Calm down dear it's only the Daily Mail

5 Oct 2013 at 16:40

Please may we try and gain a sense of perspective on the the great MAIL versus Miliband war? It has all began to spiral out of control with everyone wanting a piece of the action and both left and right using it for their own political ends. Both are milking as much political capital as they possibly can. And both are plain wrong. Perhaps misguided, but more likely to weasel their way onto the moral high ground.

Unpleasant as it sometimes is, the right to free speech means the right to speak or write deeply offensive things. And freedom of the press is not a matter of taste, nor should it be. That principle has to be immutable.

Most people, apart from the immediate family, really don’t give a damn about the views of Ralph Miliband. Was he an enemy of Britain? I neither know nor care. And it is not of the slightest relevance to modern political debate. Ed Miliband has demonstrated by words and deeds that he is the most left wing leader of the Labour Party since Michael Foot. Linking him to his dad’s views will not help the electorate to make up their minds in 2015.

He was right to feel affronted. He was right to attack the MAIL. But now it has become a political crusade, with websites, petitions and every bleeding heart liberal weeping tears of bile, venom and revenge, but secretly orgasmically happy that they are sticking one into Paul Dacre.

Last night on Nolan, Stephen played the passionate clip of Mehdi Hasan’s vitriolic attack on the MAIL on Question Time. It was passionate, near the knuckle and touched a chord. It denounced in the most lurid terms the very ethos and practices of the newspaper. It received tumultuous applause from the audience. Good old Mehdi. What a man of principle. Until our producer rushed in a copy of a press release of a letter by the great man asking Dacre for a column in his wicked rag. You would thought it would have been a ‘although I thoroughly disagree with your paper’s ethos, I would relish the opportunity of putting an alternative view’.
Not a bit of it. He shoved his head so far up Dacre’s arse that you needed a team of sniffer dogs to remove it. As Hasan is one of the the most self righteous, sanctimonious and priggish of commentators it is worth revisiting some of the highlights which even had an old cynic like me reaching for the sick bag.
“I have always admired the paper’s passion, rigour, boldness and of course news values….I admire your relentless focus on the need for integrity and morality in public life”. He should have gone onto say “and how much I would enjoy the handsome renumeration package that you offer compared to the pittance that I am paid at the New Statesman”.

This is the rankest of hypocrisy simply because this letter was not written when Hasan was a kid, but in 2010 after all those things he had denounced the MAIL for had happened. I suspect we will not be seeing his byline for rather a long time as the left will have regarded him as trying to sell out.

Can you imagine Owen Jones writing such a letter? Of course not.

Poor old Mehdi has hanged himself by his own petard. I won’t be weeping any tears.

But now the right want to have a crack. “This means press censorship” they scream. No it doesn’t. There will be regulation, but it won’t be underpinned by legislation for the simple reason that in terms of providing false information politicians are even worse than Fleet Street. And the only regulation that exists for them is the terror of being caught out.

If Miliband has any sense he should remain rightly aggrieved, but just agree to disagree with the MAIL. And draw a line under it all. Sadly, his advisors will be telling him that this is the time for him to be be vigorous in attacking vested interests. Wrong. As operation Motorman in 2005 has shown no newspaper is without sin. They have all printed at one time or another unfair, unsubstantiated and biased rubbish sometimes gleaned from illegal sources. I hope Miliband’s wise and sensible new strategist, Patrick Hennessy, advises accordingly.

For those who have scores to settle against Paul Dacre (and there are many) the more you put him under attack the longer he will stay. Even Jon Snow posted a joyous tweet this morning that Dacre’s contract was renewed for only a year. But it always has been renewed on a yearly basis.

Sometimes I despair.

So can everyone take a deep breath and calm down so we can read new and interesting stories about the death of Diana masterminded by the SAS, the weather, new clues on Maddie and how coffee can cause your balls to drop off?

Not for a little while I fear.

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This Deputy Speaker election is going to be fun

4 Oct 2013 at 21:30

Just as things were getting rather dull in politics, my old mate Simon Burns resigns a junior transport minister to throw his hat in the ring to replace poor old Nigel Evans as a Deputy Speaker. Nigel is one of the most decent people that I know and I really hope that he will be acquitted of the charges brought against him.

