International Women’s Day – part 2

It’s International Women’s Day (IWD), and what a joy it is to report that high-profile British women MPs have been getting into hot water for various public statements.

I guess they must take the rough with the smooth though, mustn’t they?

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons in the UK, was asked by Naz Shah, a Labour front bench spokeswoman (who had herself once been suspended from the Labour Party for anti-Semitic statements on Facebook in 2014, made prior to her election – oh dear!) for a definition of that portmanteau word,”Islamophobia”, and whether there should be a Commons debate on this issue.

This seems to have been a (let’s face it) vain attempt to deflect attention from the rising scandal about anti-Semitism within Labour, which really kicked off after a ferocious row last year about which international definition of anti-Semitism Labour would accept.

Last September, the BBC had reported:

After a three hour meeting in London, Labour said its National Executive Committee had adopted all of the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] IHRA examples of anti-Semitism, including four it left out in July, alongside a statement ensuring “this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians”.

Corbyn supporters had argued that “adopting the IHRA definition with all examples would restrict freedom to criticise Israel’s actions against Palestinians.”

Leadsom, seemingly trolling Shah, told her to refer to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. According to the Evening Standard, Shah reacted huffily:

To say that British Muslims facing Islamophobia here in the UK is a ‘Foreign Office’ issue is truly baffling and horrifically alludes to British Muslims as foreigners.

Leadsom batted it right back at her:

It was thought the MP for Bradford West was referring to a global definition of Islamophobia. International efforts to combat Islamophobia (and all forms of religious persecution and prejudice) are lead by the PM’s special envoy on freedom of religion or belief, Lord Ahmad, at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

You can hear the gremlins laughing loud and long at that one. Talk about asking for it!

Meanwhile, that hopeless clanger of a Northern Ireland (NI) Secretary Karen Bradley, who never even imagined that NI society could possibly be divided on sectarian grounds, has had to back down after attempting to bat for Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, now threatened with prosecution over such matters as Bloody Sunday, etc, following pressure from lobbyists such as the Historical Investigations Unit.

It seems that Karen or some of her advisers had got wind of the fact that Tony Blair as Labour PM had sought to give suspected terrorists in NI freedom and peace of mind by a so-called “On The Runs” amnesty. Naively, she was therefore seeking to achive a level-playing field.

In May last year, it seems Theresa May was on board, according to the BBC:

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mrs May said the issue of a statute of limitations was “very important”.

“At its heart, is the support and gratitude that we owe all those who have served in our armed forces,” she said.

“The situation we have at the moment is that the only people being investigated for these issues are those in our armed forces or those who served in law enforcement in Northern Ireland. 

“That is patently unfair. Terrorists are not being being investigated. Terrorists should be investigated and that is what the government wants to see.”

Where is May now?

Lost in Brexit. Desperate to appease critics. How times change.

And so Karen had to eat humble pie. Here’s how it played.

On 6 March 2019, Karen told the House of Commons:

Responding to a question from DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly about legacy issues Ms Bradley said, “Over 90 per cent of the killings during the Troubles were at the hands of terrorists, every single one of those was a crime.”

“The fewer than ten per cent that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes,” she added.

“They were people acting under orders and under instruction and fulfilling their duty in a dignified and appropriate way,”

Order, order! Cue outrage by Sinn Fein and the SDLP. She then back-tracked shortly afterwards:

I referred to deaths during the Troubles caused by members of the security forces. The point I was seeking to convey was that the overwhelming majority of those who served carried out their duties with courage, professionalism and integrity and within the law

I was not referring to any specific cases but expressing a general view. Of course where there is evidence of wrongdoing it should always be investigated, whoever is responsible. These are of course matters for the police and prosecuting authorities who are independent of government.

The next day, she grovelled even more:

I want to apologise. I am profoundly sorry for the offence and hurt that my words have caused.  The language was wrong and even though this was not my intention, it was deeply insensitive to many of those who lost loved ones.

Now, even just skimming the surface of these “legacy issues” has taken longer than I thought. And so the gaffe and IWT claims of Amber Rudd will just have to wait until tomorrow.