No time for a mistake

The destruction of Boeing 737-800

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On Friday, Mike Pompeo said “We do believe that it’s likely that the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile.” Now, it seems, he was absolutely right.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has demanded a public admission.

The President said he “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”and records that a human error “led to a big catastrophe and innocent people were killed.” Indeed, we also have the name of the man who made that error, one of the Revolutionary guard, Amirali Hajizadeh who has reportedly said, “I wish I was dead”.

But admitting a mistake is only the first step. The rest, which can take some time, is about putting right the mess created. I fear that President Rouhani may not go very far towards fixing what he has done wrong, and already he is scattering blame in the direction of the US and the Ukraine. This is regrettable. 176 people died when the missile, apparently, hit the cockpit of the plane. It is impossible for Iran to remain haughty about this scale of “mistake”, yet the language used does not seem nearly apologetic enough. And it is not enough to hang some boffin out to take the blame. In the end, the way this news has seeped out, dribbled out, is testimony to a regime absolutely out of control. The level of disaster here cannot be excused as “a mistake”. This goes well beyond “a mistake”, even “an unforgiveable mistake”, though that single adjective is a sign that Iran recognises this may not be a story it can ever spin. Nor, of course, in this case, would it be a time to press the crowds out on to the street…

Here is what is reportedly said: “Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a sensitive military base”

and

“Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

The regime is also preparing its excuse with expressions like: “human mistake and misfired”

Now, of course, would be the time to start releasing Western prisoners and to making overtures towards peace. Let’s watch this space and see what happens. My suspicion is that very little will happen soon.

Meanwhile, the new President of the Ukraine says that he will “insist on a full admission of guilt”

International pressure seems to have brought about the revelation some 72 hours after the “accident”. Indeed the official stance until today was expressed by the Iranian ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, who specifically ruled out a missile strike on the aircraft. Twitter has been full of indignation about Iran’s tardiness: “I don’t know what to do with my rage and grief. I’m thinking of all the ‘human errors’ in these years that were never revealed because there was no international pressure.”

The most striking and most discordant note, however, has been made by a spokesman, the head of the foreign relations committee in the Russian senate, a building I used to walk past every morning and evening: “The admission of error,” says Konstantin Kosachev, “although not immediately, and expression of condolences is sufficient to be accepted. With this, the incident should be closed.” I wonder what that suggests? That he is worried further probing will identify the missiles as made in Russia (maybe SA-15), or that further questions might then be asked about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian backed Ukrainian separatists?

 

https://animate-tim.com/2015/06/13/atina-farghadani/

There are now street protests in a number of universities calling on the supreme leader to resign, calling various officials “liars”. Maybe this is the beginning of the end? Let’s hope so.

 

Some recent pictures

I have been drawing pictures over the last few days. Here are some of them along with a link to my “Middle of the week” video. I shall try to keep up a mid-week vlog until Christmas.Agary Rhodes by TIM

There is a big debate about anti-semitism in the Labour party. It seems to me that this is really a debate about the quality of leadership that is offered by Jeremy Corbyn, and Miriam Margolyes, a committed Labour supported and of course a Jewish actor, yesterday on Channel 4 put it rather succinctly.

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The question remains whether the Chief rabbi is right to get involved in politics during an election. He talked about “a poison sanctioned from the very top – has taken root” but what he well knows is that this has been ongoing for a good few years. It is nothing new. So the newsworthy issue is the fact that the Chief rabbi has spoken out at a time that is judged to cause maximum damage to the Labour campaign. What is generally agreed is that Corbyn has not dealt with the underlying issue well enough and that there is a swelling and vocal group within labour that smudges the distinction between being Jewish and being Israeli. There is a distinction between the two and Miriam Margolyes makes it adroitly in her interview (she goes further in fact and says she is not a zionist and that there are many things about the current state of Israel that need to change. She emhasizes that she does not in any way question the existence of the state of Israel or its legitimacy. I would be more cautious than Margolyes and simply point to the impeachment of Netanyahu as a demonstration that the rot is now identified). It is about language and about the way anger can slip into prejudice, but it is also about mob mentality and Corbyn fails to understand this. When it comes to leadership, it is not enough to look at individual failings but to strike at the problem. The problem is a nasty use of language and a casual disregard for how it is perceived. In the end, it is about arrogance.

