Sunday 5 February 2023

A Reliable Platform

The rampant corruption of Ukraine is once again official news, as is that country's infestation with Nazis, and as is the role of NATO and EU expansion in provoking the war after Russia had specifically been promised that no such expansion would occur, while even the Today programme has slipped in at least one reference to the mistreatment of prisoners on both sides. In the midst of that, Peter Hitchens writes:

Freedom of speech and thought have not been in so much danger for years. A week ago, I wrote here about shadowy surveillance and censorship of dissent over the Covid panic. Today I bring you news of the sad surrender of a former fortress of free speech, the Conway Hall in London.

This time the subject is the Ukraine war, an issue on which only one view is now tolerated in many places which ought to know better. I have spoken twice in this enjoyably dingy auditorium, once in a debate on Ukraine and once at a debate with my late brother (I won it) before an audience of fashionable leftists many of whom probably wished I would go away and die.

It used to be the place where you went to hear the most unpopular views, a reliable platform for the furthest fringe. Well, no longer. A planned meeting there by a group (mainly of the Corbynite left) opposed to the Ukraine War has been cancelled.

Apparently, the Hall’s managers had been subjected to a blizzard of intimidating e-mails and social media posts. You will have to guess where they were from, for I cannot find out. They feared that they could not guarantee the safety of the building or its staff. Opponents of the meeting also seem to have pressured those who fund the building or do business with it. I gather the hall suffered badly during the Covid shutdown and is not in any position to defy such boycotts.

I think this is deeply sad. I can find no evidence that the police have been asked to investigate, or that – having been alerted to the event by me – that they plan to do so.

That is as much as the Mail on Sunday's lawyers will allow. I look forward to spotting the 77th Brigade in Durham when Hitchens speaks there tomorrow evening, and I regret that I shall not have the chance to fight them hand-to-hand on Tuesday in Sunderland, at the pub that they had threatened to bomb because it was to have hosted George Galloway, one of several of the Conway Hall speakers who would not thank Hitchens for having called them "Corbynite".

I did not book for the Conway Hall conference, a return ticket to London and at least one overnight stay there, because I did not want to risk that it might never happen. But hand-to-hand, how hard can the 77th Brigade be, since the United States still recognises China, Russia and France as top-level military powers, but no longer takes that view of Britain? Hitchens again:

I am preparing myself for great disappointment at the coming Coronation. Unlike most other people, I thought the late Queen’s funeral was far less impressive and moving than it could have been. I am still angered and puzzled by the mistaken decision to fly Her Majesty from Scotland to London, when millions would have lined the tracks in a great national farewell if she had been brought south aboard the Royal Train.

And now it seems likely that the combined services parade for Charles’s crowning will be a poor shadow of the 1953 ceremony. As things now stand, we may only have about 3,000 members of the armed forces available to march through London, compared with 30,000 70 years ago. This is of course another result of the hollowing out of our fighting services in recent years, under governments of both parties.

In contrast to the macho posturing of our politicians about Ukraine, we have pitiful numbers of troops, little ammunition and clapped out, obsolete equipment. A senior US general has privately told Defence Secretary Ben Wallace that the British Army is no longer regarded as a top-level fighting force. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, as the Army is cut and cut, and as the Navy shrinks. It is not just the Coronation that will be a diminished, shrunken thing, if we go on like this.

The 77th Brigade's Lieutenant Colonel Tobias Ellwood MP, Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, has a lunatic article in today's Mail, because Hitchens always has to be "balanced", and that is not necessarily any bad thing.

It also features this, about Andrey Medvedev. But quite apart from what sort of "commander" a 26-year-old might possibly have been, what did he think that he was joining when he joined the Wagner Group? Good luck to Norway with him in their midst. Good luck to all of us, since Norway is a member of NATO. If Russians had joined the Wagner Group rather than the Russian Army, then the Army must therefore have refused to have taken them even as conscripts. Remember that when they defect. These are mercenaries even in their own country. Yet we are still wrong to arm the other side.

All three main parties in England and all four in Scotland are now tankies, and a lot more than tankies. But we are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.


  1. The leaked Mossad report doesn't make good reading for the Ukraine hawks.

    1. Mossad does not leak. The hawks are in serious trouble.