Coffee House

Opinion polls should be the last thing on MPs’ minds now

11 August 2014

8:54 AM

11 August 2014

8:54 AM

There was a revealing moment on the Today programme this morning when Lord Dannatt was asked whether he accepted that the response from the British public to any further military involvement in Iraq would be uproar. His reply came quite gently, but the former Chief of the General Staff made quite clear that what should be uppermost in politicians’ minds as they considered the options for further helping the Yazidi people and other religious minorities being seriously persecuted in the country was not opinion polls in this country, but the risk of a genocide.

One of the most unedifying things about the decision that Parliament took almost a year ago on action against President Assad was that MPs seemed to be giving serious consideration to tweets and letters they’d received from constituents. By and large social media is a force for good in politics, bringing MPs closer to their electorate, but it was not encouraging that tweets or opinion polls should settle a matter of war so complex that many of those who hadn’t tweeted or written had not fully considered it. We elect our MPs to be better informed than us, to understand the complexities of foreign policy or of the banking system and the energy market so that we can usefully deploy our labour elsewhere. Of course they should listen carefully to their voters, but they are elected to sometimes say ‘no, on this you have elected me to tell you that you’re wrong’. In the end, the Spectator supported the decision not to intervene – our leading article from last August explains why. But it is perfectly possible to make the right decision for the wrong reasons.

This year some MPs are arguing that British involvement should go further to protect the Yazidis and others from genocide. If this does come to a debate in the House of Commons, perhaps parliamentarians who do want to mull their own reputations should look not just at their twitter feeds but at the future implications of having decided to step back from another Rwanda or Srebrenica just because an opinion poll made them a bit nervous.

More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 6 issues delivered for just £6, with full web and app access. Join us.




Show comments
  • CraigStrachan

    Yes, it’s terrible that MPs listen to their consituents over anything, let alone matters of war and peace, about which they know so much more than the rest of us. They didn’t listen over Iraq, and look how well that turned out for all concerned.

  • The Masked Marvel

    You forget, Isabel, that ever since Sadaam Hussein was removed from power the BBC and the anti-certain-wars crowd have made the personal price of intervention too high for these market rate talents. Then there’s the “nowt to do with us/it’s all funded by the Jooos” brigade to inflate the poll numbers. The knowing question from the Today producers to Dannatt should have made you realise that. Public opinion is a very useful intimidation weapon for them. Yet, when it’s an approved issue (Warmism, multiculturalism, the NHS is a sacred cow), the BBC will spare no effort to educate the public to change their opinion. Of course, BBC management are all too familiar with having to deal with public outrage, so they know very well how powerful a weapon it can be.

    Today’s politicians will feel much worse about losing their place at the trough than about not being a bit-player in a vote to stop some unpleasantness for a few people might face in a remote part of the world. Nobody will ever lose their seat over not voting to intervene. There’s no risk involved. Whatever happens ‘over there’ will be forgotten very quickly by everyone except a few journalists and documentary film mongers who make their careers on hand-wringing and shroud-waving, whilst these politicians will feel the loss of the gravy train and special privileges every day for the rest of their lives. It will all be blamed on Bush and Blair anyway, so why bother now?

    • HookesLaw

      In terms of global warming the BBC held a conference packed with bigoted warmists with the aim of justifying its decision to tell lies about it.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and you Camerluvvies sucked up every bit of it, as you socialist Camerluvvies are global warmingist nutters just like them.

        • HookesLaw

          Since I do not believe in global warming you are just another nutjob gabbling rubbish. How is the Grand Wizard? Is he not speaking to you any more?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Of course you Camerluvvies believe in the global warming kookiness, lad.

            You’re socialist nutters, afterall. It’s your socialist theology.

            • The Masked Marvel

              It’s not socialist: it’s neo-Marxist, with a touch of Malthus.

      • The Masked Marvel

        Indeed they did. They got away with it, too. Not a single person has faced consequences for it, and nothing has changed in their editorial policy. They have even commissioned a Warmist piece of music for this year’s Proms. “Can a piece of music change the world?” they ask. And they still tell the lie that they never do this sort of thing.

  • SimonToo

    I have a high regard for Miss Hardman’s journalism, but even Homer nods.

  • saffrin

    Let the Yanks do it all on their lonesome. Hollywood history would record it that way anyway.
    They started it, let them deal with it. With the way the USA has been promoting war and conflict around the World these last few decades I wouldn’t be surprised to learn ISIS were CIA trained mexicans dressed up in rag.
    We know the yanks supply their armaments anyway.

