Coffee House

Is the real love affair between Fat Pang and Dave?

29 July 2010

6:30 PM

29 July 2010

6:30 PM

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.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Nicholas

    “But the lease on the New Territories was shortly due to come to an end, so I really do not see what else we could have done.”

    Yes, but the island of Victoria and the Kowloon Penisula were ceded to Britain in perpetuity. The Chinese had stated they did not recognise the legality of either treaty but they were able to have it both ways, making an issue of the date on a treaty they claimed not to recognise but ignoring the conditions of the earlier treaty. Britain, of course, went along with this inconsistent charade in its usual spineless way.

    If the 1997 New Territories treaty date was to be honoured then so should the earlier treaty have been. If the treaties were to be considered non-binding then 1997 should not have been an issue to begin with. The logic could and should have been robustly presented to the Chinese with a take it or leave it. But the British jumped at the chance to divest themselves of a potential problem and sold Hong Kong down the river. Patten presided over this shameful sell-out and, as other posters have pointed out, he also presided over the shameful sell-out of Northern Ireland policing to the enemies of the Crown.

    But at the end of the day Britain did not deserve Hong Kong. The United States and other countries made more commercial capital out of it than the British ever did. If India was the jewel in the Crown then Hong Kong was the gemstone in the tiara that they forgot was even there. In a long line of dud, red governors since the war, Patten was the last – and a fitting non-entity to stand in the rain and pretend to a dignity shredded by the reality of the sell-out. I expect there were quite a few Imperial corpses with backbones tossing and turning in their graves that night.

    What a place. And to be meekly handed over to a foul regime that was over a hundred years its junior.

  • MartinW

    Oh, no! Not Patten. Him! It daily gets worse, and is now clear the yellow-pinks now have total hegemony in our Party, and there is little hope left.

  • Commentator

    Patten’s role in Northern Ireland seemed to consist of reforming the police force so that it met the requirements of Sinn Fein. That has nothing to do with a police force which inspires confidence in both communities. When in cabinet in the late eighties, he totally failed (as Lawson points out in his memoirs) to support Lawson in resisting the poll tax. His support for joining the Euro is longstanding even though membership would have been a disaster. All told, a pretty unimpressive record of poor judgment calls and cowardice. It is a complete mystery to me why this man is taken at all seriously.

  • Snowman

    Liberty @ 10.19:

    U a star, totally agree, sadly it’s wasted on the deep thinkers of the ndm ilk.

    what cuts it for me is simplicity itself, the rest’s just noise. Israel’s a democracy of the Churchillian sort with all the boils and shortcomings that every democracy suffers from (just look at us), but democracy nevertheless. The ballot box ultimately decides who governs, and if the great unwashed like not what they see they eventually get rid of those who serve them badly, and even punish them in the Law courts.

    on the other side we have a bunch of puffed up dictators, funded by the foreign pseudo-liberal mafia, who won the majority of the vote on the same basis as the former Bolshevik thugs of the Red Menace phylum won theirs. The people of Gaza and the West Bank had a choice of two; one party that wanted to kill all the Jews immediately, and another one that would have been content if the Jews got slaughtered next week.

    Surely, there must be Palestinians, who want a genuine peace between the two tribes. People such as those in Israel who elected few members of their own to the Knesset. I know there are because I know some and they whisper to me that the hindrance to any settlement is but one – Hamas, the thugs who cannot even make peace with their brothers few miles away.

  • HFC

    And Tony Blair’s role is..?

  • Mycroft

    But the lease on the New Territories was shortly due to come to an end, so I really do not see what else we could have done.

  • Nicholas

    “Apparently some people seem to think that he was personally to blame for handing over Hong Kong to the Chinese! In fact he was just a government servant, and for all kinds of reasons the handover was unavoidable.”

    That would be me. But I don’t think he was personally to blame, just the one who presided over the disgrace as the representative of HM Government. Actually I think he was well suited for that act of cowardly abandonment and folly.

    Unavoidable? Yes, maybe for a country that has lost its backbone and has a track record for getting rid of assets in unseemly haste. Personally, I will never forget or forgive it, whatever the justification/excuse/so-called inevitability, etc.

