The Daily Mail is incandescent with (self) righteous indignation. "Our Man in Washington Helped With Gaddafi's Son's "Dodgy" PhD", says the banner headline on today's edition. Sir Nigel Sheinwald, our ambassador in the USA and "a key confidant of Tony Blair", is alleged to have given tutorial support to Saif Gaddafi when The Mad Colonel's son was a postgraduate student at the LSE. It seems to have helped, because Gaddafi Junior graduated with a PhD in Philosophy in 2008. This is, claims theMail's leader writer, Michael Seamark, "...further evidence of the close links between the Blair government and the Libyan tyrant's murderous regime".
Well, I'm no fan of the Colonel, and I'm aware of the fact that a number of UK universities have received funds from Gaddafi in the past, but the high moral tone of this article is too much to take.
It may be that Blair and his cronies tried cosying up to the Libyan dictator, but the ex-PM, Mrs Thatcher, much revered by the Mail, kept some unsavoury company as well.
Back in the 1980s, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the USA and Britain were covertly arming the Afghan resistance - the Mujahadeen - one of the Mujahadeen commanders receiving assistance was a man called Hadji Abdul Haq. He wasn't the only one , of course, but what made Haq special was his readiness to use terrorism. In September, 1984, Haq's men set off a bomb at Kabul Airport, which killed 28 innocent people. Most of the victims were students, waiting for a flight to the Soviet Union. In March 1986, Haq was welcomed to Britain by Mrs Thatcher and later went on to visit President Reagan.Facing his critics in London, Haq said that the bomb outrage was "to warn people not to send their children to the Soviet Union". A Downing Street official said that the PM had "...a degree of sympathy with the Afghan people".
Exactly how much sympathy Mrs Thatcher had for the relatives of the 28 dead at Kabul Airport is not recorded.
I often wonder what the reaction of our press would have been if 9/11 or 7/7 had happened in the USSR in the 1980s. I very much doubt that there would have been any sympathy for the victims in papers like the Mail. As far as I'm concerned, helping with a dodgy PhD is a good deal less reprehensible than wining and dining a terrorist and a murderer. Still, as Mrs T and the Mail would no doubt say: Haq was our terrorist and our murderer.