  • Smithersjones2013

    We elect our MPs to be better informed than us,

    Whilst I can appreciate that that may be the wish of a intellectually challenged journalist I elect my MP to represent my wishes NOT to act as they feel fit based on whatever ‘information’ is passed to them by vested interests. One only has to recall Blair’s dodgy dossier with it’s 45 minutes claims to know that MP’s can be as easily hoodwinked by malevolent government as anyone. parliament voted based on that lie and embroiled us in one of the most disgraceful and embarrassing conflicts in modern history

    Now it seems that Hardman thinks that getting involved in Syria militarily would have been a good idea. Well this only shows how foolish she is because direct military involvement in Syria would have been 10 times worse than Iraq!

    PS And given the increasing competition in elections, i suspect MPs who vote against voters wishes or acquiesce to their parties unpopular positions will increasingly be identified and voted out (e.g. It is of little surprise that Cameron has shed every overt Europhile and UKIP baiter from his ministerial team except himself)

    • HookesLaw

      How can an MP represent solely your wishes? He represents a whole constituency, the majority of whom have different opinions to you. Indeed on a range of opinions we would probably find conflicting and changing alliances on the part of the electorate. ‘He’ is elected to use his judgement by a big enough majority to give him victory.
      The involvement proposed in Syria was a no fly zone.

      Your notion of how elections and politics work is infantile.

  • la catholic state

    Thank you for this article. Lord Dannatt is showing himself to be a man of courage and conviction….a true noble man. And as he said yesterday….this is no time to be on holiday. Cameron is beginning to turn my stomach.

    I think most tweets are in favour of air-strikes and airlifts. We can discuss other issues Iraq issues later. We need to save people now. That’s what matters.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Of course Lord Dannatt will remain a peer for the rest of his life come what may with all the perks (and Westminster subsidies) that entails. He can afford to put moral considerations ahead of all else .

      • la catholic state

        There are others who are peers with their perks…..who have not spoken. God Bless Lord Dannett. He should be PM.

  • Rossspeak

    Lord Dannatt was speaking on principle – not just because of the threat of genocide – but also the rise of IS, and in particular its invasion of Iraq, is due in part to the mess we left in Iraq – pulling out our troops and leaving a corrupt Shiite dominated “Government” in place – who have discriminated openly against the Sunnis in northern Iraq.
    We have a shared responsibility to try to put this right – and aside from this ISIS ( or now the “established” IS) are truly evil and their medieval behaviour should be stopped.
    Many of us were totally against the second Iraq war – and ghastly as Saddam Hussain was his Revolutionary Guard would have eliminated the IS at birth.
    We eliminated him and his regime and left a power vacuum – ( as is happening in Lybia and Syria).
    It is the duty of the Nations who invaded Iraq to sort out this mess.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …sounds good, lad. You should get right over there and join the fight. The planes leave every day.

    • Tony_E

      Not really. Iraq had the opportunity to govern itself wisely – it was returned to its people and they held elections to install Maliki. Once they had done that then his decisions, and his governments actions, became the responsibility of those who voted for him.

      The problem is that intervention simply breeds more intervention. When you defeat one potential enemy, it strengthens the hand of another. When one ethnic or religious group has gained power, it has historically in that part of the world, used that power to suppress its rivals mercilessly.

      All intervention (beyond direct strike intervention to protect very small minorities who will never hold any real power) will achieve, is to transfer the whip from one aggressor to another. And in a few years time the process will start again.

      • Rossspeak

        Fair comment – and with the benefit of hindsight in the cases of Lybia,Afghanistan and Iraq the “Western powers” would have saved much blood and treasure had the “Local powers” been left to their own devices – on balance the same numbers of people – albeit different people – would have died under their Dictatorships. Our strategic interests would, perhaps have been better served by massively increasing our domestic security apparatus.
        The same was not true of the first Iraq war when Saddam invaded Kuwait – it was definitively in our strategic interest then that that invasion was defeated and reversed.
        My point ( and, I think, Dannatt’s) is that what is done is done – and we do have responsibility to do what we can,( within sensible reason given past disasters ) – to protect minorities in danger of death from Fanatics whose conquests , albeit indirectly, have been facilitated by our previous actions.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          As you feel “responsibility”, I’d again recommend you get yourself over there and join the fight, lad.

  • MrsDBliss

    I can’t see how military intervention is going to help – it never does. However I do think that we should, like France, offer these genuine cases of asylum refuge here. At least we already have room spare – those from this country, born here or not, who have gone to fight without being under the queens forces have lost the right to a place in our nation.

    • la catholic state

      Air strikes are helping. There would likely have been a mass slaughter of the Yazidis in the mountains by now. We need many more.

      • MrsDBliss

        I’m sorry, many of these recent wars have started with initial victories but then descend into chaos. Look at the ‘victory’ declared by Bush in Iraq. I would prefer to get those most at risk out.

        • la catholic state

          We are not talking about victory….but about stopping thousands of people being massaccred. I too want airlifts….but why are they not happening?! It’s very disturbing.

