Thursday, March 3, 2011
A WEEK IS A LONG TIME...
In January I visited the UK to write an article about Sky News and to attend the Fabian Society New Year Conference where Ed Miliband was to speak. Also pencilled in to my diary was a meeting with Sir Teddy Taylor, the former MP for Southend East.
As I caught a minor bug I went ahead with the Sky and Fabian dates but cancelled my meeting with Sir Teddy along with a couple others.
I wanted to chat with Sir Teddy about Gadafi because he had travelled to Libya on a couple of occasions to meet him. My interest was to learn what he made of the leader of that nation and to discuss his views on the Lockerbie bombing – especially as Sir Teddy is from Glasgow. It was mid-January and nobody had foreseen what would happen just weeks later. At that point Gadafi and Libya were on the rehabilitation list!
Reading Sir Teddy’s words in his autobiography Teddy Boy Blue now makes strange reading. I quote:
“If we endeavouring to solve the many problems facing the Middle East my belief is that we would make more progress if we treated the various nations with dignity and respect.
“Another good example of this is my experiences in Libya. I paid a visit there at a time when Mr. Gadaffi (sic throughout) appeared to have no friends in the world and when I was advised that it would be dangerous to travel there. However, as so often before, I found that the foreign office assessment of nations was not too accurate. I visited Mr Gadaffi on my first visit there and several times thereafter. During my first visit he agreed to cancel the provision he had made for the supply of weapons to the IRA and to many other terrorist groups in the world. These massive changes in policy have been maintained.
“The main feature for me on my visit to Libya was to see the actual country itself and the services provided to the community. Of course there is always the danger of being misled, but I can only say that as a person who has no financial or other interests in nations like Libya ...my assessment was that they had many positive features which sadly are not communicated to our people. My experience in the world is that those countries which the West approves of are often the most horrible nations for people to live in whilst those they disapprove of are often liberal and exciting nations which people seem happy to live in.”
It would be interesting to know how Sir Teddy feels about these impressions now.
As I say – a week is a long time in politics!