Caucasus and Central Asia – beware!

Dear friends

Late last year, a former British MP by the name of Jim Murphy flew into Tbilisi, Georgia in his new role as a ‘specialist in conflict resolution’ with the Finnish organisation, Crisis Management Initiative (CMI). He claims to be able to help the people of the Caucasus and Central Asia region with difficult conflicts such as those which have occurred over Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Here in Scotland, where he was Scottish Labour leader until May of last year, his new role is considered a very bad joke. Far from being a specialist in conflict resolution, Murphy is a failed politician with a terrible track record of generating division and argument.

During 2014’s referendum on Scottish independence, Murphy was the most confrontational campaigner for a ‘no’ vote. His abrasive style led to him becoming hugely unpopular among Scottish voters.

Despite the victory of the ‘no’ campaign, by 55% to 45%, Murphy’s personal unpopularity contributed to Scottish Labour’s astonishing collapse in the British general election in May 2015. Labour lost all but one of its 41 seats in Scotland, while the pro-independence Scottish National Party took 56 of the country’s 59 seats. Murphy himself lost his seat.

Voted out of parliament, forced to resign as Scottish Labour leader, Murphy is looking for employment. His reinvention of himself as a supposed expert in conflict resolution is based upon nothing other than a desire to resuscitate his declining career.

Murphy has no credentials in conflict resolution. In fact, as a leading member of Labour Friends of Israel, he has fanned the flames of conflict. In 2013, for example, he led a delegation to the illegally occupied Golan Heights. The Golan is Syrian territory which has been occupied by Israel, in contravention of international law, since 1967.

Nevertheless, Murphy and fellow pro-Israel Labour MPs went there with senior Israeli military figures for a ‘defence briefing’. That ‘briefing’ no doubt ignored the fact that Israel flouts international law by holding a huge, undisclosed nuclear arsenal in the Negev desert.

As a supporter of Britain’s nuclear arsenal, Murphy disagrees with both Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and Scottish Labour which recently voted against the UK renewing its Trident nuclear weapons system. It is hardly surprising, then, that Murphy has done nothing to oppose Israel’s nuclear arsenal and nothing to support the brave Jewish whistle-blower, Mordechai Vanunu, who rots in an Israeli jail for exposing his country’s own weapons of mass destruction.

Given all this, it is difficult to see what kind of peace Murphy could possibly bring to the Caucasus and Central Asia. There is, however, something even more damning in Murphy’s political history. It is that as a disciple of Tony Blair, Murphy voted in parliament for the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003. Despite more than a million people taking to the streets of London against the imminent war, Murphy advocated invasion on the spurious grounds that the Saddam Hussein regime had ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

Few people doubt that a vote against war in the British parliament would have, at the very least, made it much more difficult for US president, George W Bush, to invade Iraq. In the weeks before the invasion, opinion polls showed the majority of the British people against war, yet Murphy, a careerist politician who was currying favour with Blair and the Labour leadership, argued for and voted for the invasion.

The consequences, in terms of loss of innocent civilian lives, and in terms of the on-going catastrophe in Iraq, are clear for everyone to see. The consequence for Murphy was that he was given a succession of cabinet posts by Blair. Jim Murphy posing as a conflict resolution specialist is like the snake oil salesmen of old. He has nothing to offer. His only motivation is personal gain.

So, I warn the people of the Caucasus and Central Asia, do not allow Jim Murphy, Scotland’s most hated and failed politician, to seek a well-paid new career at your expense.

Best wishes

Scottish journalist and political activist