Thursday, December 03, 2015

That Catch-All War Vote Speech

Thank you, Mr Speaker.  I would like to begin by noting that the decision whether to commit our nation to war is one of the most grave that any Member of this House can take.  I know this better than most, because I have voted in favour of about six or seven wars myself in the past fifteen years.


I do not wish to make light of our rampant promiscuity in aggressive warfare, but seriously, are we getting Nectar Points for all these wars, or what?  I must surely be due a free Tassimo machine by now, at least.

I am sure that each of us has agonised long and hard over the decision of whether to betray our allies and submit in craven terror to fascists by voting against this motion, or to stand manly, strong and erect by voting in favour of it.

Yesterday, I set out five key questions on our proposed military action that the Prime Minister must at least attempt to answer before he would have my backing.  Having listened to his vague, hand-waving responses, I am now convinced that he has thought fairly hard about our military strategy.   I believe that he has now presented this House with a sort-of convincing case for war.  That being so, I intend to vote as I had always intended to do in the first place.


Additionally, I am now quite convinced that, should this military action end badly, I will be able to avoid criticism by laying all of the blame for it upon him personally.


Nobody can doubt the seriousness of the threat that we face.  Every day, each of us faces the very real possibility that domestic extremists will be very rude to us on social media.

Also, our enemies have murdered or enslaved tens of thousands of innocent civilians, and they threaten this nation with terrorist attacks on an unimaginable scale.  It is barbarity and cruelty beyond description, a medieval savagery that can only belong in the Dark Ages, a few hundred miles south, with our close friends and business partners in Saudi Arabia.

Our allies have called for our aid.  Are we to abandon them in their hour of need, simply because they are not actually in need, or because they have enormous military capabilities that far outstrip our own?  Are we to stand aside simply because they are quite capable of fucking up this entire operation all of their own accord, without any assistance at all from Great Britain?

I have heard much of the risk, of the danger of repeating the mistakes of the past.  I can assure this House that I stay up reasonably late at night worrying about the mayhem and destruction that our previous military actions have inadvertently caused through absolutely no fault of our own.

I have given great consideration to the possibilty that this action may cause as much chaos and disorder as in Iraq or Libya, and I have concluded, fuck it.  What is the worst that can happen?

We have heard much of the cost of taking action but I would remind you that inaction has costs too.  If we were to shrink from this challenge, the American government would surely stop pretending to care what we think about anything.  Also, the French would be somewhat more dismissive and condescending towards us than they currently are.  I am sure that you are just as concerned about the good opinion of the French government as I am.


The United Nations has called upon us to do something.  It is asking us to act.  I say that we must uphold the settled will of the UN when it is politically expedient to do so, just as aggressively as we have previously dicked it off when it asked us to please calm down and think about things for a minute.

I say that this threat is now so urgent that there is no time to think about anything.  It is now time for action. We must stop thinking immediately.


I do not pretend that this will be a simple matter.  I am however pretending that it is simple enough to commit ourselves to an open-ended war on the other side of the planet, on the basis that if we don't, people might think that we are all a bunch of big jessies who can't even handle a bit of bombing.


Our enemies hold us in contempt.  They hold our values in contempt.  They hold our democracy in contempt.  They keep saying that they want a massive war of all of us versus all of them and I believe that it would be rather rude not to give them one.

I am an internationalist, in the grand tradition of my party.  Internationalism means that we will not walk by on the other side of the road while our fellow man is brutalised.  It means that we will cross the road and shoot everything we see until our pistols go click, and then blame any and all accidental deaths upon somebody else.

We must heed the lessons of history, or at least some of them.  Perhaps we could skip a few of the more recent lessons of history, and on military history in this part of the world in particular, but we must definitely heed the redacted, heavily-edited lesson of history.   

The lesson is this - the enemy that we face is fascism, a barbarity from a bygone age.  Fascism must be defeated wherever it arises.  This House stood resolute against Hitler and Mussolini.  We are all now Churchill in the International Brigades, getting shot through the throat while facing down Franco at El-Alamein.  Our balls are truly massive.

