Friday, 21 August 2015

Why backbenchers talking to terrorists is not the same as senior politicians talking to terrorists: a primer

In the wake of the general tripe important arguments recently promoted regarding backbench MPs' roles in apparently initiating the Northern Ireland peace process, bringing detente to Palestine and otherwise saving the world, it seemed to the Centre Left important to provide some guidance on talking to terrorists.

So, here is a handy guide to whether or not you should consider talking to terrorists, all you need to do is answer some simple questions.

Q1. Is it your job?

What is your primary job, is it:

(a) representing constituents and voting in Parliament, or 
(b) joining up a wide variety of minority interest groups and meeting people with unpleasant views in far-flung countries?

If your answer is (a), why are you trying to "engage" with terrorists, instead of doing what you're paid for?

Q2. Are you partisan?

Do you: 
(a) only talk to one side, or 
(b) talk to both sides?

If your answer is (a), how can you possibly be useful as a diplomatic channel?

Q3. Do you condemn all sides equally for atrocities? 

When you do condemn, do you 
(a) condemn one side universally but only condemn your favoured side when you have no other option, while simultaneously saying "but what about the other side doing XYZ"? or 
(b) condemn both sides equally and fairly for atrocities?

If your answer is (a), how can you possibly be a useful diplomatic channel?

Q4. Are you qualified?

Are you (a) a senior politician or (b) a very senior official?

If your answers to (a) and (b) are no, you are probably merely a fool, legitimising some dodgy person/regime. A "useful idiot".

So, you are now fully armed. Just in case you should be someone with pretensions to be an amateur diplomat, suddenly thrust into the limelight with an unexpected possibility of leading their party, you'll know what to do.


  1. I totally agree. Backbenchers should leave matters of international trade and war to the experts. This normally works out fine.
    Also their constituents that they represent are most likely too stupid to care about anything outside thier own village.. if they should be concerned about (for example) apartheid South Africa then the representation should stop as they obviously don't have the mental capacity to see the big picture

  2. Experts will know that selling arms to Mujahideen, Assad, Saudi, Sadam is beneficial in the long term and will not turn around and bite us in the arse. Backbenchers (especially those who have read any history) will not understand this.

  3. Geraint: I assume this is an attempt at sarcasm, in which case you seem to have missed Rob Marchant's point.

    Obviously a backbencher's constituents have a very real interest in world affairs. However, international diplomacy is a matter for national Governments to conduct on behalf of the country. If it's done at a local constituency level, we'll end up with 650 MPs all busily pushing their own conflicting agendas with foreign Governments, terrorists and insurgents.

    (And remember that some of those MPs may have their judgement so clouded by anti-US bias that don't care who they side with. I'm not saying that applies to Mr Corbyn, of course.)


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