Downing Street would love nothing more than for the public to write off Andrew Mitchell’s elitist rant as a minor spat that ultimately doesn’t matter to the country.  Prime Minister Cameron has tried to put the issue to rest, saying Mr Mitchell’s apologies have been accepted and the police have no desire to pursue the matter further.

When framed as an altercation between public servants who’ve since settled their differences, it seems sensible to declare “Plebgate” officially closed. The problem is Andrew Mitchell is no ordinary public servant.  As Tory Chief Whip he is an enormously powerful elected official who speaks with the voice of the Prime Minister.

I can’t help but imagine Mitchell channelling Mr Cameron as I read excerpts from the official police log of the incident.

‘Best you learn your f_______ place . . . you don’t run this f______ government . . . you’re f______ plebs.’”

Even if these quotes are not entirely accurate, (and Mitchell’s slippery denial that he did not use the ‘words attributed’ to him leaves wide open the possibility that he did in fact call the police officers plebs), they betray the mind-set of a ruling party which sees itself as vastly superior to ordinary working people.

Putting plebs in their place has been at the heart of the Conservative agenda since they took power.  Rather than crack down on tax avoidance by corporations and wealthy individuals—a policy which could generate a staggering £95 billion in savings—Government has doggedly pursued spending and welfare cuts which have hit the poor hardest and sorely undermined our economic recovery.  Instead of securing our global competitiveness by easing access to higher education, the Tories have priced university beyond the reach of bright students from modest backgrounds who fear taking on a crushing debt burden.

Economically, these policies don’t add up.  But if you’re trying to re-engineer society to alter the balance of power in favour of a narrow slice of privately educated, privileged elites, then they make perfect sense.

Whether Mr Mitchell resigns is immaterial.  Even before he threw his teddy in the corner, most people stopped believing the Tories were working for the good of us all. As long as they hold power, they will continue to implement policies that make them and their mates richer and the rest of us poorer.

Then again, what do I know?  I’m just a f______  pleb.


The government was scrambling to save face this morning after getting blindsided by ISAF’s decision to severely restrict joint operations between NATO forces and Afghan Army and Police.  By the time Defence Secretary Philip Hammond appeared before Parliament to explain himself, he had donned his denial armour, claiming that Britain’s military operations in Afghanistan would be “substantially unchanged” by ISAF’s new policy.  He even went so far as to say he has “every confidence” in Britain’s strategy to train Afghan security forces to take over when Britain ends major combat operations in 2014.

How is that possible when this year alone more than 50 NATO soldiers including 9 Brits have been killed by Afghans they were tasked with training and mentoring? And those are the deaths we’ve heard about.  So called “rogue Afghan” security forces (AKA Taliban infiltrators) are also turning their weapons on well-intentioned Afghan Army and Police recruits as well as private security contractors working for the coalition—deaths that are all swept under the rug.

So why is Hammond refusing to acknowledge reality?  I can only conclude that the Government is placing its ego above the lives of our brave troops serving in Afghanistan.  It’s despicable. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Thankfully, there was an MP in the Commons today who had the guts to call Hammond out.  Labour MP Paul Flynn accused the Defence Secretary of being a liar and blasted the Government for using our soldiers as “human shields” to protect ministers’ reputations.  I couldn’t agree more.

Paul Flynn was expelled for his trouble, but that won’t silence the truth. The Government’s Afghan policy has been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the public. Few people buy the excuse anymore that we’re there to protect Britain against terrorism or that the mission will produce a more stable country.   Afghanistan was in civil war long before we committed troops to the conflict and it will continue long after we’ve withdrawn them.   There is no justification for forcing our soldiers to pick up the tab for a policy that is doomed to failure.  Bring our troops home now. Ministers’ reputations be damned.


I’m not surprised that a film trailer which insults the Prophet Mohammed is being blamed for an assault on the US consulate in Benghazi which reportedly killed the US ambassador to Libya.  When viewed through the prism of religious fanaticism, the deadly attack appears to be just another knee-jerk, emotional reaction to a slight against Islam.

If only it were that simple.

While the film is undoubtedly being exploited by religious opportunists to win popular support, it is NOT the spark that ignited the firestorm against western interests in Libya.  If it was, a frenzied mob would have stormed the US consulate, not a well- trained, well-equipped militia.  This attack was lucid and well planned—most likely in advance.  Executing it during a wave of popular fury over a film trailer was merely good PR.  Moreover, this was not the first time western diplomats in Libya have been targeted by extremists.  Back in June, the British Ambassador to the country narrowly escaped with his life when his convoy was rocketed approximately three hundred meters from the gates of the consulate in Benghazi.  A week before that, a bomb was lobbed at the US mission in the city.

Peel back the veil of religious indignation and the true motive of these assaults is all too clear. Islamic extremists in Libya want power and having lost out at the ballot box, their only recourse now is to seize it forcibly from the western-backed government in Tripoli. Continue reading


Only the most diehard ostrich believes official pronouncements on Afghanistan anymore.  The latest fiction in this endless, senseless, victor-less war involves the vetting of Afghan local police recruits. Following a spate of “green on blue” incidents (NATO’s sanitized shorthand for Afghan security forces gunning down or blowing up their ISAF mentors), General Adrian Bradshaw, the British deputy commander of ISAF, announced that the training of around a thousand Afghan Local police recruits had been suspended to allow for re-vetting.

The idea that Afghan recruits can be effectively vetted is ludicrous.  Putting aside the logistical challenges of deploying NATO staff to remote, often hostile villages to perform background checks, the lack of official records, the nation’s sky-high illiteracy rate, and the basic distrust of Afghans toward westerners in general, the fact is, the central government will never top the Afghan hierarchy of loyalties.  After thirty plus years of civil war, Afghans have learned how to prioritize their allegiances in order to survive.  Family comes first, then tribe.  Beyond that, nothing matters.   Continue reading