Issue 149: 2018 04 12: Diary of a Corbynista

12 April 2018

Diary of a Corbynista

A Pacifist’s Nightmare

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart5 April

Correlation is often confused with causation.

There were two more violent deaths in London yesterday.  A recent spate of stabbings and shootings has brought the number of violent deaths in the capital this year to more than 50, higher even than New York.

At least 1,000 Sure Start children’s centres in England have closed since August 2009, research for the Sutton Trust suggests.  In the remaining centres, they say, services for families are “hollowed out” and no longer within “pram-pushing distance”.

Head of campaigns at the charity Action for Children, Rossanna Trudgian, said:

This analysis provides yet more evidence that the government has turned its back on children’s centres – lifeline services that support families who are struggling.

Victoria Derbyshire yesterday interviewed Kevin Campbell, a former gang member who described very vividly the process by which young men without a future drift into crime.

Correlation is often confused with causation but there are surely some dots to be joined.

6 April

We watched Newsnight to see how it covered the Boris Johnson story.  There was a very short extract of the Deutsche Welle interview not including the Foreign Secretary’s assertion that Porton Down had told him the Russians were responsible for the Skripal poisoning.  Emily Maitlis moved swiftly on to Sir Malcolm Rifkind telling us at length why Johnson was blameless then two American academics educating us about the propaganda war and how good the Russians are at it.  I expressed revulsion at the typical pro-Government slant of BBC reporting while my wife admonished me for seeing everything through a limited filter.

7 April

What does it mean to control the streets?  It has to be a relative term.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick denies that her officers have lost control of the streets.  Friends and families of the 52 people shot or stabbed to death in London this year might beg to differ.

An extra 300 Met Police officers are being deployed in the areas of London worst affected by a spate of violent crime.  Is this just for a few days or is it an enduring policy change?

It could be knee-jerk – you have to be seen to be doing something so send in some heavies and pick up the usual suspects.

I doubt that Commissioner Dick is implementing a more bobbies on the beat policy to start to win hearts and minds.  That would require a real investment in local policing.

8 April

Before the Easter recess Sarah Wollaston, the Chair of the Health Select Committee was promoting a cross-party commission to investigate and come up with a 10 year plan “to take the NHS out of politics.”

Now that government cuts to social care, education and policing have resulted in an increase in violent crime, it is time for Amber Rudd to declare that, like the state of the NHS, inner city violence, far from being a consequence of her government’s policies, is an Act of God:

The time for political quarrels is over.  Tackling violence on our streets is a complex problem, and we need not only all parties, but whole communities to come together to tackle it.

9 April

We are building up to the May 3rd local elections.  Our local Labour Party seems well-resourced.  I’ve been to a few meetings and met some nice earnest people, some with a real mission to improve things.  But in the last 3 weeks I have sent 4 information requests to “the team” around the leadership and have not even received an acknowledgement.  In combination with the anti-Semitism farrago I am led to think that Corbyn’s real weak flank is the faceless self-serving group hanging on his coat tails.

10 April

At least 70 people died in the suspected chemical attack in Douma.

Donald Trump was belligerent:

We have a lot of options militarily.

The British Prime Minister chimed in:

The regime and its backers including Russia must be held to account.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee thought:

The UK government has the legal authority to respond.

Former Foreign Secretary William Hague called for Mrs May to stand alongside the US, saying that chemical weapons will become “legitimised” and used in future wars if the West fails to take military action.

So plenty of people are edging us towards an escalation of the conflict.

Jeremy Corbyn’s view:

The tragedy and the terror of people’s lives in Syria can only end by a political solution.

That means every country in the region – every country in the region – as well as Russia and the United States coming together to ensure there is a meaningful ceasefire and there is a political process to bring about a political solution to the terror and tragedy and conflict that has wasted so many lives in Syria.

Vasily Nebenzia, Russia’s representative at the UN denied that there had been a chemical attack and invited investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to fly to Syria as soon as Tuesday, saying that Russian troops would escort them to the site of the alleged attack.

This could be a bluff but, if so, we should encourage the OPCW to call it.  Wednesday is soon enough to escalate the war if the hawks have their way.

11 April

It looks increasingly likely that Putin and Assad have a concerted policy of achieving their goals through the use of chemical weapons.  At the Security Council Russia is on its own, having vetoed an OPCW investigation that could apportion blame regarding the alleged chemical attack in Douma.

It’s the kind of situation where the government earns its crust by taking the right measures to defend its people.  In 2003 Blair took the wrong decision.  The people of our country were not threatened in any way by Saddam Hussein.  Our recent history of taking military action in the Middle East and beyond has reinforced the view of the people in those regions and elsewhere that we are harking back to an imperial past.

Syria 2018 is different.  Chemical weapons threaten people outside the Middle East.  Sarin was used to devastating effect in Tokyo in 1995 and last month we were reminded that our sleepy county towns are not immune.  Trump and Macron seem intent on attacking the chemical weapons installations in Syria.  May is more hesitant.  They feel there is a need to send a message to anyone contemplating the use of chemical weapons, not so much because of the horror of what has happened in Douma but because of the threat to their own populations.

We cannot get by with admonitions to Trump and Putin to settle this amicably.  Putin has to feel that there will be dire consequences if he does not demonstrably stop the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

So, pacifist that I am, I nevertheless support Trump and Macron in preparing to take military action and carrying it out if necessary.  Bluffing is not an option.  However I think it is unrealistic to bomb Syria’s chemical manufacturing plants.  Interestingly, if we know they exist and know where they are, why is there any question as to whether they are being used to prosecute Assad’s war?  Assad has had time to move his chemical manufacturing locations or to move every vulnerable person he has not yet murdered into positions where a propaganda victory can be claimed as a result of American bombing.  What we should bomb are vital military installations where we can be sure of no contingent damage.

That being said my great hope is that Putin can be brought to the table to agree a verifiable and fast process to dismantle Assad’s chemical weapons in perpetuity.

Military action is a last resort but we are almost at that point.



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