I respond to UKIP Interim Leader Gerard Batten, MEP’s comments on the “nerve agent” saga.
I have been impressed with Gerard’s political comments, including the EU and the dangers of Islamist fundamentalism. I had a positive chat with him after the EGM in Birmingham. He has many excellent qualities.
I commend him for making some policy comments and for those from his leadership team, in particular, Lord Pearson and Mike Hookem, MEP.
Gerard has pressing party funding issues to resolve so it is not surprising he must prioritise these over making national political statements. Under these pressures it is difficult to engage with current political issues perfectly.
Russian nerve agent issue
As such, Gerard wrote his opinions on the nerve agent situation. Years ago, Gerard had made his own detailed investigations into the death of a Russian spy in London and had actually spoken to him. This man had made a number of allegations to Gerard about people including politicians who were reputedly correct or working as spies themselves. Gerard said he believed everything this man had said.
But what if only part of it was true or even if none of it was true? Spies are trained in deception and misinformation, and who ultimately was this man working for anyway? It seemed the only person who could corroborate his story was a Russian general who was dead.
Gerard went on to present a case that a large number of deaths were the responsibility of the Russian state intelligence services, that President Putin must have authorised some of them, and that the Russian criminals/mafia effectively had taken over the Russian state intelligence services. This argument was all based on assumption and there was no evidence that this was the case.
It is not something which a major party political leader should be saying about a major world power, certainly not publicly. It is better to be shrewd, cautious and diplomatic.
What Gerard could be saying on this issue
Gerard should have not have acted so quickly, but to instead asked some trusted colleagues before proceeding.
He would have been advised as follows:
The mainstream media are all been supporting Theresa May’s line, do you think it is wise for UKIP to follow suit? Is she telling the truth? Has she been told the truth?
Is this a convenient distraction to get the country behind her, so there is less focus on the many issues she is performing badly on, especially the Brexit negotiations?
How will it look if UKIP is seen to be backing the Conservatives? How does that make UKIP stand out as different? Is there a hidden agenda and if there is, should UKIP be part of it?
What are UKIP supporters thinking on this issue? What do the general public think? Do they trust or believe Theresa May’s government?
Should UKIP be looking at the many different comments made in mainly non mainstream media, disputing Theresa May’s claims?
There are numerous very intelligently written articles by former British Intelligence Officers, ambassadors, chemical weapons experts, military personnel, foreign politicians and many others, which raise serious doubts to Theresa May’s claims.
Is it going to do UKIP any good at all to be seen to not have an open mind on this issue? Should UKIP be seen as the party which insists on evidence, rather than accept the word of a politician who probably has her own agenda?
Should Jeremy Corbyn be given an open goal on this issue?
Is Jeremy Corbyn playing a very clever game? He has offered a some support to the government, but he has asked for evidence and for the UK to abide by the international conventions it has signed. Is that more what UKIP should be doing, being the real party of opposition?
Is this Theresa May’s “weapons of mass destruction” moment?
Should UKIP recognise that since the lies of the Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction”, the public has a decreased trust in their government and the intelligence services?
Are not many people across the party political divide very concerned about the believability of the allegations? Are not many people making such social media comments UKIP supporters? Could UKIP obtain new supporters on this?
The British public love a whodunit; that they relish putting their Miss Marple or equivalent hats on. So should UKIP act as detective too? Guilt by association, by presumption and without the evidence is not what most people believe in.
UKIP should be asking questions
The British public therefore want a party which is demanding answers to questions. Theresa May could be right, who knows? But should her word be believed?
Could UKIP could lose support if the allegations are untrue? Should UKIP be more analytical and forensic on this?
How many times have our hero detectives been told by an accuser that the culprit was someone else when it has turned out to be the very person making the accusation?
How many times have our own security services been deceptive with the British public? It has happened.
A party leader’s comments need to reflect the views of their party as well as the best interests of the country.
What is acceptable diplomatic behaviour?
Should UKIP be looking as to whether the government’s rude behaviour towards Russia is acceptable and good for the UK?
Which countries should the UK be friendly with in the future ?
Which countries should the UK should be friendly with?
Is Russia really a threat to the UK?
Should they be allies, especially as they combat Islamist fundamentalist terrorism in Syria and elsewhere? Do not Russia also stand up for Christianity in the world too? Should Saudi Arabia be such a close ally over and above Russia ?
Has Theresa May tried to make an enemy of Russia to keep the UK closely tied to the EU?
Do Theresa May’s allegations and actions, make it more difficult to have a trading relationship with Russia? Is this demonising of Russia helpful to those in the remain camp who desire the UK to be as closely associated with the EU as possible?