          • HookesLaw

            Where is the airfield? The secure airfield? How do you make an airfield secure? How many people do you want airlifted? How many planes would that take?
            I find your lack of awareness disturbing.

            • la catholic state

              I don’t know. Im not in the military. But there are people who are! What are they doing?!

              • HookesLaw

                No you don’t know.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …maybe your islamofascists buddies can help, lad, like they helped you in Libya and Syria.

  • anyfool

    The reason why people were against intervention in Syria was because they could see that both sides, were and still are, vicious Muslim savages who were not worth the cost of intervention.
    Something about it did not ring true, Cameron and Miliband who for all his horse trading could not get, a Labour party that is imbued with Islamism to go along with it.
    My worry was why did they want to pimp the Armed Forces of this country to Qatari and Saudi Arabian princes, something that is still not clear.
    One thing else that no one seems to be bothered about is who is financing ISIS, these groups do not spring out of a hole in the desert floor, who has the money and will in that region, they had an abundance of money and arms before the Iraqi army gave up theirs.
    Do enough to save the Yazidi and Kurds while killing as many of the other sides is probably the best way forward, if you cannot identify your enemy, it really is best to stay out.

  • Tim

    Let’s just say no shall we? By all means drop some food or emergency relief but intervene? Yeah, that worked out well in the past didn’t it? Time we stopped acting like some colonial power and let the regional powers do the heavy lifting. Nothing we ever do (intervene, not intervene, half intervene) seems to do us any good towards the outcome nor help us win over opinions here or in the ME.

    If Isabelle’s conscience is pricked then maybe she should cough up out of her own funds to some suitable charity and leave the ‘looking good’ with other people’s money alone. Frankly, we don’t know what we’re doing (pace Syria) and so, not in my name (are you listening N Soames, my MP?).

    • la catholic state

      We are simply trying to help avoid a massacre. Do unto others as you would be done by. Who knows….it may be your turn next!

      • HookesLaw

        And last time we tried that, parliament voted against it. Now we see weasel words from people who last time supported non intervention. Last time labour were supportive until they saw a chance to do a bit of political grandstanding.

        • la catholic state

          This time we are talking about saving defenceless men women and children. If you think that doesn’t matter….you are sick.

          • HookesLaw

            We can see you have no argument when you put words into my mouth. Last time was to protect innocents who were being attacked with nerve gas. But parliament led by lefties voted against it.
            All those people who opposed that then are coming out with weasel words now. Led by Ms Hardman and the Speccy. They … you …. are the sick ones.

            • la catholic state

              That was over something that had supposedly happened. But we are talking about preventing something that will happen. A massacre. Or don’t you care?!

              • The Masked Marvel

                Except it’s not as simple as that, is it? Any military action now will have further consequences down the line. Bombing now may chase the baddies away temporarily, but if there is no continuity of force, they will simply come back later. Military history is full of evidence of this. Think about what you’re really asking for here, and decide if that’s what you want.

                • la catholic state

                  And?! If it stops a massacre it will be worth it….don’t you think?! I do.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …so when will you be boarding the plane to join the fight?

                • la catholic state

                  Im not in the military…..but if I was I would be itching to go.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …no need to be in the military. Your help is welcome regardless. And bring all your cash, too.

                • The Masked Marvel

                  My opinion is irrelevant. What further consequences, do you think, will be worth it? How far would you take this logic?

                • la catholic state

                  I think it is worth it…..full stop! I do not want to see boots on the ground. I do not want to see British children go fatherless either. But I do want to see us stop ISIS gaining on Yazidis and Erbil. Otherwise there will be mass slaughter.

                  And….if I had my way we would/will have an international Catholic military corps for operations like these. Secularists like Obama and Cameron just can’t be trusted to act. Maybe when ISIS strike the UK….they won’t go to your protection either. Just a thought.

                • The Masked Marvel

                  You do realize you’re actually echoing the “humanitarian hawk” philosophy of Samantha Power, Obama’s trusted adviser and current US ambassador to the UN, right?

                  http://www.salon.com/2013/06/06/samantha_power_im_a_humanitarian_hawk_partner/

                  I’m just pointing out that you’re calling for something much, much larger and more complicated than a short-term humanitarian action. Do you want a Catholic Legion to occupy permanent garrisons around the world as well? You’ll need it if you want to prevent this sort of thing from recurring over and over. Haven’t you heard the BBC telling you that it’s exactly this kind of presence of infidels in Muslim lands that inspires terrorism in the first place?

                  Don’t look now, but Obama has just called for regime change in Iraq! Who says he doesn’t work from the golf course, eh? That Nobel Peace Prize must be getting pretty rusty these days. I expect the brains of thousands of BBC journalists just short-circuited.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Sounds good. You can be the first enrolee in the military corps. Get stuck in, lad.

