Friday, 16 March 2018

Not just Skripal: we should all care about what Putin's up to elsewhere in Europe

Putin's passion for rearmament is well-known (he currently spends around double the proportion of GDP on defence that NATO members do). But so far, his targets have all been able to be dismissed, in Chamberlain's awful words of appeasement, as "faraway countries".

However, today there is a piece of news it could be easy to lose in all the Skripal fallout is this, and it's scary: according to Newsweek, the Putin regime is helping support a new military buildup by Serb separatists in Bosnia. In fact, the West's current focus on the Skripal case could just form a convenient piece of magician's misdirection away from bigger events.

For those of us old enough to remember Srebrenica and other massacres of ethnic Muslims in the 1990s, this could easily become a much worse bloodbath than that currently still taking place in Eastern Ukraine.

More importantly, whereas Eastern Ukraine is still a long way from EU borders (Ukraine itself is enormous), Bosnia is not. In fact, it's part of a mini-oasis of non-EU states, centred around the shores of the Adriatic and surrounded by EU (and various NATO) states.

What better way to cause chaos and fear in the member states of Putin's favourite hate-object, than to foment a new civil war? Which could also conveniently scupper Serbian accession to the EU? In a theatre at the heart of the EU project, but not actually part of it? Where everyone can witness the might of the new Russia at close quarters? A case of look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair?

Watch this space, but a renewed, Putin-sponsored war in the Balkans could make Ukraine look like a tea-party.

On the form of the last couple of days, not to mention his denial of genocide in Kosovo fourteen years ago, no doubt my party leader will be quick to denounce Serb/Russian aggression when it it happens.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Three reasons why Jennie Formby should not become General Secretary of the Labour Party

By Rwendland (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Following the abrupt resignation of Iain McNicol – apparently not fallen on his sword but pushed under a bus by the party leadership (£) – there are currently two candidates to be Labour’s General Secretary: Unite’s Jennie Formby and Momentum’s Jon Lansman.

While this might be reasonably likened to choosing for your leader between Ghengis Khan and Pol Pot, there is always a least worst option and, in these difficult times, it is important to take note which it is.

Here’s why Formby should not be General Secretary.

Friday, 2 February 2018

BREAKING: Labour leader leaves national television interview with pants on fire

You could be forgiven for thinking that Andrew Marr’s interview last Sunday was to be an unremarkable one.

The first 16 minutes are fairly anodyne: the leader’s normal waffle on economics and the standard, disingenuous, face-both-ways position on Brexit. Important, but all things we know already.

From 16:25 we get onto Corbyn’s view that transgender people can self-identify, an issue rightly concerning a number of Labour women who see the incorporation of this into the Labour rulebook as a change fraught with opportunities for abuse, at “cis” women’s expense. A fair point. But to be realistic, this is an issue of probably minor importance to the electorate at large.

Then, nearly 19 minutes into a 21-minute interview, Marr, in a Lieutenant-Columbo-like manoeuvre, comes up with “just one more thing”, as he is metaphorically walking out the door, away from the scene of the crime.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Ye Livingstone Formulatione On Antisemitisme

You have all probably seen the current madness over the Bayeux Tapestry. So some wags have created this brilliant online Bayeux generator, which you can use to create your own designs.

So, with all the various news items about anti-Semitism and the left this week (mostly, sad to say, referencing the Labour Party), I'm afraid I couldn't resist creating this:

At the risk of labouring the point, this is the way the hard left (and certain members of Momentum, in particular) often counter-attack accusations of anti-Semitism by saying "no, mate - I was just criticising Israel, can't you tell the difference?"

Thanks to James Mendelsohn for reminding me that this type of bad-faith accusation, levelled at Jews, was memorably named by writer David Hirsh as "The Livingstone Formulation", after our dear friend Ken who has made great strides in popularising this odious technique (see Centre Lefts passim).

Thursday, 18 January 2018

We need to talk about Momentum and anti-Semitism

Momentum is on a roll. It has just secured three places on Labour’s NEC. It is now on course to easily force deselections in seats where it does not like the sitting MP. It has also, as its first act in that newly-constituted NEC, just ousted the long-serving head of the Disputes Committee, Ann Black, on the left of the party – the Campaign Group, no less – but widely respected as fair and neutral.

“Fair” and “neutral” are words that we might struggle a little more to apply to her replacement, Christine Shawcroft. Shawcroft, you may remember, was one of the few party members who supported disgraced Tower Hamlets mayor, Lutfur Rahman, after he had been forced from office for electoral fraud and had not even been a party member for five years. A trick which got her suspended from the party (now reinstated). Amazingly, she was still defending him on Tuesday as the victim of “a terrible miscarriage of justice” (Rahman was also struck off as a solicitor a month ago).

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