This little election has everything that anyone interested in politics relishes. Malice, intrigue and madness. The malice is the wonderful grudge match Burns has with Speaker Bercow, “a stupid sanctimonious dwarf”. The intrigue, Eleanor Laing (another contender) has had to deny that she is Cameron’s favourite candidate. I wonder who McBrided that little piece of misinformation? There is no way the PM is going to be daft enough to get his machine to brief in favour or against any candidate. His fingers were burnt when his hounds put it about that he favoured Richard Ottaway as Chairman of the 22. That put the Kibosh on him.

But Eleanor is doomed.

And the madness? Our favourite Tory jungle bunny, Nadine Dorries, has thrown her straight jacket into the ring. The question is when she sees the lay of the land will she withdraw or be humiliated? Who on earth will vote for the poor thing? Cameron haters might have seen this as an orgasmic opportunity six months ago, but baiting Bercow will be seen as much more satisfying for the Rampton wing of the Conservative party. It’s all quite mad as Bercow has been rather a good Speaker for backbenchers. Anyhow, he has said that he will be retiring to Dunspeakin early in the next Parliament, so let them have some fun.

And there is the other interesting part of this tale, there is absolutely no way that Bercow can be seen to interfere in this election in any way. He has to be in Purdah or else his authority will be destroyed. If he has any sense he will rejoice that there is such a high level of candidates for the job and looks forward to working with whomsoever the House elects. And will it be a power struggle at Speaker’s House? Of course not. They will both, despite their mutual loathing, make it work.

Burns is both sensible and popular in the House. And he was a whip. He would have taken soundings. He made not have liked Transport too much (and that is an understatement), but he will be a popular Deputy. Without wishing to be too unkind, his job is to be fair in mindblowingly tedious debates, tell members with charm that their ‘points of order’ aren’t and calm everybody down when tempers get frayed. And if he wants any lessons just watch the Chairman of Ways and Means (the real Deputy Speaker) Lyndsey Hoyle who is master of the art and will one day make a great Speaker.

In the meantime Simon Burns will do rather well.

Dear old Tony Benn always got it wrong when he said that politics is about policies rather than personalities.

This election is going to be fun.

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Why Boris will have to get off his leadership bike

1 Oct 2013 at 10:13

No doubt Louise Mensch was a perfectly adequate MP for Corby, but lecturing the Tory Party from the comfort of New York on how to win elections via a SUN column seems rather off world.

The latest gem from planet Mensch is that the way Cameron gets an outright majority is to put Boris Johnson in charge of the election campaign by making him Party Chairman. Being Chairman in the run up to an election requires hard work, dedication, an eye for detail and loyalty to your leader.

Boris has many admirable assets at his disposal, but none of the above. He is the Katie Price of British politics. If he is not constantly in the news and if we, his adoring public, are not continuously offering our unconditional love and admiration, his world falls apart. This probably explains his enigmatic offerings about how nostalgic he feels about the House of Commons. I suspect it was more his feeling of nostalgia of not being mentioned of late as the man everyone is praying for to lead the Conservative party.

Last night I witnessed his car crash interview with Jeremy Paxman. Boris was his usual charming self but clearly hadn’t bothered to prepare at all. By and large if you are intending to go into the tiger’s cage it is a good idea to work out a plan on how not to be eaten or mauled. Paxo maimed, mauled and had a most satisfying snack.

I have no doubt that today Boris will wow the Party Faithful. But they have moved on. Cameron is now no longer an embattled leader sleeping with one eye open and a revolver under his pillow. He has everything to play for. He is now seen as a winner.

Miliband’s conference bounce has turned into a dead cat one. Today’s You Gov poll reduces labour’s lead from 11 to 6%. And he has nailed his colours to the mast as a Socialist and an interventionist. Two words that have not been uttered in labour politics since 1995. This will please about 20% of voters and terrify the rest.

