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MP’s murder exposes role of neo-fascists in British Leave campaign

Robert Stevens
 
British Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death outside her West Yorkshire constituency
Thomas Mair, arrested on 16 June 2016 following the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox, was charged with her murder on 18 June. He was also charged with grievous bodily harm against a 77-year-old pensioner, Bernard Kenny, who intervened to try to save Cox’s life; possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence; and possession of an offensive weapon.
Asked to confirm his name, Mair told the court, “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”
His statement confirms that Mair holds fascistic views. His murderous assault on Cox underscores that the most right-wing and disoriented elements are being whipped into a frenzy by the nationalism and xenophobia surrounding the referendum on the UK’s European Union membership.
The killing took place outside the library where Cox, a prominent advocate for a Remain vote, was about to hold a surgery in the town of Birstall in her West Yorkshire Batley and Spen constituency. Mair was seen by several witnesses repeatedly stabbing and shooting Cox.
 
Far-right and neo-Nazi connections
Evidence began very quickly to emerge regarding Mair’s connections to far-right and neo-Nazi organisations. Several witnesses told reporters that he shouted “Britain first” as he killed Cox. Britain First is the name of a splinter from the fascist British National Party.
After being questioned by police locally, Mair was driven 200 miles south to Westminster Magistrates Court in London. Prosecuting barrister David Cawthorne told the court that as Mair was being arrested, he told police officers he was a “political activist.”
After Cox got out of her car, “almost immediately [Bernard Kenny] saw she was approached by an unknown male who began to attack her with a knife.” Kenny rushed to help but was stabbed by Mair in the abdomen, forcing him to retreat to a nearby sandwich shop where staff helped him.
Mair was seen to stab Cox “repeatedly.” Cawthorne said that when Cox fell to the ground, Mair took a firearm from a black holdall and shot her three times. He then continued to stab her.
“Whilst doing that, Cawthorne said, “The defendant was heard to say words to the effect of ‘Britain first, keep Britain independent, Britain always comes first, this is for Britain.’” Mair then left the scene “calmly” while Cox was rushed to hospital.
The prosecution summary of the crime also states: “Initial searches [of Mair’s home] have recovered newspaper articles relating to Jo Cox and ideological material relating to extreme right-wing and white supremacist organisations/ individuals.”
Mair subscribed, at least until 2006, to S. A. Patriot, a South African magazine published by the pro-apartheid White Rhino Club. Documents were published on social media and in newspapers showing he also purchased books from the US-based neo-Nazi group National Alliance.
A note in a 2006 newsletter of the London-based far-right Springbok Club read, “Thomas Mair, from Batley in Yorkshire was one of the earliest subscribers and supporters of ‘S.A.Patriot.’” The note asked if subscribers knew Mair’s current address.
The same edition of the newsletter advertised the latest activities of the far-right London Swinton Circle, which it supported.
 
London Swinton Circle
The London Swinton Circle was set up as a Conservative Party fringe group in the 1960s by admirers of Tory right-wing xenophobe Enoch Powell. The newsletter noted that the London Swinton Circle publication Tough Talking from the Right “held a special readers’ meeting and buffet in the City of London recently, where the guest speaker was Mr. Nigel Farage MEP, the co-president of the Independence and Democracy Group in the European Parliament.” It added, “There was a packed attendance at this gathering, who heard Mr. Farage deliver a most enlightening and succinct overview of the current dangers still facing Britain if membership of the EU were to continue.”
Farage, a prominent spokesman for the official Leave campaign in EU referendum, was in 2006 and remains today the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He has played a leading role in the dissemination of anti-migrant filth throughout the referendum campaign.
He is a co-founder of the anti-EU Leave organisation Grassroots Out, whose launch earlier this year was supported by Conservative MPs Peter Bone, Tom Pursglove and Liam Fox, as well as Labour MP Kate Hoey and Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party. A key speaker at the event announcing the formation of Grassroots Out was George Galloway, the former Respect MP for Bradford West.
Just hours before Cox’s death, Farage rolled out the latest poster in his Leave campaign, depicting a long line of refugees with the caption “Breaking Point. The EU has failed us all.”
 
