Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Recently The Telegraph reported that the part of the next Dr Who has already been offered to Rory Kinnear. I have no idea if this is true, although it hasn't been picked up by the rest of the media since. It may be a perfectly decent if rather anodyne choice.
But if it's not too late, and assuming that I am not in the running (unfortunately running is rather difficult for me anyway, and it does seem to be a major part of the role) may I put in a word for Toby Stephens. His name came to me last night as I was watching a DVD of him playing Mr Rochester in the BBC's excellent 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre featuring the beautiful and talented Ruth Wilson. He would be a perfect Dr Who, with just the right combination of brooding moodiness, good looks and eccentricity. Something to think about, assuming the part has not already been handed out, or maybe for next time.
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Look at this picture. Just look at it. See who is disappearing off the edge? Angela Merkel, the only woman there, and she is being pushed off the edge. And why? Because they were having a dress down Monday and Tuesday and women never wear ties anyway. And she was the only one not wearing a non blue jacket. It's blatant discrimination. Wars have been started for less. I wish I'd joined in with those anarchist protests now.
In a remarkably tendentious and frequently disingenuous article in this week's Spectator, Jonathan Sacks tries the usual trick of the religious by slyly claiming that the new atheism as they like to call it, the new aggressive secularism, is endangering our civilisation.
'Future intellectual historians,' claims Sacks, 'will look back with wonder at the strange phenomenon of seemingly intelligent secularists in the 21st century believing that if they could show that the first chapters of Genesis are not literally true, that the universe is more than 6,000 years old and there might be other explanations for rainbows than as a sign of God's covenant after the flood, the whole of humanity's religious beliefs would come tumbling down like a house of cards and we would be left with a serene world of rational non-believers getting on famously with one another.'
Sacks is trying a little conjuring trick here. It's the smoke and mirrors of religious belief turned back on we atheists in the hope that we don't notice. First he tries to make out that our sole focus, our principal objection to his superstition is with the creation myth of Genesis, easily the silliest and most demonstrably false part of his belief system and the others it gave rise to. But it is by no means the only part that can easily be falsified. The exodus that didn't happen, the walls that never existed and so could not come tumbling down, the census that never took place, the miracles throughout all of the books. The list is as endless and interminable as the story itself. On every page we can easily point to absurdities, examples of moral turpitude, relativism and ancient beliefs now known to be false or at best misguided. It should however be pointed out that the myth of Genesis gives rise to one of the founding ideas of Christianity, the notion of original sin. From that we get the idea of the need for a Messiah.
But Sacks is attempting something more than this. He is attempting to argue that we should look past the stories on which his and the other Abrahamic faiths are based and see the greater essential truth at their root. Okay, he is trying with a straight face to tell us, it's all nonsense but it has a basic truth at its core. Well, how exactly?
If you can look at these stories and see them for what they are, as myths woven in a more sophisticated and remarkably successful attempt to create a common purpose, a community, obedience and adherence then that is all they are. Their essential truth is an illusion because their essential truth is just a power grab. Sacks claims that these stories have something to say about the human condition. And so they do, they tell us all we need to know about our human desire to influence, control and indoctrinate our fellow humans. Now that religion is failing to achieve this as we throw off its shackles and think for ourselves, now that religion is no longer able to threaten us when we fail to be obedient, is has shifted to talking about a new myth. We must now believe in this mysterious notion of the transcendence or the miracle of being. They can't bully us anymore and so now they want us to think that their belief system somehow makes them deep and spiritual rather than merely fanciful and naive. Okay, they say, the founding documents are myth and nonsense, but that doesn't mean that there isn't an essential truth. Spirituality and a sense of awe are the new shibboleths that only those who believe are privy to.
And then there is the next conjuring trick Sacks attempts, albeit not a new one. He attempts to claim that religion is the foundation of our morality. How's that again? These religions which were about conquest, enslavement, brutality towards non believers, women, homosexuals or those who eat the wrong type of food or fail to wear a hat at prescribed times? They have given us morality? But it's all right. Sacks invokes Nietzsche. He understood, says Sacks, that losing Christian faith would mean abandoning Christian morality. No more love your neighbour, instead the will to power. Oh well that's all right then. That settles it. No evidence required.
Of course this is arrant, and indeed arrogant nonsense. This notion that morality is some creation of the religions, the same religions whose founding documents are full of violence, moral relativism and invocations to war in the name of their god is absurd. Morality is something that has been tagged on to these religions long after, and of course is very flexible. The churches have taught different moral codes according to their times, which is perfectly understandable from a human and anthropological perspective, but please don't claim it is something unique to those who believe in a sky fairy and who now claim that their belief is reduced to nothing more than a warm fuzzy feeling.