To be fair, the promise to freeze energy prices has proved to be popular. The energy companies give a very good impression of ripping us off. The coalition is well aware of the strength of public feeling and if the regulator needs more powers he must get them. And fast. This could be Ed Davey’s moment.

So poor old Boris is going to get more and more frustrated as the Tories rally behind their leader and gear up for the election. His old strategist, Lynton Crosby who saved his bacon, will probably have to tell him the facts of political life yet again and remind him that his role now is to be a Cameron cheer leader.

This will not go down well. Boris will be reluctant to get off his leadership bike. But if he is perceived to be rocking the boat he will be thrown overboard.

And UKIP? Well, the policy is now clear. If UKIP supporters want to stop the march to Socialism, vote Tory. And absolutely no local deals let alone national ones.

This makes sense. The nearer we get to an election the more the dark than the dotty side of the KIPPERS will be revealed. And any Tory with any sense will not want to be associated with that lot. So I hope the strategy is to terrify their supporters with the threat of Red Ed, whilst exposing the UKIP policy vacuum. Maybe it was my imagination, but I did get the impression that Farage seemed rather desperate in Manchester.

But they shouldn’t be written off just yet. They will still do well in the European elections. But breaking the mould? Daft. In 1983 election the SDP were just two points behind labour and in 1981 twenty three Labour MPs crossed the floor with twenty one Tories seriously considering it. Now that’s breaking the mould. And what happened to them?

And Farage demanding that he be part of the television debates? Quite bonkers. Even the Greens have more seats than his lot.

The interesting contrast about the Manchester conference is that it is brimming with new policies where as Labour was virtually a policy free zone. The fight (and there will be one) with the GPs about making their surgeries more patient friendly will go down well with the public. Although the growls from May and Hurricane Grayling (everything he touches becomes a disaster zone) about tearing up the Human Rights Act are just window dressing and just won’t happen in such lurid terms. There will be more of a tinker than a tear, particularly when it involves national security. What the public want to be reassured about is that those who are a threat to their safety will be hooked out of the country pronto.

So it all hinges, as it always does, on the Leader’s speech.Red Ed is no longer a myth dreamt up by the Tory press, but a terrifying reality. And with Damian McBride’s little book of horrors the sky is black with Brownite chickens coming home to roost.

Like Banquo’s ghost Gordon Brown’s spectre will be scaring the hell out the electorate for a long time to come.

But the time has come to be more up beat. The economy is on the move, jobs are being created there is a light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t the train. Osborne hit precisely the right tone yesterday. If there are rewards everyone must have a share in them. But before the Tory right start howling for tax cuts remember that Thatcher refused to bring them in by borrowing. That must never be the option of a responsible government.

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McBride of Dracula has posed some awkward questions for the Emissary from Planet Fuck

21 Sep 2013 at 12:09

An old friend, Michael Boulter, the professor of Palaeontology who discovered the lost continent of Atlantis, (honest!!!) asked me over lunch a couple of days ago what the point of Party Conferences was. I was stumped for an answer. He then suggested that in the Middle Ages people went on pilgrimages in search of salvation, conviviality and that in the fifties Party Conferences fulfilled vaguely the same sort of role.

But who in their right mind wants to pay a small fortune to stay in a ghastly B and B to listen to set piece speeches on motions organised by spin doctors? And there’s the rub. By and large people in their right minds don’t want to go. MPs hate the bloody things and usually swan in for a day to take their Constituency worthies for dinner. The only normal people who roll up are the journalists and the corporate guys who find it all a bit of a chore.

And to the public they are of mind erasing irrelevance,

So my answer to Michael was the only purpose I could see for them was the shagging. Of which the Tories, of course, excel. Something for everyone’s taste, shed loads of attractive girls and pretty boys. You could cut the testosterone in the air with a knife.

But this weekend I have rather changed my mind. The conference season has become rather exciting. All right, the Lib Dems were predictably dull with a completely bonkers plan to spend about £400 million on giving free school meals to all primary school kids. Evidently this was the pork barrel roll in return for an equally bonkers Tory plan to ‘reward’ marriage for a bribe of £150. As far as bribes go this doesn’t even appear on the cash for questions seismometer. You might as well blow it all on a horse for the good it will do. But the right have to feel as if they are doing something to keep the KIPPERS at bay.

