Tory trade envoy troubles

Liz Truss, cheese afficionado and pork markets fan – will she ever be remembered for anything else? Has today announced ten brand new trade envoys to represent Britain and promote our exports and our interests. Truss might be the most popular Tory politician – God only knows why – but she’s never been known for being the brightest. Perhaps that’s unfair, perhaps she’s picked some real experts here, some real professionals in this field, after all her boss Johnson signed off on them all. So who has she appointed then? Who are these trade experts? Oh dear Liz…you were better off with the cheese…

Liz Truss the Secretary of State for International Trade and never one to shy away from bigging up even the smallest deal has today announced 10 brand new trade envoys to help open up new trade links, promote our produce and big up Great Britain post Brexit. All sounds rather positive doesn’t it! So who are these booming economies we’re sweet-talking with these new faces?

Let’s start with Australia and you can imagine Liz Truss thinking what are we famous for in Australia, what do they love about us and came up with cricket. They don’t love us for cricket, they love us for losing against them at cricket. So rather than appoint anyone with familiarity with Australian economics, she appointed a cricketer, who also just happens to have joined the vermin in ermine in the House of Lords in 2020, becoming Baron Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham of Ravensworth. Although he sits as a crossbencher, Botham was vocally pro-Brexit which is all the qualification he surely needs. What part of cricketer training, what conversations in the clubhouse concern economics and trade relations? Weren’t the Tories implying sportsmen should stick to what they know? They told Marcus Rashford he had no business sticking his nose into things that didn’t concern him when he strove to feed kids during the holidays when the Tories would rather they starved, what could qualify this millionaire footballer after all, other than growing up poor himself! He had life experience, Botham has none regarding trade. The Tories really do need to make up their minds – can sportsmen make good politicians? Yes or no?

Ghana next, and who have the Tories carefully selected? Former Labour MP – and by the fact she’s taken the Ian Austin weasel route into the Tories grace and favour, you can tell that’s where she really belongs – Kate Hoey. Yes, screamingly pro Brexit cheerleader, another life peer to the House of Lords and Irish white woman Kate Hoey. Was there any real desire to have someone with something remotely in common with Ghana appointed to this post? I mean she was certainly one of the loudest voices for Brexit, she even got on a boat with Nigel Farage so perhaps she was owed a favour? I’m not sure what the Ghanaians did to deserve her though. She can bring her political experience of cutting her nose off to spite her face, wanting to hunt small wildlife and demand all cyclists be registered I suppose. Have they even heard of her over there?

Sir Geoffrey Donaldson MP is off to Cameroon – he’s a DUP MP, Brexit patsies that they were for the Tories and it seems they just can’t help still cosy up to them after the way they were shafted and what is it with the Tories sending the Irish to Africa, or do you have to be Irish AND bigoted? Have they left Dominic Raab to sort this out? He does know Ireland isn’t over there right? Donaldson apparently is already trade envoy to Egypt, so apparently he’s got enough time for this as well which is remarkably reassuring that we’re clearly getting some massive trade going on there if he’s got time to do both.

Current Tory MP Conor Burns is off to Canada – an Irishman not heading for Africa, well there’s a change, though no doubt his constituents in Bournemouth will be delighted to see their MP working for them on the other side of the Atlantic! The joys of living in a Tory safe seat – you don’t matter. Another brexiteer, so a shoe-in for a trade envoy job, but this ais a guy who was forced to resign as minister of state for trade policy just last year for being found guilty by the parliamentary standards commissioner for threatening to expose a member of the public using parliamentary privilege. He got suspended from parliament for 7 days, so this very much looks like your typical Tory rewards for bad behaviour when they think we’ve stopped looking. We see you. Sorry Canada, you’ve drawn a short straw.

