Diary

ConHome Diary: Brexit 'Gammon' and Brexit Madness

18 May 2018 at 14:17

Tory MP Nick Boles wrote a brilliant article for the Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday in which he took Israel to task for the killing of 58 Palestinians on the Gaza border. In it he explained that as a strong supporter of Israel he couldn’t stand by and not question the tactics used by the IDF on Monday and Tuesday. I agreed with every word. If you’re a true friend of Israel you have to hold its government to account when it engages in actions which are so clearly wrong and wholly disproportionate. Yes, we get the fact that Hamas isn’t blameless here but it seems to me quite clear that the actions of the IDF have played into the hands of Hamas, who will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of yet another generation of youngsters being radicalised into hating the Israelis. Israeli has an absolute right to defend itself and its borders, but if this action had been taken by Iran or Syria, can you imagine the howls of outrage there would be? Democracies don’t behave in this brutal way and ought to be capable of not rising to the bait put in front of them by terror organisations. Having said all that, Nick slightly backtracked a day later following the announcement that of the 59 Palestinians killed, 50 of them were members of Hamas. I have to say, I don’t think Nick needed to backtrack at all. Yes, you can say it meant that the IDF had targeted the people they were shooting, but surely that means that the IDF were operating a blanket shoot to kill policy on anyone they thought was a Hamas member. Loathe them as I do, do I support shoot to kill policy on Hamas supporters. No I do not. Because that reduces us to their level.
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There’s been a lot on social media this week about the use of the word ‘gammon’ as an insult to Brexiteers by devout Remainers. Apparently, we’re all red faced, while middle aged men. Some have said the word is being used in a racist way. I wouldn’t quite go that far but it is certainly unpleasant and patronising. I plead guilty to being white and middle aged, although I don’t normally have a red face… It’s typical of these people to look down their noses at people they disagree with, on the basis that they consider themselves far cleverer and better educated than the dunderheads who voted Leave. The moral superiority they seem to have is quite astonishing. They cannot cope with the fact that Brexit has turned their worlds upside down. Both Matthew Parris and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown have written that Brexit has sent them to the edge of madness. Several others clearly fall into that category too. I try to find it amusing, but I don’t. There are two sides to any argument, and while I completely understand that many people disagree with Brexit, I often find the manner of their disagreement to be totally patronising. Many of them haven’t actually moved on from the referendum. They just rehash the same tired old arguments and fight battles which have already been lost. I’m almost at the point of not even engaging in these debates any longer. Anyone who even mentions the word ‘gammon’ deserves to be ignored, or muted on Twitter. And as for the pretentious #FBPE hashtag, well don’t even get me started on that one… I need a lie down.
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It is quite remarkable that the Conservatives have established a fairly consistent 3-5% lead in the opinion polls. Given the divided Cabinet on Brexit and all sorts of other government failures, this lead can hardly be explained by the government’s brilliance. I wonder how long it will be before more people in the Labour Party put it down to the failings of their party’s leadership. They should have walked away with hundreds of gains in the local elections. They didn’t. They should be way ahead in all the opinion polls. They aren’t. I wonder when they will ask themselves why that is.
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A man and a woman are getting married in Windsor on Saturday. Just thought you should know.
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Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the Dambusters raid, led by Guy Gibson. Lord Ashcroft wrote about it in the Daily Express [insert link https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/960409/dambusters-raid-second-world-war-1943-german-dams-breached ]. Back in the early 1980s I lived a few miles from the Eder Dam in Bad Wildungen. I spent many a happy hour relaxing by the lake. I remember the first time I visited it on a school exchange in 1979. I was walking along the dam wall looking at a postcard of the moment the bomb hit and water fooded into the valley below, when a German man looked over my shoulder and exploded: “You bloody English did that!”. Quick as a flash I looked at him and said: “Yes, and a bloody good job we made of it too…”. It was an astonishing feat of scientific and aviation brilliance, and when news of the successful raids broke in Britain it really lifted people’s spirits. The very opposite happened in Germany. Which was really the point of it all. It also sent a strong message to Stalin, who had begun to doubt Britain’s war effort. Not any longer.
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If you live near Bath, Jacqui Smith and I will be appearing at the Bath Literary Festival to record a live edition of our FOR THE MANY podcast on Sunday at 11am. Tickets are available on the festival’s website! Come and say hello!
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