And now to the KIPPER conference. What an absolute joy and it is still going on!!! Poor old Godfrey Bloom has been hung out to dry for his sluts remark. Stephan Nolan played the clip on the show last night and it really was an attempt at a joke which went down fairly well. But thumping Michael Crick with an election Manifesto (discuss) is the the final nail in Bloom’s coffin. But he is only vaguely deranged. Nolan did an interview last night with Roger Helmer and asked him about the commitment to ban the Burka. He wasn’t aware of it. Dear old Rog hadn’t read the manifesto. “I’m the energy spokesman ask me any question on that”, he wailed. Nolan just went in for the kill. It was wonderful radio.

And we mustn’t forget Farage had a bit of a pasting for as he evidentially thought at one time that Hitler was not such a bad egg, sang Hitler youth songs and alarmed his teachers at Dulwich College for racist views when he was seventeen. “Well, we all say nasty things when we are young?”
Do we?

And then the cherry on the cake was the naughty boys at the beeb have been up to their tricks. There was a ‘technical’ fault in an interview and a Hitler moustache mysteriously appeared above the Farage lip.

So the conference that was to show UKIP as a serious party has been a splendid farce. And a gift for David Cameron.

But the prize for the most disastrous start has to go to Labour. Everyone knew that the McBride book of poison was to be serialised on the eve of the conference so couldn’t Miliband spinners have done rather better than bring forward some half baked welfare reforms and an off the wall Harman plan to let grannies share maternity leave? Oh, and plan not to increase taxes for those who earn £60K a year. Now that will give comfort to the low paid.

All of us in the press knew what Brown’s gangsters were up to. Of course, those who wrote about it were vilified. But to read the knifings and political executions in black and white is a true gothic horror story. The way the Brown machine was run borders on the evil. Threats, political human sacrifices, smears, sackings and lie after lie. All for what? To propel Brown into Number 10. And that was worth the wait wasn’t it?

It will be spun that Miliband knew nothing about it. This is nonsense. Of course he knew how the operation worked as he was a key member of Team Brown. Ali Campbell used to refer to him as the emissary from Planet Fuck.

To be honest, I doubt whether Miliband was actively smearing the Blairites in the way McBride was, but he stood by and watched it happen. How could any decent person want to work in such a repellant environment? So much energy spent on hatred and malice.

And they are still at it, doing their best to exorcise the party of all things Blair.

The McBride book in all its chilling awfulness has awoken some strange emotions in me. I am beginning to feel very sorry for Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson. They must have felt that they were in the seventh circle of hell.

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Vince Cable is playing a very dangerous game

18 Sep 2013 at 10:31

Poor old Cleggy really doesn’t have much choice in offering his party as the coalition makers. He can hardly argue for a Commons majority with a straight face so he is wise not to try. But it is rather daft to pretend to cosy up to Labour after his comments that they “wrecked” the economy. Miliband and Balls in particular. I wonder at what stage that Miliband will be so desperate that he attempts to love bomb Cleggy.

Well, I am not going to wonder for too long. After all, after his election Miliband was rather clear that he wanted to ‘exterminate’ the Lib Dems and could not work with Clegg. I cannot see any circumstances in which those two could work together.

But what about Cable? This is where it all gets rather interesting. Cable is an old fashioned tax and spend former member of the Labour Party. In his Glasgow speech he boasted that he once was part of the Labour machine in that city. He admits he has had talks with Miliband, “I talk to everybody” and is happy to spend time trashing the Tories publicly and Danny Alexander privately. And what has he done to rein in his representative on earth the awful Mathew Oakshott whose smile could make cream curdle? Nothing.

And there was this weird political coitus interuptus over whether he would support Lib Dem economic policy. Was he in or out? Of course, as a member of Cabinet he had to be in, but he made it very clear that he was holding his nose.

