PETER HITCHENS: The country was misled on a vital matter – and it wasn’t Boris Johnson’s parties
The inflated grandees of Parliament’s Privileges Committee are currently pondering the vast issue of whether Al ‘Boris’ Johnson misled the Commons about some office parties.
I care little for Mr Johnson, but one has to ask why these persons do not investigate themselves for their utter failure to prevent a gross abuse of power by the Government during Covid.
They failed to challenge policies which smashed the economy to pieces, launched an uncontrollable storm of inflation, wrecked the NHS, maimed schools and universities, and destroyed personal freedom, in a misconceived belief that such actions were justified by Covid.
The outcome in Sweden, where these mad things were not done, shows clearly that this was an inexcusable panic.
But that is not the main issue I wish to raise. For there is a far more important case in which a senior Minister needs to answer charges of misleading Parliament, one on which the whole issue of war and peace may turn.
The inflated grandees of Parliament’s Privileges Committee are currently pondering the vast issue of whether Al ‘Boris’ Johnson misled the Commons about some office parties
I care little for Mr Johnson (pictured), but one has to ask why these persons do not investigate themselves for their utter failure to prevent a gross abuse of power by the Government during Covid
This country’s attitude towards events in Ukraine is based on a slavish decision to do what the Americans tell us to do, rather than on any serious estimate of our own national interest. I believe this may drag us into prolonged war.
Even the poor King must take part, forced to say during his German visit that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was ‘unprovoked’. This assertion is highly contentious and makes our monarch look silly and ill-informed.
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Even the anti-Russian Washington hawk Robert Kagan has clearly stated that it was provoked. Provocation does not, of course, justify any such invasion, but admitting that it took place might make our own policy less wildly militant and risky.
It is regrettable but true that most of our media and political class are unaware of one of the biggest events in modern European history – that this crisis began with the lawless overthrow of Ukraine’s legitimately elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014. There is little doubt that this coup had Western backing.
Peaceful protests in Kiev had been infiltrated by ultra-Right thugs.
As the Ukrainian sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko wrote in The Guardian soon before the putsch: ‘Before the start of full-fledged street violence on 19 January, Western media were naively celebrating the ‘European values’ of the movement – despite the fact that the xenophobic, homophobic, nationalist Svoboda party had, with even more extreme groups, been involved in Euromaidan – as the protests are known – almost from the beginning.
They were using far-Right slogans, fighting with the police, leading occupations of administrative buildings and dismantling monuments.
Yet neither the incidents of torture, lynching and public humiliation of alleged thieves in the protest camp, nor the beatings of homeless and drunk people nearby, have made it into the international media.’
David Roman, then a correspondent in Kiev for the Wall Street Journal, has since described the events: ‘I must correct the impression… that a courageous popular response to armed repression led to victory for the protesters.
Even the poor King (second from right) must take part, forced to say during his German visit that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was ‘unprovoked’. This assertion is highly contentious and makes our monarch look silly and ill-informed
On the contrary, on the last days of February 2014, armed thugs – many, if not most, heavily armed far-Right and neo-Nazi activists from western Ukraine – stormed Maidan square, killing and capturing police officers and forcing the hand of a government that, as well as being unpopular, was bankrupt and diplomatically isolated.
Some people… may think this good and proper, so that Ukraine has a pro-EU, pro-American government.
Personally, I was struck by the image of a democratically elected president escaping his country in the middle of the night, chased by hooligans holding Waffen-SS banners.’
In fact the last act of this putsch took place when several EU foreign ministers brokered a deal for early elections and major reforms between Yanukovych and the protest leaders. But the mob rejected it, preferring a violent overthrow to democracy.
It all ended on February 22, with what was left of Ukraine’s parliament endorsing the coup You might have thought that Western countries, committed to democracy and the rule of law, would have been shocked and disapproving. Not a bit of it.
Perhaps this was because of the open support for the protesters expressed by several Western political figures.
On March 4, 2014, the then Mr William Hague (now Lord Hague of Richmond), as Foreign Secretary, stated in the Commons: ‘Former President Yanukovych left his post and then left the country, and the decisions on replacing him with an acting president were made by the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, by the very large majorities required under the constitution… so it is wrong to question the legitimacy of the new authorities.’
On March 4, 2014, the then Mr William Hague (now Lord Hague of Richmond, pictured), as Foreign Secretary spoke in the Commons
Lord Hague said: ‘Former President Yanukovych (pictured) left his post and then left the country, and the decisions on replacing him with an acting president were made by the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, by the very large majorities required under the constitution…’
This statement appears to be seriously inaccurate.
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In his book Frontline Ukraine, Professor Richard Sakwa, of the University of Kent, states: ‘The formal procedure required the establishment of a dedicated investigatory committee… its conclusions to be reviewed by parliament and then a vote in favour of impeachment if so decided, followed by a decision of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, and, finally – most importantly – a vote by no fewer than three-quarters of the constitutional total of the parliament (338 MPs).
‘Instead, MPs were simply instructed to ‘sack’ Yanukovych.
‘Even then, the vote did not reach the required majority: 328 of 447 MPs (73 per cent) voted to remove Yanukovych from the presidency on the grounds that he was unable to fulfil his responsibilities, even though an hour earlier on TV Yanukovych had insisted that he would not resign and at that point had not left the country.
Article 111 of the constitution lists four circumstances in which an incumbent president may leave office – resignation, a serious health condition, impeachment, and death – none of which applied in this case.’
If this is true, then it seems to me that the whole publicly accepted idea of what is going on in Ukraine is simply wrong. And Lord Hague’s words in the Commons have contributed to this.
I have tried repeatedly to reach Lord Hague. So far, nothing. I have also sought a response from the Foreign Office. So far, nothing.
I think this is more important than Mr Johnson’s parties.
Why police are also complicit in Olivia’s death
The Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside, Chris Green, has said that abusers of illegal drugs are responsible for the vast snakepit of drug-related crime which led to the unbearable death of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel.
He said: ‘There’s a strong message, if those individuals who at the weekend are partying out in clubs or socialising in houses think they’re not doing any harm by having a line of cocaine or doing whatever they want to do … Everyone involved in the chain is responsible.
The Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside, Chris Green, has said that abusers of illegal drugs are responsible for the vast snakepit of drug-related crime which led to the unbearable death of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel (pictured)
That is the reality. If there wasn’t demand, there wouldn’t be supply.’
And he is dead right. But perhaps he’d care to say how his force, or indeed any UK police force, has been treating the crime of drug possession?
As I understand it, they have been turning a blind eye to it for about 30 years.
In which case the police too are involved in the chain. And if they think they’re not doing any harm by this lazy, feeble laxness, they are very much mistaken.
This is not the only horror they have on their conscience, and it will not be the last.
Sensible countries such as Japan and South Korea still successfully prosecute abusers.
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