heads of government for the Commonwealth countries and only world leaders at the discretion of the UK Government) Whitehall appears to be confused with both the FCO and the Department for Media and Culture both denying their respective authority and concurring each other for permitting the honour.

Labour leader Ann Clywd was the latest MPs to voice her anger at the tributes paid to the late King Abdullah, stating that the country had one of the worst human rights records in the world and said “People in countries such as ours should use every opportunity to protest because the public are appalled by such barbarity” adding “Lots of people die but I dont think flying the flags at half mast for a country which has such a human rights record is acceptable.” Her comments following similar outrage from others,  such as Louise Mensch the former Corby Conservative MP,  who on Friday erupted on Twitter condemning the  ‘supine’ adoration of male leaders on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women. Many wondered, as I did, what Tony Blair actually was referring to when he called the later King a ‘moderniser’ in light of the little he did in terms of the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

Even the Council for Advancement for Arab and British Understanding are also baffled by the ‘dishonesty’ of the tributes paid; Chris Doyle it’s director saying that although Britain and Saudi Arabia need to maintain relations on a global stage that the tribute “..wont be taken seriously if we go over the top in paying respects” and highlighting the fact that British Muslims are being asked to accept British Values by our Government on the one hand and then watching our establishment blindly ignore and accept human rights abusewhere the Saudi’s flogs their own citizens – thus our diplomacy runs incompatible UK values Mr Doyle pointing to the sentence met of 1000 lashes said “what does that mean when there’s a completely non-critical reaction to the events in Saudi Arabia like the flogging of a blogger? This creates a sense of double standards”

Maybe the politicians in our country could learn from the Briton that was Winston Churchill, the audacious and insubmissive  politician whose death the UK will soon be celebrating in terms of his passing 50 years ago. When in 1945 he met the then founder of Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Said (the father of King  Abdullah) and was warned by both his own Government officials and interpreters and from Saudi Officials that the smoking and drinking alcohol in the presence of the Saudi King would not be tolerated he replied to his interpreter, in answer to the Saudi officials “If it was the religion of his Majesty to deprive himself of smoking and drinking alcohol, I must point out that my rule of life, prescribed as an absolute sacred rite, smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before; after and even during meals, and in the intervals between them.”

It is thus a tribute to a man who never fell short of actually saying what was on his mind and rarely conceded to the force of others.  In 2002 Sir Winston Churchill was named as the greatest Briton that ever lived in a  vote of 100 Great Britons including other prominent luminaries such as Darwin, Shakespeare and Elizabeth I. The case for him is a powerful one, of course. He was first a government minister in 1908, and occupied most of the top jobs in politics during half a century. He finally retired in 1955, having served as prime minister for a total of nine years.

His greatest triumph of course was his leadership and rallying of the British people in World War Two that marked him out and his brave and tireless in his resolve to take on Nazi Germany, even when at times it seemed that Britain may have fallen to the Nazis in a war torn Europe. He remained constantly resilient and this probably inspired the US to enter the war after Britain France and it’s other allies were teetering on defeat.

Even as a Sandhurst  cadet, Churchill was defiant, his first speech and act of defiance was probably in 1894 when he was among a group of upper-class ‘hooligans’ who tore down a screen that was erected by the League for Social Purity, at the Empire in Leicester Square which was placed there to keep the West End’s prostitutes from their clients, many of whom were the gentry of the City by the London County Council. The vandals spokesperson  shouted “Ladies of the Empire, I stand for liberty” this was none other than a young Winston Churchill and in a letter to The Times and the Bishop of London bemoaned the conduct of the young Churchill that he should ever see any of the Dukes of Marlborough ‘hailed by a flourish of Strumpets’

The sad fact is that politicians that speak out and are of Churchill’s nature would never get elected, even Boris Jonson, almost a devotee of Churchill’s manner and British values seems implausible in our corporate world of diplomatic,  insincere and disingenuous politics

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