SSP Research, Policy & Media Unit
Press Release: 17/01/04
The Scottish Socialist Party Parliamentary group today issued a warning to the Scottish Executive that they would be 'dining with despots' if they were to accept an invitation from His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal for dinner at the Caledonian Hilton Hotel on Monday, 26th January.
Scottish Socialist Party National Convenor Tommy Sheridan denounced the visit in the strongest possible terms, saying;
"Jack McConnell and his band of tinpot democrats are going to commit an act of breathtaking hypocrisy.
"They were cheerleaders for the illegal war on Iraq, partly on the basis that Saddam was a dictator and a lack of democracy in that country.
"Now we find them putting on their lounge suits for a dinner date with members of the Saudi Royal Family, despots to a man, ruthless rulers of a country that the CIA reports its citizens 'have neither the right nor the legal means to change their government'".
Sheridan accused the Saudi regime of consistently denying its citizens basic human rights, of being involved in the torture of detained prisoners and of the prohibition or restriction of freedom of speech, the press, the right to assembly, association, movement, the practising of religion and the rights of workers.
"The Scottish Executive don't need to take my word for it, they just need to read the US Department of State report on Saudi Arabia as I have.
"In it they will find a detailed account of the activities of the despots who run Saudi Arabia.
"What I read turned my stomach and neither I nor any other Scottish Socialist Party MSP will be accepting our invitations to dine with these monsters.
"Jack McConnell is presumably able to take dinner with Prince Turki Al Faisal knowing that his government beheads women.
"The Scottish Socialists will not be dining with despots."