20 December 2006

The slough of despond

It is almost impossible to keep track of the mendacity of this government. Here are but a few examples:

From Martin Bell in Cif (here):
The Prime Minister said "There isn't a change of policy. Don't be under any doubt at all. British troops will remain until the job is done." This was simply untrue. Plans are being made to withdraw from the three main bases in Basra and from the logistics base at Shaibah, parts of which are already being dismantled.
Three of the battlegroups leaving in the spring will not be replaced. The remainder will be concentrated round Basra Air Station and will be drawn down as quickly as possible. By early summer, under almost any conceivable circumstances, the British will have handed over such control as they have to the Iraqis. Then it will be time to declare victory - or at least avoid defeat - and leave the field. The conditions for "success" are being redefined, and will certainly be much less than we went to war for.

From Jackie Ashley, also in Cif (here):
Using increasingly apocalyptic language, Blair talks of a "monumental struggle going on worldwide between those who believe in democracy and modernisation and the forces of reaction and extremism". For Mr Tony, speaking in Dubai yesterday, it is simply a matter of us and them: "Us is all those who believe in tolerance, respect for others and liberty. We must mobilise our alliance of moderation in this region and outside it to defeat the extremists."
How conveniently clear. How black and white. What an easy contrast. Yet this is the same Mr Tony who only a month ago was urging a dialogue with Syria and Iran upon an unwilling George Bush. This is the same Mr Tony who earlier this week insisted that solving the Israel-Palestine issue was the only way to defeat extremism.

From Mr Eugenides, in a splendid diatribe (here):
We are enraged because there’s not a soul, even in the Labour Party, who wouldn’t admit, privately, that John Prescott is sitting twiddling his thumbs – or diddling his typist – at taxpayers’ expense; and there’s not an employer in the land, private or public, who would react to allegations of misuse of government funds and property – and serial sexual harassment – by taking the papers out of his intray but leaving him with his salary, pension, perks, and office intact. And yet, such is the contempt with which we are treated, that this is exactly what has happened. Such is the volume and frequency of these stories now, such is the weight of evidence of the corruption and sleaze that has taken root, that we are reduced to shaking our heads mournfully, or snorting in derision, depending on our point of view and blood pressure on the day.

And finally from Adam Boulton of SkyNews (here) in a story that would be funny if it were not so dispiriting:
It was reported this morning that Mustaf Jamma, a key suspect in the killing of PC Sharon Beshenivsky, may have fled the country (using another passport) whilst wearing an Islamic veil. The suggestion was that checks on departure were not as stringent as one would hope.
So my first phone call was to West Yorkshire Police (PC Beshenivsky's constabulary). They refused to speculate on how Jamma may have left the country... on the record at least. The newspapers this morning cited "police sources".
Next, the Home Office; immigration controls come within John Reid's remit:
"Nothing to do with us", they said. "Embarkation controls haven't been in place since the late nineties. This is an airport security issue. Speak to BAA" [the company which controls Britain's airports].
...So next I make contact with a very harassed-sounding press officer at the BAA. He isn't very happy with the Home Office - to put it mildly:
"This isn't anything to do with us. It is the responsibility of airlines to check the identity of passengers travelling on their aircraft. This happens at two separate stages: at check-in and at the departure gate".
Back in the warm, it seems the Home Office have revised their position:
"It's a myth that there are no embarkation controls. Checks are carried out on an intelligence-led basis. In November alone there were 745 immigration offenders detected leaving Heathrow."

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