We know that Chris Patten is advising David Cameron over the Pope’s visit –
the Spectator interviewed him in that capacity recently. But a number of events this week suggest that
Patten is very close to Cameron. Patten is currently in India, selling Oxford University with Cameron, but he has found time to pen an article about Gaza for the FT. Like Cameron, Patten believes that Gazans are serving an ‘interminable prison sentence’. He writes:
‘Gaza is totally separated from the rest of Palestine. It is cut off by a brutal siege. The objective is collective punishment of the one and a half million people who live there simply
because they have a Hamas administration. Instead of trying to draw Hamas into peace talks, provided they commit themselves to a complete ceasefire we try to isolate them.’
I never heard Cameron use such emotive language about Gaza when he was opposition. And, like Pete, I think it’s unhelpful if not altogether inaccurate. Could
it be that Lord Patten, the President of Medical Aid for Palestinians, is influencing non-papal policy?
I’d say Patten is back. And it will be interesting to see how much of Cameron’s attention he commands. When it comes to the rolling university funding debate, Patten favours an American
funding model, or failing that a tuition fee rise. As they say, watch this space.
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