Notorious speech
Earlier in the referendum campaign, he echoed the notorious speech of Powell, who said in 1968 that if immigration into Britain was not halted, “Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’” Speaking to the BBC, Farage said, “I think it’s legitimate to say that if people feel they have lost control completely—and we have lost control of our borders completely as members of the European Union—and if people feel that voting doesn’t change anything, then violence is the next step.” 
Within a month of this statement being made, Cox was brutally slain.
The London Swinton Circle maintained close connections to the Conservative Party as a fringe group. In 2014, Liam Fox and Owen Paterson, two former Conservative government cabinet ministers and now prominent Leave supporters, addressed separate meetings of the London Swinton Circle. In 1998, then-Conservative MP Neil Hamilton, who later defected to UKIP, spoke at a meeting of the Springbok Club. He was photographed at the meeting speaking in front of the national flag of apartheid-era South Africa.
Everything is being done by the right-wing supporters of the Leave campaign in Britain and internationally to dismiss the political character of Cox’s murder and its connection to the Brexit campaign.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen told French TV, “It’s clearly hard to have an explanation… above all, it’s important to hold back from any use of it for political purposes.”
 
Attack on democracy
Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who are aligned in the Remain campaign, have as yet said nothing about the blatantly political character of Cox’s murder. Speaking to the BBC, Corbyn merely stated that Cox’s murder was “an attack on democracy, an attack on the right of somebody to be elected to represent you and to go about their business,” passing over Mair’s extreme-right connections.
It is reported that MPs are planning to sit not in their traditional party blocs on either side of the House of Commons, but to mingle together in a show of “national unity.” This only underscores the complicity of the entire political establishment in pushing nationalist and anti-immigrant policies and legitimising far-right figures and organizations.
A former BNP member is to contest the Batley and Spen by-election to decide the successor of MP Jo Cox, saying the Labour Party has “blood on its hands” over the politician’s death. Mrs Cox died earlier this week after being shot and stabbed at a constituency surgery she was holding at a local library. A 52-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.
All major political parties have said they do not intend to contest the upcoming by-election to elect an MP to the seat following the tragedy, out of respect for Ms Cox’s family and colleagues. However, Jack Buckby has announced he will be contesting the seat for far-right political party Liberty GB, which lists as its main aims; “halting the Islamisation of Britain” and “promoting British values and assimiliation rather than multiculturalism”.
Mr Buckby was formerly tipped to be a leading figure in the BNP while a member of its youth wing the BNP Crusaders and has been described as an “heir apparent to Nick Griffin”, the former party leader. However, Mr Buckby left the BNP, citing concerns that the party’s views had become “racist”.
In a statement announcing his decision to stand, he wrote: “While the murder of Jo Cox is tragic, we must not let this tragedy blur the fact that the Labour Party is responsible for the demographic and cultural assault on Britain which has already done great damage in areas of Yorkshire.
“Too much is at stake to allow Labour to retake Batley and Spen unchallenged. The constituency is part of a region that has been turned upside down by mass immigration, with mosques sprouting like triffids, Islamic extremism proliferating, child-rape gangs still on the loose, and long-standing English communities under threat of demographic eradication.
“The Labour Party has blood on its hands. And by shutting down debate and labelling working class people concerned about their communities as racists, they risk driving desperate, disenfranchised people to further horrendous acts like this.”
Announcing his campaign on social media, he also said he supported capital punishment for the person responsible for Ms Cox’s death. He wrote: “Liberty GB calls for a referendum on the restoration of capital punishment. I support it, and I say we hang the Jo Cox killer.”
He also criticised the decision of many members of the public to donate to the charity ‘Hope Not Hate’ to honour the Labour MP who worked to improve community relations in her West Yorkshire constituency. He wrote: “Nasty ‘Hope Not Hate’ being given tens of thousands of pounds from the Jo Cox fundraising. And they moan about people ‘politicising’ the killing.”
—-WSWS

