How do we all feel about David Cameron’s latest bid to have a Middle Eastern crusade?
He has always wanted one, and no doubt he wants to bury the spectre of last year’s aborted attempt to attack Syria – when Labour leader Ed Miliband did the impossible and, from opposition, stopped the government from having its way.
But exorcising that demon would require Miliband to oppose an attack on IS and this seems unlikely because the cause appears to be just.
Not only has Iraq appealed to the UK for help to contain the threat of Islamic State, but we have proof – from IS itself – that it is killing British citizens.
The Guardian has reported a cautious response from Miliband in line with the wishes of the Labour Party conference, which called for a UN security council resolution before the UK commits to any conflict. But the BBC is reporting that Miliband has confirmed his support for an alliance of nations – including Arab states – against IS, saying that the UK should not “opt out”.
Back in the Victorian era, when a British citizen was threatened in Greece, Lord Palmerston famously sent a gunboat and blockaded Athens. Cameron – who has been working hard to resurrect the 19th century – would be showing weakness if he did not seek similar retribution.
And the last thing he needs to show IS is weakness.
It would be seen as an invitation to launch further attacks against the UK – possibly even on our own soil.
Parliament will be recalled to discuss the matter at 10.30am tomorrow, with a vote at around 5.30pm. The result, it seems, is a foregone conclusion.
At the top of this article, readers are asked how they feel about David Cameron’s latest bid to have a crusade in the Middle East. Some readers might find that a churlish way of describing the matter, as the cause does seem just.
But Cameron’s motives are always questionable. He wants a war that will win an election for him, just as the Falklands War won a second term for Margaret Thatcher.
His problem is, he’s not as intelligent as Mrs T. She, it has been claimed, led Argentina to believe that the UK was weaker than was actually the case, in order to provoke that country into a fight it could not win. This narrative claims that she planned the whole thing.
Cameron has planned nothing. He is in the hands of circumstance and could just as easily become the victim as the victor.
And the British public is tired of endless foreign adventures that cost a fortune and bring no benefit back here.
Those are the facts of the matter – as far as it is possible to interpret them at this time.
Johnny UKIP or John Bulls***? From the behaviour of its supporters, there’s no difference between the two.
Praise is due to the Royal Mail employees who delivered a missive to VP Mansion, despite the fact that the top line of the address was missing.
It was a poison pen letter from a supporter of UKIP, clearly incensed that Yr Obdt Srvt has dared to use the letter pages of the local papers to question the actions of its elected MEPs.
“Dear Sir,” it began. “Are you some kind of a nutcase of have you caught a member of UKIP shaging your wife. However, I am voting UKIP next election with enemies like you they cant be wrong” [reproduced as written].
It was signed “John Bull, Newtown, Powys” – an obvious nom-de-plume but also a faux pas, as John Bull was created to be “a heroic archetype of the freeborn Englishman”. Any Newtown resident using such a disguise clearly has his national identity confused.
But then, he is a UKIP voter.
The irony is, the debate in the newspapers was winding down but now – thanks to “John”‘s Bull(ying behaviour), it seems these Kippers deserve a little more battering.
For information: UKIP’s people here in Powys had got into a terrible froth after Yr Srvt reminded them that UKIP MEPs had voted against a resolution calling on member states to legislate against marital rape.
Their arguments were easily countered with reference to exactly such a law which is currently passing through the legislative process in the Welsh Assembly. The question was: If UKIP had any Assembly members, would they support or oppose this Bill? If they supported it, they must be hypocrites; if they opposed it, then there would be no evading accusations that they approve of violence against women.
A UKIP supporter had responded by saying the party had been formed to regain democratic self-government, therefore “to oppose a measure because it was enacted by our democratically devolved government would be inconsistent.”
He continued: “Personally, I suspect that the practicalities of enforcement will largely vitiate a well-intentioned measure. Rape and assault outside the home are not prevented by laws criminalising them.”
In two paragraphs he managed to present the worst possible case. UKIP would hypocritically support such a law – not because it would protect women (this Kipper didn’t think it would) but because its members like the Welsh Assembly more than the European Parliament.
There’s a four-letter word that is often appended to “John”‘s surname – and UKIP is full of it.
Bizarrely, this is one instance of UKIP getting something right: The image by UKIP’s youth branch, Young Independence, makes it clear that the party is opposed by the NUS. There is no mention of a ban.
Our friends at UKIP have been at it again.
What follows is mainly from the A Liberal Life blog, detailing UKIP’s attempt to claim the National Union of Students voted to ban the party from standing for election within that organisation, when in fact all the union did was declare that it formally opposed UKIP.