              • HookesLaw

                If you had not noticed, the military action, US, is happening. I think we all expect the SAS to be involved as well.
                I believe we should do more, but parliament – led by labour – has set a sad precedent.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …unlike you Camerluvvies’ precedent, which is to assist your murderous islamofascist allies in Libya and Syria, lad?

                • HookesLaw

                  Can you read English? How… is… the … Grand… Wizard?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …can you Camerluvvie socialists stop supporting islamofascist murderers, lad?

  • English Majority

    The vast majority of native English people support the immediate bombing of ISIS (and indeed the bombing of all other Islamists).

    • Tim

      I don’t.

    • HookesLaw

      A deeply racist comment.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …a deeply islamofascist-snuggling comment, from a deeply islamofascist-snuggling Camerluvvie socialist.

        • HookesLaw

          Hello to our other resident racist. You are a bit reserved – do tell us how the Grand Wizard is getting on dumbo.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …can any other of you socialist nutters translate this nutter’s gibberish?

      • English Majority

        I can be much, MUCH more ‘racist’ (see, accurate and factual) if you like, Hookes.

    • la catholic state

      They certainly do. Most people are shocked to the core by what has emerged from Iraq. Except our elites….for some stunning reason.

  • HookesLaw

    Many people who ‘had’ twittered had not considered it.
    The fact remains that after Labour and a load of LDs and tories voted against the govt last time there must be little appetite to be taken round the houses again.

    Everyone was too dim to realise that voting like that was giving the green light to terrorists and bullies. That the Spectator now is squirming and trying to excuse its hysterical stance then simply shows what a bunch of ignorant juveniles it is that are running it. This is quite a miserable exercise in hand wringing by Ms Hardman and her colleagues.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …it was UKIP who put down your Camerluvvie zeal to aid the islamofascists in Syria, you socialist dolt.

      • HookesLaw

        What a moron you are. Everyone is a socialist to you who does not carry a fiery cross or wear a white bedsheet over his head. You will have to be a bit more original if you want the Grand Wizard to promote you

        • the viceroy’s gin

          No, not everyone is a socialist, lad, but you Camerluvvie islamofascist-snugglers are definitely socialist.

  • Agrippina

    We all know that the West has been holding back in Iraq because Maliki is to blame for the current situation. He was ‘elected’ in April and no govt has been appointed. He has been encouraged to appoint a unity govt including Sunnis. He does not want to, he is still fighting the Saddam Sunni power period.

    Thus the Sunnis have sided with IS and are fighting Iraqis. Sunnis are better trained from Saddam’s days and the Iraqi army ran away and were routed very quickly when ISIS turned up. The West do not want to pop in again, then be thrown out when it suits Maliki. Aid is being provided and further drones will fire on IS positions. Journos should really try and give a full picture.

    Saudi, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, UAE etc could provide funds for aid and the 1st three have plenty of arms we have sold them over the years, perhaps they would like to intervene.

  • http://batman-news.com The Commentator

    Unfortunately most of our MPs have demonstrated time and again that they are singularly ignorant about climate change, energy policy, banking reform and much else besides. Before making any commitment to intervene militarily in Iraq our government would have to explain that they have in fact laid waste to our armed forces making us barely able to defend ourselves. They then might want to explain why we have just launched the second largest aircraft carrier in the world that has been designed in such a way that it cannot fly any sort of fixed wing combat aircraft currently in production.

    • HookesLaw

      Well the carrier is not the second largest in the world, far from it, but it is the largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy.
      It cannot fly fixed wing aircraft because of the stupid procurement decisions made by the last Labour govt and foolishly acquiesced to by silly admirals. The ship should have been nuclear powered then it could have powered catapults.

      We have not laid waste to our armed forces. We still have a large defence budget and have just announces a £160 billion procurement programme (fully funded not like Labours efforts). The USA France Germany and other western countries have all cut their defence budgets. Italy is cutting its forces from 183,000 to 150,000. All this is affecting Noways arms exports. Norway’s defence budget of $7.2 billion BTW might come as a bit of a surprise to ScotNats who do not seem to think they will have to spend that much

      Its silly to look at our budget in isolation without looking at the rest of the world. Ours still remains one of the largest in the world.

      • http://batman-news.com The Commentator

        It isn’t just about the size of the budget, it is about capability and an army of 82,000 provides zero capability.

        • HookesLaw

          That’s not true. The revised army will like for like, regular/reserve, be larger than previously.
          The issue is that we have to cut our coat to suit the cloth, we need expensive equipment and that has to be fixed to the numbers we can afford. We are left with the forces and programmes labour left behind.
          Unlike labour’s pretence where we had a hollowed out ill equipped army, we are making sure we can match troops to equipment. This then needs to be matched to commitment. An Afghan sized commitment is possible. A Gulf War I is not.