Sacks also claims that atheists tend to mumble and shuffle about when asked where morality comes from. This is simply untrue. Richard Dawkins, whom Sacks claims to respect, has much to say on the subject, as did Christopher Hitchens. Both have made good cases for morality being innate to us rather than something that has to be created by a belief system. Indeed religions all too often create a version of morality that is inimical to good sense, good health, and simple decency. Blanket edicts on contraception, hygiene, abortion, sexuality and even on the food we eat are a peculiar argument for the superiority of religious morality. All too often the religions claim that simple belief in their imaginary friend makes them morally superior. We live with the consequences of that kind of belief and self righteousness every day.
Morality is something independent of religion and has existed, admittedly in different forms as attitudes change, throughout human civilisation. The ideas contained in The Sermon on the Mount can be traced back to previous civilisations and religions long preceding our own.
But morality is a necessary condition for civilisation. It would be meaningless without it. It's like a constitutional underpinning of it. For proof of this we only have to look at the world today. Morality in our more secularised world may be different from that we used to have imposed on us in the past more religious eras but it is demonstrably not absent. Indeed modern morality is in the process, in the teeth of objections from the religious, of extending itself to those who would, if the religious had their way, be excluded.
But you could easily argue that there is a Darwinian explanation for morality. Our societies, our civilisations demonstrably prosper when we cooperate and coordinate ourselves. Were we to regress to the laws of nature as Sacks argues would be the case, that prosperity would be endangered. Our civilisation prospers because we all specialise and cooperate, we trade our skills. In order to allow this to work we need a foundation of rules and of morality. Thou shalt not steal or kill or covet another man's ox is not something we need a god to enforce for the simple reason that it is makes perfect sense if our civilisation is going to function properly. These essentials of morality are basic and innate in us precisely because they are rational and make life tolerable. And neither is such cooperation unknown in nature. There are plenty of animals that cooperate as groups, have assigned roles and rules enforced by that group for the greater good of the whole, and thus a basic form of morality. It is innate.
But, says Sacks, the modern era of individualism, materialism and freedom is dangerous for a cohesive society. It is profoundly disintegrative. Nonsense. Modern technology is creating new ways of connecting, of finding friends and the like minded. The fact that we have lots of friends on Facebook but few we could rely on in a crisis proves only that technology still cannot replace proper face to face human relations. We are capable now of connecting to dozens or hundreds of people thanks to modern communications technology and our lifestyles. But intimate connections are still constrained by our human nature.
And what of materialism, another bug bear of those who claim that spirituality is superior to our modern life. There is no evidence that man has become more acquisitive than we were in past more religious eras. It's just that there is now a greater opportunity for us all to acquire things thanks to modern production and distribution methods. That is something to be celebrated. It's progress. Where once it was everyone's ambition to own their own Bible and eat regularly, now we want more entertaining pastimes and different taste experiences. Spirituality is just another invention of man with no basis in fact. One man's spirituality is another man's staring vacantly into space wasting time. Nietzsche did a lot of staring into space thinking about deep things, but does that make him a better person than those of us who prefer to read a good book, watch television or play on a Playstation? If so, how exactly?
Essentially Sacks's critique comes across as the complainings of a grumpy old man who doesn't like the way the modern world is shaping up. Instead of simply accepting change he claims that this is dangerous, that we are losing our morality and social cohesion. Yet the fact is that the most peaceful nations in the world, the places that overwhelmingly attract the world's immigrants, are the western, increasingly secular societies. As we throw off the shackles of religion we are becoming more prosperous, more peaceful, more open minded, more tolerant and more law abiding. God is not required, indeed we are much better off without him.
Monday, 17 June 2013
Government, as we all know, is about choices. Most of those choices involve money. Ministers will, on a daily basis, be asked to decide which policies go forward and are funded. They will be required to choose between one scheme and another. They will be assailed by press releases from charities, most of which get their money from central government not from shaking tins on the street, claiming that enormous damage will be done should they have their funding cut. Indeed most of the press releases that arrive in news rooms these days are from charities, quangos, local authorities, hospitals, research funds, theatres, children's play groups, even businesses explaining why there would be the most appalling consequences should they be removed from the teat of public funding or be asked to make savings like everyone else.