  • Mycroft

    What a lot of bile about Patten! He was ‘rejected by the electorate’: i.e. he lost his seat when his party was losing popularity. He was appointed to ‘sinecures’: i.e. as an ex-minister, he was appointed to highly responsible and demanding jobs, anything but sinecures. He ‘has a long ignoble record of selling out his country to foreign interests’. Apparently some people seem to think that he was personally to blame for handing over Hong Kong to the Chinese! In fact he was just a government servant, and for all kinds of reasons the handover was unavoidable; and the aspect his Governorship that has attracted most attention, moreover, and also most criticism, were his effort to stand up for the interests of the people of Hong Kong against Beijing. He is admittedly much more pro-EU than I am, but that is not exactly a sign that someone is a traitor; and the police force in NI needed drastic reform if it was to be acceptable to both communities under the changed circumstances. As for him being an ‘upper class snob’, I suppose one just has put up with this kind of nonsense from the sort of people who are always going on in that way about Cameron (whom I do not see as being a disciplle of his).

  • Commentator

    I think we can safely conclude that Patten’s post-1992 career has been both lacklustre and well-paid. “Wants sinecure will travel” seems to sum it up quite well.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Firstly, In2minds has it exactly right about Egypt. It took the BBC 2 years of reporting about Gaza after Hamas took over for them to even admit that there was a border with Egypt. The Speccie is very nearly just as guilty of this sin of omission.

    But what is this utterly childish nonsense about “collective punishment”? Were we not supposed to use military force during WWII once the war moved into German territory because that would collectively punish the German people? I seem to remember plenty of people harrumphing that 9/11 was an understandable killing of US civilians because of anger against US government foreign policy. And now top government officials are publicly espousing this insane concept?

    What a load of crap.

  • Mycroft

    ciyca: ‘Slung out by his constituency, Patten was given a sinecure in Hong Kong’: so being Governor of Hong Kong, and at the time of the handover, was a sinecure? Perhaps you should invest in a dictionary.

  • Ricky

    I totally agree with steveal. Patten is one of those upper class snobs that favour patronising, ill informed emotive causes.

    Rejected by the British electorate and laughed at by the Chinese, this failed politician speaks for no one but Fatty Pang himself. Like the Kinnocks, self enrichhment and crassness go together.

    How about giving up some of your massive personal wealth so that you can shop till your drop in Gaza’s well stocked malls and markets, Pang in the Neck?

  • Tiberius

    If you are growing tired, Trevors Den, what hope is there for the rest of us who shake our head at some of the stuff appearing on here of late.

  • Nicholas

    He presided in the handover of a successful city state, that had developed a unique identity for longer than Israel, to a repressive, totalitarian Communist regime. This was done on the paper thin basis of a treaty which applied to only a part of the territory and which the Chinese did not recognise the legality of anyway.

  • Minnie Ovens

    July 29th, 2010

    Well now, that does surprise me strapworld. Perhaps all is not lost. A good post and, as you state, about one of the vaguer areas of the EC. Mind you, when you are talking about Patton, sorry Patten, we are getting into large faux intellectual egos.
    Nell Turner, thank you for common sense facts to rebut the chauvinistic bombast of ndn, a person not known for pragmacy, rather like his friends in Hamas.


    ‘Gaza is totally separated from the rest of Palestine. It is cut off by a brutal siege.’

    Just the Israeli Way of hugging the Pastinians to their fraternal breasts.

  • strapworld

    Andre. You poor poor man. Go elsewhere then!

    Adro? CP trained then are we?

  • Vulture

    Patten is a traditionalist Tory in the Lord Halifax, RAB Butler appeasement tradition. And Dave is his willing pupil.

    Their deepest instincts – particularly marked in the FO – are anti-Semitic and Arabist.

    Patten has a long, ignoble record of selling out his country to foreign interests – the EU, China, Northern Ireland. His whole mindset is anti-British and he’s an arrogant prick into the bargain.

  • Andre

    Trevors Den I grow tired of all the crassness and stupidity ‘articulated’ on these boards – its bad enough
    Try not to add to it

  • Neil Turner

    Liberty 10.19

    Very well said. Amen. I agree.

  • Commentator

    None of this is news. I thought that Tony’s Tethered Tory, Patten, has been in Cameron’s inner circle for ages.

    It can hardly be a surprise that Patten is now acting effectively as an apologist for Hamas. He did the same sort of job for Sinn Fein. The Israelies know that you have a greater chance of finding a spine in a jellyfish than in Chris Patten.

  • Widmerpool

    Agreed Backburn should take a long hoiday!