          In 2010 the defence budget was 42.6 billion. In 2015 it will be 45.6 billion. In 2016 is when the revisions kick in – the budget is down to 43.2 billion. But things are properly funded with it.
          All countries are faced with the same problems. The govt have a contingency fund and many extra over costs in Afghanistan were not funded out of the defence budget.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …maybe your islamofascist allies in Libya, Syria and Iraq can help you Camerluvvies out, lad.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …wait, somebody’s typing again… is it the goat or is it one of you Camerluvvie socialists?

              • HookesLaw

                Someones typing again i wonder if it is the redneck racist?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …maybe it’s one of your murderous islamofascist buddies, lad.

            • HookesLaw

              Maybe one day you will grow a brain that can master something more complicated than polishing jackboots and cutting eye-holes in white bedsheets.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …it’s one of the Camerluvvie socialists.

                We’ll need a translator for this gibberish .

              • HookesLaw

                yes it is

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …a Camerluvvie socialist, yes.

          • http://batman-news.com The Commentator

            This may all be true but the facts mitigate against your rather sunny assessment. The British Army were militarily defeated in Southern Iraq and were unable to prevail against a low-tech guerilla army in Afghanistan. Why? Because we can no longer deploy a force large enough to engage effectively with our enemies. Since when, our army has shrunk further.

  • evad666

    I guess the Stop the War coalition wants to fight the war here in the UK rather than where ISIS currently raises its black flag?

  • Tony_E

    The problem for politicians is that they are not fighting on a level field any more. Minority interest groups have far too much power in UK society, and shape opinions with the support of the media (always hungry for an ‘angle’ on any issue).

    So the vast majority of the British public are informed by the voices that have particular agenda competing for airtime, rather than by the broadcast of facts. It has led to the media having less authority than it once had, so even when it does broadcast facts, many are more likely to believe a conspiracy theory they picked up on Facebook, as to why the West is ‘#lying to us all”. We no longer have collective faith in our Governing class.

    This leads any government to a difficult place, because no administration can govern while continually acting without the confidence of the people. And this would apply whichever party was in government at the time – it’s a governing class that has lost the confidence of the people.

    • Colonel Mustard

      It also leads us to a place where those prepared to use the propaganda of “any means” with little regard for objective truth or rationality will inevitably prevail. And they have. Despite its assertions of being on the right track, doing what needs to be done, etc., the modern Tory party reeks of self-doubt and a lack of confidence. Its propaganda and strategy are appallingly inept. On the other hand Labour, with a tangible track record of imposing misery and the worst double standards in history, coasts along very pleased with itself and carried on a tide of anti-Tory populism. It’s propaganda, its subversion and politicisation of public space, its invention of words to discredit opposition, have been supremely successful. Labour and its fellow travellers are now the most powerful agitating minority in Britain.

      The Tory imperative is how to make the country better but gets lost in bad decisions and class war jibes. The Labour imperative is to destroy anyone who disagrees with them but they dress that up, successfully, as making the country better. So yes a “governing class” but collectively made up of two very different beasts.

  • smilingvulture

    forget polls?

    how about marches,2 million people marched against war Iraq 2003.

  • Bert3000

    British politicians weren’t elected by the people of the Middle East and it is not their responsibility to organise the affairs of the Middle East. We have now had extensive experience to show that interference by Britain and other western countries only ever makes things worse.

    British politicians should stay out of this.

  • Sue Posi-Tory

    The view of the British public about intervention remains soured by Blair’s lies in the past and his absence from his supposed role at the present.

  • Otto von Bismarck

    No, no more military intervention in foreign countries. We caused this mess in the first place with the removal of Saddam, and yet another intervention will cause another crisis just like this further on down the road.

    Humanitarian aid, spent a lot better than how our current foreign aid budget is used, is what we should be focusing on.

    • MrsDBliss

      Absolutely Otto. No more bloody war!

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Iraq? We had a hand in breaking it and we left it unfixed. There is a case that we have a real obligation as we did not have in Syria. ISIS is also a real threat to our interests. There is no good in their being allowed to win.

  • Blindsideflanker

    I note the BBC is still struggling to report the genocide taking place. The first working day of the week since the revelations over the weekend , they ducked the issue of it, preferring instead to talk for an hour on radio 5 live about people changing their s3x.

    • Airey Belvoir

      Murdered Muslims only really get the BBC’s attention when they are killed by non-Muslims, especially Jews. Unfortunately, most worldwide are killed by other Muslims, so the Beeb is in something of a quandary.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “Of course they should listen carefully to their voters, but they are elected to sometimes say ‘no, on this you have elected me to tell you that you’re wrong’.”