That is why I ask my colleagues to vote for the motion tonight.



Gary Othic said...

Brilliant - genuinely laughed out loud!

I have myself always liked this idea that the best way of demonstrating the superiority of our values and our way of life is through the use of our overwhelmingly superior military force.

Anonymous said...

He got loud then he got quiet.
Pixies, Nirvana, Benn.

dsquared said...

Brilliant. You only missed "such lily livered appeasers as me, two weeks ago".

organic cheeseboard said...


I will be able to avoid criticism by laying all of the blame for it upon him personally.

Surely 'all of the blame for it, via myriad sham inquiries, upon the unnamed people who wrote his briefings and speeches'?

Anonymous said...

"I will be able to avoid criticism by laying all of the blame for it upon him personally."

Surely you mean 'all of the blame for it, via myriad sham inquiries, on lily-livered appeasers who are always to blame for everything" ?


des von bladet said...

*wild applause*

It is only after much soul-searching and with infinite regret that I, personally, put on my Bombs Away party hat and join the festive Back To THe Stone Age conga line.

gastro george said...


"Nobody can doubt the seriousness of the threat that we face. Every day, each of us faces the very real possibility that domestic extremists will be very rude to us on social media."

I wouldn't want to condone bullying of any kind, but they really need to get a sense of proportion. It's like children in the playground complaining about being called names, but with added network effects.

organic cheeseboard said...

As with journos who bemoan 'trolling' (which is usually not trolling but simply abuse), I have limited sympathy for MPs who complain of 'cyber-bullying'. These journos are happy enough to use Twitter as a fundamental research tool and who retweet all and any praise, MPs are often perfectly happy to use Twitter and Facebook to promote themselves, but suddenly view social networks as sinister when it turns out that people disagree with them vocally.

Also given that the current state of debate within the House of Commons involves not only gauging effectiveness through (obviously pre-arranged) ovations etc (ie look at my retweets/likes), but also throwing insults like 'terorrist supporter' and 'Nazi-appeaser' around, quite why MPs should get all upset when people point out to them that bombs kill civilians is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

"I know this better than most, because I have voted in favour of about six or seven wars myself in the past fifteen years. .... Only two years ago I voted in favour of bombing ISIS' number 1 enemy and today I will vote in favour of bombing ISIS. If we had bombed Assad in 2013 (then overthrown him, occupied the country with a massive force, turned it into a beacon of democracy, trained a new army and settled all the internal conflicts in Syria - as we did in Iraq) we wouldn't be facing the crisis we do today."


organic cheeseboard said...

Off topic, but as usual nowhere else for this to go:

Oldham byelection really demonstrated the power of George Osborne's genius ideas of the 'Northern Powerhouse' and his 'rebrand' (i.e. saying it a couple of times) of the Tories as the 'Workers' Party' eh. anyone would think that unlike the idiot journos who lapped this obvious bullshit up, the average voter can see it for what it is?

gastro george said...

Mostly, when people are looking at a pile of shit, that's exactly what they see. But then journos don't leave their offices enough to see the piles of shit. It would be interesting, though, to find out which journos there are that don't believe that everything the comes out of Osborne's mouth is a pile of shit.

Far be it for me to mock Rafael Behr.

John Harris gets out a lot more than most, but his recent contributions have been a bit disappointing, to say the least.

Two headlines from Oldham that we won't be seeing:
"Swing of 8.5% from Tories to Labour after the Syria vote"
"Crisis in the Tory party as vote plunges 70% since the general election"

chris y said...

Classic stuff, many thanks! But why was Benn wittering about fascists. Da'esh aren't fascists- if you want a historical analogy it would probably have to be the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, although that would seem to be a bit of an insult to Hong Xiuquan- the nearest approach to a fascist in this mess is Assad, and if we're not very careful we're going to end up on the same side as the bastard.

gastro george said...

Heh, you can always rely on Nick Cohen. [Damn Blogger won't allow me to use strikethrough on Martin Kettle]

Anonymous said...

Comments will open in the morning on the Cohen article when additional moderators have been drafted in.


gastro george said...

Cohen's image of Corbyn.

flyingrodent said...

