Magazine article The Spectator

Does the Pinochet Mess Mark the End of New Labour?

Magazine article The Spectator

Does the Pinochet Mess Mark the End of New Labour?

Article excerpt

The more I look into the Pinochet case, the more angry I become at the shame it brings on Britain's name. The mess all springs from Tony Blair's cowardly decision to cop out of a difficult dilemma by accepting the tendentious advice that the matter was sub judice and that the government could not interfere with the legal process. `Politics must not be allowed to come into it' was Blair's buck-passing argument. But the legal process has been dominated by left-wing politics from the beginning. That is what drives the entire campaign of Judge Garzon, the Marxist Torquemada who has created the new Spanish Inquisition.

For instance, under the absurd terms of the Extradition Treaty, there was a legal obligation to read out to the Law Lords the text of Garzon's warrant, full of highly defamatory material which apparently has no basis in fact. It included the allegation that Pinochet engaged in `the systematic extermination of Jews'. That is a deliberate lie, which has been comprehensively refuted by the Chilean Jewish community. Sergio Melnick, a senior Pinochet minister who is an observant Jew, has pointed out that the government's relations with local Jews, with the international Jewish community and with Israel were excellent. The fictitious material was doubtless stressed to impress the two Jewish Law Lords, and this fact alone should have been enough to have the verdict overthrown. What I do not understand is why no opportunity was given for the lies to be exposed from the start. They will presumably be repeated if the government has the hardihood to allow the case to be heard again by another set of Law Lords this month. The detailed case against Pinochet bears all the dirty thumb-prints of the Soviet agitprop machine which originally compiled it. It is largely fraudulent, and it is hard to see any justification for Britain's highest court being used to propagate leftwing perjuries, which can then be published under privilege in the press.

There is another aspect of the Pinochet case which has not come to the public's attention. During the Falklands war in 1982, General Pinochet, at considerable political risk to himself, rendered signal services to the British task force. When I was in Argentina recently, some of my friends there claimed that without Pinochet's help we would have had no alternative but to abandon the expedition with heavy loss of life. I received these claims sceptically, but since I have got back I have made enquiries on the British side and now believe that the General's role may have been decisive.

In particular, Pinochet gave permission for British units to land in Chile and set up radar stations linked directly to Fleet HQ on HMS Hermes. Our problem, in protecting the fleet and its highly vulnerable troopships such as the QE2 and Canberra, carrying thousands of soldiers, was that the Argentinian attack-aircraft, Skyhawks, Mysteres and Super-Etandards, equipped with the deadly Exocet missiles, were supersonic, whereas our Harriers were subsonic. (We had, of course, no ground-based air-cover.) To give them a chance against the attacking planes, the Harriers needed the earliest possible warning so they could get into position. For this reason, the Argentinian planes flew in at sea-level, under the fleet radar system. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.