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Pete Lawrence - 16 Mar 2018


If Corbyn can't be had for being a Czech spy, then surely the Russian route could be more fertile.

Once more politics is entering another silly season with all the furore surrounding the Salisbury nerve agent and its wider implications – how it will all impact on our own security, on the spread of nerve warfare, on the starting of a new Cold War and how that might play out, on our relationship with Europe (impacting on Brexit no doubt) and, without fail, every nuance of Jeremy Corbyn’s words from the opposition benches and whether or not he’s a traitor to our country by not unequivocally condemning the attack as a certainly Russian. It’s a welcome distraction from the Brexit circus, though arguably not the ‘smokescreen’ that one Question Time viewer suggested.

As ever, there could be a variety of reasons and motivates for this attack and the effects of its timing, immediately pre-Russian election and while the country prepares for the World Cup. With May seemingly keen to rush into another Cold War, the cautionary approach of Jeremy Corbyn would seem to be more balanced and less knee-jerk. Reading his Guardian article yesterday at least restored a sense of rationality whilst all around his circle seems to flounder. This man has been proved right by history before.

The rhetoric says it all. Compare and contrast Corbyn's with what Tory Defence could muster:

"Britain needs to uphold its laws and its values without reservation. And those should be allied to a foreign policy that uses every opportunity to reduce tensions and conflict wherever possible."


"Russia should go away & shut up".

The latter remark - by a UK Defence Secretary non-entity who no one had heard of until a few weeks ago but is now being tipped as a future Tory leader, was described by a friend of mine on a blue social network as “Possibly the funniest "threat" of the day... It's as if Dick Emery has been exhumed and given a job in defence.”

It does feel as if clowntime is just warming up, getting into its stride. Listening to Andrew Neil (This Week, BBC 1) treading a thin line between supposedly humourous parody and political comment was embarrassing and excruciating last night, with multiple attempts to discredit Corbyn again by tying in his history of failing to distance himself from Russia, with Michael Portillo also reinforcing the “enemy of the west” narrative applied to the Labour leader. Similarly Evan Davis on Newsnight earlier in the week. If he can't be had for being a Czech spy, then surely the Russian route could be more fertile, hence the insidious and cynical attempt to Russianise Mr Corbyn in the Newsnight studio backdrop and the denied photoshopping of a two year old photo. 

@Ralph Pettingill talks on Campfire this week about the importance of perspective. Without doubt, this political crisis is a classic example of perspective being needed, sage wisdom being required. But then we are reminded who is leading the western world and somehow that reality check immediately becomes surreal, the perspective bent out of shape. Whatever set of circumstances conspired to give us our current political scenario, it’s certainly a gripping, if unnerving roller-coaster ride to watch. We used to watch politics from afar, but now, with the immediacy of social media (and a President who seems hellbent on randomly announcing policy via his twilight Tweets) the ramifications are all too close for comfort.

Which is why wisdom and perspective can't be valued enough.





Tom Freemantle

The right wing narrative is Russia is the enemy, Corbyn is siding with the East, Corbyn is a spy, blah blah blah.

But at the same time it appears the government is approving nuclear weapon materials (amongst other arms) for export to Russia?

Double standards - mad world!


Ralph Pettingill

Yes... and it leads me on to ideas of leadership. I have to admit that I felt very uncomfortable when I first heard Jeremy Corbyn speak. I knew this would count against him, I felt I needed 'strong and stable leadership' at this disturbing, ominous time of insecurity and attack. And now I've had time for my feelings and thoughts to settle. To be in the role of 'leader' or 'facilitator', brings a whole set of demands. Where our leaders are in that role through consensus and agreement of those people being lead, we want the leader to have in mind our long term and immediate needs. We need them to think about the big picture, to be steady and trustworthy, not given to emotive spasms. Leaders need to say communicate uncomfortable truths, to not simplify more than is possible. I think a leader needs to communicate well, to be engaging, but not pander to us. I think J Corbyn comes across much better when speaking directly to a group and in thoughtful interviews, he's not always a polished orator. However, he does have principles and is prepared to face uncomfortable truths, even if he gets shouted down. He has integrity. These thoughts connect to your blog on Community @Pete Lawrence . One thing I want in community is to have a workable understanding of what leadership means; not a populist crowd pleaser. I want our communities to encourage all of us to take initiative, to be collaborative. That also means not leaving a person in a leadership role to flounder on their own, and it means a culture of backing one another, not nit picking or leaving anyone to 'crash and burn' when things get tough.


Sharon Prendergast

Totally agree with you @Pete Lawrence .... I do not know who attacked people on our streets and I do not know who killed the Russian businessman in London. I do not know if these events are linked. The police do not yet know.

I'm absolutely not a conspiracy theorist but I do think we should have evidence before we act. Further threat is not, as far as anyone knows, imminent so there is no legitimate aim in doing 'something.....anything.....' quickly. A considered, evidence based approach is more appropriate and probably would be more effective.

Of course and effectiveness are irrelevant.

The PM is, as many have done before, capitalising on the situation in a cynical and foolhardy way to bolster public support at a time when the party are falling so far behind in the polls and fighting like rats in a sack over Brexit.

And we all see through it.

@Ralph Pettingill I totally agree with your assessment of leadership quality. This is the style of leadership I want, too


Jeremy Pearce

The Beast from the East was the trailer and now we've got Russian grasses being bumped off in Italian Chain restaurant s next door to a massive mod training area . Anyone would think the way the Right wing free propaganda rags have been ranting that Portland down would have never heard of the nerve agent let alone have a massive stash of it !Curiouser and Curiouser?and .what are the Tory's going to do wave a cricket bat at those pesky Russkies whilst pocketing all that bent Russian cash Really Reds under the bed and their cash under the mattress ?I reckon for anyone who actually thinks out of the jingoistic manipulative box Mr Corbyn s statement on the issue is the one to respect This government s so rotten it stinks


Jeremy Pearce

The Full blown Character assassination of Corbyn goes into the final offensive .We have the jingoism and the populist finger pointing from the incompetent elitist post Brexit right wing Coup whos obsession with withholding freedom of information and spying on the entire population is getting as paranoid as Stalin .We have had laws past almost daily to implement the control. Its like watching the Nazis implementing the emergency act but in slow motion .In some kind of freeze frame and then these are the same people who have been paying the Chinese to build nuclear power stations with bent back handerson UK soil .So what ever your views are just remember everything happens for a reason .like terror attacks before general elections perhaps ?

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