    That might be fair enough, per Burke, if we only had constituents and disinterested Parliamentarians. But we now have a multitude of minority interest lobby groups competing to exert power over us and Parliamentarians who have got into Parliament as outriders for those lobby groups. Whether those groups represent any “real good of the rest of the community” is debatable. They always seem to make that presumption but are seldom challenged, and they often resort to emotional blackmail and dodgy statistics to reinforce that presumption.

    We have one today, a “cross party” group of Lords and MPs who say our wine bottles need health warnings (first they came for the cigarettes…). Well, we need journalists to explore the antecedents of this “cross-party” group and their links to alcohol “charities”. Who are these people seeking to exercise ever closer control over the minutiae of our lives? I bet there is a common purpose in their endeavours.

    • sarahsmith232

      Another e.g of ‘policy based evidence gathering’, a bit like during the Labour years, they had a need to increase tax on alcohol, and just a luck would have it – ThinkTank after ThinkTank, academic after academic, all concluding that their. . .er. . .’research’ proves that a MASSIVE hike in alcohol tax was just the panacea society needed. And the mere fact that all of their research was being funded by various Labour departments using taxpayer money was not something that our ‘free’ media considered something to bother commenting on.

  • swatnan

    These days we don’t send out gunboats to relieve Khartoum or Baghdad not even Tel Aviv when it comes to it, as surely as it will. Leave the Regional powers that be to sort it out for themselves. The Middle East is a powder keg.
    Isolatiionism like Appeasement has became a dirty word, but it shouldn’t be. In 1914 we intervened i a llittle local difficulty in mainland Europe and turned it into a massive World War. Surely they is a lesson there, somewhere.

  • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

    “We elect our MPs to be better informed than us, to understand the complexities of foreign policy or of the banking system and the energy market” – Maybe 40 years ago; now we vote for the MP who will support the PM & party we want. Most of them – though not all – seem to be clueless tossers.

    • Makroon

      Astonishingly patronising clap-trap from Hardman.
      MPs are the last people to look to for enlightenment.
      (well, almost – I suppose the last of all would be semi-literate, wet-behind-the-ears journos ‘on a mission’).

      • HookesLaw

        Its not patronising – its self serving. The Speccy campaigned against the intervention in Syria and now wonders why there is no appetite for another one. Iraq of course is a little bit different since the Iraqi govt would welcome intervention and really there is nothing for MPs to do. And both the USA and ourselves want to see something in return – eg a more inclusive wider based Iraqi govt.
        But if Iraq wants to waste its opportunity and continiue in their religious bigotry there is sadly not much we can do.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …you Camerluvvies will still be helping islamofascists, lad, like you’ve done in Libya, Syria and now in Iraq.

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      overpaid clueless tossers: you expect MPs to be something special but most of the current lot would be lost in the real world without their ‘contacts’.

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      Your last sentence was responsible for a ‘tea down the nose’ incident. Thanks!

  • vircantium

    “One of the most unedifying things about the decision that Parliament
    took almost a year ago on action against President Assad was that MPs
    seemed to be giving serious consideration to tweets and letters they’d received from constituents.”

    Unedifying that Parliament reflected the majority public opinion? How? As it turns out, we were right – the situation with Assad’s chemical weapons was resolved without us effectively helping (further) the common enemy that Assad and we are fighting.

    Today, I suspect that most people today would back some form of remote and/or air-dropped assistance for those suffering in Iraq and those fighting our common enemy of Islamofascism.

    On a more general point, perhaps at last we are now seeing the folly of Blair/Cameron’s black-and-white ‘ethical foreign policy’ – where we judge foreign leaders purely by the cut of their jib – especially when it comes to an area as horrendously complicated as the Middle-East, about which there are very few real experts either in Parliament or among the wider public.

  • james allen

    One problem with MPs using twitter to try and “get with it” is that only self-obsessed, illiterate wank*ers use twitter, in which case MPs will be being fed a diet of stupidity and ignorance. God help us.

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      Absolutely. Why the media take so much notice of it is beyond me. Let’s close it down, start having decent conversations and stop being perpetually ‘offended’.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Yes, you Levesonistas always have the answer for unwelcome speech, don’t you?

        • Ooh!MePurse!

          It was rather extreme, wasn’t it! Stick to my view that it is given far too much prominence.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Stick to a view that embraces freedom and liberty, and cease your authoritarian zeal to control others.

  • Pootles

    This isn’t the clearest of articles by Isabel Hardman (does she write too much?). At a guess, I would say that most Britons are in favour of protecting Yazidis, Christians, other minorities and non-insane Muslims from the lunatics of the IS. Just as most Britons appear to have been against intervening in Syria on behalf of the same lunatics that are IS. In this, the public are more consistent than many ‘opinion-makers’.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Agreed. I believe all these opinion formers, or rather readers of public opinion, have got it completely wrong. They have made the assumption that because we were against intervention in Syria, which we could see didn’t make any sense, we are against all intervention.

