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Ghosts of Muldoon and Reagan over Trade

Alliance Party says Labour Sides With Ghosts of Muldoon and Reagan over Trade Relationships

Alliance Party Media Release – For Immediate Release – 30th October, 2008

Alliance Co-Leader, Andrew McKenzie, said that Labour was following in the footsteps of Sir Robert Muldoon, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan in its attitude toward relationships with oppressive regimes which breached human rights.

“The outcome of the Amnesty International survey of political candidates which noted that the majority of Labour and National candidates supported free trade with oppressive and brutal regimes like Burma as a means of ‘greater engagement with countries where human rights abuses occur’ was worrying reading” said Mr McKenzie.

Mr McKenzie said that in the 1970s and 1980s, Sir Robert Muldoon, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan adopted similar strategies in dealing with oppressive regimes, especially the apartheid regime in South Africa.

“Muldoon, Thatcher and Regan all stated that there was a need to ‘build bridges’ with South Africa and other totalitarian regimes as means of improving democratic outcomes for their populations. In 1986, Mrs Thatcher famously stated that economic sanctions against South Africa would be immoral.Ronald Reagan called his policies ‘co΅structive engagement.

Mr McKenzie points out that the sad truth of the matter was that ‘constructive engagement’ with those regimes did not end the suffering for the millions of people who lived under them. It did not improve their living conditions and it did not bring about democratic change.

What did bring change was the international pressure which was placed on those regimes by not having relationships with them.

The Alliance was campaigning for fair and ethical trade. The Alliance would not support trade deals with despotic regimes like Burma who tortured their citizens and denied them basic living conditions and rights.

Free trade had not improved democratic rights in Burma or in China. It had merely improved cash flow for multinational corporations.

Mr McKenzie said Labour candidates, who were decent people, should ask why their party was not supporting ethical principles in their trading relationships with these regimes.

“Labour Party people need to ask why they are siding with Muldoon, Thatcher and Reagan. They need to ask themselves what is more important, people’s freedoms or the ‘almighty buck’?” stated Mr McKenzie.


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