Friday, December 01, 2006

From pig to man, and from man to pig

Today's House Points from Liberal Democrat News.

Explosive questions

Adam Ingram, the defence minister, had to defend British forces’ use of cluster bombs last week. Martin Caton, the Labour MP for Gower, used an adjournment debate to call on the government to support international moves to ban the weapons.

You can see why. A cluster bomb contains anything up to 2000 bomblets, many of which fail to explode at the time and can maim and kill civilians years afterwards. People are still dying in Vietnam from bombs dropped by the Americans. In Kosovo unexploded bomblets have caused more deaths than landmines. As many as 70 per cent of the bomblets dropped by Israel on Lebanon may have failed to explode, and Hezbullah used them against civilian targets in Israel too.

Ingram began by complaining about something Willie Rennie had said at prime minister’s questions. Willie had claimed that Ingram “strongly advocated” the use of cluster bombs.

Given the enthusiasm with which Ingram went on to defend their use, it is hard to see what he was complaining about. Besides, I doubt that Lib Dem MPs had forgotten his performance at the first defence questions of this new parliament.

Then Tim Farron had asked why the government was refusing to support a ban. In reply Ingram has asked where it would end. Did Farron want British troops to have no weapons at all?

If that doesn’t win this year’s Most Stupid Reply by a Minister Award there will be a stewards’ inquiry.

Ingram is not the most attractive figure on the government front bench. Thinking of him, it is hard not to remember the end of Animal Farm. You will recall there was a terrible row when Napoleon and Mr Pilkington simultaneously played the ace of spades: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Both must have looked like Adam Ingram.

And beyond his porcine qualities, Ingram’s performance in Caton’s adjournment debate tells us something important about the way this government has lost the plot. Once Labour ministers were photographed on the beach at party conference, taking part in the campaign against land mines.

Today they are opposing the same pressure groups by defending the use of cluster bombs.


Anonymous said...

Too right! have you seen George Monbiot's articles on cluster bombs. apparently over 90% of casualties from these things are innocent civilians.

Anonymous said...

Every time your column appears in Lib Dem News, it says "Read more from Jonathan Calder on his blog Little England" at the end - which always makes me think of some Shropshire-oriented version of Little Britain. You should get them to fix this!

Anonymous said...

Labour lies, labour hypocrisy, labour subservience to international finance, labour warmongering.
Do you think they are trying to desensitize us all before the next election?