Comment

Robert Stevens
 
British Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death outside her West Yorkshire constituency
Thomas Mair, arrested on 16 June 2016 following the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox, was charged with her murder on 18 June. He was also charged with grievous bodily harm against a 77-year-old pensioner, Bernard Kenny, who intervened to try to save Cox’s life; possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence; and possession of an offensive weapon.
Asked to confirm his name, Mair told the court, “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”
His statement confirms that Mair holds fascistic views. His murderous assault on Cox underscores that the most right-wing and disoriented elements are being whipped into a frenzy by the nationalism and xenophobia surrounding the referendum on the UK’s European Union membership.
The killing took place outside the library where Cox, a prominent advocate for a Remain vote, was about to hold a surgery in the town of Birstall in her West Yorkshire Batley and Spen constituency. Mair was seen by several witnesses repeatedly stabbing and shooting Cox.
 
Far-right and neo-Nazi connections
Evidence began very quickly to emerge regarding Mair’s connections to far-right and neo-Nazi organisations. Several witnesses told reporters that he shouted “Britain first” as he killed Cox. Britain First is the name of a splinter from the fascist British National Party.
After being questioned by police locally, Mair was driven 200 miles south to Westminster Magistrates Court in London. Prosecuting barrister David Cawthorne told the court that as Mair was being arrested, he told police officers he was a “political activist.”
After Cox got out of her car, “almost immediately [Bernard Kenny] saw she was approached by an unknown male who began to attack her with a knife.” Kenny rushed to help but was stabbed by Mair in the abdomen, forcing him to retreat to a nearby sandwich shop where staff helped him.
Mair was seen to stab Cox “repeatedly.” Cawthorne said that when Cox fell to the ground, Mair took a firearm from a black holdall and shot her three times. He then continued to stab her.
“Whilst doing that, Cawthorne said, “The defendant was heard to say words to the effect of ‘Britain first, keep Britain independent, Britain always comes first, this is for Britain.’” Mair then left the scene “calmly” while Cox was rushed to hospital.
The prosecution summary of the crime also states: “Initial searches [of Mair’s home] have recovered newspaper articles relating to Jo Cox and ideological material relating to extreme right-wing and white supremacist organisations/ individuals.”
Mair subscribed, at least until 2006, to S. A. Patriot, a South African magazine published by the pro-apartheid White Rhino Club. Documents were published on social media and in newspapers showing he also purchased books from the US-based neo-Nazi group National Alliance.
A note in a 2006 newsletter of the London-based far-right Springbok Club read, “Thomas Mair, from Batley in Yorkshire was one of the earliest subscribers and supporters of ‘S.A.Patriot.’” The note asked if subscribers knew Mair’s current address.
The same edition of the newsletter advertised the latest activities of the far-right London Swinton Circle, which it supported.
 
London Swinton Circle
The London Swinton Circle was set up as a Conservative Party fringe group in the 1960s by admirers of Tory right-wing xenophobe Enoch Powell. The newsletter noted that the London Swinton Circle publication Tough Talking from the Right “held a special readers’ meeting and buffet in the City of London recently, where the guest speaker was Mr. Nigel Farage MEP, the co-president of the Independence and Democracy Group in the European Parliament.” It added, “There was a packed attendance at this gathering, who heard Mr. Farage deliver a most enlightening and succinct overview of the current dangers still facing Britain if membership of the EU were to continue.”
Farage, a prominent spokesman for the official Leave campaign in EU referendum, was in 2006 and remains today the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He has played a leading role in the dissemination of anti-migrant filth throughout the referendum campaign.
He is a co-founder of the anti-EU Leave organisation Grassroots Out, whose launch earlier this year was supported by Conservative MPs Peter Bone, Tom Pursglove and Liam Fox, as well as Labour MP Kate Hoey and Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party. A key speaker at the event announcing the formation of Grassroots Out was George Galloway, the former Respect MP for Bradford West.
Just hours before Cox’s death, Farage rolled out the latest poster in his Leave campaign, depicting a long line of refugees with the caption “Breaking Point. The EU has failed us all.”
 