Another Tory MP, Mark Eastwood is off to Pakistan and you’ve guessed it, he’s a brexiteer, he’s white and I’m not sure how fluent his Urdu might be! He has been to Pakistan once as part of an all party delegation though, so he does at least know where it is. He was a new intake MP for 2019, a red wall Tory, so there’s little else to be said, but then there doesn’t seem to be much needed to qualify anyone for these roles.

David Mundell, for some time the lone Tory MP in Scotland has been appointed trade envoy to New Zealand, so at least they got a politician and not a sportsman, though the question needs to be asked given he’s being sent from plague island, will they even let him in – do catch my recent article on New Zealand going into lockdown again off the back of a single new COVID case. There’s an irony sending a Scottish unionist to an island that gained its independence from Britain and has been successful – he doesn’t think that’s possible you see.

Another Tory MP, Marco Longhi, he who replaced a cowardly Ian Austin who had stood down as an MP rather than face defeat. Of course the Tories then gave the snivelling rodent an ermine overcoat, showing he was never really Labour to begin with. Longhi is off to Brazil. He’s lived there, he speaks Portuguese, you could almost think there was logic to this choice, if we hadn’t already run through a bunch of absolute howlers, but Longhi is a Tory after all, owning numerous properties and had accused the National Trust of being woke and appropriating cultural Marxism, which is a known racist trope. He’ll no doubt get on brilliantly with Jair Bolsonaro.

Stephen Timms is off to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, famous between them for chocolate and false teeth, so the more of one they can push on us, the more we’ll need the other! He’s a remainer and Labour MP so how did he sneak through, though perhaps the question ought to be, why on Earth is a currently serving opposition MP taking a role from the governming party, because that’s just taking the piss and makes Labour look even more of a failure in the opposition department than it already is.

Felicity Buchan has been appointed as a trade envoy to Norway and Iceland, who is the current MP for Kensington, having replaced the excellent Emma Dent Coad and therefore inheriting the ongoing, unresolved mess of Grenfell, I’m sure her constituents will be delighted that she’s sodding off to Scandinavia, though given she voted against the Labour amendment to the Fire Safety Bill intended to implement the recommendations of the first phase of the Grenfell Tower Enquiry, they’re probably more than well aware she doesn’t give a shit. A former banker, her only qualification to this role appears to be the fact she’s Scottish and therefore comes from the bit of Britain closest to Norway and Iceland.

Lastly there’s Lord Walney, there’s an innocuous, name, but it’s bloody John Woodcock. A former Labour MP who took a Tory peerage – funny so many of these have been former Labour MP’s, its almost as if the Labour Party is led by people who don’t really belong in it doesn’t it! He left the Labour Party let’s not let him forget coincidentally whilst a sexual harassment investigation into him was taking place. He was Ian Austin’s sidekick and fellow Corbyn basher and stood up publicly declaring what a danger Corbyn was to society and advocating for people to vote Tory. Yeah. That worked out well. He and Austin got their peerages for services rendered, but don’t think he’s satisfied yet, he’s a co-owner of the Jewish Chronicle.

Well he’s been appointed trade envoy to Tanzania. Whilst this country suffers, the people he purported to represent he has utterly betrayed for his own ends and he’s still cashing in. I can only apologise in advance to the people of Tanzania, I had no idea the Tories hated you this much.

So we have a list of ten trade envoys, many with no experience in trade whatsoever, all on the gravy train to some extent or another, despite 50% of these nations being majority non-white, 100% of all the trade envoy’s are white. 80% of them are male and 70% of them were pro Brexit.

Liz Truss and Boris Johnson aren’t interested in getting trade deals, I doubt they’re bothered whether any of these people succeed or fail, these are pats on the back, these are golden handshakes, these are rewards for loyalty and services rendered and when we’re paying for all of this, all whilst the Tories cut to ribbons our quality of life, all while our cost of living goes up, we should all be very, very pissed off at this.

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Afghanistan abandoned.