And there's science. Science is always desperate for more cash. Science is expensive and labour intensive. It needs equipment, time and manpower. But that's okay isn't it. Because science is good. Science is for all of our benefit.
Or is it? How many times have you opened your newspaper and read about a study, a scientific study, into why we smile, or why we sleep on one side of the bed. Is it vital to the cause of mankind that we know why birds migrate and choose the route they do. It's vital for the scientists certainly, and may contribute to a quite interesting documentary on BBC2. But it's not going to change lives is it. It's not going to save any. It will contribute very little to the sum of human knowledge. At best it will give someone a Phd, which is nice, and will end up being a question on QI for Alan Davies to get wrong to the sound of a klaxon.
And then there's this latest scientific study into the faces of Legomen. What does this tell us? And can you be scientific about facial expressions? Is that something that can be measured, or is it subjective? Perhaps I should conduct a study. I think I'll need about 50k.
Seriously though, I am toying with the idea of a study on fame. How easy is it in this day and age when apparently anyone can become famous to achieve it? What is the best way of achieving fame? Is infamy easier than fame? Recent events would suggest that it is. It's a subject I'm going to pursue. If in the process I become famous, get invited to parties and premieres, on to television and am assailed by nubile young women, then that is a cross I shall have to bear. Look out for it on my Video Diary in the coming weeks.
Sunday, 16 June 2013
The result of the presidential election in Iran last night was as uplifting as it was surprising. A comparative moderate won, and by a landslide. The Glasgow educated Hassan Rowhani took over 50% of the vote, meaning that there will be no need of a run off. His nearest rival could only secure 16.6 %.
It was a surprise result for the reformist movement that has been bullied, imprisoned, beaten and sometimes murdered since the last disputed election led to protests, violence and brutal repression. Rowhani has vowed to put an end to the confrontational rhetoric against the West and to seek to end the sanctions that have so damaged the Iranian economy.
Another week, another vicious murderer put behind bars and told he will never be released. This time it was 30 year old Dale Cregan, a career criminal and sociopath whose vicious attack on two unarmed police officers, Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, shocked the nation last year. He dialled 999 to lure the officers to where he had been hiding from police, and attacked them with grenades and a gun before handing himself in to their own police station.
Cregan was part of the Manchester gang scene and was wanted by police for the murder of two members of a rival gangland family. In a feud that started in a pub altercation, Cregan, who saw himself as a kind of hit man, avenged the disrespect shown to a matriarch of the family by bursting into the same pub a few weeks later and shooting two of his rivals. He then went on the run to Thailand before being captured on his return. Police had to release him on bail while they gathered enough evidence to prosecute him, but had decided to rearrest him just prior to the murders of the two police officers. Cregan, alerted to this, seems to have decided to go down in what he would have seen as a blaze of glory, and hatched his plan to murder the officers before handing himself in to avoid being executed by rivals out for revenge.
And yet the imprisonment of one of our own gun crazed madmen came in the week when America commemorated six months having gone by since the Sandy Hook massacre took the lives of 20 children and six adults. Since that awful day, 5000 more people have lost their lives to gun wielding criminals in America, while politicians and the NRA argue about gun control and whether it is guns or people who kill.
And America is seemingly intent on handing weapons to a motley assortment of Syrians loosely termed rebels too. As the rebels increasingly look like losing to the pro Assad forces, America and her allies are wondering whether they should do anything. The spark for this is said to be that Assad is using chemical weapons, Yet he has killed 90,000 since the conflict started according to the UN. Is one method of death worse than another? Britain is still undecided about arming the rebels according to David Cameron. He did concede this week that parliament will have to be consulted.
The week started with a huge furore over America's Prism system, which may or may not have been used to spy on Brits as we Facebook and Google one another. Is there a system in the world that can cope with that much trivia? How much electricity is being needlessly expended storing the social arrangements of Britain and America's teenagers?
The man who blew the whistle on this less than startling news that spies spy, and use a computer program to do so, was revealed to have left behind his quite attractive girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, who is upset. We know this because she posed for pictures without many clothes on to show this. Newspapers duly published them and I do likewise above, because I know what my audience likes.
Edward Snowden is currently holed up in a hotel in Hong Kong under the protection of the open and accountable People's Republic of China. The internet, though wonderful, does create problems purely because of the amount of haystack for authorities to sort through if they want to intrude on us. Probably, as a consequence then, nothing much to worry about. There's far too much for them to go through so your perversions or esoteric tastes on YouTube should evade their attention. It makes one want to LOL doesn't it.
