Issues big and small, international, national and local, abound this week...
Syria is the Kobayashi Maru
Star Trek movie fans will be well aware of the Kobabyashi Maru simulation used on training exercises at Starfleet, and introduced in the second Trek movie The Wrath of Khan. It has been referenced several times since, in later Trek productions of one kind or another. It was a no-win scenario and was a test of character only – unless one cheated and re-programmed the simulator to make it able to be solved, as one James Tiberius Kirk apparently did...
There is no doubt that the biggest news this week has been over the Parliamentary recall to debate the possibility of UK involvement in a military action against the Syrian Assad régime following their use of chemical weapons against their own people, including children. Specifically, air strikes were being considered, in principle at this stage, in a two-vote arrangement the second of which would have come later.
These are always difficult decisions to take, and this one – perhaps more so than others, perhaps just the same but this time we're handling it more democratically – has been just like the Kobayashi Maru. There is no 'right' answer, as I have today tweeted, yet each side of the argument to go in or not believes it alone is right.
Unless a way could be found to forensically (to use the in-vogue term) remove Assad and those he commands who commit these acts, we could not even be a form of 'international police'. Whether or not we should intervene in another country's affairs, especially bearing in mind what has tended to happen in previous cases, is another question.
I have some sympathy for the decision-makers, because it is a very close call in practice: not because the issues are small, but because even a big pull in one direction is countered by a different by equally large pull in the opposite direction. It really is like that. I am not surprised, therefore, that even our own Medway Members of Parliament were split on the vote, with two of them voting one way and the third walking through the other voting lobby.
Back to the 'Maru': as a test of character, it certainly brought out the strength of PM David Cameron's character, though not backed up properly by the Number Ten machine and Conservative Parliamentary Whips' Office, which have rightly come in for strong criticism. Cam made his case, made concessions to the leader of the opposition, and put the question before the House of Commons.
As Dan Hodges (among others) covers in his 'blog post today, Ed[ward] Miliband behaved abominably, as did members of his party who revelled at the defeat of the Government's motion as a political success, as that was (as always) all that really mattered to them.
It comes as little surprise that Dan Hodges has, at last, resigned from the Labour party – who are no doubt rejoicing over that as well. As is so often the case, there is a lot of good, solid stuff in the Hodges piece and I recommend spend five minutes or so reading it all the way through.
Of course, it is equally unsurprising that local (and no doubt others whom I do not follow) sycophantic Labourites are fawning over Miliband's 'victory' and finding yet more ways to lick his boots. They show themselves up by so doing, as the Hodges piece clearly demonstrates – and I can if required provide links to others in the know who have confirmed what he has said, such as Toby Young, here, and (update) the Mail here. There are others... If there were the need for a new reason to feel disgust at Labour and their supporters, here it is in spades.
Unusually, Fraser Nelson is, I think, very much overstating the severity and significance of this defeat for Cameron, which he has done a few times before, though not to this extent. Never again can his stated support be taken as genuine. There are matters that need to be sorted out, especially now the hard lesson has (I hope) been learned that Mili-E is not to be trusted and his assurances can count for nothing.
In the final analysis, the defeat last night might see our standing within at least some sections of the international community weakened for a while, and it could harm the (admittedly largely fictitious) 'special relationship' we supposedly have with the USA; but in the longer term I have a feeling that history will soon enough show that, on balance, it was the better outcome, though not by a large margin.
This extract from an important document on the feasibility of an operation such as that being proposed makes for sobering reading, though, and I dread to think how much it might have cost us in resources as well as the most important resource of all – our Armed Forces' lives – if we had committed to the air strikes and whatever might lie beyond.
Meanwhile, other countries will no doubt make their own decisions about whether to intervene in Syria, and in what way. This little island, despite its significance on the world stage, is but one relatively small nation among hundreds on Planet Earth. Yesterday's debate and vote showed also that we are one of the more democratic, with Parliament trumping the Executive where necessary...which is exactly as it should be.
Staying with Mili-E for a few minutes: Michael Gove is on form as usual in exposing the Labour leader's latest wheeze to get you and me to fund his party from the public purse. This is standard practice for the Left anywhere in the world, near enough, and probably always has been, so it's hardly a surprise.
The best weapon against this very bad idea, though, is as always exposure to the public gaze – and this is exactly what Michael Gove is doing at the linked article. It covers a fair amount of ground, and is well worth a read, which will probably take eight to ten minutes (it looks longer, but a few medium to large size photographs give a misleading first impression of its length).
