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Ernest Shackleton was without doubt the greatest Polar explorer from the great era of Antarctic exploration. His epic journey across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia, and the leadership and hardihood he showed in saving the lives of all of his men was brought to mind this week by that remarkable discovery of the perfectly preserved wreckage of his ship, Endurance, 4 miles below the sea ice of the Weddell Sea. That it was found on the 100th anniversary of The Boss’s funeral adds poignancy to this great moment in marine archaeology.Endurance, bravery, determination, leadership was on display on Tuesday at that unique moment when President Zelensky addressed both Houses by video link to Ukraine. Here was this great man - in his combat tee shirt and able to speak for no more than five minutes for fear that the Russians would triangulate his position and assassinate him. And who was not moved by his quotation of that wonderful Churchill speech “We will fight them on the beaches, in the forests, in the fields, in the streets. We will NEVER surrender.”Parliament as a whole - the country without exception - is committed to doing whatever we can to help the poor, brave people of Ukraine. I am glad that we are supplying them with a wide range of weaponry, especially anti-aircraft missiles. But I do not support those calling for NATO forces to be committed to the battle, whether that be on the ground or in the air. That is precisely what Putin wants us to do to justify an attack on NATO, especially the Baltic countries; and very probably to escalate up to a chemical or even nuclear attack in Ukraine, or quite possibly elsewhere. NATO and Britain would then be involved in an unwinnable world war potentially lasting for many years. We would have achieved nothing except for spreading what is now happening in Ukraine to the whole of Europe. Unimaginable deaths and hardship across the Continent would then follow. Military intervention would not stop Putin. It would give him the very rocket fuel booster he needs.I am glad that we are sending all kinds of equipment and supplies to Poland to help them look after the two million refuges escaping from Putin’s brutality. And I salute the millions of British citizens who are showing their compassion by making donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee, by sending food or equipment and even offering to welcome refugee families to their houses as may be needed. And I am glad that we are ready to welcome those who wish to come to these shores. However, as I said in straightforward terms to the to the Home Secretary on Tuesday, we really must get our systems sorted out. The visa application system is bureaucratic and time wasting. A visa waiver may be one step too far; but we must make the application process swift and efficient. And I am glad that the sanctions effort really is staring to hurt Russia and will force them towards eventual defeat.Many observers have detailed criticisms of the way that the Government have handled some, or all, of these matters. And of course there is always room for improvement. But ‘there is a war on, you know’, and we have to believe that Ministers are doing their very best to get it right. We will defeat the mad dictator Putin; we will free Ukraine; we will re-establish the norms of democratic government to that tragic country. But all of that will not happen easily; it will not happen tomorrow. We need the determination, the toughness, the resilience, the leadership of a Shackleton so amply demonstrated by President Zelensky. We will win the day, but it will take Endurance to do it.

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James Gray
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March 10, 2022