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Year 2000 No. 157, September 22, 2000 Archive Search Home Page

The Commonwealth and all Britain’s Neo-Colonial Ties Must be Brought to an End

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The Commonwealth and all Britain’s Neo-Colonial Ties Must be Brought to an End

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The Commonwealth and all Britain’s Neo-Colonial Ties Must be Brought to an End

The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, delivered a speech to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association today, 22 September, in which he attempted to justify the continued existence of the reactionary Commonwealth.

It was fitting that Robin Cook should commence his speech by boasting about the alleged merits of the British parliamentary system or ‘westminster model’ which, he claimed, has been ‘the starting point for many democratic systems around the world.’ Rather the export of the ‘westminster model’ has prevented the empowerment of the people of many countries around the world, just as it does in Britain, but it has also been one of the neo-colonial arrangements facilitating continual economic and political domination of many of the world’s poorest countries by Britain and the other big powers.

It is through the Commonwealth that Britain continues to interfere in the political, economic and military affairs of member states, many of them former British colonies. The basis of what is referred to as the ‘modern’ Commonwealth is the Harare declaration of 1991, which enshrines the values of the Paris Charter signed by the countries of Europe, Canada and the US in 1990. This document was a declaration by the bourgeoisie of the big powers, under the sway of the monopolies, of their intent to impose on the whole world their conception of ‘free market economy’, political pluralism and human rights and to enslave the whole world with these Eurocentric values. The government has already declared that it wishes the Commonwealth to play a stronger role in defence of these values even if this means intervening in the internal affairs of member states in order, as Cook explained ‘to prevent conflict and prevent constitutional unrest before they happen, rather than acting after the event.’

In his speech, the Foreign Secretary claimed that the Commonwealth ‘could help its members adapt to the challenges of globalisation and change’ and suggested that it could become a Commonwealth of ‘prosperity and opportunity’. But the polarisation between rich and poor in the Commonwealth is increasing just as it is in the rest of the world. It can never be a ‘partnership’ of equals, containing as it does some of the world’s poorest countries and dominated by Britain one of the richest. Cook’s recipe for ‘prosperity and opportunity’, an increase in enslaving ‘aid’, strengthening the role of the ‘private sector’ within the Commonwealth, and championing globalisation, show that that his concern is for prosperity and opportunity for the monopolies and the continued exploitation of the human and other resources of the countries of the Commonwealth..

The Commonwealth remains an integral part of the Labour government’s reactionary aim to ‘Make Britain Great Again’. What must be demanded is that all neo-colonial ties such as those maintained through the Commonwealth are brought to an end.

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