Notorious speech
Earlier in the referendum campaign, he echoed the notorious speech of Powell, who said in 1968 that if immigration into Britain was not halted, “Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’” Speaking to the BBC, Farage said, “I think it’s legitimate to say that if people feel they have lost control completely—and we have lost control of our borders completely as members of the European Union—and if people feel that voting doesn’t change anything, then violence is the next step.” 
Within a month of this statement being made, Cox was brutally slain.
The London Swinton Circle maintained close connections to the Conservative Party as a fringe group. In 2014, Liam Fox and Owen Paterson, two former Conservative government cabinet ministers and now prominent Leave supporters, addressed separate meetings of the London Swinton Circle. In 1998, then-Conservative MP Neil Hamilton, who later defected to UKIP, spoke at a meeting of the Springbok Club. He was photographed at the meeting speaking in front of the national flag of apartheid-era South Africa.
Everything is being done by the right-wing supporters of the Leave campaign in Britain and internationally to dismiss the political character of Cox’s murder and its connection to the Brexit campaign.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen told French TV, “It’s clearly hard to have an explanation… above all, it’s important to hold back from any use of it for political purposes.”
 
Attack on democracy
Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who are aligned in the Remain campaign, have as yet said nothing about the blatantly political character of Cox’s murder. Speaking to the BBC, Corbyn merely stated that Cox’s murder was “an attack on democracy, an attack on the right of somebody to be elected to represent you and to go about their business,” passing over Mair’s extreme-right connections.
It is reported that MPs are planning to sit not in their traditional party blocs on either side of the House of Commons, but to mingle together in a show of “national unity.” This only underscores the complicity of the entire political establishment in pushing nationalist and anti-immigrant policies and legitimising far-right figures and organizations.
A former BNP member is to contest the Batley and Spen by-election to decide the successor of MP Jo Cox, saying the Labour Party has “blood on its hands” over the politician’s death. Mrs Cox died earlier this week after being shot and stabbed at a constituency surgery she was holding at a local library. A 52-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.
All major political parties have said they do not intend to contest the upcoming by-election to elect an MP to the seat following the tragedy, out of respect for Ms Cox’s family and colleagues. However, Jack Buckby has announced he will be contesting the seat for far-right political party Liberty GB, which lists as its main aims; “halting the Islamisation of Britain” and “promoting British values and assimiliation rather than multiculturalism”.
Mr Buckby was formerly tipped to be a leading figure in the BNP while a member of its youth wing the BNP Crusaders and has been described as an “heir apparent to Nick Griffin”, the former party leader. However, Mr Buckby left the BNP, citing concerns that the party’s views had become “racist”.
In a statement announcing his decision to stand, he wrote: “While the murder of Jo Cox is tragic, we must not let this tragedy blur the fact that the Labour Party is responsible for the demographic and cultural assault on Britain which has already done great damage in areas of Yorkshire.
“Too much is at stake to allow Labour to retake Batley and Spen unchallenged. The constituency is part of a region that has been turned upside down by mass immigration, with mosques sprouting like triffids, Islamic extremism proliferating, child-rape gangs still on the loose, and long-standing English communities under threat of demographic eradication.
“The Labour Party has blood on its hands. And by shutting down debate and labelling working class people concerned about their communities as racists, they risk driving desperate, disenfranchised people to further horrendous acts like this.”
Announcing his campaign on social media, he also said he supported capital punishment for the person responsible for Ms Cox’s death. He wrote: “Liberty GB calls for a referendum on the restoration of capital punishment. I support it, and I say we hang the Jo Cox killer.”
He also criticised the decision of many members of the public to donate to the charity ‘Hope Not Hate’ to honour the Labour MP who worked to improve community relations in her West Yorkshire constituency. He wrote: “Nasty ‘Hope Not Hate’ being given tens of thousands of pounds from the Jo Cox fundraising. And they moan about people ‘politicising’ the killing.”
—-WSWS

