Weekly Column

Thus far……but no further

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There comes a time in all human life, in all efforts, in all initiatives, to call a halt. Ending something, which may of itself be perfectly justifiable, is much harder than starting it.

The Middle East is now reaching that point. I absolutely supported Israel’s reaction to the 7th October outrage; I accepted their right to defend themselves (the Jews have been doing that for thousands of years); I remain appalled by the hostages which Hamas are so wickedly refusing to release; and I recognise the need to destroy Hamas once and for all. So I have been pretty resolute in my support for what Israel have done in Gaza. But the deaths of innocents has now reached such a stage that it cannot go on. The seven western aid workers killed this week come on top of several hundred Palestinian aid workers which got less coverage; and of course thousands of innocent men, women and children have died. The six month anniversary of the war should see an end to it

Not only all of that, but the Israeli attack on the Iranian embassy in Syria may well be perfectly justified; but it marks a significant escalation. It may well suck Hezbollah and Iran into a much wider war, which will without doubt involve America and the UK (both of whose election years add to the complexity.) The risk of World War is now very real; and we must act to stop it. Gaza lies at the heart of that, so a way must be found to release the hostages, and bring a lasting and meaningful truce while we try to sort out the post-conflict mess (to which there is no easy answer.)  So I call on the International community to find a way to end the war, to protect Israel, to release the hostages, to de-escalate tensions with Iran in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine, to find a way toward the two state solution which will be the only long-term answer, and to step back from the edge of the huge volcanic conflagration which faces us all. Thus far…..but no further.

In a way, Ukraine is the opposite. There are all kinds ofsigns that Russia is on the offensive; and that Ukraine is weakening. Thatcannot be allowed to happen. Donetsk, Luhansk, Crimea- but no further. Putinsenses the indecision in the West in this perfect storm of a western electionyear; he knows weakness and how to exploit it; and he will do so with aruthlessness which threatens our whole way of life, our democratic institutions,our freedom; and which will risk involving NATO (if our weakness lets himinvade, for example, the Baltic States). Thus far…. but no further.

It’s on a different scale altogether, but domestically something of the same thinking applies to the Industrial solar complex which is proposed across thousands of acres of North Wiltshire. This monstrosity cannot be allowed. No matter how much you may worry about climate change, no matter whether you support renewable energy to combat it; even so the proposal is an outrage and its must be stopped dead in its tracks. I hosted a public meeting in Malmesbury last night. At least 600 people came, quite possibly many more as they spilled out onto the Cross Hayes. The feeling of the meeting was palpable-total opposition to this ‘monstrous carbuncle’ proposed for some of the finest landscapes straddling the historic Fosse Way. I committed to doing all I can to get to stopped – Parliamentary questions and debates (two next week), letters to Secretaries of State, petitions, so far; loads more to come (and I salute the brilliant efforts of the Stop Lime Down Campaign.)

Thus far……but no further.

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Published Date
April 5, 2024