No ethics please, we're British
3 February 2018, 20:58
The Saudis are coming, someone had better beat the dirt out of the red carpet.
We might not be able to afford to perform life-altering hip, knee and eye treatments on the NHS but we will certainly raid the bank to ingratiate ourselves with the new ruler of the House of Saud.
The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will jet in to meet what are described as “senior royals”.
That means you can relax Meghan, stand down Kate, this is a job for Granny.
The Queen is always wheeled out to glad-hand the Saudis because:
a) we think they are just our sort of people,
b) they have a celebrated record on human rights, or
c) they own all the money in the world that Amazon doesn't have.
There will probably be British protests over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and its conduct in the three-year Yemen civil war but the Queen will keep quiet and the government won't say a thing.
If the Saudis didn't live on a sea of sand where billions of years ago a mighty forest once stood and then died and turned into oil, they would be selling camel milk for a living and we wouldn't return their calls.
That is the essence of Britain's ethical foreign policy – we'll roll over and you can pat our stomach but only if you're loaded.
And this bloke is very loaded indeed.
As we are leaving the EU, our banking fraternity are making noises of disgruntlement. They will not countenance losing any money to Brexit, so it is very important for UK plc to bung them a bone.
The Saudi state oil group Aramco is the world's biggest and it is floating 5% of its value. Every stock market on earth wants a piece of that $2 trillion worth of action.
It would mean a waterfall of cash for any company that can insert itself into the process.
The fees to make it happen would amount to $1bn.
Imagine how much in bonuses that would pay for.
Never mind that the rules of the London Stock Exchange demand that at least 25% of any sovereign controlled company is offered in stocks to qualify for a listing.
Do you imagine that Donald Trump would be stymied by rules to encourage the Saudis to bring their business to the New York stock exchange?
Rules are for losers.
When the Prince arrives, we will ignore the anti-Iran stuff and the anti-Qatar stuff and the Yemen bombing and the subjugation of women and the medieval beliefs and terrorists that the Saudis are exporting to the world.
Meanwhile, British lawyers have submitted complaints to the UN human rights council on behalf of more than 60 Saudi human rights and political activists who were detained last September and in some cases have since disappeared.
We don't mind doing business with people like that because they have a pile of money you could climb up to reach the Moon.
Should we secure their trade, there will dancing in the streets in the City of London.
There won't be any on the avenues of Saudi Arabia though, because that's against the law.
This week, urgent demands were issued by the governor of Asir province, Prince Faisal bin Khaled that a couple filmed dancing in a street in the city of Abha should be investigated and arrested.
Last year, a 14 year old boy was arrested by the Saudi authorities for violating the public morals by dancing the Macarena outside, where people could see him.
Last month, a popular TV host in the country was arrested for “dabbing” on stage, a dance move that the Saudis say promotes a “narcotic culture”.
The performer says he got carried away.
I should think he was. Carried away in the back of a windowless van.
Question: What do these actions and the rest of their abuses of what we call basic human rights make them?
Answer: Nice people to do business with.