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Sri Lanka: President and PM need to agree on policy parameters

Jehan Perera in Colombo
 
There have been indications of a growing gap between the positions taken by the UNP and SLFP which are the two main constituent parties of the National Unity Government. Some months ago it took the form of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking positively in terms of international involvement in the country post-war accountability process while President Maithripala Sirisena said the reverse. At the present time the point of concern would be the fate of the Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran. The SLFP has opposed his reappointment. On the other hand, the UNP led by the Prime Minister have expressed their confidence in the Governor contribution to the economy as a member of the government team. This is an issue on which the two parties will have to find a mutually acceptable solution if their relationship is not to be soured and they continue to cooperate on important issues as they have been doing so far for the past one and a half years since the election of the new government.
The defeat of the no-confidence motion against Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake by a large 145 to 51 margin showed that the government’s majority in Parliament remains secure. The failure of the Joint Opposition to obtain the support of SLFP members who have joined the government was a major blow to their efforts to portray themselves as a government-in-waiting. Although members of the Joint Opposition continue to make political speeches that ostensibly have public backing, their weakness in Parliament was manifested by the magnitude of the defeat of the no-confidence motion they had presented with an appearance of confidence in themselves. There appears to be a fall in the public campaign of the Joint Opposition after this political debacle. Former coalition partners of theirs from the CWC and EPDP have joined the government. To make matters worse for them, one of their key leaders has been arrested on charges of financial fraud.
The Joint Opposition’s blighted hope was that SLFP members of the government would join them in supporting the no-confidence motion as it was against the Finance Minister who is from the UNP which has been the long standing rival of the SLFP. Had this occurred the vote of no-confidence would have become much more narrow, and more significantly a rift would have become more evident between the two coalition partners of the National Unity Government. However, President Maithripala Sirisena was able to exert his influence over his party members who had joined the government. To make his intentions clear, the President also stayed within his chambers in Parliament for the duration of the no-confidence motion thereby making a public display of his commitment to the National Unity Government. Indeed, this public display of commitment by the President would have halted the negative vote from amongst the SLFP group in Parliament and was the chief reason for the defeat of the Joint Opposition’s no-confidence motion with such a large majority.
 
Competing factions
At the present time the combination of the two main political parties in the Government of National Unity gives the government a solid majority to engage in political reform and constitutional reform. Both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who jointly head the government are non-racist leaders in whom the ethnic and religious minorities can place their trust. The relationship between the political leaders of the Tamil and Muslim parties and the government leadership bears out this trust. The trust and goodwill that exists between them at the highest levels of the polity provides an example to the people in the country at large. However, there have been other areas where the leaderships of the two main constituent parties of the government appear to have taken different positions. One would be the investigations into acts of impunity and corruption during the period of the Rajapaksa government. 
These investigations have been proceeding slower than anticipated especially in the court of public opinion, which is judging the government very harshly on this issue. The blame for this has fallen on both sides. The SLFP members who are now part of the National Unity Government were also a part of the previous Rajapaksa government which stands accused of gross acts of impunity and corruption. It is not surprising that in these circumstances there is public speculation that the slow progress of the investigations is due to the natural reluctance of those whose past conduct is to be investigated to make their indictment for crimes any easier. On the other hand, there is also public speculation that the slow pace of the investigations is due to a deal that has been struck between those in power at the current time and those not in power.
It will be difficult to continue to develop public confidence if the positions taken by the two main constituent parties of the National Unity Government are in opposition to each other. Although the challenge mounted by the Joint Opposition appears to be diminishing, especially after the defeat of the no-confidence motion against the Finance Minister, the sentiments of SLFP voters would also need to be safeguarded. They would prefer a government that is totally SLFP. There are reports of a faction within the SLFP that wants to form their own government without any formal UNP participation but drawing from defecting members of the UNP. Similarly there are those with the UNP who would wish to form a government drawn entirely from the UNP and without SLFP participation except in the form of defectors. The need to conduct local government elections at some time in the future, but sooner rather than later, would set the UNP and SLFP against each other, which adds to the possibility of a weakening of the National Unity Government in the near future.
 