I cannot foresee at this stage of the electoral cycle the possibility of Clegg being removed as leader. But what if Parliament is hung again? Lib Dem grass roots instinctively would support palling up with Labour. A swift coup slipping Cable into the leadership is not something that can be ruled out. And his price? Replacing Ed Balls as Chancellor of course.

But the thought of a Labour/LibDem coalition is too horrendous to contemplate. There would be no checks on the left and the Orange bookers would be out in the cold. The beauty of the present coalition is at least the Lib Dems are a civilising influence perhaps not on the Amish wing of the Tories who are perfectly happy to sulk gibbering and frothing in a corner, but on policy. What really pisses off the swivel eyed loons is that because of the sensitivity of a coalition, policy emerges after discussion and compromise. Not always perfectly, but at least giving the impression that it hasn’t emerged from the back of a fag packet in response to a MAIL headline.

And today is a double whammy for Labour. According to the latest You Gov poll they have a lead of just 4% over the Conservatives. Worse, for the first time since 2010 more people think that the cuts are good for the country rather than bad. In the run up to the Labour conference this is a potential disaster for Miliband.

It will be his personal winter of discontent.

But what is happening in the LibDems is reminiscent of what happened between Blair and Brown. Clegg and Alexander’s economic policy versus Vince Cable’s.

Cable has indicated that the Coalition may not survive until the election, whilst Clegg and Alexander are fully committed on the record to it running its full course.

What may be happening is that Cable is positioning himself for a ‘principled’ resignation so he can cause trouble on the backbenches. It will be nothing of the sort. Just naked ambition. This will not go down well with LibDem grass roots who are keen supporters of the Coalition. This nearly open warfare could be a return to the horrors of 1920.

Cable is playing a very dangerous game which could be catastrophic for the Lib Dems.

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The Ashcroft poll could be a gift to the Tories

15 Sep 2013 at 09:42

As is often the case Michael Ashcroft has done the Conservative Party a great service. His alarming opinion poll published in the Sunday Telegraph this morning that there is a UKIP surge in those marginal seats where the Tories have the smallest majorities has led to the usual crowing by labour and the Kippers. And no doubt there will be the usual jittery calls from the headless chicken brigade for an accommodation with the Faragistas.

This should be avoided like the bubonic plague.

But let’s pause for breath and think about what this poll means. That a vote for UKIP will propel Ed Miliband into Downing Street. And if that that doesn’t send a shiver down the spine of those who have sacrificed their standards of living to turn this economy around and the others who have worked their guts out to keep their small businesses afloat I don’t know what will.

So what is the clear message that the Tories should be shouting from the roof tops? That a vote for UKIP is a vote for all those policies that brought this country to its knees. That a vote for UKIP is a stealth vote for Labour. That a vote for UKIP will put back in charge those who robbed the sweet shop and then burnt it down for the insurance money. Only that they forgot to pay their premiums.

That a vote for UKIP is not just a wasted vote but a dangerous one.

The stupidity of it all is that the main thrust of UKIP popularity is immigration. And who opened the flood gates?

Their other attraction is a vote on an EU referendum. But that fox was shot long ago. So far only the Tories offer one. It won’t be long before the Lib Dems follow. And as for Labour? If they do an about turn on this one any smidgen of credibility that Miliband has left will be blown to the wind and Labour voters will stay at home.

I genuinely don’t believe that the electorate are as stupid as some commentators make out. But it does mean the Tory party machine in the marginals has to be stepped up a couple of gears and the message on UKIP crystal clear. Obviously the run up to the European elections will give the party plenty of opportunity for the latter. The danger is as that most people won’t bother to vote in the Euros because they don’t see them affecting their lives. Why would any individual want to contact their MEP? And where would they get in touch with them?

I haven’t a clue. I don’t even know who mine is let alone out to get in contact with him or her. And why would I want to? What could he or she do for me?

But this a problem for all parties except for the KIPPERS who are not really a party at all just an eccentric alliance of unpleasant prejudices.

So the Ashcroft poll may put a spring in the step of Miliband, but only temporarily. Does he really want to be propelled into office by this rag tag deserter army of racists, homophobes and isolationists who want to hurtle Britain back to the nineteen fifties?

