So here comes yet another Pecksniffian outfit waxing holier-than-thou. The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has complained about “inconsistencies and contradictions” in the government’s attitude towards states that have poor records on human rights. The committee cites particularly the refusal of our MPs to attend the 2012 Euro football championship in Ukraine, but the absence of official protest at the holding of the Grand Prix race in Bahrain. CFAC say, “Bahrain should be on a list of countries of concern.”
What’s it got to do with CFAC? And what’s it got to do with the government, if it comes to that? The trouble with modern international politics is that it has, in the name of that shibboleth the universal doctrine of human rights, replaced our former (effective and enriching though much decried) imperialism with a new self-righteous bureaucratic and politically correct imperialism which employs as its chief weapon not gunboats but salvos of haughty disapproval.
It is implied that we lost nothing by boycotting the footie in Ukraine, because Britain had nothing to lose by doing so; but that we have to be nice to the government of Bahrain because we have strategic, commercial and security interests there. Quite. And therefore we are quite right to avoid causing difficulties for the Bahrain government. Those interests are bound to affect our policy towards Bahrain, and it is right that they should.
It should be made clear that Britain is not the world’s policeman, counsel for the prosecution, judge and jury. We should not interfere in the domestic policies of other nations. There is one exception to this truism: we may interfere when it is in our national interest to do so. And then, of course, we must take the consequences.
I wish the government would cease this unctuous, pharisaical meddling and putting its nose in where it’s neither desired nor deserved. Let it be said, the duties of our government are onerous but simply stated: to defend the realm from foreign enemies and to keep the peace at home. That’s quite enough to keep our rulers busy. Not that the government is particularly successful even in these fundamental responsibilities. Our list of “countries of concern” should feature one name and one only: Britain.
I think it was Kingsley Amis who said, “Living in Tunbridge Wells and worrying about Patagonia is the first sign of madness.”