South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigns over the government response to a ferry disaster on April 16. Sarah Toms reports.
Imagine this happening in the US., a high-level government official — the Chief Executive, even — confronting scandal, and resigning in disgrace, with minimal delay. Unthinkable.
David Cameron backed down and agreed to delay a military attack on Syria following a growing revolt over the UK’s rushed response to the crisis on Wednesday night
The Prime Minister has now said he will wait for a report by United Nations weapons inspectors before seeking the approval of MPs for “direct British involvement” in the Syrian intervention.
Downing Street said the decision to wait for the UN was based on the “deep concerns” the country still harbours over the Iraq War.
MPs had been recalled to vote on a motion on Thursday expected to sanction military action. Instead, after a Labour intervention, they will debate a broader motion calling for a “humanitarian response”.
Because the BBC had a series of run-ins with Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, and is hardly well disposed towards the Tory-led Coalition, I had expected it to pour buckets of cold water over the memory of the Iron Lady.
To begin with, I was pleasantly surprised. The tone of BBC News 24 on Monday afternoon was slightly awed, even reverential, as is befitting when any great figure dies. Some of the newscasters even wore a black tie. A picture of Margaret Thatcher was shown as silence was observed.
Of course, as was only right and proper, lots of people who did not at all admire Lady Thatcher were interviewed, such as Labour leader Ed Miliband and former Labour deputy leader Roy Hattersley, but they were almost always measured, respectful and reasonable.
Thank God for the BBC, I began to murmur to myself. For all its faults, the Corporation knows how to behave on these occasions. It is capable of setting aside its prejudices, and rising above party politics.
But as the evening wore on, and the new day dawned, I began to change my mind. In many of the television and radio news bulletins, it seemed that Margaret Thatcher was on trial, and the case for the prosecution was subtly gathering force.
Again and again we were shown the same footage of 1990 poll tax riots, and familiar pictures of police grappling with miners during the 1984-85 miners’ strike. The clear message was: This is how it was under Thatcherism. Words such as ‘divisive’, ‘polarised’ and ‘out of touch’ began to be bandied about freely by BBC journalists describing the events of the 1980s. Charges were made against her which weren’t explained or placed in context.
For example, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was interviewed stating that Lady Thatcher had inflicted ‘great hurt’ on Northern Ireland. Now that Mr Adams represents himself as a democratic politician it is right he should have his say. But shouldn’t the BBC have mentioned that at the time of the Brighton bombing in 1984, which very nearly killed Margaret Thatcher, and did kill five others, the judgmental and seemingly virtuous Mr Adams was leader of the IRA’s Army Council?
Equally, Lady Thatcher’s opposition to sanctions against ‘apartheid South Africa’ was repeatedly cited by BBC television news, and her isolation among Commonwealth countries over the issue dwelt on.
What was not mentioned, at any rate while I was watching, is that she opposed sanctions largely because she believed they would harm black people most, though the BBC did grudgingly concede that she wasn’t in favour of apartheid.
Nor did the Corporation recall that after he was let out of prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress, visited No 10 to thank Margaret Thatcher for her part in securing his release. These caveats should have been entered. Why weren’t they? I suggest the reason is that they do not accord with the Corporation’s historically distorted depiction of her as an inflexible extremist.
And then, of course, there were countless interviews of people who claimed they or their families had been victims of Lady Thatcher’s allegedly draconian economic policies which supposedly ‘decimated’ British manufacturing. The similar (or sometimes worse) experiences of other advanced economies were not mentioned.
I don’t deny she was a ‘divisive’ figure – not in the sense of intending to divide people, and deliberately setting them against one another, but because she sometimes had this effect. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to interview people who believe they suffered as a result.
But on such a massive scale so soon after her death? It was when I was listening to the BBC World Service in the early hours of yesterday morning, and heard a disgruntled Welshman having a swipe at her over the Falklands War, that I decided I’d had enough, and the BBC was being unfair.
If anything, radio was worse than television, despite the repeated use of TV footage implying that the 1980s were one continuous riot. On Radio Five yesterday, I heard a young woman being interviewed who had taken part in a celebration of Margaret Thatcher’s death in Brixton.
Although she admitted she knew virtually nothing about Lady Thatcher’s record as Prime Minister, and was relying almost wholly on what her Liverpudlian parents had told her, this ridiculous person was taken seriously.
Perhaps the nadir of radio coverage came yesterday evening when the BBC World Service unearthed someone called Mark, who had been promoting a song, Ding, Dong, The Witch Is Dead, taken from the film Wizard Of Oz. This was not simply unfair. It was in appallingly bad taste to give airtime to someone capable of pushing such a song about a woman who had died the previous day. Let him sing it in his bath, if he must, but this poison should have been kept off the airwaves.
God knows what foreign listeners to the often admirable BBC World Service will have thought when they heard a just deceased great stateswoman being referred to in this way. I don’t suppose it could happen in any other country on earth.
Nor can I remember any major political figure being so treated by the BBC so soon after his or her demise.
Humane: When Winston Churchill died, the BBC rightly dwelt on his wartime achievement (itself not without blemishes) and left it to historians to write about his failings
You may say Margaret Thatcher was unusual in being so divisive, and so is bound to be dealt with in an unusual way. But every statesman who has ever lived made lots of mistakes.
When Winston Churchill died, the BBC could have chosen to make much of his many cock-ups, and the evidence of his extremism: his controversial involvement in the bloody Sidney Street siege in 1911; the disastrous Gallipoli expedition, which he proposed in the First World War; his return to the Gold Standard when Chancellor; and his reactionary opposition to Indian Home Rule in the 1930s.
But the BBC rightly dwelt on his wartime achievement (itself not without blemishes) and left it to historians to write about his failings. That is the natural, humane and sensible thing to do when a great figure dies. So it should have been with Margaret Thatcher.
For all her faults and errors, it is widely agreed, even by people such as Tony Blair, that she managed to save Britain from economic calamity. That is a wonderful thing to have done.
She would not have received such treatment from the BBC had she been of the Left. No, the shortcomings of Leftists are usually indulged. On a much smaller scale, when the ex-Marxist historian and former sympathiser of Stalin, Eric Hobsbawm, died, the BBC kindly drew a curtain over his support for a totalitarian regime.
My submission is that an intelligent young person knowing little or nothing about the 1980s, who watched and listened to as much BBC coverage as I have, would come away with the false impression that she was a destructive leader who did more harm than good.
I would like to tell this young person that she won three elections, two of them with very large majorities, and that she achieved some great things, not least of which were liberating many working-class people in Britain, and helping to destroy Soviet communism. This democratically elected leader was not such a divisive and polarising person as the BBC pretends.
But that is how it often represented her when she was Prime Minister. The BBC hated her in life. The evidence of the past couple of days is that it still hates her in death.
via Mail Online
Japan’s main opposition party picked former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as its new leader Wednesday, a move likely to jack up pressure on the government to take a hard line against China.
In a rare political comeback in Japan, Mr. Abe is likely to lead the Liberal Democratic Party into a general election that is expected within months. He could once again become prime minister should the party return to power. Recent media polls show the LDP ahead of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan in voter support.
Mr. Abe is known for his hawkish security stance as well as his conservative, controversial views on Japan’s wartime actions. His party leadership victory comes at a time when Tokyo’s ties with its Asian neighbors have been frayed by rising tensions over territorial disputes.
Via Meadia wrote about Japan’s resurgent nationalism last week. The news that Abe is now head of the LDP—and according to recent polls the best bet for Japan’s next prime minister—confirms our fears that Tokyo will soon take an even more confrontational stance toward China in ongoing economic and territorial disagreements. Watch out.