If Labour need any other reasons as to why they should not listen to Tony Blair about who they should elect as their next leader, then this is surely it.
Nothing could say more about his basic immorality than then fact that he was willing to do business with Mugabe. And, remember, this was at the very start of his premiership, when his power was at it's zenith. He could have done anything he wanted at that period and yet he chose to attempt to coddle up to Mugabe. Nor was he, at that time, unaware of who he was dealing with.
Tony Blair secretly courted Robert Mugabe in an effort to win lucrative trade deals for Britain, it has emerged in correspondence released to The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents show that the relationship between New Labour and the Zimbabwean President blossomed soon after Tony Blair took office in Downing Street.
Just weeks after the Government unveiled its ethical foreign policy in May 1997, the British PM wrote a personal letter to Mr Mugabe congratulating him on his role in unifying Africa and helping to improve relations between the continent and Britain. The signed message, which welcomed Mr Mugabe's appointment as leader of the Organisation of African Unity, paved the way for an attempt to bring the two leaders together in a face-to-face meeting in Downing Street during the first weeks of the New Labour administration.
Revelations about Labour's early links with Mr Mugabe come as Mr Blair prepares to publish his autobiography in which he casts himself as a force for good in world affairs.
But the secret documents show how, despite international condemnation of Mr Mugabe's regime, Labour was secretly negotiating to establish close trading and political relations with Harare. At this time, Mr Mugabe was under growing pressure to accept responsibility for "crimes against humanity" in which thousands of Matabeleland civilians were killed by the Zimbabwe army's Fifth Brigade in 1983-87.I know that many mocked Robin Cook's intention to have an "ethical foreign policy", but at least Cook had good intentions at heart. Blair, it appears, was willing to deal with just about anybody as long as their was trade at the end of it.
So let's listen to him when it comes to who should be the next Labour leader.
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