“THERE are no morals in politics ... a scoundrel may be of use because he is a scoundrel.”

This quote by Lenin, no stranger to totalitarian dictatorship and human rights abuses himself, aptly sums up the current UK Government’s attitude to the proposed visit by Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), acknowledged leader of Saudi Arabia and alleged murderer of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Crown Prince seeks increased international respectability and influence through his country’s “sports-washing” agenda (£5 billion spent in the last two years) and, though a scoundrel, the UK Government will oblige his objectives through increased economic ties and tacit approval of the many and varied human rights abuses his country is party to. It is depressing yet predictable that our government should steadfastly roll out what some politicians have described as “the reddest of red carpets” for a ruler who continues to preside over an autocratic state which accords little or no dignity to human life domestically and beyond.

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The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was largely held responsible by Amnesty International and other human rights groups for creating a humanitarian catastrophe with the use of cluster bombs on civilian-populated areas, the deliberate targeting of schools and hospitals and naval blockades that left 20 million people in urgent need of food, water and medical aid. Despite this evidence of an alarming disregard for human life on an industrial scale, the UK Government will predictably persist in placing economic motives above those of human life and basic human rights.

UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia, in terms of weapons and expertise, by far outnumber arms exports to any other country, perpetuating the conflict and human misery in Yemen and making the Westminster government under all recent prime ministers complicit in its human tragedy.

Yet the UK remains eager to befriend this scoundrel and his country, following the money irrespective of any moral compass it may have profess to have. The Labour Party has unsurprisingly failed to condemn the proposed visit by MBS, mumbling the usual empty platitudes about helping to reform the Saudi government through discussion.

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It now appears that the Prime Minister and his government continue to wallow in an ethical sewer, this invitation being only the latest unprincipled trough they have stooped to. No doubt the Prime Minister’s ambivalence to human rights abuses is deeply rooted in MBS holding a large blank cheque over Mr Sunak’s eyes. Coming from the man who boasts of stopping the boats and creating an unwelcome environment for migrant children, no-one would be in the least surprised. His Conservatives are indeed the self-styled nasty party, an epithet they clearly wear as a badge of honour.

Tory party personnel such as deputy chairman Lee Anderson and the Home Secretary Suella Braverman are cruel, compassionless and amoral human beings who represent the crypto-fascist views of many of their party members as well as the bigoted, gullible and ignorant souls who rejoice in the opinions of GB News and the odious right-wing press. Their mission is to normalise inhumanity, xenophobia and corruption in the UK to allow their extreme and often flagrantly undemocratic right-wing policies to create an ugly, inequitable and morally repugnant society.

How much longer can the people of Scotland allow themselves to be dragged into this ethical morass where the poor and vulnerable are disregarded and leaders like MBS welcomed as respectable human beings and not the monstrous barbarians they undoubtedly are? Social democracy is moribund in the UK and if independence for Scotland is not forthcoming then the social, economic and political future of our children and grandchildren may be fraught with peril.

Owen Kelly