    Maybe Torquay might suit his “little Englander’ outlook on the Coalition!

    Patten helped Major win a seemingly hopeless election, in hindsight he did a great job in standing up to the Chinese in HK

    UK plc needs every pound we can get from the “Johnnie Foreigners” and higher education can benefit from the great demand in India and China for such.

    David Blackburn
    Enjoy Torquay with its faded Victorian greatness I hope it will help you realise we are now a third rate nearly bankrupt world power and whilst Dave may not get everything right his run rate so far in India is not bad

  • Augustus

    ndm talks, as usual, utter rubbish. Chris Patten’s view is neither reasonable or balanced because after 62 years Israel is still fighting for its survival. Punished with missiles raining down from north and south, threatened with destruction from Iran, and pressed upon by friend and foe it never gets a moment’s peace. The real threat
    to the whole ME region is extreme Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfillment of a religious destiny, and simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both these phenomena are threats that not only affect Israel, but the whole world as well. Chaos is certainly set to erupt in a big way in the ME, it is only a matter of time. Israel is our first line of defence and must be protected at all costs.

  • cityca

    It figures. Cameron, a man with no principles being led by Patten, a man who has been a long time enemy of Israel and a friend to the Palestinians and who long ago, refused to rebuke Arafat over the way EU money was misspent on printing fervently anti-Semitic text books for Palestinian school children.

    Slung out by his constituency, Patten was given a sinecure in Hong Kong and having managed to mortally offend the Chinese, became an EU commissioner, the resting place of the useless which is why Kinnock landed there too.

    As steaval wrote, Patten is the very definition of the unelected person who cannot be got rid of. He is a part of the reason why politics and politicians are held in such low esteem and why so few turn up to vote.

    That Cameron has brought Patten in as advisor shows the paucity of his judgement and of talent available to him.

  • Nash

    If I was Jewish and had no uncles, grandparents or coustins because of the Nazis I am sure I would act like the Israelis. However, it is in Israel’s interest to create a harmonious framework with the Palestinians while there is still time.

    What Cameron said is more loving to Israel and Israelis than those who “encourage” Israel to continue their current policies – which will cause nothing but trouble for current Israelis and their children and grandchildren.

  • Old China Hand

    One possible clue to the Patten/Cameron relationship is Cameron chief of staff Ed Llewellyn. Ed was one of Patten’s imported senior hatchet men, who accompanied him to Hong Kong when he took on the role of Governor in 1992. The other was Martin Dinham-not sure what happened to him.


    Strapworld, doesn’t the fact that neither the house mag nor this blog ever even so mentions Common Purpose perhaps tell us us something about the editor and the editorial policy.

  • Kirsty Richards

    There is no way Cameron would’ve won the Tory leadership had he been honest and told Tory members he was a Chris Patten Conservative. We have been had. The sooner the Tories grow a backbone and get rid of Cameron as the leader and get back to being a proper centre right party the better. Cameron is more a Liberal Democrat than he has ever been a Tory. That the odious Patten, who along with Ken Clarke ruined the Major government is back influencing is very very depressing for Conservatives.

  • steveal

    Patten. The very definition of the unelected person you cannot get rid of.
    Vote him out at an election and he goes on to further riches without breaking sweat.
    He’s lived on the taxpayer all his career, and here he is running the show again.
    A sort of albino Mandelson.

  • Verityred

    Give it a rest Blackburn, Cameron was right on the money about Gaza. You are beginning to sound like the bug eyed right wing loons and the odd undercover Labour troll that post on here.

  • Liberty

    Hamas has got away with pinning the blame for the suffering of the Gazans on Israel for far too long. In 2005 Israel removed over ten thousand of her own citizens from the Gaza Strip – some forcibly. They left greenhouses, factories and infrastructure fully operational with which they had produced fruit, vegetables and flowers for the European and other markets earning tens of millions of euros. This, plus fantastic beaches and climate, offers of large donations and investment not least by American Jews and the offer of help from Israeli exporters would have provided a marvellous income to maintain a high standard of living.

