Saturday 8 April 2023

10 Years On

10 years ago today, I gained and lost equal numbers of Facebook friends in one afternoon. Truly, a divisive and polarising figure. And so was Margaret Thatcher. The hashtag #nowthatcherisdead was taken over by grieving souls who sincerely thought that it had meant "Now that Cher is dead". If I could turn back time, indeed. We all know about the death parties around bonfires, and about Ding, Dong, The Wicked Witch Is Dead, deprecated even by Dennis Skinner in his memoirs.

But this tenth anniversary has been mentioned hardly, if at all. Thatcher herself was last depicted on British television, for the first time in quite a while, in December's Prince Andrew: The Musical, the title of which spoke for itself, and in which she was played by one Baga Chipz, a drag queen. So let Tony Blair wallow in the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which would have happened without him, while ignoring the twentieth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, which was very much his own. On the day of the Coronation, he will turn 70. Food for worms. One with Nineveh and Tyre. The world turns. In a generation's time, everyone will be saying out loud that he had always been as androgynous as Thatcher was. Leo Abse wrote eye-opening books on both of them.

Thatcher said that her greatest achievement was New Labour. But from our sewage-strewn beaches, to the success of Richard Holden's concession of numerous points in the form of his reduced bus fares, it is comically tragic that we have two Opposition parties that are both constitutionally committed to a failed economic model. Not even the Conservative Party is like that. Yet since 1995, Blair's new Clause IV has tied the Labour Party to everything that caused the economy to collapse when its full effect was so much as proposed last September, while the Liberal Democrats have been so tied since their foundation in 1988. It is not a coincidence, either that nothing like the mini-Budget was ever attempted while Jeremy Corbyn was Labour Leader, or that Liz Truss was the only Prime Minister ever to have been a member of the Lib Dems, the party whose departure from government had previously made possible even the mildest relaxation of the austerity programme.

Since that departure, and because Truss was Prime Minister for such a short time, there has also never been anything like the invasion of Libya, an invasion that not a single Lib Dem MP opposed, although we are coming frighteningly close in Ukraine, which should be referred to China, since China has successfully brokered a truly remarkable deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As part of that deal, the war in Yemen is to end, effectively in Saudi defeat, thereby rendering ridiculous the Parliamentary Labour Party's largest rebellion of the Corbyn years, which was in support of the Saudi war on Yemen, the biggest humanitarian disaster in the world at the time. Yes, really. A lot worse than merely ridiculous, of course, has been the other two parties' active support for that war while in office, in the Conservatives' case right up to the present moment. And no one is going to have a war with China over Taiwan. They are just not, and that is as well-understood in Taipei as it is in Beijing. China is not going to land troops on Taiwan, because there is not going to be a declaration of independence that would not be recognised by the United States. That is just that.

There is something to be said for the fact that the Saudi oilfields on which the United States was so dependent were now among the breaks on American hawkishness, being newly allied to China and thus indirectly to Russia, and at least at peace with Iran. Saudi Arabia has been the global nerve centre of Islamist terrorism, inspiring, funding and directing it on the streets of Britain and even against the Palace of Westminster. We live in hope that there might be no more of that, just as the Chinese, the Russians and, beset by Jundullah, the Iranians do.

Like the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, Hamas supported the Saudi war on Yemen. So did the British-backed insurrection that Shamima Begum joined in Syria. So much for the elision of "Hamas and Hezbollah". If they are no longer at war with each other, then that is only because Saudi Arabia has made peace with Iran in the last few days. Indeed, so controversial is the stance of Hamas, of Islamic Jihad, and of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades as de facto parts of Fatah, in their agreement with the foreign policy of the United Kingdom and of the United States in Yemen and in Syria, that the rival Harakat al-Sabireen has been founded by former Islamic Jihad members in Gaza who have gone so far as to convert to Shi'ism, which is a perfectly jaw-dropping thing for any Palestinian to do, never mind one with a background in Islamic Jihad. Sabireen, which also has a presence on the West Bank, sends condolences to Hezbollah fighters who have been killed fighting against the so-called Islamic State in Syria. At the same time, Hamas tortures Sabireen in Gaza, and Sabireen's founder, Hisham Salim, therefore appears to have taken refuge in Iran, which is now at peace with Saudi Arabia. Watch that space.

