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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Burma Campaign

Aung San Suu KyiThere's been so much bad news about the state of the Party and British politics, it was refreshing to attend the CLP on Thursday night and hear an incredibly moving description by two Burmese asylum seekers about the human rights abuses and slow genocide of ethnic minorities being perpetrated by the Burmese military junta, the sickly misnamed "State Peace and Development Council".

Burma is an issue on which we can all agree, regardless of our political differences. It is also one that the Government takes extremely seriously and is doing everything possible to resolve. Throughout the period of detention and torture of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, married to a (now deceased) British citizen and mother of British children, the Government has worked tirelessly at the very highest level to achieve change. The UK does not trade with Burma and there are only a few hundred companies that are British owned or operate from this country and break the trade embargoes.

Our CLP session followed the Whitehall meeting earlier in the week at which representatives from the Chin and Kachin ethnic groups in Burma met with the UK Minister of Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney MP. It was the first time ever that these Burmese opposition representatives have met with anyone so senior in the Government and the meeting lasted almost a whole hour.

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ilikeakehurstfanclub said...

My dearest Luke,

Have you cleared these anti-Myanamar comments with your employer? (They are representing at least one natural gas production company with strong, albeit clandestine, connections there). We don't want any nasty backlash, surely?

Moreover, given your recent - rather public - comments about the production of foie gras, I thought suffering was off the agenda until April/May. Please advise.

Yours affectionately,


Luke Akehurst said...

That's very unfair of you. We are totally opposed to the regime in Burma (Myanmar as it likes to style itself) and fully support the campaign for Burmese freedom.

But you must not be ultra-leftist about this. Our voters don't support New Labour because we campaign with placards - the reason they support us is "the economy, stupid".

I don't know why you are picking on Weber Shandwick. After all, we only take our lead from the Government. You can read about it here.

The fact that British dependent territories are being used to channel new British and foreign investment into Burma without Britain being directly implicated is simply one of those aspects of moderate, pragmatic politics that you'll have to put up with, unless you want a return to the bad old days of inflation and poverty.

Britain now imports more Burmese goods than any other country in Europe. Most of these are clothes, as companies no longer have to put country of origin labels on their clothes. We used to buy from China, but they've been getting uppity lately so now we buy a lot of clothes from Burma. You'll find them in the high street.

The important thing is that we are doing this in the interests of ordinary British families. Not like the Tories, who used to do things like this just to line their own pockets.

As for foie gras - they don't make this in Burma or we'd probably be importing it. There's no season for delicious foie gras - we eat it all the time in our house!