Daniel Stevens, NUS International Students’ Officer, explained the decision on the NUS website. He said UKIP made the arrival of Romania and Bulgaria in the European Union a central focus of its 2013 election campaign, “using fear, misinformation and xenophobic language. They claimed the move would [lead] to an influx of 350,000 to 400,000 Romanians and Bulgarians a year, claimed that it would have an enormous impact on public services and went as far as to say it would lead to a ‘gateway for organised crime’… I have met Romanian students at UK universities and colleges who have been absolutely demoralised in the way their country has been stereotyped and portrayed by UKIP. One student went as far as to say that they now felt ashamed to be Romanian in Britain. There is something fundamentally wrong and blatantly xenophobic about a party that is willing to demonise and stereotype an entire country for its own political devices.”
Moving on to immigration, he pointed out that the NUS represents more than half a million international students, and that he spoke to members of that group every week “who are incredibly fearful of what UKIP represents, and I don’t blame them. Along with UKIP’s entire manifesto, its policies on immigration are currently undergoing a review. Whilst it stresses that it wants a non-discriminatory immigration policy, there is no indication of what that might look like. What’s clear is that UKIP [is] content to use xenophobic language to get their point across. Its previous manifesto stated that ‘multiculturalism has split our society’ and ‘our traditional values have been undermined’. Its new poster strongly implies that 26 million unemployed Europeans are after British jobs. UKIP’s entire campaign is based on immigration policies. The language it uses is an ‘us vs them’ mentality. Farage has suggested that parts of the country have been ‘taken over’ by foreigners and claiming that this has come at a ‘financial’ and ‘social price’. UKIP [has] repeatedly refused to create policies, or in fact a campaign, based on verified evidence of the impact of immigration. Instead [it uses] negative buzz-words that play on people’s emotions to drive an agenda of division.”
Finally, he pointed to what he called UKIP’s “problematic membership”. He stated: “Whilst UKIP will defend itself as not being racist, almost each week brings another case of a party member standing for a position that harbours racist, islamophobic, disablist or homophobic views”. For example:
• The star of UKIP’s TV ad dismissed Ed Miliband as “a Pole,” tweeted islamophobic messages and said Africans should be left “to kill themselves.”
• A UKIP candidate called for Lenry Henry to “emigrate to a black country.”
• An MEP called for British Muslims to sign a non-violence charter.
• A UKIP candidate in Enfield sent messages saying gay marriage sickens people and made misogynistic comments about a female councillor.
• A UKIP candidate in Leeds listed Nazi war criminals as individuals who inspire him.
“These examples are just from a two week period.”
He concluded that some had claimed that NUS passing policy that opposed UKIP contravened free speech. “On the contrary. Students across the country have democratically voted to hold UKIP accountable [for] its actions and views,” he stated. “We must always be suspicious and vigilant against the politics of fear and any political party that is willing to use xenophobia to gain political influence.”
He made it clear that if anyone else from UKIP wanted to run for office in the NUS next year, they would still be entitled to do so.
Now you know the background, let’s get back to the dodgy dealings on A Liberal Life, where we are told that yesterday (August 3), UKIP “community spokesperson” Suzanne Evans tweeted that the NUS was a “leftie dictatorship” for “not allowing UKIP candidates to stand for election”.
Faced with the fact that no such ban exists, the response was, “Debate impossible with LiberalIsland [that’s the author of the blog] – clearly believes it’s fine to ban party that won last nationwide election.”
Then some supporters of this lady jumped in to, well, support her. None of them had an answer to the main point of fact and the best they could manage was a lame “the opposition is equivalent to a ban”.
This is the face of UKIP today. Yr Obdt Srvt has been enjoying (if that’s the word) a debate over UKIP’s opposition to a European Parliament resolution calling on member states to legislate against domestic violence including marital rape. The latest UKIP position is that they were right to oppose the EU resolution because the European Parliament is undemocratic (so does this mean their election win is not valid?) but it would be inconsistent with UKIP’s intent to regain democratic self-government to oppose the Welsh Government’s planned law on the subject.
Apparently the safety of women in the home is of no interest whatever. In fact, the correspondent made this clear by stating: “I suspect that the practicalities of enforcement will largely vitiate a well-intentioned measure. Rape and assault outside the home are not prevented by laws criminalising them.”
Clearly UKIP is perfectly happy to justify its inconsistencies by playing with words.
Today we are all very disappointed in young David – or at least we should be.
As a ceasefire in Gaza collapsed with both sides blaming the other, Mr Cameron seemed to think the main issue was an entirely justified attack on him by Ed Miliband.
Mr Miliband, commenting on the UK’s abstention from a United Nations resolution that establishes a Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and demands that Israel ceases its military assaults and lifts the blockade of Gaza, said Cameron was “wrong” not to oppose Israel’s attacks.
“Its wholly unjustified rocket attacks on Israeli citizens, as well as building of tunnels for terrorist purposes, show the organisation’s murderous intent and practice towards Israel and its citizens,” he said.
“But the prime minister is wrong not to have opposed Israel’s incursion into Gaza and his silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel’s military action will be inexplicable to people across Britain and internationally.”