    So what did Hamas and the PA do? They encouraged the smashing of the residential, industrial and agricultural facilities on the grounds that it was Jewish, selling it at a fraction of its value as scrap and loved the irony of using the tubing to create many thousands of rockets to fire at Israeli cities. Many Gazans who had taken on the greenhouses wept at the vandalism. Hamas even rocketed their only source of power which is the power station at Ashkelon, the crossing to Israel and shoots at lorry drivers bringing goods from Israel, puts bombs on patients seeking treatment to kill a few doctors.
    Hamas’ aims are to destroy Israel and kill all Jews before turning on the West. Their theft of aid, brutalisation of the Gazan population, destruction of capital and direction of all resources to military infrastructure built in and near the civilian infrastructure are to cause maximum civilian casualties if Israel were to defend itself. Israel recently showed film of Hezbollah’s rockets, arms dumps and command centres in the centre of Lebanese villages to the UN but this is ignored by the world’s media. The use of human shields is illegal and the defenders responsible for their deaths but this is ignored when Hamas, Hezbollah or other Islamist terrorists are guilty.
    When Israel was confronted by armed terrorists hidden amongst civilians on boats posing as an aid convoy [it had a fraction of what Israel sends daily into Gaza] it was impossible for Israeli soldiers to evaluate the level of threat forcing them to shoot. The world’s media described the event with headlines of ‘Israel kills seven’ and such like, again ignoring the fact that those killed were armed and hiding behind civilians and it was a miracle that Israeli soldiers were able to pick them out as no doubt the intention was to get a few women a children shot. Some useful idiots really did take their children.
    If Gaza is a prison, it is one made by Hamas. They get away with it because the world’s media blames everything on Israel. If the Israelis are tired of this, shut them out and protect their citizens, it is the least they can do. If Hamas entered the real world and at the very least used the billions they get in aid to protect the Gazans Israel would help in every way they could.

  • Adro


    Tinfoil hat mentalist alert!

  • Victor Southern

    I have struggled to recall what Patten ever did that I should like him or applaud his policies. I have failed to do that and I have to say that I really do not like him.

  • HampsteadOwl

    It’s difficult to know whether this article is just sloppy journalism or deliberately mendacious.

    “A number of event this week suggest Patten is very close to Cameron”. Such as what exactly? So he is in India with the prime minister selling Oxford University. As are many other people at the head of the business or other interests they represent, as part of the prime minister’s trade delegation. What else? Er, that’s it apparently.

    Then we have Patten – whose allegiance is abundantly clear as president of the Medical Aid for Palestinians charity – talking about Gaza and because he uses the same prison analogy as Cameron we are somehow invited to believe that they are working in cahoots.

    Patten goes way further than Cameron in accusing the Israelis of “collective punishment” in Gaza. He’s perfectly entitled to that view, even if, like me, you don’t agree with it, and David Blackburn has no business trying to make us think that it also reflects Cameron’s own position by writing immediately after the Patten quote that “I never heard Cameron use such emotive language about Gaza when he was opposition (sic)”. Well he hasn’t accused the Israelis of collective punishment since becoming prime minister either: he did talk about a prison camp but not in a context that was specifically blaming the Israelis for the situation. In other words, what Cameron and Patten are saying here is quite different and there is no evidence presented that either’s opinion influences the other.

    As to the basic point that Cameron invited Patten to act for the Government in regard to the Pope’s visit, big deal. That seems like a perfectly logical and good choice and the Spectator should be pleased if its journalism precipitated that outcome. There is nothing here to suggest Patten’s influence extending any further than the limited brief of the Papal visit (though I don’t doubt that Cameron does talk to Patten from time to time about other things) and it is the opposite type of journalism here to try to pretend otherwise.

  • strapworld

    I did notice when Cameron was being interviewed, in India, he stood before a banner proclaiming COMMON PURPOSE with its website address.

    Maude is CP trained. Cameron has long been suspected of being trained. Patton also!

    Mr Blackburn. Here is your chance. Nobody writes about it. Nobody warns the people of this EU financed organisation, classed as a charity. It is known many editors are CP trained.

    Let this blog and the Spectator lift the lid on this worrying, anti democratic organisation.

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Ahhh the fat pangs of love….

  • TrevorsDen

    Andre – there was nothing in the Conservative manifesto to suggest it was going to side whole heartedly with israel. And Obama (who is the one with clout) is hardly falling over himself to stick up for israel either.

    So talk sense, like a number of people on here you are just setting up and Aunt Sally to knock down.

    In fact the Conservative manifesto says
    ‘a Conservative government’s approach to foreign affairs will be based on liberal Conservative principles.’ — So Andre if you did not know that you are plain ignorant.

