Spare a thought for Gavin Williamson. There he sits. A man of action. A man who thinks it is every man’s duty to serve his country in a military way. A man who believes in old Brittania. Not since the young Kipling (the writer not the cake guy) took pen to paper was there a greater defender of the British unicorn (or is a lion?).
There he was doing his thing on the National Security Committee and the Privy Council, plotting how to protect his nation from forces of perceived evil and suddenly he is sacked for wrongdoing. He is not happy. How could this travesty of justice visit him, a loyal servant? He calls for transparency. He calls for due process. One day he is arguing for military action in African nations (if reports at the weekend are to be believed), the next minute he’s out on his ear for speaking national secrets regarding a broadband network.
When reports appeared in the media about contracts, Huawei and 5G networks, who could have known that it would lead to Downing Street, the joint National Security Committee and the “scandal” of the Official Secrets Act being compromised by someone at the heart of government? According to Gavin it wasn’t him, but he has the P45 in his back pocket anyway.
How our eyebrows nearly rose. Mr Williamson calling for due process and proper investigation when it is he who has been screaming foul regarding investigations into military violations, including murder. When it is he who is vehemently arguing for, nay, demanding a state amnesty for soldiers in “theatres of war” across the globe, including Ireland, no matter what crimes may have been committed. But you know how it is, criminal investigation is all grand for Gavin if Gavin is the one who feels victimised.
Gavin, being hell bent on violating domestic and international law by introducing state impunity for murder and torture, thereby risking any shred of standing her government might have internationally when speaking about human rights, was all grand for Theresa May though. But when her little soldier risked Chinese broadband contracts, well, something had to be done.
But then PM’s line management values are a little skewed at the best of times. Theresa May who of course has nothing to say about her Secretary of State Karen Bradley who tramps all over the rights of victims of the conflict here. She didn’t ask Karen to resign, despite the obvious and glaring inadequacies of Mrs Bradley let alone the damage she causes at every single level of engagement with human beings. It’s funny what is seen as a sacking offence and what is not. Well no it isn’t one bit funny, it just causes that eyebrow to twitch again.
As talks commenced this week and the British negotiating team from the NIO and London flew in to be at talks aimed to resolve the “impasse”, this telling tale of patterns of partial accountability are relevant, as always, locally as well as in Britain. Theresa May’s absentee government stands in ignominy pretending to be a co-guarantor of a human rights-based peace agreement which is in crisis due in large part to Downing Street’s colonialist approach, while self-interest is the dark mark emblazoned in the Westminster sky. This British government is not a neutral broker.