Executive Intelligence Review
This article appears in the July 20, 2001 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Britain Moves Toward
Crisis-Emergency Rule

by Mark Burdman

[PDF version of this article]

In the face of a rapidly worsening global economic and strategic crisis, combined with an unravelling domestic situation in the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced the creation of an "emergency crisis-management" unit, that will effectively rule Britain in the period to come. This extraparliamentary, proto-police-state apparatus is likely meant to serve as a model for other Western governments, including across the Atlantic, as leaders will be unable to cope with the stresses and strains hitting the world, this Summer through early Autumn.

On July 10, Blair's 10 Downing Street proclaimed the formation of what the next's day London Daily Telegraph described, on its front page, as "a powerful crisis-management unit in the Cabinet Office, to deal with national emergencies." As the Telegraph reported, this new "civil contingencies secretariat ... will provide an early warning of impending disasters, and draw up a strategy for handling them."

The paper continued: "Mr. Blair wants the secretariat to carry out routine 'horizon scanning,' to look for potential crises.... The unit will work with every Whitehall [government] department, to identify areas of potential concern, and draw up strategies for handling crises. Experts in any area which might cause problems, will be lined up, for swift contact, and asked to help in any crisis. If a national emergency develops, the unit will step up its activity, co-ordinating crisis meetings in Cobra, the Cabinet Office Briefing Room. It will coordinate the flow of information around Whitehall and to the public."

The formal, stated reason for creating the unit, was that British officialdom had reacted dismally, both to the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and to last September's national protests over fuel prices. While the importance of these issues cannot be underestimated, the reality beyond Blair's announcement, is vastly more serious.

On July 11, a London insider reported that the highest echelons of the British establishment have concluded, that "emergency management" structures must be in place, for the combined, devastating effect, of a coming Middle East war and global financial crisis, especially at a time when the Bush Administration is incapable of responding effectively. He said that the "deep concern" over such matters, is much greater than "the impression one would get, from reading the British press.... The fear is such a combination of events could well occur, as early as the mad month of August, the month when wars have often begun."

`A Long, Hot Summer'

There has certainly been a "softening up" process, to induce much of the British population to accept extraparliamentary rule. An influential Scottish observer warned EIR that Britain is now entering a "long, hot Summer.... The situation is becoming very serious. People in the country are very jumpy and nervous."

Over the July 7-8 weekend, Britain experienced its worst urban rioting in 20 years, in the northern English city of Bradford. Unrest in the city continued into the week of July 9. Bradford was where the current round of urban unrest had begun, during the Easter holiday, this year. Since then, riots have erupted in the northern English cities of Oldham and Leeds, as well as in the northwest English city of Burnley. All these cities are, to a significant extent, economically devastated.

In all cases, the riots have taken the form of, first, confrontations between Asian-origin and non-Asian Englishmen, and then, an ensuing round of bloodly confrontations by either or both of these groups, with police. In the most recent case of Bradford, there is not the slightest doubt that British secret service-linked provocations are at the root of the unrest. The troubles began when the neo-fascist British National Party and National Front organizations—both of which are heavily penetrated by British intelligence operatives and are linked to "neo-Confederate" networks in the United States—announced, on July 7, that they would be holding a demonstration in Bradford. In response, an entity called the Anti-Nazi League began to whip up anger and ferment among Asian residents, and to send in agitators. The Anti-Nazi League is interchangeable with the British Trotskyist movement, and is also heavily penetrated by British security.

Simultaneously, other parts of the United Kingdom are primed to explode. Extremely precarious, as the month of July progresses, is the situation in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland peace process nurtured by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, is falling apart. Significant British military reinforcements have been brought into the region. Very knowledgeable British sources have told EIR, that "the situation in Northern Ireland could explode at any time."

