Saddam’s Trial – Iraq and post-war reconstruction

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Of course, Saddam should be tried, but it makes no sense to do it against a background of a civil war in which he is, alas, still a figurehead

Saddam is being tried when the war to remove him is increasingly recognised as a disaster

Saddam’s trial wouldn’t pass for justice in a dictatorship

There is one last excuse for those of us who were so trusting as to support the war in Iraq — and that excuse is disintegrating before our eyes.

We were soon proved wrong in our assumption that the Pentagon had serious plans for post-war reconstruction: the Americans hadn’t a clue. We were hopelessly wrong in imagining that the Iraqis would somehow work together to build a brighter tomorrow: they are engaged in a civil war of ever mounting savagery.

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Boris on Any Questions, Radio 4, 22.9.06

Nick Clarke chaired this week’s Any Questions from Hanbury, Worcestershire

The panel:

JACQUI SMITH MP, Chief whip

BORIS JOHNSON MP, Shadow Higher Education Minister

CHRIS HUHNE MP, Lib Dem Environment & Rural Affairs spokesman

QUENTIN LETTS, Daily Mail parliamentary sketch-writer

Question 1

Does the panel think that the United States needs to bring its diplomacy out of the stoneage?

The Chair clarified the question as referring to Richard Armitage from the State Dept., quoted by the President of Pakistan that Pakistan would be bombed into the stoneage if they didn’t co-operate after the 9/11 attacks.

CH thought that US diplomatic outfit “extremely good” but there was a question as to the leadership from The White House. He thought the current US policy extremely anti-diluvian towards the freedom of manoeuvre that countries can have. He wished we’d been more independent in drawing to the attention of the White House the long term damage US foreign policy on Iraq and, more recently, the Lebanon, had caused.

Boris thought that, as far as he knew, the quote by Mr Armitage had been denied. He stated that the fact is, it’s the kind of thing you can imagine someone from the Bush administration saying and that “that is the terrible truth”. This does feed into the kind of anti-Americanism which is sadly on the rise. Boris thought it a “great shame” that the Bush administration, by the use of that “cowboy language” at the beginning of the War on Terror did provoke international disquiet, and in the minds of a lot of sensible people in this country is starting to feed suspicions and anxiety about America. Boris thought that would be “tragic”. But there’s no doubt that things that do come out of the Bush administration do feed into that caricature. “If they want our support and they deserve our support” said Boris, “they have to be a little bit more diplomatic in the way they engage the rest of the world’s sympathy.”

JS agreed with Boris and reminded everyone that Bush wouldn’t always be President.

QL thought Richard Armitage looked like a wrestler and that his diplomacy seemed to match his appearance.

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Children’s Car Booster Seats and EC Directive

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It is .. utterly incredible that the state should now be trying to prolong our national car seat agony

individual choice .. or .. international coercion

Has Labour gone finally potty in asking the cops to spend their time poking their noses into the back seats of our cars…

We need proper standing committees with the power to mandate ministers, and to refuse to accept directives even if they are decided at a majority vote

Brussels is taking a big liberty with children’s booster seats

Of all the sensations of joy and release that Nature in her kindness has bestowed on the human race, there is little or nothing to beat the moment when you get rid of the baby’s car seat.

It beats getting off a long-haul flight. It beats taking off a pair of ill-fitting ski-boots after a hard day on the slopes. It verges, frankly, on the orgasmic. As you take the wretched thing to Oxfam, you thank your stars that never again will you have to grapple with that incomprehensible buckle.

Never again will you stand sweating over your baby as it screams and writhes and sticks yoghurt in your ear. Never again will you have that struggle of wills, as the child’s efforts to escape become ever more desperate and violent, and you grow later and later in setting off on your journey.

For children and parents alike that precious moment – when it is deemed that the offspring are capable of sitting on their own in the back with only a seat belt – is one of the pleasures of growing up. It is a rite of passage, a moment of pride and childish prestige.

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Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper – Boundary Commission

The best thing Yvette can do is stop forcing houses on the South and let the market work, so that people seek cheaper accommodation in places like West Yorkshire

Head oop North and save the golden couple’s marriage

It is a tough time for Ed and Yvette, the nearest thing the Government has to a golden couple. You remember who I mean. He is Ed Balls, the Chancellor’s jut-chinned henchman; she is Yvette Cooper, the elfin housing minister who reduces the Tories opposite to pathetic simpering croons.

They are the kind of dynastic union that Hollywood used to produce – the closest the Yorkshire Parliamentary Labour Party has yet come to Bogart and Bacall. Apart from the ghastly, bossy, high-taxing politics they both espouse, they are as charming and fortunate a pair as you could hope to meet in Westminster. But now their union – this marriage of minds and hearts – has been struck by tragedy.

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Goodbye to Blair

Blair has nothing more to say to us: he should go at once

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. You have only to read the latest memo from Downing Street to see that something in the bunker has finally snapped. Maybe they are putting Orozac in the water cooler. Maybe they’ve disconnected the television. Maybe they have special dummy editions of the papers, produced by Alastair Campbell’s gnomes in the dungeons and then brought up on silver salvers to where Tony and Cherie recline on their couches and dangle grapes into their crazy mouths.

Here we are, with British soldiers being killed almost daily in Iraq and Afghanistan on missions that are growing in scale and horror. We have rises in gun crime, rises in unemployment, rises in interest rates — and these flaming lunatics in Downing Street seriously expect the nation to line the streets with bunting and shower Tony with confetti as he goes on a six-month lap of honour, a “farewell tour” in which he accepts the praises of a smiling people.

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