      • Damaris Tighe

        That’s because these opinion formers are so removed from everyday common sense they fail to recognise the obvious.

        • Blindsideflanker

          Indeed , they are all part of the Westminster bubble, skilled at dissecting the minutiae about what Boris might or might not be doing, but insensitive to opinion beyond the bubble.

    • Makroon

      Precisely.
      It is another sign of how woefully out-of-touch our politicians and pundits really are. The Libyan debacle should have taught Cameron something, but no, he started braying for intervention in Syria, at the behest of a small minority of Syrian “liberals”, who, like their Libyan equivalents, are/were just facilitators for the forces of chaos.
      Ms Hardman doesn’t have a clue.

      • Pootles

        Yes, it is rather puzzling. Clearly, Cameron isn’t dim, but one gets the impression that the politicos, and the media types, get caught up in their own world with its shifting alliances and constant politicking. That ‘world’ becomes a form of reality and they lose any real sense of the bigger picture. Ms Hardman sees quite a decent sort, but she, too, appears submerged in the narcissistic pool of the politicians.

        • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

          Well said.

    • you_kid

      Yes, agreed – and what is the opinion of the WORLD with regards to what happens in Gaza. Let’s have another updated look at what an American-based progressive Jewish website thinks:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/worldwide-protest-israeli.html

      • Pootles

        Yes, the Gaza business is dreadful, and Israel is doing itself no favours at all, whatever it might think. But, unlike IS, the Israelis are not attempting to convert or murder the entire population of the Gaza strip.

        • you_kid

          Correct, no conversions – yet the modern slavery discussion is set to continue.

          • Pootles

            ‘modern slavery’ ? Do you mean Palestinians working in Israel and the occupied territories? Is that slavery? (a serious question). And, of course, the Israelis aren’t attempting to exterminate all the Palestinians, either inside or outside Israel’s borders. I do think the IS threat is of a different category.

            • you_kid

              Correct, no extermination. Again, that is why the modern slavery discussion will remain on the menu. Caging in people is modern slavery.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …and your murderous islamofascist buddies know that quite well, lad.

                How’s the goat?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …uh oh, the goat’s typing…

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …does the goat have a hoof-enabled keyboard, lad?

                • you_kid

                  … we clarified beyond doubt that you are that islamopalestinian on that Gaza photograph, laddie.
                  Head spike viceroy. We know it was you because it’s your line, remember?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …no, we already know about your islamofascist snuggling, lad. We need to hear from the rest of your army of sockpuppets .

                  We want the goat!

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …maybe this is the goat typing…

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …how does “allahu akhbar” translate into goatspeak, lad?

                • you_kid

                  No, laddie, seriously – just come out now.
                  Say it loud, say it with pride:

                  I AM VICEROY THE ISLAMOPALESTINIAN BECAUSE I AM A HEAD ON SPIKE SALESMAN

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …nope, we want the goat, inshallah sockpuppet.

                  …do your islamofascist buddies ever get ideas about goat friccasee, lad?

              • Tom Allalone

                Has anyone mentioned that to the Egyptians? Get an adult to show you a map and you will see Gaza shares a border with Egypt

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …yes, you socialist nutters are going to stick with your islamofascist buddies, ISIS and Hamas .

    • HookesLaw

      Its unsurprising you have got loads of upticks for your wrong headed assertion.
      By not intervening in Syria on behalf of those forces who were or would have been sympathetic to us we pulled the rug from under them and gave the green light to the lunatic faction.

      • Pootles

        The lunatic faction were in place from the outset in Syria, and bringing down the Assad dictatorship would have opened the door for them. In all cases – Iraq, Libya, & Syria – the unpleasant dictatorships appear to have been a lot less unpleasant than the jihadi maniacs.

  • sarahsmith232

    MP’s should always take note of their constituents opinions, they can never be wrong. We’ve probably moved far too far away from the whole point of democracy. These MP’s see themselves as of the higher orders, the journalists that buzz about them seem to become infected by the same illogical reasoning – that their personal opinions are of greater importance ’cause they get to constantly spout theirs on the telly, so really, properly, like for real bro’, proper better knowing more than ‘the masses’ like, init.
    Well, I have watched many a politics show, mmm, I really don’t know whether I would think it wise to believe that MP’s and their journalist, proxy disseminator, minions can be described as people that are ‘better informed than us’.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …most “journalists”, like most politicians, are poorly educated and have never held a real job, which is much the reason they are both universally despised by the public.

  • james allen

    This has got to be one of the most cack-handed articles I have ever read.

