Erdoğan and Cameron – shared values?

20th August 2013 –  Despite the widespread violence caused by the state in Turkey, Cameron has alluded his alliance to the Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan stating they have the same values. But just as citizens seek to react against Cameron’s bullying tactics on immigration, there is an equal opportunity for those in Turkey who are looking to have another swipe at Erdoğan’s plans.

‘Conservative Friends of Turkey’ will be holding a meeting on September 30th, at the Tory party conference in Manchester. The group’s aim is to foster business links between the two countries and in view of recent events in Turkey there is likely to be a lively protest outside. Understandably so: since May 31st, 7 people have died, 11 have lost an eye, 8000 have been injured, all in unprovoked police attacks involving gas, water cannon and rubber bullets. Thousands – including doctors and lawyers – have been detained or arrested, with prosecutors now advocating sentences of 20 years or even life. One might have expected senior members of her majesty’s government to comment critically on these events, if only in the manner of a friend offering helpful advice. So far they have remained silent. One would be tempted to see in this the usual cynicism of politicians being ready to hide their moral scruples to boost exports (including ‘goods’ such as riot control equipment) were it not for the fact that whenever they meet David Cameron can only think of positive things to say about prime minister Erdoğan. Could it be that there is more to their relationship? Could it be that, in the words of Kim Howells justifying arms sales to Saudi Arabia during the Blair years, they ‘share the same values’?

This thought came back to me a few days ago with two pieces of policy news: Cameron’s campaign to make illegal immigrants ‘go home’ and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plan, announced recently, to provide ‘confidential police notice’ boxes into which people may put complaints about neighbours, in particular those who, as he said on July 19th, have been disturbing them by banging pots and pans each day at 9pm. The pots and pans are of course, part of the protests. On the face of it these measures are different: Cameron’s is a targeted measure, directed at genuine illegal immigrants in specific locations and offering them help in their efforts to return home, while Erdoğan is a beleaguered and desperate politician seeking to take revenge on anyone who has opposed him.


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