    Note its top bullet point was
    ‘work to establish a new special relationship with India, the world’s largest democracy’
    So its quickly actually fulfilling its promises.

    It says little about the middle east (wisely)
    ‘support a two-state solution to the middle east Peace Process’

    So your outburst is pretty thinly based. Indeed in March 2010 Hague said things like,
    ‘its recent announcement of a new project in East Jerusalem during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden was not a great way to advance diplomatic relations.’
    ‘There are things that we’re asking of Israel such as the freeze on settlement expansion’
    ‘I was one of the critics of the Lebanon war in 2006 as I doubted it would leave Israel in a stronger position’
    ‘Much as we want to see Israel succeed, if we think its actions are inconsistent with its own long-term security and long-term peace in the region then of course we owe it to Israel, as well as to everyone else, to say so’.

    Oh and Cameron is not articulating surrender in Afghanistan – what you need to articulate is how many dead you consider the conflict is worth. What is being articulated is a clear war aim. Something which is long overdue.

    I grow tired of all the crassness and stupidity ‘articulated’ on these boards – its bad enough coming from the journalists !!


    Andre, let’s just say you were deluded by misplaced wishful thinking.

    What a wonderful, One Nation Social Democrat Administration Dave has fashioned. Small wonder that Patten so instinctively fits in.

  • Greg

    Your article makes sense. Patten has been a long-time Israel-basher. When he was at the EU he was very supportive of donations to the PLO (that if I recall correctly ended up being used to fund suicide bombers rather than just the intended causes). It’s certainly bad news for the Tories if they are taking any kind of direction from this has-been.

  • Naomi Muse

    Patten is definitely back.

    As legitimately elected governments are meant to be respected by other governments it seems to be hypocracy not to recognise the Hammas government as legitimate and treat it as such.

    As the Israeli wall takes up 9.4% of the land in Gaza, is that not a land grab in itself?

    These questions just show how complicated things are over there and just how intolerant and unreasonable people can be.

    Maybe Chris Patten can do some good – maybe not.

  • Michael

    Patten??? I really do hope not. I want to see a Conservative government.

  • In2minds

    Gaza, Israel and such like, Egypt never gets a mention does it, why?

  • Neil Turner

    “Gaza is totally separated from the rest of Palestine” – there never has been nor is now a country called Palestine. By the way, Egypt has sealed its border to Gaza (no mention of this ?)

    “It is cut off by a brutal siege” – Israel exited Gaza over 3 years ago. The people of Gaza democratically elected a government, Hamas, sworn to the destruction of Israel and the death of every Jew. Gaza is in fact cut off by an Arab boycott. Arabs choose to perpetuate these so-called “refugees” because it suits their aims to embarrass Israel

    “The objective is collective punishment of the one and a half million people who live there simply because they have a Hamas administration. ” – why then does Israel facilitate aid, supplies and medical assistance into Gaza ? Why therefore does Gaza possess elaborate and well-supplied shopping malls ?

    “Instead of trying to draw Hamas into peace talks, provided they commit themselves to a complete ceasefire we try to isolate them.” – Hamas, on a daily basis, tries to kill Israelis with rockets, mortar fire, and kidnappings

    My only question: whay are our politicians so stupid ?

  • ajs

    Silly, even by your standards, Mr. Blackburn.
    Take a holiday..say, 3 months.

  • adrian drummond

    ‘And, like Pete, I think it’s unhelpful…’

    Personally, I think bringing a dose of reality to the situation is very helpful.

  • Andre

    What the hell is happening to the Conservative Party? I voted for it because I thought it would line up with the Israelis against the threat of radical Islamic terrorism – Hammas, Hizbolla, Iran, etc. Instead Cameron articulates surrender in Afghanistan, wants Erdogan’s increasingly Islamic Turkey in the EU and is going to slash spending on the military. Tell me I’ll wake up soon.

  • ndm

    David Blackburn writes:

    — And, like Pete, I think it’s unhelpful if not altogether inaccurate.

    What I find unhelpful is our four decades appeasement of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people. It is this appeasement that has enabled the Israeli settlement of the Occupied Palestinian Territories in a canonical violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is this appeasement that has enabled the Israeli killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians over the years and the immiseration of millions of Palestinians.

    This appeasement is predicated on racism that Israelis are us and the Palestinians are them.

    This is the oldest prejudice. We aid it when we declare the truth to be unhelpful. The truth is the truth and we should never be afraid of it.