A Downing Street spokesman responded: “The PM has been clear that both sides in the Gaza conflict need to observe a ceasefire. We are shocked that Ed Miliband would seek to misrepresent that position and play politics with such a serious issue.”
This is – of course – a misrepresentation of the government’s position. It is an attempt to whitewash the UK’s refusal to vote in the UN resolution out of the public consciousness. And it is an attempt to trivialise a serious conflict causing appalling loss of life – 1,700 in Gaza during the last three weeks.
The situation in Gaza is terribly complicated. Palestinian political organisation Hamas has governed the Gaza strip since 2007 after it won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament, but is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the UK and the USA, amongst others.
States including Russia and China do not consider it to be terrorist but actions such as the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and the organisation’s creation of a tunnel network in order to carry out attacks on Israel mitigate against that belief.
That being said, Israel is a nation of vastly superior military might whose response appears wholly disproportionate – especially in the light of the Jewish people’s own history.
Persecuted for centuries until a decision was made for them to create a nation of their own in the land formerly known as Palestine, it seems clear that the new nation of Israel then set about the persecution of the Palestinian people who had formerly owned the land they had taken over.
It seems that Israeli politicians have learned nothing from their own history.
The matter is complicated by the fact that Palestine was a Muslim state, and Israel is surrounded by other Muslim states that vowed to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea rather than tolerate a Hebrew state on their doorstep, so it would be accurate to say that there has never been any attempt at tolerance between these unwilling neighbours.
And the above is an extremely oversimplified attempt to explain the situation!
For David Cameron, though, it seems none of this is important. What’s important to him is that Ed Miliband showed him up for speaking against both Hamas and Israel, and failing to support this with action.
One final point: In the light of Mr Miliband’s condemnation of Israel, are there any silly people out there who still want to claim he is a Zionist?
The damning facts: The UK couldn’t care less about human rights in Gaza and the USA actively voted against them. Russia – currently being painted as the big bad bogeyman of Europe – supported the resolution.
Say what you like about the situation in Israel/Palestine, the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory can only be good – right?
So we have to ask ourselves why the United Kingdom, represented by our unelected comedy Prime Minister, chose to be among the 17 countries that abstained from the vote.
That’s right – the UK chose not to support the protection of people’s human rights.
Even Russia voted for this! Perhaps that’s something we should remember, next time we examine that country’s foreign policies.
The UN Human Rights Council resolution establishes a Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and demands that Israel ceases its military assaults and lifts the blockade of Gaza. It was passed with 29 votes in favour, 1 against, and 17 abstentions, including that from the UK.
It is notable that the solitary vote against the resolution came from the United States of America. Your comments on that decision are awaited with interest but keep them free of racism or religious intolerance!
Among the human rights Cameron wants to scrap here in the UK are a state’s duty to “investigate suspicious deaths” and “prevent foreseeable loss of life”. Perhaps he can see that it would be hypocritical to refuse such actions at home and then demand them abroad.
The rights to a fair trial, respect for one’s private and family life, freedom of expression, assembly and association are also likely to be relevant to Gaza and the Occupied Territory. Again, Cameron wants to banish these from the UK.
He says he would replace them with a ‘Bill of Rights’ unique to this country, and dictated by Tory millionaires.
If you want to know how that would turn out, well…
Just hope it won’t be worse for you than it is for people in Gaza today.
Farage: The UKIP leader voted against an EU motion for laws to end marital rape in 2006 – now that such a law is going through the Welsh Assembly, would he hypocritically support it?
Back in 2006, UKIP’s then-Members of the European Parliament voted against a resolution calling on member states to legislate against violence on women, including marital rape.
According to at least one UKIP supporter, this was done “simply because of their opposition to the EU and all its works”.
How unfortunate for UKIP, to be seen to support the continuation of domestic violence – including marital rape – simply because the idea of making laws against it was put forward by the wrong people.
That isn’t statesmanlike – it’s childish.
Now a UK legislature has taken forward the ideas in that EU resolution; the Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill aims to end domestic abuse, gender-based violence and sexual violence.
What a pity UKIP has no Assembly members!
If it did, the party could clarify its position – although this is not without its drawbacks.
If UKIP still opposes such legislation, then we will all know that the party supports a loathsome philosophy – that it is all right to commit physical and sexual abuse against a partner in the home.
If UKIP now supports it, we will all know that it is a party of hypocrites who would think nothing of allowing such abuse to continue, in order to push forward its own agenda.
Without Assembly members voting on the proposed Welsh law, UKIP does not need to clarify its position – but that lets Mr Farage and his friends off the hook far too easily.
Isn’t it time UKIP clarified exactly where it stands on this issue – so we can all be sure to despise that party for the right reason?
(The above article has been sent in letter form to the major national newspapers and the BBC. Let’s see if the mass media can do their job.)
(Note to any readers who are getting bored of all this concentration on UKIP: I promise I’ll write about something else tomorrow.)
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