Staying together
The formation of the National Unity Government with a substantial majority in Parliament which comes close to 2/3 of the seats in Parliament offers the country the best chance it has ever had to resolve its long outstanding problems, including the vexed one of the ethnic conflict. The political challenge today therefore is to ensure that the National Unity Government continues until such time as the major political problems which have come down the decades are finally resolved. The ethnic conflict is not the only issue to be tackled at the present time. Other issues that need to be responded to include restructuring the Sri Lankan economy to face the needs and opportunities of the global market; and responding to the UN Human Rights Council resolution of October 2015 without generating too much of political agitation within the country. Indeed the Prime Minister is reported to have said that he will work in silence and leave it to the people to decide later whether what was done was good or bad.
In keeping the National Unity Government together it is important that the leaders of the two main parties should closely consult each other and together establish the basic parameters of the government policies they wish to take forward. They demonstrated this ability during the presidential election campaign of January 2015. They reached mutual agreement on issues of good governance and tackling corruption and impunity. Whatever was said thereafter, during and in the immediate aftermath of the formation of the new government, was within the parameters that had already been set. Unfortunately, this close consultation and cooperation appears to have diminished at the present time. As a result there is a gap that has opened up between the statements of the two parties which can threaten the stability and effectiveness of the government in the longer period.
It appears that the UNP part of the government is focusing its attention on its international audience and is seeking to cater to their concerns in the hope of international aid and investment that can leap frog the economy to the 21st century. On the other hand, the SLFP part of the government is focused on the local audience, which is more interested in issues of social welfare and national sovereignty. Both these approaches are necessary for the country and its people to prosper. This suggests that the President and Prime Minister who head the two main constituent parties of the National Unity Government s should devise a mechanism that would ensure that they consult with each other and agree on the parameters of all nationally significant policies prior to separately making assertions about them.

Comment

Jehan Perera in Colombo
 
There have been indications of a growing gap between the positions taken by the UNP and SLFP which are the two main constituent parties of the National Unity Government. Some months ago it took the form of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking positively in terms of international involvement in the country post-war accountability process while President Maithripala Sirisena said the reverse. At the present time the point of concern would be the fate of the Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran. The SLFP has opposed his reappointment. On the other hand, the UNP led by the Prime Minister have expressed their confidence in the Governor contribution to the economy as a member of the government team. This is an issue on which the two parties will have to find a mutually acceptable solution if their relationship is not to be soured and they continue to cooperate on important issues as they have been doing so far for the past one and a half years since the election of the new government.
The defeat of the no-confidence motion against Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake by a large 145 to 51 margin showed that the government’s majority in Parliament remains secure. The failure of the Joint Opposition to obtain the support of SLFP members who have joined the government was a major blow to their efforts to portray themselves as a government-in-waiting. Although members of the Joint Opposition continue to make political speeches that ostensibly have public backing, their weakness in Parliament was manifested by the magnitude of the defeat of the no-confidence motion they had presented with an appearance of confidence in themselves. There appears to be a fall in the public campaign of the Joint Opposition after this political debacle. Former coalition partners of theirs from the CWC and EPDP have joined the government. To make matters worse for them, one of their key leaders has been arrested on charges of financial fraud.
The Joint Opposition’s blighted hope was that SLFP members of the government would join them in supporting the no-confidence motion as it was against the Finance Minister who is from the UNP which has been the long standing rival of the SLFP. Had this occurred the vote of no-confidence would have become much more narrow, and more significantly a rift would have become more evident between the two coalition partners of the National Unity Government. However, President Maithripala Sirisena was able to exert his influence over his party members who had joined the government. To make his intentions clear, the President also stayed within his chambers in Parliament for the duration of the no-confidence motion thereby making a public display of his commitment to the National Unity Government. Indeed, this public display of commitment by the President would have halted the negative vote from amongst the SLFP group in Parliament and was the chief reason for the defeat of the Joint Opposition’s no-confidence motion with such a large majority.
 
