Jack Lesgrin’s Week: Heads, not troops in the sand

by Jack Lesgrin

Heads, not troops in the sand 

President Biden’s decision to bring all US troops home from Afghanistan by 11 September risks the Taliban once more taking over the government and reverting to their medieval ways. Our concern should of course be for Afghan citizens, whose hard-won rights are now jeopardised. But spare a thought too for the Anti-Intervention Brigade in the West. Their policy of active inaction is normally very difficult to challenge, even when huge losses of life result from no or minimal intervention, as with Rwanda. On the surface, Biden’s move is their dream scenario: Western troops are out, leave it for ‘the people’ of a sovereign country to ‘work it out’, and if goes pear-shaped follow the mantra of a former Labour leader and ‘get everyone around the table.’ Interventionists are often accused of having ‘blood on our hands’, yet those who favour inaction must be reminded repeatedly of the consequences, should they transpire: women’s and girls’ rights traduced, more violence and perhaps international terrorism, hostility to the international community, an end to democracy and possibility a refugee crisis. You can stick your head in the sand, but the problems of the world will, ultimately wash up around you.

Outragitis pandemic

Political Health England (PHE) has identified a dangerous new e-virus that appears to cause inflammation of ‘outrage’. With the R-number already thought to be above one, meaning that one malign idea will be transmitted to more than one other, PHE has issued a national warning and are conducting surge testing within SW1 postcodes, where a particularly aggressive strain is feared to be transmitting. Those with an interest in current affairs are thought to be most at risk, as the e-virus can probably survive for up to 24 hours in tweets and remain infective in op-eds for as long as two weeks. There are thought to be reservoirs of the e-virus within ancient ideologies of the left and right. Political scientists are currently investigating how the e-virus may have jumped from its original source into the mass-market. The leading hypothesis is that it infected a small number of political activists who found that while ultimately self-defeating and deadly, a short-term uptick in support and electoral advantage arises from claims that everything a government does is part of a Machiavellian conspiracy to undermine the public good and weaken democratic institutions. Another hypothesis is that the e-virus may have spread in the UK through the importation of campaign techniques, political practices and narratives endemic in the United States. PHE has asked the public to be alert in the traditional and social media, in cafes and pubs or at the dinner table, for phrases such as “we’re no longer a democracy”, or “…is no longer fit for purpose”, or “…threatens everything we hold dear”, “…is worse than it’s ever been”, or simply “I hate his/her politics/idea”. Political scientists and private sector companies such as newspapers and media outlets are working on a vaccine, although none has been developed in less than a decade during previous outbreaks.

Resist the Trump Disinfectant Doctrine over lobbying

Speaking of outrage going viral, last week the Greensill saga prompted a prime ministerial, lawyer-led inquiry and no fewer than seven (and counting) parliamentary inquiries into various specific and general aspects of lobbying. There probably is a need to tighten the system to prevent undue influence and be able to show that none exists. However, it’s vital that ‘the Trump Disinfectant Doctrine’ is not deployed. Some naïve people would imagine that cleaning up lobbying would be easy. Seeking out transparency, they might be inspired by Trump’s call for “a very powerful light…brought the light inside the body” with all interactions between lobbyists and those in power being declared. But must contact by constituents, charities, or trade unions with councillors, MPs or officials be listed? What mechanism should be used to capture this data and will everyone and every organisation be happy to have their interactions listed in a searchable fashion? These issues are not insurmountable but are far more complicated than they first appear. Some would no doubt like to see lobbying banned outright, which would be an odd state of affairs, since seeking to influence those in power through legitimate means is fundamental to democracy. Trump flirted with tough, blunt options regarding Covid-19 when he suggested the use of disinfectant “by injection inside or almost a cleaning.” This “knocks it out in a minute” he surmised. We laughed back that it did so by killing the subject.

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2 Responses to “Jack Lesgrin’s Week: Heads, not troops in the sand”

  1. John P Reid says:

    So basically after a bad week 40% of the public vote tory no matter what
    35% of the public vote Labour no matter at most
    And the greens can look forward to between 5 -6% and 5% of the public will vote Libdem no matter what and they can can get 4% more of the tory vote when it’s on 44% and The Tories lose 4%
    And SNP average 4.5% , Plaid 0.8% and REFUK get 3%
    So unless REFUK do what BXP did in 2019 not out candidates up in every seat , backing the Tories,
    then there’s no way Labour can win unless they get ex Tories to vote for them and that’s not going to happen in a month of Sunday’s

  2. John P Reid says:

    Even after the Cummings spat
    And decorate the flat story
    Current polls

    Tory 42%. – 1
    Labour 35% +1
    Libdem 8% +1
    Greens 4%. -1

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