I suspect that he doesn’t give a toss.

But this could be a gift to the Tories.

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This will be Miliband's Costa Concordia conference where the captain was too incompetent to land in the lifeboat.

13 Sep 2013 at 13:43

The next three weeks will be a terrible time for political journalists. Can you imagine having to endure the quirkiness of the Lib Dems, the despair that is Labour and the sphincter rattling horror of the swivel eyed Tory loons in full anti Cameroon rant?

And there are the spin doctors clambering over journos like dung beetles wailing how their master’s five point plans will save the nation. Then there are the activists. Earnest Lib Dems who will accuse Clegg of betrayal and demand his removal. Agonised Blairites who will accuse Miliband of betrayal and demand his removal. Finally colonel and Mrs Mad from the shires complaining how Cameron has betrayed them on same sex marriage (think Little Britain projectile vomiting at this juncture) and Europe, slyly hinting that the Faragistas speak of real Tory values.

Lastly there is the booze.

Enough to float what is left of the Royal Navy. Political journalists should be required to wear a Medic Alert bracelet with the legend, “warning if this person is bitten by a dog take the animal to the Priory for immediate detoxification.”

A Scottish journo chum of mind was interviewed by the police after the Brighton bombing and asked where they mind find his fingerprints.
“On the sides of the toilet bowl laddie, that’s where I spent the night.”

I suspect that Cleggy will have a much better time than expected at his conference. Most of the lefty loonies have departed to their Old Labour natural home. And the only people publicly calling for his resignation are Lembit Opik their own Vicar of Stifkey and Lord Oakshott who is so utterly repulsive that even the Samaritans would hang up on him.

This is the Lib Dem’s opportunity to show their individuality, the clear yellow water between them and the Tories. The trouble is their clear yellow water tends to be piss. A mansion tax and a return to the 50% tax rate hardly sets the pulse racing.

What they really should be boasting is how they have civilised the Tory right wing in government by putting the brakes on a mad reform of the NHS and pushing through tax breaks for the low paid.

Despite the valiant efforts of Tom Baldwin and Bob Roberts, two delightful and accomplished spinners, the impression will be that the two Eds are the millstone that will hang round their party and will drown most of them.

For Miliband this will be his Costa Concordia conference where the captain was too incompetent to land in the lifeboat. His trial and execution will be after the election.

For Cameron this should be a triumphal conference. The polls show that he is the Conservative Party’s electoral asset which must drive his haters into an apoplectic rage. Even better, Miliband is regarded as weak out of touch and in the hands of the unions. To be averaging a six to eight percent lead at this stage of the electoral cycle is nothing short of disastrous.

And I haven’t even mentioned the drop in unemployment and the encouraging economic news.

In his heyday Neil Kinnock was polling a lead of twenty nine percent against Thatcher.

I suspect the problem for Cameron will be the fringe meetings. Boris, who knows how to stroke the collective clitoris of the Party faithful will be up to no good feigning a jovial loyalty whilst sticking in the stiletto. But his leadership window of opportunity is closing. Ken Clarke knew precisely what he was doing when he told him to ‘cool it’. In effect this was a subtle hint that if you rock the boat you will be thrown overboard.

And let us not forget Farage. He quite sensibly has been banned from addressing an official fringe meeting. But he will have a stunt planned. A set piece speech a few minutes away from the conference centre will be packed. The importance of this will not be what he says but who will be there.

So all three conferences will have one thing in common. Great set pieces of loyalty but in the shadows hands on the hilts of daggers dripping with vitriol and curare.

Will anyone have the courage to draw them, let alone use them?

I doubt it.

But you never know.

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Parliament did not assert its authority last night it showed itself to be weak, afraid and self indulgent

30 Aug 2013 at 13:22

There were no winners in yesterday’s vote, only losers. The Coalition, the Opposition, Parliament and most tragic of all, those innocents who will be murdered by the Assad regime.

I went into the Commons to watch the debate and read it all in Hansard this morning. On the terrace the general consensus was that Cameron was passionate and determined and that Miliband’s speech was weak.