    MPs are elected to represent us, and when they don’t they are acting beyond their authority. “Access to greater information” in the vast majority of cases is simply not true; indeed, MPs are constantly under pressure from their whips, influenced by an army of lobbyists and, since being prone to narcissism is almost a job requirement, unduly responsive to the pressures of newsmen and tabloid editors.

    Furthermore, I would hardly bring in the Spectator’s advocacy of action against Assad as an argument in your favour. Hague / Cameron wanted to arm the rebels – some of the very same people we are now planning to fight today!! This is stupidity of the highest order. Thank God Parliament responded to public pressure – the people knew best; we didn’t want any more ineffectual war-making in the Middle East.

    Most of us support helping the Yazidi.

    You work it out.

    • Andy

      An MP is a representative: they are not a delegate.

      • james allen

        noun
        noun: delegate; plural noun: delegates
        ˈdeligit/
        1.
        a person sent or authorized to represent others, in particular an elected representative sent to a conference.

    • sarahsmith232

      Brilliant, spot on.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Acting beyond authority? I think you will find they think they are ‘leading beyond authority’ now and that they are not only entitled to do so but see it as they once saw their duty to represent and defend our freedom. The word ‘leader’ now seems to have drifted down to apply to every public sector manager and their banner is “Change” regardless of the consequences for the people.

      The constitutional change in Britain, by stealth and without consent, is appalling. It was never codified because our representatives were trusted to secure it. Now they cannot be trusted with anything.

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      “Hague / Cameron wanted to arm the rebels – some of the very people we are now planning to fight!! This is stupidity of the highest order. Thank God Parliament responded to public pressure.”

      This is what is so worrying: it wasn’t as if things were hard to see – in fact they seemed obvious – yet the Powers-that-be (not just in the UK) ploughed on regardless. Same thing almost happened over Ukraine. Something weird is going on at levels above most of us and we aren’t seeing/being allowed to see the big picture.

      • james allen

        You mean desperately trying to flog as many arms to, and station as much equipment as possible in, places like Qatar and Bahrain whose leaders are fueling the violence by providing arms, support and encouragement to various rebel jihaddi Sunni groups in the region?

  • Blindsideflanker

    I am not so sure that people are against intervening in Iraq in this instance.

    I was against Cameron’s plan to bomb Syria, where I felt there was no clear good or bad side to support, and the likely out come was to replace Assad Bathist stability with genocide. But I believe it shames us all for us to sit on our hands while genocide it taking place now in Iraq. There may have been good cause to step aside while there was a grey area between ISIS and the Sunni tribes that appeared to be supporting them, but ISIS crossed a line when they stated attacking other religious and ethnic groups, at that point we should have intervened.

    Cameron it seems got into a sulk when the public and Parliament rapped his knuckles over his attempted Syrian venture, and so now won’t contemplate any military intervention.

    • Brian K

      My opinion exactly.

    • HookesLaw

      You are as self serving as Hardman. Pathetic that you cannot take the responsibility for your actions/opinions

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and since you Camerluvvies helped create these islamofascist murderers ISIS, you’re not likely to take any responsibility either, eh lad?

        • HookesLaw

          On the contrary – these murderers were brought to life by the abject surrender by the lefty opportunists in parliament. If you had half a brain you might be dangerous. As it is you are a joke, albeit a sick one. A sick redneck racist one. How is the Grand Wizard?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …sorry, lad, but it is you socialist Camerluvvies who are in love with these ISIS islamofascists, who you created in Syria.

            Thank goodness UKIP stopped you socialist nutters from providing those murderous islamofascists with an air force, eh lad?

  • John Lea

    “Of course they should listen carefully to their voters, but they are elected to sometimes say ‘no, on this you have elected me to tell you that you’re wrong’.”

    …for example, when it comes to their annual salary increase? The vast majority of MPs are self-serving careerists and/or scoundrels. It never fails to surprise me that people continue to vote for them. The idea of giving them carte blanche to squander my money on foreign wars – and a whole host of ill-thought-out social policies – is beyond my comprehension. Not that long ago, Belgium found itself without a government and managed to function perfectly well – why can’t we?

  • http://t.co/rXjomKpfUv JP Janson De Couet

    I think it is important not to change one’s stance on opinion polls based on what they are saying at a particular moment. You can’t just listen to opinion polls you like and ignore the ones you don’t like. I also think that given the Tories are doing so many unpopular things without much of a mandate (see the NHS for example) they might not want to bury their heads in the sand.

    • Andy

      No mandate ? Any changes to the NHS apply only to England (it is a devolved matter) and the Tories have a 60+ seat majority. The ‘no mandate’ bit applies to Labour and the LibDems. Same goes for Education etc, etc, etc.

      • http://t.co/rXjomKpfUv JP Janson De Couet

        Yes right. Pull the other one it’s got bells on.

Close
Can't find your Web ID? Click here