Got to hand it to this government, who true to form have managed to turn the one positive narrative they’ve had in months into a total omnishambles. This incorrect FCO tweet from two weeks ago claiming Porton Down experts had determined the Novichok was made in Russia has been deleted. Whichever FCO mandarin who tried to disappear this tweet to cover up their incompetence has properly landed everyone else in it.
Russia was clearly responsible for the attack on the Skripals – as the Porton Down scientist said yesterday it had to be a state actor – and the intelligence obviously points to Russia. Yet Gary Aitkenhead’s interview was a total PR disaster, giving out the misleading top line that the government can’t be sure it was Russia. Why did the MoD let this broadcast novice in front of the cameras?
Just when May had succeeded in getting the international community on board – one of her best achievements to date – they have conjured doubt where there should be none. Russia is already taking full advantage, gleefully tweeting out the deleted FCO screengrab and making out the British government lied. Corbynistas are echoing the conspiratorial Kremlin line and claiming this proves Seumas and Corbyn were right all along. All the grown ups in Whitehall are on holiday as the UK’s position internationally becomes needlessly undermined. What a mess.
This is the photograph board in the Foreign Office security room, used to help guards recognise ministers and assorted VIPs. Eagle-eyed co-conspirators at this weekend’s Open House London event spotted a distinctive black mark above Sir Alan Duncan’s top lip. As an eye-witness explains: “The security guards had clearly biro-ed a Hitler moustache onto the picture of Alan Duncan.” The guards have obviously had the pleasure of meeting Sir Alan. One’s a short, self-obsessed, megalomaniac, the other…
While most of the Tory party are hating the Foreign Office this morning for Hague’s native comments on Europe, look who popped by:
— David Lidington (@DLidington) January 13, 2014
Well it is the job of the Treasury to be everywhere in Whitehall.
Many wonder just what Britain’s first, and likely last, “Senior Minister of State” at the Foreign Office does. Well smearing one of Britain’s closest allies in the House of Lords is probably not in the job description. Answering a written question, Baroness Warsi replied:
“We have made no assessment of the number of non-violent protestors killed or injured in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 2002. According to the website of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 3,643 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israelis since 1 January 2012 in incidents directly related to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the West Bank and Gaza strip.”
Only one problem. That number is not true. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs states quite clearly that the actual figure of Palestinians killed by Israelis since 2012 was 262. Out by thousands. Why she felt the need to continue the answer beyond the first sentence is baffling. A correction is called for…