The Chief rabbi did not specifically tell people to vote against Labour. He urged them to vote with “conscience”. He also said that there were 130 cases of anti-semitism in the labour party that had not yet been processed. (There were 635 complaints at the beginning of the year)

To prove the point of his criticism, however, on 4 occasions today Corbyn has refused to apologise to the wider Jewish community for his failure to stamp out anti-semitism in the Labour party. He has admittedly, in the past, now apologised for calling Hamaz and Hezbollah “friends” back in 2009 and has eventually permitted labour’s definition of anti-semitism to be brought in line with that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Diane Abbott today, however, said she did not think Jewish people were “anxious and frightened”. I suppose she knows Jewish people better than the chief rabbi, or is this another instance of the “arrogance” of the labour leadership? To their credit, Labour MPs seeking re-election, Wes Streeting (for Ilford North) and Jess Phillips (Birmingham) have both apologised to the Chief Rabbi for the way this has been handled, saying they will do whatever they can to “win back trust” in the community. Again, their apology suggests the leader remains out of sync.

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Boris’ Gambit

Just got out of “the Circle” to find Boris in the middle of an extraordinary Saturday sitting of parliament! I worry that he has now decided to send a message to Brussels without signing it. What worries me most is that this supremely intelligent and confident man is potentially heading down the spineless path of his predecessor, Mrs May. I would urge him to avoid hiding like her behind bureaucratic nonsense and to do all he can to discourage his advisors and alies from embracing a Jesuitical approach to Brexit.

If something must be done, then it must be done clearly and not fudged. We must take proper responsibility for whatever we do. My own wish, of course, is that the Brexit referendum should never have happened at all and that, had it done so, the Remain team should have presented a better case and a more united front.

But having had the Referendum, and having seen the lacklustre efforts of Cameron and Corbyn to rally support for the status quo, I feel we should still have made more of an effort to press ahead against the Brussels’ bullies and show, firstly, that what was done to Greece by the Bureaucrats will not be done to Britain and secondly, that life beyond the EU was viable. Sadly, no one could have forseen the May premiership- all evasion and weeping, a sorry state and Boris must pick up the pieces.

The latest defeat is a noble first stab towards doing something.

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David Cameron

 

 

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Why Cameron is wrong

I was annoyed by Gove a few months’ ago and now it is Cameron who makes me mad! Astonishing! Conceited and determined in like manner but in this case just to sell books, Cameron dishes the dirt and in the process finally fesses up to his schoolboy demeanours, just about, that saw a serious number of older boys expelled from Eton, and the whistle blower blacklisted and forced to move out of his house and bunk up with one of the beaks because of the bullying presumably orchestrated to support Cameron who has always been able to wriggle out of a tight spot and has always been able to charm friends in high places. Till now. The problem with charm though is that it is a form of magic and in the end, it masks something hollow or just plain wrong and dirty. This is Morgan le Fey not Merlin we are talking about and for the record, for all his cleverness at the dispatch box, I think Cameron is hollow. He is also demonstrably a bad loser.
Now he says that the leave campaign “left the truth at home”. That may be so and we may also have got the wrong result but the reason is because Cameron and his cronies put forward a weak and uncharismatic campaign where greed and an arrogant image of what this toff thought we wanted eclipsed any talk of duty and responsibility.
Across the channel Europe is tearing itself to pieces and Cameron’s response was to invite us to do the same to ourselves! What madness! If the leave campaign was appalling, and so was the remain campaign and Cameron must shoulder that responsibility. He played the game by rules laid down by Farage. This is why people often said they could not make up their minds. More than that, he gambled twice with other people’s lives and twice risked “the uncertainty and division that followed” a referendum. What madness and what conceit. Now when a gentleman would keep mum he rakes up this mud again and dirties the pond with more excrement of his own making. and as for the cannabis’ admissions- about time and probably the thin end of the wedge but for now, time for Cameron, to hang his head in shame, hoard the cash from the gutter-press memoir, come out of the garden shed and join Gove in the list of smug hypocrites who had the experience and opportunity to do better. This is not a man who deserves any future office or honour. As Bercow once said, “he can take it from me that he is finished.” The exit door opens – time to make good on his promise to go.