There will be a lot of loose talk that Cameron’s authority has been dealt a mortal blow and much chatter that Parliament has been shown to assert its authority. Both propositions are wrong.

The whips must have known about the thirty potential Tory rebels. Each area whip would have taking soundings for the last few days. What was not factored in was the about turn of Miliband which came as a body blow to Number 10. Things are often fraught between a Prime Minister and his opposite number but now I suspect there will be a real and intense dislike between the two. The man will never be trusted again. And PMQs will became even more bloody.

If Number 10 has any sense it will put the kibosh on the ridiculous Labour spin that Miliband has bravely stood up to the war mongering USA.

Obama a war mongerer?

They must be mad.

It has poisoned their relationship with the Democrats and lost the only friend they had in Europe, President Hollande. Today the White House made a bitter attack on Miliband’s party politicking.

And the Miliband amendment was defeated. The weak are a long time in politics.

Cameron haters are thrilled that he has been humiliated. They are putting it about that he didn’t prepare the ground. That the recalling of Parliament was too rushed. Did they not read the Joint Intelligence Committee memo? Nor the Attorney General’s advice? It would have taken ten minutes to conclude that limited military action would be lawful and that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on at least fourteen occasions.

He has been pushing the boundaries to see what the world will let him get way with.

But what was so breathtakingly naive was the Miliband argument that we should pursue diplomatic options. Diplomacy with Assad? Involve Iran in peace talks? Ridiculous.

These guys are on another planet.

But what was so depressing was that the rebels were panicked by the opinion polls and their post bags. Rather than show that Parliament works it has shown it to be weak and afraid. Don’t they realise that they are representatives not delegates? They probably didn’t even think that they were going to defeat the government.

And what on earth did the ghastly Justine Greening think is she up to? Didn’t hear the division bells? Didn’t know when the vote was? She should be sacked for incompetence or gross disloyalty and Andrew Mitchell brought back.

The rebels are crowing that Parliament has shown its authority. Really? It has shown that it is weak, frightened and self indulgent. And they have washed their hands of the murder of over one hundred thousand man women and children.

Sickening.

I agree with Paddy Ashdown. I am utterly ashamed of what happened last night.

David Cameron at least had the courage to try and do the right thing. It is a tragedy he received so little support.

For the people of Syria.

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Ed Miliband's road to Damascus

29 Aug 2013 at 09:37

There will be much cheering by the Labour left today. Red Ed has out manoeuvred Cameron and thrown NATO plans to singe Assad’s moustache into chaos. Milibanders, now an endangered species, will spin this as a sign of his strength and guile.

The truth is that it is testament to his weakness and proof that he is a prisoner of the left.

What is so utterly despicable is that at a legal briefing he gave no indication of a change of policy or lack of support. Two hours later he made the terse phone call to Cameron that he could not support his plan.

For now.

Yet the slippery Douglas Alexander made his views of waiting for the weapons inspectors to report to the UN a day before. So was Miliband being dishonest, which on matters of national security borders on the treasonous, or was he just awaiting his orders from the likes of McCluskey.

Personally, I would give him the benefit of the doubt and bet on the latter. Either way he isn’t going to win a prize for leadership or decisiveness. And God help him if this gives Assad a spring in his step to commit further atrocities.

But apart from anything else it makes Britain look weak. I suspect Cameron briefed Obama that the Commons would deliver before the weekend and had no cause to believe that he would be mislead by the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. And the question for Obama must be does he wait until next week to strike or does he go it alone with a little help from France? Militarily this is not a problem but politically it plays into the hands of Russia and China.

In the short term the public will support Miliband, but in the long term he will be holed below the waterline. Voters like decisive leaders and hate it when they put party politics before the national interest.

It is not often I get really angry about despicable behaviour of politicians as in in many it is ingrained in their DNA. I was naive enough to believe that Miliband may be misguided but was not a shit.

I was wrong.

I suspect that what pushed him over the limit of what is honourable behaviour was the intervention of Tony Blair.