Meanwhile, ongoing money-laundering exploiting any route that is open to them, Lefties in positions of authority and Unions continue to come to notice, such as this one regarding some £64,000 passing from Tower Hamlets to what is a UNITE Union establishment that includes union recruitment facilities and, apparently, considerable pressure to join.
I leave it to readers here to follow the link and read the post by Ted Jeory, and the comments beneath, the latter taking a mix of sides, though I spot the methodology of those trying to suggest that 'it's all okay', so perhaps it's advisable to stay especially alert when reading those.
Abbott on the Landscape
This telling-it-like-it-is piece by Stephen Pollard in The Express hits lots of nails on the head regarding the ghastly Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. The headline concerns Labour's real intentions regarding immigration, none of which comes as a surprise to me (and probably not to many others by now, either) but he also catalogues a fair amount of other useful information by which we might gain an insight into this character.
Interestingly, when Ms Abbott was a regular on the BBC's This Week, the contributors to the LiveChat sessions had her well sussed, even then, so there really is nothing surprising to any of us who were regulars on the LiveChat. For everyone else, read and learn...
On the related topic of foreigners claiming UK benefits, the Mail reports that the numbers of these have increased by over forty percent during the past five years (a Labour government legacy, still not fully tackled in the coalition situation) to some 400,000 and costing billions of Pounds every year.
Again, it's not unexpected by those of us who have been conscious of what was happening during the Labour years and how much of it was effectively semi-permanently locked into our nation, so reversing the trend was deliberately made almost impossible by Blair, Brown and Co.
You might remember that, not long before the Coalition was formed, statements came trickling out about how things had been rigged (for want of a better word) by Labour in a number of areas – so it has been public knowledge for a long time.
Of course, knowing about something is not the same as being able to deal with it, and this one will, I suspect, take several years to remedy...and probably can't be done without a Conservative overall majority in the House of Commons.
Not So (Sha)nice...
The holographic receptionist at Brent Council that I mentioned a little earlier this month is, unsurprisingly, coming in for some stick. Even The Guardian has a mostly negative report on her – though, perhaps predictably, their biggest gripe appears to be the loss of a public sector job because Shanice supplants such a human employee. They also point up Shanice's "lack of compassion".
Ah, well: you can't win them all, as the saying goes...
BBC News Kent has reported on a claim that our local council's free periodical Medway Matters is 'biased toward the Conservatives'. This is a bit strange for a publication that, for all its faults (and it has them) has remained essentially the same for something like a decade, and I have not noticed any slant suddenly appearing, so why wasn't this ever brought up before?
In practice, it continues to cover quite a wide range of topics, mostly without any politicians being mentioned, quoted or pictured at all, apart from the regular ward-by-ward contact page inside the back cover.
The truth is that, when there is a political involvement in anything included in the magazine, it almost universally means Cabinet members, or perhaps the mayor or deputy mayor. These are all Conservatives, but only a minority of them (under a third, in fact).
Now, I have made so secret of my dislike of the Cabinet system that was inflicted upon us by the then Labour government in 2001, and which Eric Pickles has now allowed councils to scrap if they so choose. it is the continuation of that inappropriate and non-democratic institution that is the real cause of this separation between the 'élite few' and all the other elected members. It has nothing to do with the opposition, several of whose members were featured in the magazine a few years ago in page-long specials on each.
Indeed, it has been a de-politicisation of Medway Matters that has meant that series of features has never been revisited, and I am pleased about that. It seems to conform with the long-standard governmental guidance on how such publications should be edited and presented.
Of course, in Labour-run councils the boot is on the other foot; yet I am not aware that Conservative oppositions have ever made such complaints in those councils. I am ready to be corrected on this if I have missed something; but I shall be just as critical of any such as I am of Medway Labour.
All that is now needed is to get rid of the Cabinet-and-Scrutiny structure and give everyone elected to the Council back their equal voting status, as per Eric Pickles' wise-headed provision. That would also bring the elected Council closer to its electorate.
Labour, though, seek only party political coverage as usual, so again have missed the real target in pursuit of self-interest. After all, they want coverage for their members in the magazine, titling it back to more political coverage than now. That is their true motive, and it is so transparent. I'm not taken in, and nor should anyone else be.
Truth Goes The Gallo-way
Finally for this week, here's a short video that seems to show Respect's Georhe Galloway first making a truly outrageous claim on the Iranian television channel with which he is associated, and then denying it in the House of Commons, courtesy of Trending Central.. It looks very much like a GOTCHA..