America's Scottish airbase; civil airport used as stageing post for Israel bomb flights
BRITAIN'S normally US-subservient Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett says she has protested to Washington about its use of Scotland's Prestwick airport to transport bombs to Israel. We have seen the death and destruction wrought by Israeli planes on Lebanon's people, with strikes on apartment blocks, refugee cars, ambulances and a UN post.
News came that the United States was speeding up its supply of bombs to Israel. Now we learn that apparently the US planes carrying the bombs have been stopping en route at Glasgow's Prestwick airport.
Asked about this at the failed Rome crisis meeting of Foreign Ministers, Mrs Beckett said it seemed the US was not following the right procedures over arms flights. She said she was "not happy" and she had talked to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about it. "We have already let the United States know that this is an issue that appears to be seriously at fault, and we will be making a formal protest if it appears that that is what has happened," she said.
A report in the Daily Telegraph said two chartered Airbus A310 cargo planes filled with GBU 28 laser-guided bombs landed at Prestwick Airport en-route to Israel from the US. The Israeli government said it needed the munitions to attack bunkers used by Hezbollah resistance fighters.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We have procedures in place for flights carrying arms. "It's important that they are followed. If they are not, we will raise it with the US but we are not going to comment on US flights transiting through the UK. "
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "Any alliance must be based on trust, even one as intimate as that between the United States and the United Kingdom. If these reports are true, it is particularly provocative for the United States to have acted in this way. It can only reinforce the belief of many that Britain is taken for granted in the so-called special relationship. "
Scottish National Party defence spokesman Angus Robertson said:"The UK government must get behind the United Nations' call for a ceasefire by both Hezbollah and Israel, rather than using Scotland as a staging post for supplying weapons of mass destruction. The London Labour government must end UK involvement in this process now".
"This issue once again highlights the need for an end to the hypocrisy shown by the Liberal Democrats, who have again called for an investigation at Westminster but importantly, where their minister is responsible for transport at Holyrood, they are doing nothing to stop these flights."
A spokesperson for Prestwick said the airport had provided logistical support for military flights evr since the Second World War "That support involves allowing crew to rest, refuelling aircraft and providing food and water. "The airport is obliged to allow aircraft from any CAA-registered country to land here."
WOULD any country be permitted to fly tons of weapons or other controversial cargo into Prestwick without let or hindrance, regardless of destination?
WILL citizens in Glasgow and the surrounding area be happy to know that their civil airport has been used for such flights without the authorities thinking this out of the ordinary or bothering to inform them?
ARE airport workers and their unions happy about refuelling such flights or working in their proximity?
WERE they ever consulted?
HOW much value has a Scottish Parliament which apparently has no say in the use of the country's airports, let alone airspace?
WHAT would the British government and media say if forces resisting US and Israeli military aggression, or wishing to avenge the death and destruction in Lebanon - including the bombing of Beirut international airport - were to conclude that since the British authorities apparently do not distinguish between civil and military aviation, they need not do so? Prestwick boasts that it is first stop on the "great circle" flight route from America. It is also just 22 miles from Glasgow, and about 56 miles from Lockerbie.
"BLAIR TOO CLOSE TO BUSH" say UK voters
Britain should take a more robust and independent approach to the United States, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published this week. The survey, first since the Israeli attack on Lebanon began, showed 63% of voters say Blair has tied British policy too closely to the US. More than 54 per cent of Labour voters think so. Among Conservatives this rises to 68 per cent, and Liberal Democrats, 83%.
Voters are strongly critical of the scale of Israel's military operations in Lebanon, with 61% believing the country has overreacted to the threats it faces. Despite repeated media slanting towards Israel's version of events, and references to the capture of Israeli soldiers as "kidnapping", only 22% of voters believe Israel has reacted proportionately to such attacks. .
Under fire for lining up with the US against a Lebanon cease fire, Blair tried to pose as a humanitarian and peace dove at a press conference on Tuesday: "What is occurring in Lebanon at the present time is a catastrophe. Anybody with any sense of humanity wants what is happening to stop and stop now," he said. "But if it is to stop, it must stop on both sides."
So why no cease fire? Blair's Foreign Office officials have tried to assure reporters that although he refused to criticise Israeli action in public, he was having a word with them in private.
Two-faced Tony or "perfidious Albion"? Which Blair should we believe? If Blair really gives a damn about Lebanese civilians how come the British government could not support a cease fire call, or interrupt arms supplies? "Don't watch their mouths, watch their hands" -and arms - is sound advice when faced with card sharps, con men, statesmen and politicians.