back to article Ashdown brain trust: Democracy isn't a human right

A group of intellectuals, military officers, policemen and retired second-rank politicians have issued an "interim" report laying out their view of what the UK should do to stay secure in coming decades. The assembled heavyweights, curiously, appear to conflict with the UN on the matter of fundamental human rights. The report …


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  1. Ted Treen

    More of the bleedin' obvious.....

    Here in the UK, we have a Human Rights Act pushed through by Cherie Blair.

    We have no democracy - it's curtailment pushed through by Cherie Blair's consort.

    Obviously the two don't co-exist...

  2. dervheid

    If I may make a suggestion.

    We could eliminate one problem here entirely, and reduce the scale of another slightly, in three simple steps;

    a) Round up this sorry assembly of has-beens and wishy washy liberals.

    b) Dump them on some isolated and generally uninhabitable little island.

    c) Nuke the shower of useless fuckers into a hot, steaming hole in the sea bed.

    The "Ashdown Brain Trust". Sounds like an organisation for looking after the terminally mentally disabled. Oh, wait. given it's membership, it looks like it IS.

  3. Jim
    Thumb Up

    I agree...

    I am also 100% for the US stop hosting the UN, and to stop paying for the majority of the costs of operating the UN.

    who do we kick to get that moving?

  4. MarkW
    Thumb Down

    Utter twaddle

    A 10 year old would provide a more sensible report.

    With the UK being partly responsible for an excess death toll of 1,000,000 people in Iraq, this crowd could only mutter that it "was done the wrong way". Downing Street memo anyone?

    International law. Nah, we'll only apply that to our enemies.

    A group of ex-military, police and politicians asking for the UK to behave like a civilised country would be like the proverbial turkeys voting for Christmas.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    From the quote they're not saying we have to be friends with China, or even approve of their politics; only that we cannot change them into a Western democracy. I think the report is calling for a new form of detente - we have profound differences with the other powers in the World, but those differences should not prevent us from engaging with them on matters of common concern.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mike Richards

    "they're not saying we have to be friends with China, or even approve of their politics; only that we cannot change them into a Western democracy"

    Present evidence is that the UK and US THEMSELVES are far from democracies, they're just pretending, so there's a pot - kettle problem here.

    Both countries were OK on the road to democracy and getting along with the planet in general (a few brushups happen in the best of setups) until Bush - Blair happened. A bigger nuke to democracy doesn't exist.

  7. dervheid

    @ Democracy

    "those differences should not prevent us from engaging with them on matters of common concern."

    Or common profit perchance?

  8. Graham Marsden

    so we don't mind being friends with totalitarian states any more...

    And, of course, we've never supported or done business with totalitarian states or dictatorial regimes in the past when it's been convenient to us either...

    Joke ahead icon because (oh figure it out yourself)

  9. John Savard

    What Else Did You Expect?

    If I was writing a report, I'd probably have said that after the downfall of the USSR, we should have engaged in a pre-emptive nuclear strike on China while we still could. This would have made Taiwan secure, solved the human rights issue of Tibet, and generally allowed China to take its place as a constructive democratic partner in world affairs, say, like India. But you can hardly expect someone in an official capacity to say things like that. What with Hong Kong to look out for, Britain recognized Red China much earlier than most other Western countries as well.

    Of course, one would have expected the report to express no doubt that the Western democracies would remain, for the foreseeable future, the unchallenged masters of the planet, and that if any appearances indicate that China, Russia, or even Japan are catching up, this just means we need to stop being lazy and work harder. That is what's surprising about the report, but being "realistic" is in fashion these days.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    @jim - I agree....

    Well, since the US hasn't been paying it's share of UN costs for years, there's not much for you to worry about. If you want the building moved from NY to another city, that's a whole different problem and I'm not sure what country would want to host it right now with the lack of general ability of the UN to actually do anything good.

  11. Chris G

    The future designed by committee

    If this lot had set out to design a mouse they would have come up with an elephant, oversized, impractical and no fucking use at all for putting in mouse holes.

    Does anybody with even a basic knowledge of human nature seriously think it is possible to do away with nukes now that we have them? If it is possible to make a weapon, some one will, so if those who currently have nukes disarm, what do they do when some despotic, lunatic third world country suddenly develops their own nukes and threatens the world or a neighbour or a corner of their own country where there are dissidents? I suppose we will just have to ask them nicely to desist.

    The only good thing about this ,is that it will be ignored like all committees of this type, in reality putting these people on such a committee is so that they are out of the way and kept busy.

  12. Magani

    Mutated fingers used for counting?

    "...the representatives of which would cover the eight key nuclear weapons states..."

    UK, USA, ex-USSR, China, Democratic (sic) People's Republic of Korea; France, India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa (wink, wink), and a couple of other question marks in the form of wannabes Iran & its mate, Syria.

    By my abacus, this makes 9+.

    If you have the ability to have a nuke, then you ARE a 'key nuclear ... state'. Just because they're banana republics run by tin pot dictators doesn't mean you can ignore them.

    Remember that a nuclear explosion, regardless of origin, can just ruin your day.

    Flames in lieu of missing mushroom cloud icon.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Andrew Rodland


    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has rather little to do with things that are _actually_ human rights. Most of the things it lists are in fact privileges which cannot be secured "universally" without stepping all over the true freedoms, which are life, liberty, and property.

  15. ray hartman

    not yet, eh ?

    Well us colonials did kick Hs. Majesty arse about 250-y ago for such foolishness. The Queens ministers are still unrepentant ? Damnme ! And damn-their-eyes.

    Whatever happened to that red-hair gal with-a-temper? I thought SHE was supposed to be Queen . Have a feeling she would have cleaned-muskets and sent those power-hungry slaggards to The Tower !

  16. Rich

    Better off in the cold war

    From 1945-89 the "west" was constrained in its ability to take military action by fear of terminal conflict with Russia, plus the fact that (as in Vietnam) anyone we did take on would be backed up by said Russians.

    I think that actually made the world *more* secure. We'd be much better off having armed forces in reserve for real threats to national territory and reducing our reliance on dubious totalitarian states for energy.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    I was a bit worried there

    When El Reg put the title "Ashdown...deomocracy isn't a human right".

    Upon reading the article, I realised this wasn't an accurate title at all; and it turns out Ashdown isn't Big Brother.

    As for the nukes thing - I've been wondering what good it is for the UK to have 200+ nuclear weapons against the USA's 5000+ and Russia's 6000+.

    We're all dead if they fling nukes at each other, so what is the point in the UK having any?

    Paris, because she can push my button.

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