Once upon a time and by that I’m going back to the early 80’s, the West was actually funding various dissident groups in Afghanistan, the likes of Osama bin-Laden in fact, the so-called Afghan mujahideen, because they were at war with the Soviet Union and that suited us because Russia bad, America and its allies good. We armed these people, we trained these people and now, as always seems to be the case, we’re walking away from a mess of our own making.

Margaret Thatcher promised these people that the hearts of the West were with them when really these people were just a temporary convenience to the West. It was a proxy war to the ongoing Cold War and it resulted in as many as 2 million Afghans losing their lives and countless more displaced, becoming refugees. For 9 years it rumbled on, ending only when the Soviets decided to withdraw, unable to cope primarily with the difficult terrain more suited to Afghan guerrilla tactics, but left the country in such a state it collapsed into civil war amongst various factions of that same mujahideen, a mix of disparate warlords fighting over bits of the country until they themselves were driven out by the Taliban, hardline religious zealots who had emerged from Pakistan promising to drive out the factions, taking over roughly three quarters of Afghanistan by 1996 and holding it until 2001 when the West went to war there and drove them out.

Hang on a minute Damo you might be thinking, these warlords, the mujahadeen had been funded, armed and trained by the West and they’ve been driven out. How is the Taliban invading from Pakistan and taking over the West’s fault?

Well the Taliban are themselves a mess of the West’s making. They were founded in 1994, essentially a student movement in Pakistan, appalled at the lack of Islamic teachings in neighbouring Afghanistan after that country fell apart once the Soviets had withdrawn. They pledged to establish a purely Islamic state and as we saw subsequently, they installed a harsh regime with hardline Sharia Law at its centre. Crucially, a great many of these individuals also came from the very mujahadeen fighters, trained, armed and funded by the West to fight the Soviets years earlier, so it was a kind of mujahideen civil war in a sense.

I’ll go back to that point as well about the Taliban beginning as a student movement – the word Taliban literally means student – students need educational materials in order to learn and what they were being taught was being supplied by the US. Despite eventual revisions to texts, these Taliban students, but also students in war-torn Afghanistan received learning materials that would shape their thinking, images of soldiers, of war, of weaponry, of jihad, of violence combined with Islamic teachings and a hatred of foreigners. Kids were literally being taught to count by counting tanks or missiles in a book for goodness sake! The intent was to keep fresh in the minds of these students what the Soviets had done to them, a hatred of Communism – to foment a distrust and dislike of the Soviets, just as the West distrusted and detested the Soviets – all supplied covertly, so US hands weren’t dirtied by it, all Cold War propaganda effectively.

So we have armed, indoctrinated forces from two countries, taught to hate foreigners, primarily intended to be Russia, who went to war and the Taliban came out victorious. None of this would’ve been possible without western involvement. Let’s get that into context.

But then all this interference in other countries came and bit the West on the arse.