And yet, if you wanted to ROFL this week, you should have headed to parliament where Michael Meacher demanded an urgent reply to a question about the Bilderberg conference in Watford last weekend. Ken Clarke, who is the least lizard like of the Bilderberg attendees - that in itself is probably a clever ruse - stood up and answered the conspiracy theorists with his typical good humour and bonhomie.
Speaking of conspiracies, a bunch of spectacularly dimwitted jihadists were sent to prison on Monday for trying and failing to start a civil war with a bunch of thick, neo fascist dimwits from the EDL. Fortunately for the police, the EDL and for the rest of us, the jihadist dimwits were too late to wage holy war on skinheads apparently for the crime of insulting their prophet. It seems that these holy warriors were not too good at getting up in the morning and so missed the march they had intended to attack. They also failed to insure the car they were using to transport them to fight the good fight and so were stopped and caught by police.
Still, they were in possession of thousands of items of extremist material and, since they were not the brightest, this must mean that such material is extremely freely available. The judge expressed his concern before handing down sentences ranging from 18 years and 9 months for Mohammed Saud, Anzal Hussain and Mohammed Hasseen and 19 and a half years to Jewel Uddin, Omar Mohammed Khan and Zohaib Ahmed. All of the men were from Birmingham and could easily, said the judge, have been given life sentences which they only just avoided.
In Turkey, after nearly two weeks of unrest as large numbers of people protested against what they see as an increasingly authoritarian government, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at first agreed to hold talks to resolve the situation before sending in riot police on Monday. By Tuesday, police were also laying siege to camps set up in a nearby park in an attempt to prevent it from being developed.
Here in London, there were also a few isolated moments of trouble as the usual anti-capitalist 'anarchists' protested about the upcoming G8 summit set to take place in Northern Ireland next week. These people seem to be very, very angry about something, but it is never really clear what. They made their usual sound and fury, disrupted a few capitalists which will have pleased them, and one was wrestled to the ground when it appeared he was about to throw himself off a roof. They are passionate certainly, but Istanbul or Tehran this is not.
Stephen Hester, the clean skin parachuted in to lead the rescue of Royal Bank of Scotland resigned as its chief executive on Wednesday. He will leave the bank later in the year. This was widely seen as a push rather than a jump, as the government prepares RBS for a nice sell off in the lead up to the election.
But in a sign that real innovation and creativity is possible in the world of banking and high finance, Japanese girl band Machikado Keiki * Japan will have skirts that become shorter the higher the stock market rises. This is genius. Perhaps it's what they were talking about at Bilderberg. Do lizards wear skirts?
It has been observed in the past that skirts generally get shorter during the good times and longer during recessions. Now teenage boys will be compelled to watch stock markets as well as the pop charts. It should be noted however that, since the formation of the band, stock markets have performed supremely well and so the girls will have to perform completely skirtless. Quite what happens if there is another boom thereafter is left unsaid, but be assured I shall be keeping a watchful eye on the situation.
The trial began of a teacher, Jeremy Forrest, who became the subject of a schoolgirl crush and then infamously ran off with his pupil to France last year. The schoolgirl, whose name was widely known at the time as police searched for her, but must now not be named, has been giving evidence. The two started flirting with one another on social networks causing rumours to circulate in the school. They were forced to block one another online. But the liaison continued secretly and became sexual during last year's summer holidays the court was told. The trial continues this week.
Did you know that there is a Shed of the Year Competition? Well if you stop to think about it, it's obvious really. We love our sheds in this country, and have been getting creative with them. The stand out one to my mind is HMS Victory, above. That would be a place to go to even if you hate gardening as I do. You could take a friend there called Hardy. The Tardis below should also receive honourable mention, although if we are being strictly fair the inside is far far too big to be a proper shed.
The writer Iain Banks died at the age of 59. Best known as the author of The Crow Road and The Wasp Factory, Banks endeared himself to millions with his often dark wit and self deprecation. He announced his terminal illness just 3 months ago in typically wry style, but asked his publishers to bring forward the publication of his new book, which deals with the issue of terminal illess from cancer, so that he would be able to see it before he died. Publisher Little Brown did just that, presenting him with copies of the new book, The Quarry, three weeks ago. It will be published on 20th June.
