Andrew Murray: The danger of conflict is growing. Yet to present Britain as a defensive, even pacifist, actor in this drama is a travesty of the truth.

Since a stopped clock tells the correct time twice a day, we may allow that sometimes Rishi Sunak says something correct, even if his motives and analysis are entirely flawed.

So it is with his pronouncement that Britain could be facing one of the most dangerous periods in its history.

Sunak’s motive for this dramatic pronouncement was to create a clear dividing line with Keir Starmer, asserting that only the Tories could be trusted to navigate the looming storm.

In that, his speech surely failed. On every issue he raised, and every issue he didn’t come to that, there is no substantive difference between Starmer’s Labour and Sunak’s Tories.

The Prime Minister identified several components of the looming danger — mass migration, “cancel culture” and the development of artificial intelligence among them.

Climate change didn’t make the cut, since this was a list of crises that right-wing Tories worry about.

But his main focus was on the supposed threat from Russia and China, abetted by Iran and North Korea in an “axis of authoritarianism” — a turn of phrase that invokes, surely not accidentally, George Bush’s phantom “axis of evil” which yielded such terrible consequences.

This fits in with the broader effort to whip up a war scare, including to justify the Tory plan, more-or-less backed by Labour, to hike military spending back to cold war levels.

In his cack-handed way, however, the Prime Minister is right. The danger of conflict is growing. Yet to present Britain as a defensive, even pacifist, actor in this drama is a travesty of the truth.

Yugoslavia. Afghanistan. Iraq. Libya. Syria. Yemen. The list of British wars in the post-Soviet era is long — a good deal longer than the Chinese, say, or even the Russian. And none of these wars were remotely defensive or forced upon a reluctant British government.

The actual danger to the British people is the same as the danger to those in many other parts of the world — British imperialism.

Allied to the vast military weight of the United States, Britain’s rulers continue to play a world role, interfering here, there and everywhere to safeguard the international economic system from which the City of London and sundry other interests profit mightily.

That has not made the world a safer place. The number of states unwilling to be bossed around with menaces by Washington and London is growing. Yet none of them remotely threaten Britain and the integrity of its democratic institutions.

The actual menace to democracy come from — well, you may have guessed: British imperialism. The war psychosis being whipped up is one front in the drive to impose a more authoritarian order here.

And babble about external threats was used to justify state plotting against Jeremy Corbyn when he was leader of the Labour Party.

We may assume that MI5’s Labour Threats Planning Group has been stood down for now.

Whether it is a matter of defending peace or democracy the enemy is the same. It is the British ruling class of which Sunak remains, for now, the leading spokesman.

Source: Morning Star

15 May 2024 by Andrew Murray

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