The Taliban were supported by the terrorists Al-Qaeda, formed by Osama bin-Laden after he ceased to be a useful, Western funded mujahadeen fighting the Soviets, yes they formed from that same funded, trained and armed proxy army too. He’d been involved in blowing up US embassies in Africa, which had put him on the most wanted list, but the events of 9/11 meant he was now too big a threat to the US to be left at large. Demands that the Taliban hand him over, hiding in a cave in Afghanistan as he was, were rebuffed, they didn’t bow to the demands of the hated foreigners, including the non-Russian variety, so the month after 9/11 the US invaded to remove the Taliban from power and they did so within months, though it’d take a decade of fighting them before they got bin-Laden. The Taliban, having come from Pakistan, simply returned there to regroup, started feeding back into Afghanistan to mount more offensives and it became a constant cat and mouse game. The problems with the landscape that the Soviets found fighting there in the 80’s proved to be a problem for Western forces right up to the here and now. Here we are some 20 years after that initial invasion and it is decided that we’re going to all pack up and go home without finishing what we started and what happens? The Taliban have taken city after city, are at this moment knocking on the door of the capital city Kabul and sweeping back into power. Civilians are being evacuated where possible or ordered to remain in place for their own safety, the US ambassador has been airlifted from the roof of the embassy and everything has gone to hell as the government the West installed and built up is trashed in a week! If I was an American taxpayer, I’d be pissed, $100bn US dollars spent on training the Afghan army and to what end? An embassy that cost $700m now just gifted to the Taliban. An absolute failure for any of the structures put in place to hold up. Still, the withdrawal is going on, troops are being deployed, but to continue with the withdrawal, not to defend people who have worked with us for 2 decades, nor it seems to help them flee as well! The country is going to fall once more to the Taliban because, what? We got bin-Laden and now we’re bored and want to go home? There are people out there who helped the West, served the West, translators and the like who are now being abandoned. These people have a price on their heads and the Taliban plan on separating them from their bodies. The despotic Priti Patel has decided we don’t want to take Afghan refugees in case it encourages others to flee here – just what part of taking responsibility for our nations actions doesn’t she get, or rather, her own maniacal hatred of bloody foreigners coming here means she simply doesn’t care. These people literally face execution at the hands of the Taliban, they’ve been warned in advance they face beheading for helping us and we’re just going to walk away again, leaving a mess behind, just as we always damn well do. Apparently Dominic Raab is the foreign secretary these days, who knew! We’ve heard very little from him, perhaps he’s still trying to find Afghanistan on a map! Has he found Dover yet?

After the Gulf War, we abandoned Palestinians and the Bedoon booted out of Kuwait, after Libya we left a country to fall apart to the point its now a place of slave markets and civil war, after the Iraq War we left a political vacuum filled by the rise of ISIS. Every time we go to war somewhere, we don’t see it through, we go out there under the auspices of achieving peace yet that is the one thing that never happens. Our Western leaders get what they want, then lose interest. They’ve become bored by Afghanistan, they never really won, but they started a fight they can’t be bothered to finish, instead allowing the oppressive Taliban, a monster of the West’s own making, to just take it all back again and the people out there are doomed to suffer as a result.

Some of the most sickening responses I’ve seen are the blatantly political attacks on Joe Biden for pulling troops out and whilst there’s certainly cause to be angry over this, the orange idiot before him wanted to pull out in May – there’s no political high ground for republicans or democrats here!

There’s none for us here in the UK either. Refugees need not apply, weasel soundbites from Boris Johnson about not wanting Afghanistan to become a breeding ground for terror as we wash our hands of the situation too. Jeremy Corbyn of course warned us against getting involved in Afghanistan to start with, but hey, it was never in Tony Blair’s playbook to not go running when George Bush clicked his chubby fingers and they made him a peace envoy to the middle east. How much more twisted can you get? Soldiers from any country who served must be looking at this, families of those who had died out there and they must surely be wondering, what was the point? What did we fight for? What did our loved ones die for if this is the end result?

So when would have been the right time to leave? We can’t stay forever after all? Is a perfectly reasonable response to all I’ve said so far. I’d suggest after 20 years, you’d think we’d have done enough so that Afghanistan could stand against the likes of the Taliban on its own, be secure in its own defence capability, have allies in the area to aid it, a strong economy to support it. A huge amount of time and money has been spent but what is there to show for it? Perhaps 20 years in a region so battle-scarred in recent history isn’t enough, but surely it is not unreasonable to suggest if you go to another country and you make war and cause disruption, you have a moral and ethical responsibility to stay until the situation is settled don’t you? Walking away just to let the Taliban take back over should be utterly unthinkable.

I could’ve gone further back in history if I’d wanted to, Western interference in the middle east has been a pisstake and a grand litany of failure, leaving only death and suffering behind for a great deal longer than I’ve covered here. This is another sad, sorry chapter in that history. Our governments should shame us and my heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan as events continue to unfold, abandoned, with a choice between Sharia Law, death or fleeing goodness knows where, while we just walk away.

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