In These New Times

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‘Dodgy Dossier’ on Zimbabwe crushed

Posted by smeddum on July 13, 2008

‘Dodgy Dossier’ on Zimbabwe crushed

Philip Murombedzi

Sat, 12 Jul 2008 10:22:00 +0000 Zimbabwe Guardian

WHAT exactly is happening to the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown? In June he suffered a humiliation local election defeat which left his party with one of the worst election outcomes in decades. Then came the Mayor of London election which Labour candidate Ken Livingstone dismally lost to ‘cartoon character’ Boris Johnson. Yesterday his ‘dodgy sanctions dossier’ calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe was crushed by Russia and China.

Labour catastrophically lost the Crewe and Nantwich by-election.

Brown suffered the humiliation of seeing Labour beaten into fifth place in the Henley-on-Thames by-election railing even behind the Green Party and the racist British National Party, although his party had come third in the last general election.. Labour candidate Richard McKenzie lost his deposit there.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said that the result showed that Mr Brown’s days in No 10 were numbered. “After one year in the job Gordon Brown cannot even get enough support to save his deposit,” he said.

Then came the issue of how long to hold ‘terror suspects’ ― a further blow to Gordon Brown. An ICM poll conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Research Trust showed that only a third of the British people support(ed) the British prime minister’s call for an extension to the time terror suspects can be held. He narrowly won the vote in parliament with the support of nine minor party legislators from Northern Ireland. His victory was generally described in Westminster circles as ‘hollow’.

36 of his Labour legislators (out of the 66 he ‘has’) opposed the plans and others abstained – that is more than half of his party, who had been obviously been whipped, still disapprove of his policies. ‘Pork barrel politics’ indeed – as it was described in Westminster, or ‘porridge-like’ leadership as David Cameron called it during a May PMQ session.

“Securing votes by threats, bribes and personal pleading demeans the role of the prime minister,” said John McDonnell, a Labour legislator who opposed Brown on the detention extension vote.

In Japan last week at the G8 Summit he tried to use the same characteristic methods to secure a Security Council Resolution on Zimbabwe. He used an eclectic mix of personal pleading, shock tactics and ‘hidden threats’ to coax a vote on Zimbabwe this week. This made him look like a weak and ineffectual leader who does not believe in his own conviction. Did he need to beg for a resolution if the case was clear-cut?

Lord Levy – the cash-for-honors-guy, described a “lack of strong leadership” in the Labour Party. This became premonition to Mandela’s “tragic failure of leadership” on Zimbabwe, which many misconstrued as pointing to Zanu PF. How could the Labour Party give ovation to a statement that could have also been directed at themselves – their failure in handling the Zimbabwean situation?

Yesterday’s veto by Russia and China adds a notch to Gordon Brown’s catalogue of failures. Funny that Brown and his foreign secretary thought they would get a Chinese and Russian vote on a resolution against Zimbabwe. In January 2007 China and Russia jointly vetoed a U.S.-sponsored resolution criticizing Burma’s human rights record. How then could they support a vote on Zimbabwe? Isn’t this a characteristic miscalculation by the Labour government reminiscent of their leadership? Earlier miscalculations have led to a war in Iraq over a ‘dodgy dossier’. Brown’s ‘dodgy dossier’ on Zimbabwe failed to get the required approval.

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, succinctly summed it up: “We believe such practices (U.S. and Britain’s) to be illegitimate and dangerous, leading to a realignment of the UN system. This draft (‘dodgy dossier’) is nothing but the council’s attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of a member state.” (bracketed words added).

Yes, weak western leadership is now realigning the unipolar world that we experienced since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Russia and China and developing nations have shown a capacity to effect decisions against the West.

Now that the sanctions draft has been vetoed, Brown has failed to make his mark on the international stage, once more. Is he a tiny dot then, or a “hermit prime minister” as one critic said? Or maybe he is merely an Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff-like figure with a short fuse?

The truth is that Brown’s popularity is in continual decline and his demise imminent. Zimbabwe will deal a final blow to his leadership and his popularity, if he does not handle it properly. Unlike his friend in America, who is not seeking re-election Brown should be more careful, and more diplomatic. In the meantime those who were taking cues from him in Zimbabwe – the opposition – only have themselves to blame.

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