Friday, 20 June 2014

I'm white, working class...does Yasmin Alibhai-Brown loathe me?

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown debates with Rod Liddle (CHANNEL 4)

The entirely understandable, and indeed correct, anger over Michael Fabricant's "I-would-end-up-punching-her-in-the-throat" tweet has overshadowed something equally as important, and to me, offensive: the actual debate itself between Rod Liddle and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on Channel 4 News which provoked the stupid comment.

Before I get into this, let me say I am no fan of Rod Liddle. I find him to be at best clumsy with his language, and at worst downright nasty and offensive.

Last week, when the free copy of The Sun dropped through my letter box, I read his column about how great it was to be British. But for some reason it started with a perverse attack on Belgium and how terrible it would be to be born there. It's all very well going for the ha-ha-isn't-England-great-everywhere-else-is-rubbish line but for me it was in poor taste, unnecessary, and offensive.

And here is why.

I don't think it's right or fair to dismiss a whole group of people with shared, often negative, characteristics. I don't think it's right or fair to tar a whole section of society with the traits of a minority within that group.

Doesn't matter to me if that group is Belgian, Muslim, Christian, Black, White, Male, Female etc.

But last night Yasmin Alibhai-Brown did just night. She admitted she has "loathing" for the working class, based on negative and distressing experiences at the hands of some members of that section of society.

Here is the transcript:

Rod Liddle: "At least she is absolutely clear about her loathing for the working class as she says...

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:[Interrupts] "...And you. I'm clearly honest, I loathe you."

It's not admitting to her loathing of Rod Liddle that offends me, it's the fact she didn't deny she has "loathing" for the working class.

She hasn't met me. I come from a working class background. Does she loathe me?

Have I threatened her? Have I assaulted her? Have I carried out any of the terrible things that have happened to her? Were there done in my name, or with my blessing or knowledge?


Where is the indignation about that comment, to go alongside the anger at Michael Fabricant?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Blair is not the only one with Iraq amnesia - the Lib Dems were NOT anti-invasion, just anti-that-kind-of-invasion

IT is one of the great myths of recent political history – that the Liberal Democrats were opposed to Britain joining with US forces to invade Iraq in 2003.

It is quite simply not true. In the run up to the 2003 invasion, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy addressed the infamous anti-war rally in Hyde Park on February 15.

He told the million-odd people who had marched through central London (including this author as a 17-year-old student) he had “yet to be persuaded as to the case for war against Iraq”.

He also told the Stop the War coalition-led protest he was “not personally a pacifist”.

These statements show Mr Kennedy was open to the idea of military action in Iraq, and he set out four criteria for Lib Dem acquiescence in the invasion:

Charles Kennedy addresses the Stop the War rally in 2003 (Ben Sutherland/Flickr)

1. The United Nations has the moral authority and the political mandate here.

2. United Nations decisions have to be based on adequate information - which means full compliance with the weapons inspectors.

3. The British House of Commons must have the right to vote on any actions taken.

4. All other options must be exhausted before there is any recourse to force.”

He added: “Without a second UN resolution, there is no way that the Liberal Democrats could or should support war.”

So there it is: Charles Kennedy setting out the circumstances in which he and the Lib Dems would be in favour of a military invasion of Iraq.

Get the second UN resolution and we back you.

That is not: “We are opposed to any invasion of Iraq”.

It may seem like a small difference – after all, Blair and Bush did not get the second resolution, and the rest is very recent, and very bloody, history.

But there is a world of difference from being the ‘anti-war party’, to the ‘anti-war-in-certain-conditions-party.’

Remember, the Lib Dems were not opposed to sending soldiers into Iraq. They were just opposed to doing it without a second resolution.

But Lib Dems still like to paint themselves as leading the crusade against the war back in 2003.

Also remember, the Lib Dems supported Britain’s military invention in Kosovo, Afghanistan and most recently Libya.

So when Nick Clegg accuses Tony Blair of attempting to “airbrush” his role in creating the current situation in Iraq, keep in mind the Lib Dems are not adverse to indulging in a spot of “airbrushing” when they claim they were anti-war.