Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Shared values"

Saudi Arabia's absolute monarch, King Abdullah, is currently visiting the UK. The visit has come in for public criticism, with one MP boycotting a state dinner in protest at Saudi Arabia's appalling human rights record. In response, the UK government has gone on the offensive, with a Foreign Office Minister praising the two countries' "shared values".

Which "shared values" would those be? Democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech? Gender equality and religious tolerance? What about capital punishment, torture, and corruption?

The blunt fact is that Saudi Arabia is about as far from the public values of the UK as a country can get. And yet, it's leaders are still willing to invite the Saudi despot there, fete him, dine with him, and shake his hand. Why? Because there is one thing they very much agree on: that Saudi Arabia should spend billions on buying weapons from the UK. And to get that business, the British government is willing to compromise anything...