Spinning our moral obligations
Britain's small-minded treatment of the Iraqi interpreters remains a disgrace
Few issues have more shamefully exposed petty, penny-pinching ingratitude by Whitehall bureaucrats than the fate of Britain's Iraqi interpreters. Alone among countries with forces in Iraq, Britain held out against any offer of relocation or asylum for the interpreters, drivers and other locally employed staff who risked abduction, torture and murderous reprisals by extremists bent on punishing “collaborators”.
A scheme to help Iraqi interpreters was devised to maintain the Government's reputation and “respond to perceptions” that it had a moral obligation to its local staff, The Times has learnt.
...the plan should “be generous enough to maintain HMG's reputation as a caring and committed employer of local staff in our overseas networks/deployments, and to respond to perceptions that we have a moral obligation to many of our Iraqi staff, over and above our legal duty of care”.
The documents show that officials wanted to limit the scheme because they feared hostile media coverage if large numbers of Iraqis were to come to Britain; they expected negative coverage about cost, housing pressures and “social cohesion difficulties”.
It takes a special kind of hypocrisy to invoke the names of some of the most courageous heroes of the 20th century as moral mentors and then spit on their principles. But perhaps only a prime minister could do it eight times.
In his book Courage: Eight Portraits, Gordon Brown pays homage to eight men and women he admires who took a stand against tyranny. Several paid with their lives....
These are names not lightly invoked. But the principles by which these men and women lived - and died - are the very opposite of the Brown Government's craven refusal to relax the stringent conditions for Iraqi interpreters that must be met before they can settle in Britain.
Nobody asks Mr Brown to make the ultimate sacrifice, risk his personal safety or even a further weakening of his crumbling political base. It is more likely that the British sense of fair play, the belief that those who risk their lives to aid our Armed Forces should be properly treated, would bring Mr Brown electoral benefit. ...
As far as the Iraqi interpreters are concerned, justice's mighty stream is dammed at 10 Downing Street. Mr Brown can clear it with the stroke of a pen. He need not look far for guidance. As he told the Knesset: “My father taught me that loyalty is the test of a real friendship. Easy to maintain when things are going well, but only really tested in hard times.”
As Tim says about the officials; Hang them but the buck stops with Gordon Brown himself - it is his responsibility.