Whatever your views on him he is not a shit. Independent of the Security Council he sent our forces into into Kosovo to stop genocide. This was as courageous as well as noble. Ed Miliband would be wise to read Blair’s Chicago speech where he set out the doctrine of when a nation should intervene militarily in a country’s internal affairs to bring a halt to genocide.

Miliband has shown that he is not the sort of man to go on a tiger shoot with. He would try and do a deal with the tiger before being mauled to death.

Cameron now knows something that he has always suspected. Miliband is not a man to be trusted.

And as for Nick Clegg? A herogram.

Getting the majority of LibDems on side on such an emotive and sensitive subject just before a stormy party conference is nothing short of a miracle. And courageous. The man has grown balls of steel.

But what does this mean for Ed Miliband? This has been his road to Damascus.

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It is time for the civilised world to assert its moral authority over the Assad regime

28 Aug 2013 at 14:34

The difference between being a leader or a statesman is the ability to take necessary decisions that are unpredictable, unpopular but necessary.

David Cameron was right to lead world opinion on the invasion of Libya and right to fly in the face of opposition from his own party in pushing forward legislation to allow same sex marriage

But what about his determination to lead the civilised world in military action to show our abhorrence at the Assad regime’s wicked use of chemical weapons against innocents?

St Thomas Aquinas set out a passable rule of thumb to justify a just war.
It must occur for a good and just purpose.
It must be waged by a legitimate authority.
And peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.

It is right and proper that Parliament has been recalled to debate and vote on our options. But Cameron must avoid a free vote for his party. If it is government policy that we embark on surgical strikes on Assad’s military installations then there should be a three line whip as it is not a matter of conscience.

The trouble is that Labour thinking is disfigured by the Iraq war and can only be seen through the prism of the so called dodgy dossier. The default position of that old snake oil salesman Douglas Alexander is to wait for the weapons experts to report their evidence to the UN Security Council.

This is dangerous nonsense.

The Assad regime has done everything possible to hinder the collection of evidence. A five day wait. The heavy bombardment of sites destroying most traces of any evidence that can implicate the regime.

And as for the Security Council? There will be never be unanimity so long as the Russians and the Chinese dishonestly and obstinately stick to their line of never interfere with the internal workings of a sovereign state.

In some ways I can sympathise with this. But since 2005 there is scope to intervene outside the scope of the Security Council in matters of genocide. And no sentient being can fly in the face of the actuality.

Does it really stand up that rebel forces have either the capacity or the desire to use chemical weapons to murder their innocent women and children or even, as it has been suggested by George Galloway, that the state of Israel bears responsibility?

Of course not.

It would be a disgraceful cop out if we adopted the line in the nineteen thirties after the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia that Syria is a far a way place that is not our concern.

The wringing of hands at the wickedness of the Assad regime is not enough. A clear military expression of the horror of the civilised world at the use of chemical weapons against innocents must serve as a warning to those other regimes who believe that they too can get away with it with impunity.

But we have to accept our limitations.

There can be no ground troops. There can be no attempt at air superiority and there can be no arming of the rebels.

We can’t arm the rebels simply because there is no coherent command structure. There are a lot of men with guns. Some are on the side of the angels others are gangsters and terrorists.

And there can be no attempt regime change simply because it won’t work.

Assad’s regime did what it did because it thought and still thinks that they can and will get away with it. We must prove them wrong.

We would be failing in our duty and we would be cast into a moral vacuum if we do not support a multilateral surgical strike on key military installations.

But that is as far as we can go.

Tomorrow the House of Commons has the opportunity to show courage, fortitude and determination rather than vacillation and party manoeuvring.

David Cameron has shown leadership and courage. But does Ed Miliband have the stomach to take on his left wing and union leaders to do what he must know is the right thing?

Of course a one off strike will lead to uncertainty and will rattle the cages of those who have been fighting an Islamic war for over eight hundred years.
But if we want to show that the civilised world has traded its moral compass for influence in this troubled region then we are not much better than the men of terror.

The Aquinas criteria have been met. And it is time for the civilised world to show its moral authority.

Syria is a rogue and failing state. We must now make it a pariah state so long as Assad and his gangsters are in charge.

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