the Disillusioned kid: More of the Same Please, Mr Murray
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Friday, April 15, 2005

More of the Same Please, Mr Murray

I found this article via Craig Murray's new weblog:
Britain’s parliamentary election campaign is heating up, with politicians grappling with the familiar themes of the welfare state and the economy. In the northern English constituency of Blackburn, though, Uzbekistan has emerged as an unlikely central election issue, as Britain’s ousted ambassador to Tashkent, Craig Murray, challenges his former boss, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Murray is running on an independent ticket, and is making British foreign policy towards Uzbekistan and Iraq the central issues of his campaign. While Murray believes he is on the right side of the issues, he admits his chances of defeating Straw seem slim. The Labor Party has held the Blackburn constituency for the last 60 years, and in the last general election, Straw dominated the Blackburn race by winning 53 percent of the votes cast.

Ordinary voters "are not really that interested in Uzbekistan," Murray recently told a EurasiaNet correspondent in an interview. However, a large percentage of Blackburn’s voters are Muslims, and Murray hopes to tap into their dissatisfaction over Straw’s support of the global "war on terror" and detention-without-trail of co-religionists in Britain...
Murray is probably massively understating the point here. Ordinary voters aren't just "not really that interested in Uzbekistan." Most of them probably don't even know where it is. No doubt, the politically aware sections of society are little better. I have tried to follow the situation in Uzbekistan and the West's relationship with Karimov regime quite closely here, hopefully with some success, but it is an issue which most of the radical left have seemed largely uninterested in and few other bloggers dedicate much time to. George Monbiot's excellent article on the subject (the inspiration for my interest in the country) being the major exception.

While I remain dubious about the value of running in elections I sincerely hope that Murray's campaign goes someway towards putting right the widespread ignorance about the brutality of the Karimov regime. The mere fact that Murray has addressed anti-war and lefty rallies (notably the Stop the War Coalition demo on March 19 and a RESPECT Coalition rally) is positive, because it suggests that those who have campaigned so vociferously against the invasion and occupation of Iraq are beginning to tie in other aspects of British foreign policy which are similarly distasteful. There may even be some hope of a serious campaign around the issue. Watch this space.

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