David Hughes: How Britain danced to Gaddafi's tune





[David Hughes is the Daily Telegraph's chief leader writer.]

How must they be feeling this morning in the Blair home in London's swank Connaught Square, in Lord Mandelson's elegant townhouse overlooking Regent's Park, in the Brown household in North Queensferry? If New Labour's one-time ruling trinity had any sense of shame (a big "if"), they would be looking at the blood-drenched events in Libya and feeling sick to their stomachs.

The popular unrest that has swept the Arab world has been met in Libya with horrific brutality. Hundreds have died. Given that helicopters and airforce jets were ordered to strafe protesters, it is a wonder that the death toll has not been higher.

Yet the man who ordered the carnage – whose bizarre, often comic, behaviour sometimes serves to conceal the ugly, psychopathic reality – was feted and flattered and generally sucked up to by the three most senior figures in the last government. Their craven dealings with Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi and his gruesome family are a stain not only on Labour's reputation, but on the country's.

Let's not be naïve. Politics frequently demands that business be done with brutes and tyrants; that has been the case as long as diplomacy has existed. Yet there is a dividing line between holding your nose and doing what is necessary, and going out of your way to smarm up to a dictator. It's a line that Blair, Mandelson and Brown all crossed...


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