Sir Henry Cecil, tall and dapper 10 times champion trainer, died at the age of 70 from cancer. During an astonishing career as a peerless racehorse trainer, he won 25 classics including the Oaks 8 times, the 1000 Guineas 6 times, and 4 Epsom Derbies. He rounded off a career that had seemed to go into inevitable decline with the unbeaten Frankel, one of the greatest racehorses of all time.
Chinese censors provided proof this week, as they do almost every week, that they have no sense of humour. Chinese bloggers spotted the similarities between a couple of Disney characters and the presidents of the two most powerful nations on Earth. The Chinese authorities were unamused, which of course just makes it funnier. It's not as if we failed to laugh when we had our own Eeyore called Gordon as prime minister. It's just that Barack used to run away from him, and so no pictures of them strolling together exist.
In what was her penultimate engagement before she gives birth to the baby being anticipated by the sort of people who enjoy this sort of thing with a fervour that those of us with brains find bewildering, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, launched a ship. Now that is something that even I admit would almost make it worth becoming a royal for. Yes you may have to put up with Prince Philip's jokes and your father in law's advice about green issues and architecture, yes you may have to endure interminable evenings having constantly to check on who you have to bow or curtsy to according to who is in the room and who has gone out for a pee, but you do from time to time get to chuck a sodding great bottle of Champagne and launch a giant ship. That would almost make having to communicate with Nicholas Witchell worthwhile.
Kate's final engagement, in case you were wondering, before heading off to maternity was to attend yesterday's Trooping of the Colour to celebrate the Queen's official birthday. The birthday honours threw up possible proof that we really are living in a classless society. In among the usual baubles for businessmen and an astonishing number of Lib Dem MPs, was the award for Baldrick of a knighthood. Blackadder on the other hand must make do with a CBE. Was this a cunning plan that finally paid off?
Finally, you've heard of the expression you look like you've sucked a lemon? Well this dog thought he would try it for himself. He's this week's YouTube hit. Seriously, what did we do before YouTube? Achieved things and got work done probably.
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Friday, 14 June 2013
So, it seems that Labour, terrified of the rampaging were rabbit issue that is Europe but pretending that it is an entirely Conservative issue, are to abstain in the vote for a EU referendum when it comes before the Commons as a private members bill.
Why? Well they can't quite make their minds up. It's a stunt seems to be a line that they might stick to, and that is one the Lib Dems are trying too. But also a referendum would be a distraction is one that both parties are trying out for size.
Well let's give them the benefit of the doubts that are haunting their duplicitous minds and consider both of these excuses. If it's a stunt that is only because the Tories, as a minority party, cannot get legislation through parliament on their own. The other two parties have blocked it and so it must be introduced as a private members bill. It would be entirely open to the other parties, and in particular the Lib Dems who are in government after all, to say let's do this properly and consult the British people and get this issue out of the way at last. Would that not be a mature and democratic thing to do, especially since poll after poll shows that the British people want a referendum and are tired of being denied one by parties using excuses like it's a stunt, it's a distraction, oh we never promised one, oh we did promise one but that was on a constitution and this is a treaty.
If this is a stunt then make it into something more than a stunt and vote for a referendum. Or are you secretly opposed to a referendum and coming up with ever more desperate excuses to deny us one?
As for the distraction and uncertainty line, please do us a favour. Democracy itself is a distraction. It can lead to uncertainty. Let's ban all elections until the economy has recovered. After all we suspend elections during wars. We even suspended one because of a foot and mouth outbreak a few years ago. Let's pass a law that elections can only be held when growth is at 3%, interest rates at around 2%, unemployment below 5%, the deficit eradicated and the debt falling. To have one otherwise would lead to uncertainty.
The greatest uncertainty afflicting Britain right now is that one inflicted upon us by our pygmy political class who don't want to ask the British people to take part in a referendum because they suspect that they won't like the answer. They will then have to get into all kinds of unpleasantness with their own parties and with those nice people across the channel who are so sophisticated and progressive because they believe in supranationalism, which sounds so terribly grown up and clever, but is actually an excuse once again to get around all of that tedious and time consuming democracy and accountability so that the experts and technocrats can rule us and create wonderful things like the Euro and the Common Agricultural Policy.
In fact, if you want to avoid uncertainty, you should actually simply bite the bullet, pass the legislation and have the referendum this autumn. But of course they won't do that. We have to have the pointless renegotiation first. We have to go through the charade of trying to get a deal we know that we won't get. And if you are Labour or Lib Dem, except with a few honourable exceptions in the Labour Party, you just hope to avoid the question for as long as possible, try to get to the next election without promising a referendum, or to use the kind of language that will enable you to weasel out of it as they did with the constitution that became a treaty, and which Gordon Brown was so embarrassed about signing he went and did it after everyone else in the hope that nobody would notice.
