Friday 22 September 2023
In Tutela Nostra Limuria?
Boris Johnson is kicking off about the impending transfer of the Chagos Islands from British to Mauritian sovereignty. When he was Prime Minister and when he was Foreign Secretary, then was he unaware of those negotiations? Perhaps he was. Mauritius is in any case an Indian rather than a Chinese ally, and it is a Commonwealth country, again things that Johnson might have been expected to have known. But it is still wrong that the British Government is dealing only with Mauritius, where Chagossians have not always been well-treated, rather than with the Islanders themselves.
Since no one is asking the Chagossians, then the American base on Diego Garcia is likely to remain, more is the pity. But amidst the heebie-jeebies about a possible Chinese one, welcome to the century by the end of which there will be a Chinese base on the Moon. China's only overseas base is in Djibouti, the not quite one million people of which manage to share their not quite nine thousand square miles with that, with Japan's only overseas base, with (for now) a base of their old French imperial overlord, and with a base of their newer American imperial overlord. So there is no reason to assume that a Chinese base on the Chagos archipelago would displace the American.
If the American base were indeed to be retained, a situation that would be far from ideal, then Britain should name its price as part of the transfer of sovereignty, with the monies to go to the Chagossian people. Tony Benn and Tam Dalyell are dead, while Alex Salmond and George Galloway are out of Parliament, so by far the staunchest remaining parliamentary supporter of the Chagossian cause is Jeremy Corbyn. On its own, justice for the Chagos Islanders would make worthwhile his 40 years and counting in the House of Commons, both in itself and against the records of Labour Rightists from Denis Healey to David Miliband.
What does the Official Opposition even say about the live issue of the British Indian Ocean Territory? Apparently, nothing whatever, although even that is better than the only realistic alternative from the present Labour frontbench. But when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Keir Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.
To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.