Competing factions
At the present time the combination of the two main political parties in the Government of National Unity gives the government a solid majority to engage in political reform and constitutional reform. Both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who jointly head the government are non-racist leaders in whom the ethnic and religious minorities can place their trust. The relationship between the political leaders of the Tamil and Muslim parties and the government leadership bears out this trust. The trust and goodwill that exists between them at the highest levels of the polity provides an example to the people in the country at large. However, there have been other areas where the leaderships of the two main constituent parties of the government appear to have taken different positions. One would be the investigations into acts of impunity and corruption during the period of the Rajapaksa government. 
These investigations have been proceeding slower than anticipated especially in the court of public opinion, which is judging the government very harshly on this issue. The blame for this has fallen on both sides. The SLFP members who are now part of the National Unity Government were also a part of the previous Rajapaksa government which stands accused of gross acts of impunity and corruption. It is not surprising that in these circumstances there is public speculation that the slow progress of the investigations is due to the natural reluctance of those whose past conduct is to be investigated to make their indictment for crimes any easier. On the other hand, there is also public speculation that the slow pace of the investigations is due to a deal that has been struck between those in power at the current time and those not in power.
It will be difficult to continue to develop public confidence if the positions taken by the two main constituent parties of the National Unity Government are in opposition to each other. Although the challenge mounted by the Joint Opposition appears to be diminishing, especially after the defeat of the no-confidence motion against the Finance Minister, the sentiments of SLFP voters would also need to be safeguarded. They would prefer a government that is totally SLFP. There are reports of a faction within the SLFP that wants to form their own government without any formal UNP participation but drawing from defecting members of the UNP. Similarly there are those with the UNP who would wish to form a government drawn entirely from the UNP and without SLFP participation except in the form of defectors. The need to conduct local government elections at some time in the future, but sooner rather than later, would set the UNP and SLFP against each other, which adds to the possibility of a weakening of the National Unity Government in the near future.
 
Staying together
The formation of the National Unity Government with a substantial majority in Parliament which comes close to 2/3 of the seats in Parliament offers the country the best chance it has ever had to resolve its long outstanding problems, including the vexed one of the ethnic conflict. The political challenge today therefore is to ensure that the National Unity Government continues until such time as the major political problems which have come down the decades are finally resolved. The ethnic conflict is not the only issue to be tackled at the present time. Other issues that need to be responded to include restructuring the Sri Lankan economy to face the needs and opportunities of the global market; and responding to the UN Human Rights Council resolution of October 2015 without generating too much of political agitation within the country. Indeed the Prime Minister is reported to have said that he will work in silence and leave it to the people to decide later whether what was done was good or bad.
In keeping the National Unity Government together it is important that the leaders of the two main parties should closely consult each other and together establish the basic parameters of the government policies they wish to take forward. They demonstrated this ability during the presidential election campaign of January 2015. They reached mutual agreement on issues of good governance and tackling corruption and impunity. Whatever was said thereafter, during and in the immediate aftermath of the formation of the new government, was within the parameters that had already been set. Unfortunately, this close consultation and cooperation appears to have diminished at the present time. As a result there is a gap that has opened up between the statements of the two parties which can threaten the stability and effectiveness of the government in the longer period.
It appears that the UNP part of the government is focusing its attention on its international audience and is seeking to cater to their concerns in the hope of international aid and investment that can leap frog the economy to the 21st century. On the other hand, the SLFP part of the government is focused on the local audience, which is more interested in issues of social welfare and national sovereignty. Both these approaches are necessary for the country and its people to prosper. This suggests that the President and Prime Minister who head the two main constituent parties of the National Unity Government s should devise a mechanism that would ensure that they consult with each other and agree on the parameters of all nationally significant policies prior to separately making assertions about them.

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