This vote on James Wharton's private members bill is not a stunt, neither is it a distraction. It is having to be done this way because the British people are being ignored by those who purport to lead us. They haven't got the guts to come out and say that they are against us deciding. They haven't got the guts to make a pro Europe argument because they know that would make them unpopular. Instead they just intend to sit on the fence and hope this issue goes away. It won't. We have reached an impasse. This is an issue that is going to resonate right up to the general election, up to and including next year's European elections for the pointless gravy train of waste that is the European Parliament. Must we vote en masse for UKIP next year? Will even that make any difference? Perhaps they will find a way to suspend elections after all.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
We are accustomed to the rough and tumble of politics. We are accustomed to the juvenile point scoring. In particular we are accustomed to this at prime minister's questions each week. The divisions in politics are there for all to see, not just because the parties sit opposite one another and, even when in coalition, tend to sit apart so as best to illustrate their separation and mutual loathing, but because they yell at one another, make snide remarks, and try, often successfully, to put off those speaking.
Generally however this does not happen on certain issues. When a terrorism incident takes place the House unites, except for one or two mavericks of the Galloway tendency. And on foreign affairs the parties tend to speak as of one voice. This is particularly the case when it comes to us putting our armed forces in harm's way.
And so the events at yesterday's PMQs should give the government pause for thought as they ponder their options in Syria. It seems unlikely that we would get involved militarily, but the government does seem to be seriously considering sending arms to the ragtag army of rebels and different groups currently fighting the Assad regime. Yet at PMQs yesterday it became clear that Labour will oppose this.
This is a dangerous moment for the government. It is dangerous because, probably for the first time since he became opposition leader, Ed Miliband, if indeed this is his stance, is right and the public will agree with him.
We are still in the process of extricating ourselves from Afghanistan, from a war that has achieved next to nothing and from a country that will revert to the way it was within months of us pulling out. How long will it be before President Karzai is deposed once we pull out? Would anyone seriously bet on him lasting more than a few days?
The situation in Syria is just as febrile, just as chaotic and just as impossible for us to predict, still less to influence. We could of course spend billions deploying aircraft, missiles and even boots on the ground. For a time we might even make a difference. But, if recent experience has taught us anything, it is that we would be on a hiding to nothing, our good and honourable intentions would be turned against us, we would quickly be regarded as foreign invaders, and it would be an excellent recruiting sergeant for jihadist demagogues intent on creating the next generation of terrorists who think they are freedom fighters.
And none of this is to say that there isn't a moral case for us intervening. There is. The Assad regime is a vile and murderous one that has already shown that it will stop at nothing to stay in power. It looks as though it is probably going to prevail. We could, with our resources, level the playing field or even slant it very firmly in the direction of the rebels. But, as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are showing right now, we would not be thanked for doing it, and those rebels are not a homogenous and united group. Some are fighting for noble aims like freedom and democracy, but an awful lot are fighting for the precise opposite, of Taliban style medievalism, religious intolerance and repression. We would be creating a world of trouble for ourselves. We would be going in for all of the right reasons and would be condemned, hated and attacked both verbally and then physically, quite possibly creating an even worse situation, difficult as that is to imagine.
The British public can see this. The Labour Party, still scarred from the experience of Iraq can see this, and wants nothing to do with it. Our government should simply look the other way and leave Syria well alone. To do anything else would be an act of supreme folly, even if it is no more than offering a few light arms and expertise. By taking an opposite stance, Labour would be making an easy to win argument and the British public would back them. It would even make Miliband look statesmanlike, which would be quite an accomplishment.
David Cameron's line yesterday was that no decisions have been made on this issue. That is just about tenable for now. But it should quickly evolve to one of we will not get involved. We were told this week that Cameron is a pragmatist. Well here is his chance to prove that. Intervention in Syria, unless we are prepared to commit decades of intervention that would be called colonialism, billions we don't have and the lives of hundreds of our servicemen and women, will solve nothing, potentially make matters worse and create more bloodshed in an already vicious civil war. Try to get the different parties around the negotiating table by all means, exert whatever pressure we can through the UN, sanctions, indictments to the Hague, and through allies with more clout in that part of the world. But this is a conflict we should not get involved in however bad things get. Civil wars are called that for a reason.