Yes, it'll be a cold day in Hell before I'm in the mood to be lectured on politeness and civility by Nick.

A bizarre choice of topics, though. He's got the new war that he wanted - Hilary Benn might as well have been reading out one of Nick's columns, one of the really pompous ones - and the press have spent the last month booting Corbyn harder than ever.

And is he happy? Nope, he's not.

organic cheeseboard said...

Ah, good old Nick, lecturing us all on how to be nice to your political rivals and how also to be totally right-on at the same time. Anyone would think this is a different Nick Cohen from the one who boasted of having offered to smear people on behalf of David Miliband in 2010 (they turned him down, he thinks cos they're too nice, but probably because they know how shit he is at convincing anyone of anything):


Comics and writers tear into Daily Mail and Sun readers but never Guardian and Observer readers.

What the actual fuck? Does Nick even follow comedy and 'writing'? Bruschetta-munching hypocrite Guardian types never, ever get satirised, oh no.

His colleague Diana Johnson said the abuse of Labour MPs who supported the action was horrendous. “‘Murderous cunt’ is one of the terms I have seen.”

As opposed to calling people you disagree with 'mad', or claiming that they have blood on their hands, or that they objectively support fascists, or that they have betrayed the left, etc? Yup, never seen that anywhere before, Nick Cohen.

The only actual threats he discusses, as opposed to people sending messages of abuse, come from the far right, yet he conflates the two things. Neither is pleasant, but they're not the same thing.

You want sexism? Long before the Syria vote, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper complained of misogyny, and not just from the Mail, which was more interested in Kendall’s “lithe figure” than her politics. You expect that from the Mail if you are a woman on the left. Indeed, you expect it if you are a woman on the right or any place in between.

You also expect it if you're a Muslim woman who's caught Cohen's eye - he's praised more than one for their beauty, prior to their bravery. He goes on to claim that it's awful that women get called 'cows'. He's right, but I don't remember his objections to e.g. HP Sauce calling Laurie Penny a silly cow.

Corbyn says he is against abuse “from whatever quarter it comes” and does not want to purge the Labour party. Yet he never punishes the abusers

How does Cohen think he should do this? Remove their membership, I'm assuming, but there's no actual evidence here that many are even party members, and most of this abuse is from anonotweeters.

They don’t mutter darkly that there will be “no hiding place” for Tory MPs who voted in favour of bombing Isis.

Hilary Benn did however imply that anyone who opposed bombing in Syria was helping Fascists. But that's just good oratory, obviously.

found the honesty to acknowledge their kinship with the rest of compromised humanity. The Corbyn generation shows no sign of doing it. And it ought to be obvious by now that Labour people will be their targets.

This from a bloke who's spent 12 years of his life berating left-wingers for not having exactly the same views as himself, and calling them all fake lefties as a result. Jesus wept. But I came close to weeping when I saw this:

Leftists would behave better if they stopped acting like teenage vegetarians

I mean seriously. He's just spent a column berating others for throwing around insults, and now he's a) doing it himself and b) using the fucking word 'vegetarian' as an insult? Just before asking the people he's insulting to 'acknowledge their kinship with the rest of compromised humanity'? This shit doesn't even make sense sentence by sentence.

flyingrodent said...

It is especially humorous that this cavalcade of anonymous Twitter berks is the best that Nick can do for his big, angry column on political bullying.

It's especially odd, since by far the most striking stories about political bullying this week involved

- a Tory campaigner alleged to have driven a colleague to suicide;

- an actual Tory MP alleged to have falsely accused a constituent of sending her a death-threat, and

- a false rumour that a mob of baying scumbags descended on Stella Creasy's house, which was credulously put about by quite a lot of people who should know better.

I imagine that at least two of these would've been fairly major political scandals until fairly recently. Instead, we're treated to the sight of Nick using a few unattributed Tweets as an excuse to attack a mass of unnamed people that he's always hated anyway, while accusing those same people of having ulterior motives and skewed priorities.

To me, the fact that Nick can publish this type of dreck in seriousness without being laughed out of the door, speaks volumes.