7 December 2023
Corbynista Rides Again
One Man’s Terrorist
by Don Urquhart
8 November 2023
Watching the Commons debate on the Humanitarian Situation in Gaza I am struck by our impotence to influence events. Andrew Mitchell, the Foreign Office Minister tells us that Government and Opposition front benches are agreed that a ceasefire will not work. Many want to stand up and say how awful everything is and there are some who insist that an immediate ceasefire is needed. I suspect that a call from the UK for a ceasefire would influence the US. Am I wrong to think that the bombing would stop the instant Joe Biden threatened to withdraw support from Mr Netanyahu?
9 November 2023
One argument against a full ceasefire in Gaza is that it would leave Hamas in a strong position. They would have time to recover while not being bombarded. One day there will be a ceasefire. I fear that many more will die before then. If we know it’s got to happen sometime why not now? I believe the answer to that one lies in Mr Netanyahu’s objective to clean the Palestinians out of Gaza before negotiating anything. But at what stage of being eradicated will Hamas decide they might as well kill the hostages. I hope there are sufficient people of goodwill who can resolve this catastrophe before too many more perish.
11 November 2023
Today is Armistice Day. A Gaza Ceasefire March has been organised. It will process from Marble Arch to the US Embassy and will not come within a mile of the Cenotaph. The Home Secretary, assisted by the gutter press, notably The Sun, Telegraph, Mail and right wing broadcasters has sought to give the impression that the March poses a threat to the Remembrance Day ceremony due to take place tomorrow.
This morning forces padré Rev. Tim Daplyn explained: “It’s been termed a pro-Palestinian demonstration, but I think it’s a pro-peace demonstration… old soldiers, on Armistice Day, calling for Armistice…”
Meanwhile there has been an attack on the Cenotaph already today by the English Defence League, presumably encouraged by the rabble-rousing utterances of our Home Secretary. Time for Tory MPs to take sides?
15 November 2023
Thank goodness that we have an independent judiciary! The Supreme Court has unanimously judged the Government’s Rwanda policy to be illegal. The Court appears to be the last ditch of our civilisation. On Sky News I watched the decision being delivered. It was not filtered through newspapers or social media or TV pundits. Some newspapers will brand the 5 judges as traitors and they might see their faces on the front pages. It’s what happened to the three High Court Judges branded Enemies of the People by the Daily Mail for defending Parliament’s rights in 2016.
One of the Supreme Court’s considerations was that the Rwandan courts are not independent of the Government. In the UK we are protected by an independent judiciary. For now.
When the November 4th Ceasefire March took place, some people were keen for the police to arrest those carrying the wrong banners or chanting the wrong chants. Sir Mark Rowley, Head of the Met explained that he had followed the advice of the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) that such arrests would not result in convictions.
16 November 2023
The Supreme Court having rejected the Rwanda policy Sunak set about outcruelling Suella by committing himself to Rwanda by hook or by crook. He was just buying himself some time with his right wing knuckle draggers (New Conservatives).
Meanwhile Starmer threatened to fire any shadow ministers who voted for the SNP’s Ceasefire Amendment. 56 Labour MP’s including 10 shadow ministers defied him. Sir Keir explained later that this showed what a great leader he is.
Amid all this kerfuffle at PMQ’s Kerry McCarthy MP brought us back to what Parliament should be about:
A new generation of drugs, Orkambi, Symkevi and Kaftrio, is transforming the lives of patients with cystic fibrosis. People who would otherwise be waiting for double lung transplants are now living happy, healthy lives. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is now saying that we cannot afford those drugs. Will the Prime Minister and his new Health Secretary get around the table with NICE and the drugs company to ensure that the children who are being born with cystic fibrosis today are given those life-saving drugs in the same way as the children who are currently living with cystic fibrosis?
17 November 2023
Amid the passionate dialogues occasioned by the Israel/Gaza crisis, this modest statement made most sense to me:
The situation in the Middle East is so sad, friends of all faiths are involved, but from this friend of no faith I ask, “How many wrongs does it take to make a right?
18 November 2023
The King’s Speech Debate on 15th November was enlivened by the introduction of two amendments related to Israel/Gaza. The SNP had tabled an amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire. Labour had a more complex amendment which did not call for an immediate ceasefire. Starmer had mandated a three line whip such that any shadow ministers voting for the SNP amendment would lose their jobs. I was struck by the intervention of Tanmanjeet Singh Desi, the Labour MP for Slough and a shadow minister. He spoke at length and was waxing eloquent about the sufferings of Gazans and the brutality of the IDF but allowed an intervention from Matt Western, the Labour MP for Warwick and Leamington who reminded Desi that the SNP amendment was just designed to embarrass Labour and he was sure Desi would not be voting for it. At this Desi dissolved into a ramble about Early Day Motions and Labour’s history of not supporting SNP initiatives.
Then I caught up with a Novara Media report regarding two Labour shadow ministers who had apparently been “allowed” to make it look as if they supported the Ceasefire amendment as long as they did not actually vote for it.
Starmer’s leadership style at its best!
23 November 2023
Two arguments have been used to explain why it is pointless for the UK government to demand a Gaza ceasefire.
The first is that the UK Government is unable to influence the USA in such matters. I am in the middle of Rory Stewart’s autobiographical book Politics on the Edge. He recalls the 2014 Commons vote where Cameron wanted authorisation to bomb Syria. He lost by 13 votes and Obama decided to follow suit and cancelled his own bombing plans.
The second argument against a Ceasefire is that you can’t negotiate with terrorists like Hamas. Apparently that is not the case as the two sides have negotiated a humanitarian pause which is due to start tomorrow.
24 November 2023
At last a temporary ceasefire. Let’s hope it lasts. It demonstrates that it is possible to come to terms with people you regard as terrorists.
The South African apartheid regime held Nelson Mandela in jail for 27 years before deciding he might have a point.
King Charles recently visited Kenya and expressed his regret over the atrocities committed by British forces against the Mau Mau in the 1950s.
After the Second World War Britain was responsible for the Palestine mandate. They had to deal with a terrorist organisation called Irgun which in 1946 bombed the British headquarters in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel killing 91 people and injuring 46. In 1948 Irgun massacred 120 people in Deir Yassin near Jerusalem. Irgun morphed via Herut into Likud, the party of Netanyahu.
26 November 2023
It is a big step forward that more aid is getting into Gaza, prisoners on both sides are being reunited with their families and the bombing has paused. Perhaps the Israelis and Hamas will find this situation preferable to the carnage that preceded and will start addressing the fundamentals – which I take to be recognition of Israel and Palestine by all and agreement of borders and governance models. This has to be achievable if there is agreement from Iran, Russia and the United States, always assuming that these states are happy to reduce arms exports to the area.
29 November 2023
The leaders of Starmer’s Labour have condemned calls for a Ceasefire and claim to be in lockstep with our allies, the USA in particular. If that is truly the case I would still like to see Starmer explicitly get in lockstep with the commitment to a two state solution mandated by the United Nations including the USA.
1 December 2023
On Question Time, Gaza was discussed. An audience member expressed the view that the Israel Defence Force (IDF) was as much a terrorist organisation as Hamas. I agreed with him and my wife warned me that if I expressed this view in public some people would label me an anti-Semite.
4 December 2023
On Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Ukraine I have taken the view that Britain is not the world’s policeman. We should keep our defences up, promote peace talks, send in humanitarian aid and help the innocent victims to find somewhere safe to live. But In the case of Gaza I find that my Government is actively supporting Israel in an ethnic cleansing project. We are supplying arms and moral support while expressing impotent formulations discouraging our “friends” from murdering innocent civilians.