Alexei Navalny

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Just looking at reports this afternoon which are alarming indeed. Navalny’s effective bid 4 days’ ago to wobble the “United Russia” ruling Party’s overall majority in the Russian Duma has been met with a speed, scope and national ferocity that he says could only have been orchestrated by Putin himself. He says “the state has two tasks- to frighten and to steal.” Today, homes of those connected with his opposition party were raided in searches now spread across 36 towns and cities. The police carrying out these raids are masked and asked reporters to stop filming. Ironically, the excuse for the raids was given as alleged corruption in Navalny’s “Anti-corruption foundation”.

Facebook and google were directly accused by the Government of interference in the elections.

Navalny, who had encouraged tactical voting in the election after many of his own party’s candidates were barred from standing, says he is used to fighting and that he won’t give up against “crooks and thieves”. There will be national and presidential elections in 2012 so the atmosphere is unlikely to get any better in the near future but evidently the opposition is mobilised and will not go away.

Therefore, poor old Putin may soon have to put on his glasses and read the smallprint more carefully- oh! But wait: he has been told it would be “unmanly” to be seen in public wearing his glasses. Pasha, Verni, Buffy and Yummi must be barking mad at the thought that their master might ever have his eyesight questioned, let alone his judgement.

Nigel Farage deal

Deeply concerned to read of potential deals with Nigel Farage as the way to secure a Conservative victory in any General election.

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My concerns go beyond the issue of “deal or no deal”, a mantra that seems to come from a TV game show anyway. I am much more concerned about what bothered me in the past and that has never been properly addressed- specifically, the way the debate over Europe was hijacked by extremists who wanted to promote a racist agenda of their own. In many ways, they succeeded, partly because it suited Mrs May to continue her “hostile environment” and partly, because it was so popular, but it was still racist at its core.

Three moments spring to mind that highlight the racism- the first is the event in 2015 which led to my resignation and to a small moment on TV sparring with Mr Farage – who claimed I was out of my depth- not at all, Nigel! The story was about a nasty racist slur cast by the UKIP MEP David Coburn who confused the name of the Scottish Minister for Europe, Humza Yousaf, with the name of a convicted handless terrorist serving time in a gaol in New York, Abu Hamza. There was never any apology because Farage insisted it was “just a joke- can’t you take a joke?”

No amount of massaging words can disguise the casual racism of the original remark and, moreover, the savage cowardice of doing so, when Humza was actually late and, therefore, not in the studio to respond. This was cheap and nasty and needed to be called out.

The point is that the same joke has come up more than once in UKIP, and, because it was tolerated then, even celebrated by Farage and his cronies, it was taken then as acceptable and remains so in their eyes. Its latest outing was to confuse Sadiq Khan with the leader of the 7/7 bombers. The person who made this joke, the new leader, Richard Braine apparently takes offence when people mock him with the name “Dick-Brain”. Double standards? But again, he does not get it at all.

Whether we accept what elected ministers and Mayors are doing or not, we cannot deliberately confuse these elected leaders in a democratic country with common convicted terrorists and certainly not because we think it funny to mix up one Muslim name with another. This is not Islamophobia or a “fear of Islam”. It is pure hatred and contempt. The fact that Farage did not join me in condemning Coburn tells me that he did not see this as wrong, and the fact that it continues in the party he led, tells me that he must, therefore, continue to take responsibility for something he started.

Beyond this, yet another UKIP leader, Gerald Batten said that Carl Benjamin’s racist tweet to Labour MP Jess Phillips, was also a joke, specifically “I think that was satire” and an example of “free speech”. Batten went on to identify Islam as a “death cult” and to forge greater links, or rather more open links, with Tommy Robinson and the DFLA.

I have always conceded that Farage is a consummate politician and one of the greatest orators at work in politics today.

But, it would be wholly wrong to give a national office to a man who has sired this sort of racist nastiness. To have an election pact is the first step to granting ministerial office. If a pact is necessary, then it must be on the clear understanding that ministerial office will not be an outcome. To see Farage in a British Cabinet would be worse than seeing Corbyn leading it.