Meanwhile, the feared terrorist threat to Britain is once again to be the old favourite. Of course the Police and MI5 know that there might be trouble from Loyalist paramilitaries and from dissident Republicans. There has never been any secret that the Loyalist organisations were off-the-books arms of the British State, while the old IRA was also riddled from top to bottom with Police informants, MI5 assets, and so on, as was the Real IRA, and as at least has been the much older Continuity IRA, which goes back to the split over abstentionism in 1986. The recent documentaries about David Rupert, and about "Robert" by the superlative Peter Taylor, undeniably broke ground, and were a reminder of how good the BBC could be, but they could not have surprised anyone.

And early last month, four Protestants, at least one with known Loyalist paramilitary connections, were arrested in relation to the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, for which the New IRA had already claimed responsibility. There has always been a school of thought that the New IRA was a false flag operation. There has never been any doubt as to the true nature of the likes of the UDA, the UVF, and Ulster Resistance, which provided the then Queen's Government with confidence and supply from 2017 to 2019. Across that ostensible divide, it is all heating up over there just as it is all threatening to heat up, by our standards, over here.

The General Election will not be happening tomorrow. It will be happening late next year. On present trends of remorseless decline since the overthrow of Truss, the Labour lead will have shrunk to hung Parliament territory by then. Actual votes for Labour have collapsed under Keir Starmer, and his personal rating is relentlessly negative. Yvette Cooper has today said that she had not been informed of the advertisements illegally using Rishi Sunak's signature, and in one case clearly conflating "brown man" and "paedophile". She is probably lying, but what matters is that she is saying it. If it is all too much for even for the Wicked Witch of the Work Capability Assessment, who was Shadow Home Secretary at the time of the immigration mug such as I have in front of me as I type, then it really is all too much.

Starmer is always claiming at Prime Minister's Questions that he had prosecuted terrorists, or rapists, or Chris Huhne, or whoever. It is inconceivable that the decision not to charge someone as famous and as well-connected as Jimmy Savile was taken by anyone other than the then Director of Public Prosecutions. In the words of Doughty Street Chambers, on its page about Starmer before it made that page accessible to authorised persons only: "He was Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service from 2008-2013. As DPP, Keir was responsible for all criminal prosecutions in England and Wales." Therefore, Starmer would have been responsible for the decision not to charge Savile even if he had never set eyes on the file. But we are talking about Jimmy Savile here.

That Starmer took the decision not to charge Savile has long been repeated all over the place, far beyond parliamentary privilege. Starmer has yet to sue anyone for having made it. Starmer's "experience" as DPP is held up by his supporters as his qualification to be Prime Minister. Yet now they insist that it was a purely titular headship such as might have been given on an unpaid basis to a minor member of the Royal Family. Or, in his heyday, to Savile. At this point, someone will start shouting about Savile and Thatcher. While that is true, Starmer was made DPP in 2008, by a Labour Government, and Savile was let off in 2009, under a Labour Government.

Starmer was still DPP when the file was destroyed in 2010. By then, Thatcher had been out of office for 20 years. In the words of the Levitt Report: "I have reservations about the way in which the prosecutor reached his decision [not to prosecute Savile in 2009, under a Labour Government]. … On the face of it, the allegations made were both serious and credible; the prosecutor should have recognised this and sought to "build" a prosecution. In particular, there were aspects of what he was told by the police as to the reasons that the victims did not want to give evidence which should have caused him to ask further questions. Instead, he appears to have treated the obstacles as fatal to the prospects of a prosecution taking place." Levitt concluded that, "I have been driven to conclude that had the police and prosecutors taken a different approach a prosecution might have been possible." But the CPS file had been destroyed on 26th October 2010. Under Starmer.

I am not impressed by shrieking about "The Tories! The Tories! The Tories!That would work only if Labour were any better. But if anything, Starmer is even worse than "the Tories", and that is quite a feat. Both on economic policy and on foreign policy, most Labour MPs and all Labour Party staff have been well to the right of "the Tories" for many, many years. I am older than Sunak, and I am older than either Blair or David Cameron was on becoming Prime Minister, yet a Starmer fan has just called me "boy". The Labour Right is getting very tetchy as it realises that it will probably die without ever having seen another overall majority.

When I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in 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. Over and over you're proved right.