Tuesday 23 January 2024

Degraded Capability

Including in the course of a single sentence, Rishi Sunak could not decide whether it was "Houthi" or "Hootie". He then moved directly from the ludicrous assertion that the situation was unconnected to that in Gaza, to discussion of the situation in Gaza. Do the people of Gaza fail to see the connection? Do they welcome the bombing of Yemen? What are both he and Keir Starmer trying to make us believe to be the cause of the Red Sea blockade? How stupid do they think we are?

Those strikes were so successful last time that we have had to launch them again. The victims of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world until the war in Gaza turn out to be a hardy lot. As was the case the first time, last night's "military targets" were whatever scraps of dirt had last had a drone launched from them, a drone that had not killed anyone, unlike our bombs. No British vessel has been attacked in any way. No American one, either; only the Israelis would dare do that, and they do not confine themselves to merchant shipping when they do it.

Yemen is not "a haven" for the Houthis. It is their country, and they will no more leave it than the Taliban left Afghanistan, or the Viet Cong left Vietnam. Nor is Yemen, in part or in whole, "an ungoverned space", which was also claimed about Afghanistan. It is governed by the Houthis. "The Internationally Recognised Government of Yemen" is like the Jacobite Court in Exile, at least after 1746. Even "the Republic of China" rules somewhere. Even some members of those London-based Eastern European governments in exile in the 1980s ended up running their countries in the 1990s; the last Tsar of Bulgaria was later its Prime Minister. But Rashad al-Alimi, who is no good guy, and his Presidential Leadership Council, which resembles the Provisional Army Council both in its conception of itself and in its methods for giving effect to that, are a bunch of vicious fantasists, yet fantasists all the same. We have no reason to prefer them to the Houthis, any more than vice versa, and whatever it is that the Houthis are doing, not to us, would end when the genocide of Gaza ended.

Thankfully, there has not been a Commons vote, because as Ed Davey, of all people, has just confirmed, there would have been, and there would be, a huge majority for this madness, as there was for Libya, and as there was for Iraq, even though in that case it was provided by the Opposition. There would be no need of that this time, as there was none on Libya. Yet as on Libya, it would still be given gladly. The Commons endorsement of the war in Libya is why David Cameron is still in public life after that absolute folly, while the Commons endorsement of the war in Iraq is why Tony Blair is still at liberty after that absolute falsehood. Both principles would apply here, and this time the SNP is as bad as the Liberal Democrats.

But 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. The best Foreign Secretary we'll never have.

    1. Such are both Saint Helena and Lowland Scotland that I must have an English ancestor somewhere along the line, but I can say no more than that. Yet one of Jeremy Corbyn's keenest supporters once told me that, "When I'm Prime Minister, I want you as Foreign Secretary, because you're the international idea of an Englishman." "You would have to find me a seat," I played along. In deadly earnest, the reply came back that, "There are two Houses of Parliament."