Gaddafi and friends: in pictures

World leaders may now be condemning the Libyan leader for his use of violence, but it hasn’t always

The photograph above, of Tony Blair embracing Gaddafi during a trip to Libya in 2007, is now notorious. Peter Popham argues today that "throwing down the welcome mat to this monster is one of the scandals of the age".

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Above, Gordon Brown shakes hands with Gaddafi at the G8 summit in 2009.

berlusconi

Gaddafi embraces the Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi. Their countries signed a controversial friendship pact in 2008. The two men reportedly spoke on the phone earlier this week.

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Also at the G8 summit in 2009, Gaddafi shakes hands with the US president, Barack Obama.

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Here, Gaddafi shares a stage with Nelson Mandela.

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Vladimir Putin is pictured with Gaddafi during a 2008 trip to Libya to rebuild Russian-Libyan relations.

zapatero

With Spain's Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, pictured in 2007, when the Libyan leader travelled to Madrid to sign a series of lucrative deals with political and business leaders.

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Above, the former French president Jacques Chirac is shown during a 2004 trip during which he pledged to build a "true partnership" with Libya.

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And, finally. one friend that Gaddafi would rather forget. He is pictured here talking to the Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali back in 2000. The other two are Morocco's King Mohammed VI and the Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, still in office today after nearly 12 years.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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