British MPs Conor Burns (Conservative) and Thomas Docherty (Labour), who are the chairman and one of the vice-chairman of the UK-Bahrain All-Party Parliamentary Group, a group that is dedicated to “develop friendship and understanding between our countries and to promote mutual economic and political aims” have written to The Times saying that postponing the Grand Prix would be a bad idea. This means that the event is politicised in both Britain and Bahrain.
“We note with concern calls on these pages to cancel the planned Grand Prix to be held in Bahrain,” the pair wrote. “Bahrain has been conveniently lumped together with other nations and labeled part of the “Arab Spring”. Yet the response of the government of Bahrain has been notably different. Bahrain invited independent human rights lawyers, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), to investigate and has started to implement its recommendations.
“In addition to elections that have led to a four-fold increase in women elected to parliament, Bahrain has also asked John Timoney, the former New York police chief, and John Yates, the former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to overhaul policing, Sir Daniel Bethlehem, the FCO’s former principal legal adviser, to review judicial processes, and opened detention facilities for inspection by the Red Crescent.
“Those who want Bahrain to continue on the path of genuine reform will do the cause no service by cancelling the Grand Prix this year. Indeed, surely the presence of thousands of Western visitors and journalists in the run-up to and during the event will act as an additional incentive to the authorities in Bahrain to show the international community its sincerity in the cause of reform and that their support for Bahrain is well placed.”
It is hard to imagine that there will be thousands of Western visitors as tourism in Bahrain has been in the doldrums (at best) since the problems began.
It is worth noting that there is also an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Bahrain, which has the goal of promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Bahrain.