Norman Lamont, the Conservative politician and pro-Pinochet campaigner, has been appointed by the Britain’s Tory government as its envoy in charge of developing trade with Iran’s dictatorship.*
Norman Lamont first found infamy as Chancellor of the Exchequer when he presided over Britain’s forced exit from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Although most people called September 16th 1992 Black Wednesday, an event that cost Britain’s Treasury around £3.3 billion, the next day Lamont was found to be very cheerful and claimed that he had been “singing in the bath this morning”!
Lamont’s second claim to infamy came when on October 17th 1998 the British government was forced to detain General Augusto Pinochet in compliance with an international arrest warrant issued by a Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón. Norman Lamont became the Chilean dictator’s most vociferous supporter after Margaret Thatcher.
Even though the Pinochet regime had “killed at least 3,197 people and tortured about 29,000” (Obituary, Washington Post, December 11, 2006), that did not stop Norman Lamont from being very active at different levels, and using many channels, to help the dictator escape from Britain and not face any judicial process. He constantly tried to portray the twice-elected Salvador Allende, the prime minister toppled and killed by Pinochet, as a bigger evil than the head of the military junta who became an international symbol of state brutality against the left, workers, women and the poor! Lamont also peddled the notion that a trial could destabilise Chile’s new-found democracy!
Given the political history of Norman Lamont, who has now been ‘elevated’ to the House of Lords, we know that his dealings with the Iranian regime will at no point bring up the issues of political executions, political prisoners, detention without trial, torture and the many other forms of abuse that sustains the dictatorship.
More specifically we do not expect Norman Lamont to let the rights of workers to form independent trade unions and the right to strike, or women’s equal treatment by the state and society, or the rights of national and religious minorities and all other oppressed layers in Iranian society to come in the way of the multi-billion pound trade and investment deals that the capitalists of Britain and Iran are planning.
The capitalist classes of both Britain and Iran have their clear agenda and they have selected the experienced personnel who can deliver that agenda. It is now time for the workers of Britain and Iran to co-operate against this common enemy to make sure that their rights are not trampled on in the drive to make big profits for capitalists in both countries.
Free all political prisoners now!
Long live independent workers’ organisations and the right to strike!
Investigate Shahrokh Zamani’s death!
Iranian workers are not alone!
Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network
25 January 2016
* “Norman Lamont has been appointed UK trade envoy to Iran as part of a wider government attempt to improve Britain’s disappointing export record.” (Financial Times, January 20, 2016)