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Jack Straw - complicit in torture. Labour North West - complicit with Jack Straw

A former Labour Party member | 08.12.2005 13:04 | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Repression | World

Jack Straw did not "act alone" in his decision to co-operate with the United States government's torture programme. Labour North West could have stopped him, but they didn't. They actively supported Straw in May 2005, even when the extent of his torture complicity was becoming very clear.

There's growing evidence that Jack Straw personally endorsed British intelligence co-operation with torture. MI6 handed over "terror suspects" to foreign governments on the specific understanding that those suspects would be tortured for information which would then be used by MI6. They even went so far as sending questions to the foreign torturers (in countries like Egypt and Morocco) to be put to the suspect while he was being tortured.

The British authorities also allowed British airports to be used by the CIA as drop-off points and refuelling stops within their "extraordinary rendition" programme, which is a system designed to facilitate transfer of US detainees to foreign countries who are prepared to torture them for information on America's behalf. MI6 was fully aware of this programme, and endorsed it.

MI6 is a department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Jack Straw, as Foreign Secretary, thus has command responsibility for MI6. He denies knowledge of MI6 torture complicity. It's starting to look inevitable that this claim will, at some point, be tested in a court of law.

The irony should not be lost on us. Several years ago, Jack Straw personally intervened to stop the deportation to Spain of Augusto Pinochet where he faced charges of state-sponsored torture. It seems like just a matter of time now before Straw himself faces similar charges.

Labour North West will probably not be joining Jack Straw in the dock. But morally, the case seems fairly clear.

We've known for years what MI6 was up to. It was only a matter of time before the full picture emerged. It seems inconceivable that Labour North West would have been unaware of Straw's record.

It's not too late for them to start to repair the damage. The first thing they can do is come forward and tell us what they know about Jack Straw that has not yet been brought out into the open. The second thing they can do is begin moves to de-select him as an MP. If this process fails, individuals within the North West Labour Party can make their feelings clear by resigning from the Party and refusing to support Straw at future elections.

This of course, is a matter of choice. But if they choose to continue to help and support a man who appears clearly to have knowingly co-operated with a process of systematic torture, then they will have to accept that they themselves are complicit, and morally culpable. And it's not going to be easy to reconcile this with the values that the Labour Party was founded on, and that so many of its members still believe in so strongly.

These guys may not be in the category of concentration camp guards, but they are certainly in the same band as the good folks of the NSDAP who went round raising money for Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. Except of course that many of the Nazis didn't realise quite how bad Hitler was until it was already too late. It's not too late to ditch Jack Straw.

Interestingly, the "Labour North West" website, with contact details of the individual staff, has been taken down by its owners. But from information elsewhere on the net we know that the Regional Director of Labour North West is Kevin Lee, who can be reached via:

There's also this email address:

Many members and former member of the UK Labour party have been active in the Anti-Nazi League. One of the many despised features of the Nazis was their willingess to use torture.

For decades the British left has campaigned against torture in South Africa, South America and many other places around the world, and we have campaigned for torturers to be prosecuted under the full weight of the law.

Few Labour Party members would ever have expected to find a Labour government co-operating with and endorsing the use of torture.

There is only one way this can go. Those who put Blair and Straw in power are the ones who bear the greatest responsibility for ensuring that they face justice for the abuses they have committed. Labour Party members and former Labour Party members are the ones who have to do this. We have to clear our consciences of these disgusting crimes.

The same principles we have applied over the years to injustices in Spain, Chile, Greece, Turkey, Nicaragua, Burma and South Africa must now be applied in Britain. Justice for the victims of British torture-complicity!

A former Labour Party member
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