Warsi blames Royal Family for inviting King of Bahrain to Jubilee celebrations
Bahrain is presently experiencing the kind of anti-government protests which have been incrementally spreading over the Arab world. By day, men, women, children and toddlers can be seen dressed in black, chanting and calling for peace. By night, these gatherings degenerate into violent clashes with security forces as the Shi’ite majority seek to break the power of the Sunni monarchy and political governance. Thousands have been arrested, hundreds have died, including dozens from torture, and hundreds more have been horrifically maimed as Bahrain’s King Hamad declares martial law and states of emergency in an attempt to cling to power.
Such violations of human rights have tended to elicit the unequivocal condemnation of HM Government. Certainly, President Assad will not be attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee luncheon at Windsor Castle. But the forthcoming presence of King Hamad at Windsor Castle became an issue on this week’s Question Time, and David Dimbleby asked Baroness Warsi about the matter (scroll to 53.00):
Warsi: Well, the decision, err, for the King to attend the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee...
Galloway: He’s invited.
Warsi: ...is, err, a decision taken by the Royal Family.
Galloway: It’s not and you know that’s not true. The Prime Minister advises on these matters.
Warsi: Of course there is advice, of course, of course the Prime Minister advises on these matters, I accept that. But it is a decision that ultimately had to be taken by, err, by, err, the Royal Family. If it’s a decision that the Queen had decided that on her Diamond Jubilee, err, she would like certain people present at that celebration, then I really think we can stop being mean about it...
Galloway: You shouldn’t blame the Queen.
Warsi: ...and allow her...
Galloway: It’s not the Queen’s fault.
Warsi: ...and allow the Queen to have her Diamond Jubilee and allow...
Galloway: It’s not her fault.
George Galloway is quite right, and Baroness Warsi quite wrong. The Syrian ambassador to London Dr Sami Khiami was notoriously dramatically un-invited to last year’s Royal Wedding at the 11th hour, amid mounting international concern at political unrest in his country. The decision was taken by the Foreign Office, which informed the Ambassador that his government's use of force against pro-democracy protestors was ‘unacceptable’. As Syrian civilians were slaughtered, maimed, imprisoned and tortured, no-one appealed for Dr Khiami to attend with 'we can stop being mean about it'.
The Queen routinely meets with all manner of tyrants and other undesirables on behalf of her Government, which constitutionally may require her to do so. For Baroness Warsi to blame ‘the Royal Family’ for inviting King Hamad to the Diamond Jubilee luncheon is not merely constitutional ignorance; it is an astonishingly evasive breach of faith, seeking to shift the blame for the invitation from the Government to the Queen, who may neither challenge nor refute the allegation.
If the Syrian government's use of force against pro-democracy protestors was ‘unacceptable’, then so must it be for Bahrain’s king. If Syria’s ambassador can be uninvited to the Royal Wedding, then Bahrain’s king should be uninvited to the Diamond Jubilee luncheon. The last thing we need is for the Queen's glory to be overshadowed by the presence of a murderous autocrat. And the assurance of that, Baroness Warsi, is the task of HM Government. If it isn't being too mean.