Tag Archives: Alan Rusbridger

How appropriate that a man who perverted justice is urging Cameron to war


Less than a day after this blog said David Cameron was waiting for media coverage to make war in the Middle East palatable to the people again, an article appears urging him to make war in the Middle East – by Chris Huhne.

That’s right, Chris Huhne – a former Liberal Democrat politician who had to resign his position as Energy Secretary in Cameron’s Coalition cabinet after being convicted of perverting the course of justice by trying to pretend his former wife had been speeding, not himself.

Huhne had maintained his innocence right up to the beginning of the trial, when he changed his plea to admit guilt. Apparently the public is supposed to accept the advice of this weaselly creature, writing in The Guardian.

That’s right, The Guardian – if ever a newspaper should know better than to publish warmongering propaganda, it’s The Guardian, which tries to be the voice of reason in an ever-feverish British press. Admittedly, this is an opinion piece in the paper’s ‘Comment is free’ column. Nevertheless, it is ill-advised and editor Alan Rusbridger should have thought twice before playing into David Cameron’s hands in this way.

The article itself reads like a response to yesterday’s Vox Political piece, which stated that Cameron, stung by his defeat over Syria, was waiting for public opinion to be turned back on-side by media support for British military intervention in Iraq.

And what’s the title of the Huhne piece? ‘David Cameron must get over his Syria humiliation and act on Iraq’. How swiftly the prophecies of Yr Obdt Srvt fulfil themselves these days… No crystal ball required, either.

Huhne, whose Parliamentary voting record shows he strongly supported an investigation into the last Iraq war, seems to have undergone a complete reversal of opinion since Cameron lost that famous vote on Syria, almost a year ago. Perhaps he’s had a “Road to Damascus” moment, to use a Biblical reference.

“Britain has so far done little except tip food parcels out of military transport; the last week has been notable for dither and delay,” he writes. “There have been no British air strikes… Such is the shadow of the government’s parliamentary defeat on the Syrian intervention.”

He argues that Cameron must try to represent “both strands” that identify Tories: “the Whig imperialists who believe in muscular intervention in good international causes; and the Tory nationalists who want nothing if it does not serve narrowly defined British interests.

“It is a debate that has raged throughout Tory history, most famously pitting Winston Churchill against Neville Chamberlain on appeasement.”

Hold on that thought; so now Huhne is comparing IS, still a relatively low concern to anybody outside its own backyard, with the German Nazis of the 1930s and the huge threat to lives and freedom that they posed?

That’s a step too far, too quickly. Huhne should have thought about what he was saying. Trying to connect IS with the greatest enemy this country has ever faced is a ridiculous step too far, utterly disproportionate and clearly manipulative. And nobody has any interest in appeasing Islamic State.

He is calling on us to make an emotional decision based on a grossly misjudged comparison.

The irony is that he didn’t need to do it. The arguments speak for themselves. His claim that “regional powers joining to meet their responsibilities” could solve the IS question is reasonable. This blog stated yesterday that an international alliance could surround IS and choke it to death, ending its threat forever.

But, ultimately, that is not what Huhne is demanding. He wants Cameron to rush in, do another quick-fix, and set up the pieces for another conflict – possibly bloodier – further down the line. This is odd, because there are no military suppliers among Huhne’s business interests.

The bottom line is that nobody should support military action on the basis of what is written here.

It would be a crime for British troops to go back to Iraq on such a pretext – especially when urged to do so by this petty criminal.

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Bad apples?

Meet the new boss: Richard Caseby - no connection with any 'bad apples' at News UK or the DWP. Let's hope it stays that way.

Meet the new boss: Richard Caseby – no connection with any ‘bad apples’ at News UK or the government. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The highly confrontational former managing editor of both The Sunday Times and The Sun has been named as the new director of communications at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Richard Caseby takes over after former comms boss John Shield was hired by the BBC last September.

Gosh, what an incestuous world we live in! The BBC, now confirmed as little more than a mouthpiece for the Conservative Party in its political news content, hires the former press officer for the Tory-run DWP. The DWP then hires an executive from Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, previous home of – oh, yes – former Number 10 press supremo Andy Coulson, currently on trial for criminal offences allegedly committed while he was employed by the same firm!

Murdoch, the government, the BBC – these people like to stick together, and they like to put their people in positions of influence.

There is no evidence – to my knowledge – that could link Mr Caseby to any criminal behaviour at News UK. It is to be hoped that any ‘bad apples’ who worked there did not manage to spoil the whole bunch. It would be wrong to consider him guilty of any wrongdoing merely by association with his previous employer.

And we should not automatically consider him to have been elevated to this position – in which, as a government employee, he should be impartial and not partisan – because he may be ideologically aligned with the Conservatives.

That being said, I shall certainly be watching this character like a hawk.

It seems he has gained a reputation for being “outspoken” and “forthright” – Roy Greenslade in The Guardian recounts an occasion when a columnist for that paper had mistakenly reported that The Sun had doorstepped a Leveson Inquiry lawyer, writing that such activities were equal to “casually defecating on his lordship’s desk while doing a thumbs-up sign”.

In response, Mr Caseby sent a toilet roll to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger along with a note saying: “I hear Marina Hyde’s turd landed on your desk.”

Of his new roll – sorry, role – at the DWP, Mr Caseby said: “Welfare reform and the introduction of Universal Credit represent the biggest transformation programme in the UK. It is fundamentally about changing culture and behaviour to make sure there is always an incentive to work.

“This is a huge and inspiring communications challenge and I’m delighted to be joining the DWP team to help in the task.”

Clearly he is already getting the hang of the lingo: “tranformation”, “changing culture and behaviour”, and “always an incentive to work” are all DWP catchphrases – probably because they don’t mean anything.

A “transformation” programme can turn a good system into the substance he mentioned in his Guardian note.

“Changing culture and behaviour” does not mean improving standards of living – in fact the evidence shows the exact opposite.

And the idea that DWP cuts mean there is “always an incentive to work” has been disproved to the point of ridicule. Iain Duncan Smith’s changes have hit low-paid workers more than anybody else and wages have been dropping continuously since the Secretary-in-a-State slithered into the job back in 2010.

Universal Credit has been the subject of so many expensive write-offs and relaunches that a campaign was launched earlier this week, called ‘Rip It Up And Start Again’, seeking an end to the fiasco.

This is the arena into which Mr Caseby has stepped.

He’d better tread carefully.

If he puts just one foot wrong, he might just get his head bitten off.