PETER HITCHENS: Who is Labour’s hero? A nurse who stopped a man seeing his dying wife
Who wants to pull Al Johnson down, and why? I’m no friend of the Prime Minister and would gladly have seen him fall in March 2020 when he launched his Maoist plan to close the country, trash our liberty and wreck the economy.
But at that time, and for months afterwards, I had almost no allies at all. Gosh, if someone had called me in May 2020 and said ‘Downing Street is holding boozy parties while Johnson is ordering the nation into strict isolation’, I’d have welcomed the leak and used it to try to destroy a policy I always saw as wrong and out of proportion.
But nobody did call me, even though lots of people must have known then.
It is only now, when Johnson has finally stood up to the panic-mongers and begun to liberate the country, that the leaks have come.
Who wants to pull Al Johnson down, and why? I’m no friend of the Prime Minister and would gladly have seen him fall in March 2020 when he launched his Maoist plan to close the country, trash our liberty and wreck the economy. But at that time, and for months afterwards, I had almost no allies at all
And for once there is an actual difference between Labour and the Tories. And in one official tweet by the Labour Party, you can see what it is.
The tweet was issued by the Labour Party on January 13 and has attracted remarkably little attention.
In truth, it should have led every bulletin and been on every front page, for it takes you directly into the mind of Sir Keir Starmer and all the other lockdown fanatics, in a way never previously possible.
It approvingly quotes a nurse, whose name is given as ‘Jenny, NHS nurse’. She says: ‘I remember May 20, 2020 vividly. I spent hours on the phone to a man who was in the hospital car park, utterly desperate to see his wife.
‘He begged, wept, shouted to be let in but we said no – for the greater good of everyone else. She died unexpectedly and alone, as the Government had a party.’
The tweet was issued by the Labour Party on January 13 and has attracted remarkably little attention. In truth, it should have led every bulletin and been on every front page, for it takes you directly into the mind of Sir Keir Starmer and all the other lockdown fanatics, in a way never previously possible
I feel sorry for ‘Jenny’, because she was deluded by fear propaganda and did not really know what she was doing. But I still think that what she did was terribly wrong.
If I had prevented a husband from seeing his dying wife ‘for the greater good of everyone else’, while the poor man begged and shouted for mercy, I might now keep quiet about it.
Even more, I might feel a deep sense of regret and shame that my self-righteous officiousness had so utterly blinded me to the simple human necessity for kindness above all.
God knows we are all capable of appalling cruelty, but it is never worse than when we think we are doing it for a good reason. This is why all Utopias end with the idealists arresting and then killing those who will not conform to the new paradise.
The fanaticism of the Covid authoritarians is frantic mainly because they think that what they are doing is unquestionably right.
And it is these zealots who now seek to destroy Johnson because he has finally deserted them and begun to rediscover the world of proportion, reason and kindness, in which a man who wishes to see his dying wife is not left howling in tears, alone in the car park, but is granted his wish.
For that simple difference between the two sides in this row, I back Johnson against Starmer – because I have to and if you are wise, you will too.
You don’t want people like Jenny running the Government.
Poke the bear and this is what happens
If Vladimir Putin is stark, staring mad, then he will invade Ukraine. But I have seen little evidence he is. He is nasty, cruel, sinister, intolerant and many other things. But you do not remain in power in Moscow for so long if you are a lunatic.
If there is one single action which would be bound to destroy his regime and wreck Russia’s long-term hopes of recovering its position in Eastern Europe, it is an invasion of Ukraine.
So why are so many yelling that such an invasion is about to take place? In many cases it is because they know nothing of the issue, could not find Odessa on a map and are joining the crowd because they feel safe doing so. For these days, if you don’t join such crowds you will be accused of being a ‘Putin apologist’ and worse.
In other cases it is because of the tragic spread of ‘Munich Syndrome’. Sufferers from this incurable complaint believe every foreign crisis is an exact repeat of September 1938: a certain chosen foreign despot is Hitler (last time this was Saddam, now it is Putin). Anyone who proposes a peaceful way out is a modern version of the doddering weakling, Neville Chamberlain. And the politicians who want war are modern versions of Winston Churchill. Such simple-minded piffle.
Ukraine is not Czechoslovakia. Putin is not Hitler or Stalin. He has no ideology, racial or social. He has been complaining for years, using every peaceful means, against the expansion of Nato into Eastern Europe. He has asked, quite reasonably, who it is aimed at.
Nato was set up to deter aggression by the USSR, an empire which ceased to exist 31 years ago. Russia is not the USSR. Keeping Nato in existence is like maintaining an alliance against the Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman Empires, which vanished a century ago – a job-creation project.
He rightly points out that Moscow (mostly without violence) let go of vast tracts of Asia and Europe, and unwillingly permitted the reunification of Germany – something Margaret Thatcher was pretty reluctant about as well. In return, the then leaders of the West said they would not expand Nato to the east (a huge archive of documents at George Washington University in the US confirms this).
The greatest anti-Soviet diplomat of the era, George Kennan, warned against doing any such thing. He said: ‘The expansion of Nato right up to the Russian borders is the greatest mistake of the post-Cold War period.’ So did Russian liberals of the sort we claim to support. Yegor Gaidar, admired in the West for his economic reforms, contacted Canada’s ambassador, Chris Westdal, in Moscow in 2004, to say he had come ‘to beg, to plead’ to advise Ottawa against further Nato expansion which would, he warned, ‘bring out the worst of Russian instincts’. And so it has.
If you poke a bear enough with a sharp stick, he will attack you. When he does, you should perhaps not blame the bear.
Have I got news for you… Nadine’s heart isn’t in BBC reform
I do wish people would stop calling the BBC ‘Auntie’. It hasn’t been Auntie for decades. It is a gaunt, unfriendly body with a mental age of about 22. And it fights hard and dirty.
And I guess Nadine Dorries’s licence-fee freeze will not lead to very much. Her heart’s not in it, and nor is Johnson’s (remember, the BBC made him a star, on Have I Got News For You).
One of many reasons why the Tories don’t want to take on the Corporation is that they owe their revival in 2010 to the BBC. The BBC decided that David Cameron had accepted Blair’s revolution and would not reverse it. After that, the Tories started getting fair treatment from BBC news and current affairs for the first time in decades. On all the key issues – break-up of the country, sexual revolution, destruction of education in the name of equality and diversity – the Tory Party has stayed on the side of Blairism. And during the Corbyn years, the Tories were much more Blairite than Labour.
Only now that the Blairites are back in charge of the Labour Party is the BBC beginning a switch to supporting Starmer.
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