An All-Points Crisis

There are several other shaky fronts in the U.K. Before the June 7 general elections, Blair and his Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown repeated, ad nauseam, how wonderful was the state of the British economy. That mythology, as ridiculous as it always was, was brutally blown apart, on July 5, with the announcement by the Marconi firm—mainstay of what remains of the British high-tech manufacturing sector—of massive losses. The company's stock collapsed by over 50%, and 4,000 new layoffs were announced, on top of 6,000 announced earlier in the year.

That development exacerbated the anger among British trade unions, particularly in the public sector. Public-sector unions were already uneasy, before the June 7 elections, about the Blair government's commitment to privatize the main public services. This unease has greatly increased since then, in response to Blair's announced intention to break the power of both the public sector unions and professional associations (particularly medical doctors). In early July, senior officials of both the leading public-sector unions, and the British Medical Association, sharply denounced the policies of the Blair government.

The mood in the country has become ever-more sour, over the collapsed state of infrastructure, both "hard" (transport, etc.) and "soft" (health, education). This has turned worse during the 1997-2001 Blair years, than it was even under the previous, Tory regimes of Margaret Thatcher (1979-92) and John Major (1992-97).

As for agriculture, Blair and his team have presided over a criminally insane policy, in response to the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, first refusing the advice of sane experts, to carry out preventive measures such as vaccination, and then, during the election campaign this Spring, trying to cover up the extent of the problem. All sober experts now expect that the problem will soon explode again, in even more virulent form, and that the Blair government will oversee the slaughter ("cull") of yet millions more cattle, between now and the end of 2001.

Blair's overall position is extremely shaky, despite his apparent "landslide re-election victory" of June 7. That will soon prove to have been a pyrrhic victory at best, especially as, looked at clearly, Blair's totals were hardly magnificent: He only received 25% of all eligible votes. The 59% voter turnout was the lowest since 1918, when Britain was reeling from World War I, and many voters were still fighting in the trenches, or were terribly demoralized. Blair's absolute vote total was the lowest since universal suffrage was introduced, with women being given the right to vote, in 1928.

His July 10 announcement of an "emergency crisis-management" unit may also be seen as an attempt to cling to rule, under conditions of growing crisis and opposition. But matters are already gone "beyond Blair," and that apparatus, in whatever specific form, will actually rule Britain, whether or not Blair stays on as nominal Prime Minister.

`In the Grip of a Frenzied Campaign'

A survey of key developments in Britain would not be complete, without reporting the epidemic of derangement that has seized leading establishment circles, in the form of an organized movement for legalization of drugs. Since the June 7 elections, calls for drug legalization have become an increasingly dominating factor on the British scene. Three of the leading commentators of the Rupert Murdoch-owned London Times—Mary Ann Sieghart, Simon Jenkins, and Lord William Rees-Mogg—have appealed for legalization. Similar calls have been made by Sir Keith Morris, former British Ambassador to Colombia; by Sir David Ramsbotham, outgoing Chief Inspector of Prisons; and by former Home Secretaries Lord Jenkins and Lord Baker.

Drug legalization has been supported by Mo Mowlam, former senior Minister in the Blair government, and this has been taken to be a "softening" by Blair's entourage, on the matter. From the Conservative side, legalization has been endorsed by Peter Lilley, former Cabinet Minister, and, more tentatively, by Michael Portillo, the man currently in the lead to be head of the Conservative Party, after the Tories' pathetic June 7 showing. Lilley, a confirmed "Thatcherite" free marketeer, argued that the Conservative Party should be rebuilt, by appealing to younger voters, and others, around the "libertarian" drug legalization issue.

One voice of sanity, in the midst of all this, has come from Melanie Philips, weekly columnist for the Sunday Times. On July 8, she wrote, "What on Earth is going on? Suddenly, Britain is in the grip of a frenzied campaign to legalize cannabis, and even all drugs.... Without exception, these arguments are intellectually dishonest, disingenuous or terrifyingly irresponsible. Yet they are gaining critical mass."

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