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With all due respect...

PUBLISHED: 16:53 09 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

RESPECT - it's a curious thing to base a political programme on. It's a bit like a manifesto that says: "Let's all be jolly nice to each other."

Mind you, it's also a symbol of much of what Tony Blair's government stands for.

RESPECT - it's a curious thing to base a political programme on. It's a bit like a manifesto that says: "Let's all be jolly nice to each other."

Mind you, it's also a symbol of much of what Tony Blair's government stands for. It sounds awfully fair and reasonable until you start thinking about what it really means - at which point it becomes rather hard to pin down.

In practice, or at least in public presentation, it mostly seems to boil down to a lack of respect for people in hoodies and baseball caps.

Respect, of course, is a good thing. Mostly.

It should be instilled in nursery and primary school, and in the home from a very young age

There's precious little any government can do about the home part. As for present plans to give parents "more power" over their little darlings' schooling, they can only make the situation worse, not better.

Teachers deserve more respect from pupils - and from parents. Indeed, they need it, not just for their own sakes, but for the sake of the adults those pupils will become, and the society we all inhabit.

Football referees deserve more respect. So, perhaps, do the police. So do asylum-seekers, shop staff, council employees, old folk, people who limp and people who don't watch Coronation Street or "reality TV".

Almost everyone, in fact, except those "celebrities" and others who appear in "reality" shows, thereby forfeiting any right to respect.

But I'm not going to raise the level of respect in the world by banging on about it, am I? Any more than Tony and his cronies are.

IT'S an odd thing, too, that Labour should have borrowed its latest catchphrase from its most notorious rebel.

I'm not sure who George Galloway respects, but it certainly isn't the current Labour leadership or their chums in the US administration.

Galloway may not be the most attractive personality, and I fear he may have done the anti-war cause more harm than good - rather like Michael Moore in the US. But he does speak a lot of sense on the matter.

And the idea that he somehow secretly made billions from dodgy deals with Saddam Hussein is about as plausible as Batman.

His set-to this week with the Senate sub-committee on investigations was a treat. Their loudmouth versus ours - and ours won.

"He is a fool. Not an ideological nutcase, not a partisan whack, not even a useful idiot - just a plain, old-fashioned, drool-on-his-tie fool."

That wasn't the Daily Telegraph on Galloway , but the excellent American journal The Nation on his would-be persecutor, Republican senator Norman Coleman.

He's the man who has kept stoking up the so-called food-for-oil "scandal".

As Galloway rightly told him, his efforts are an obvious smokescreen to cover his own government's unsavoury dealings in Iraq . And his bizarre decision to haul Galloway before a committee which has no jurisdiction over British citizens backfired badly.

All it did was give our George a platform for his views - and an American audience for this:

"I told the world that Iraq , contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction.

"I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda.

"I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection of the atrocity on 9/11, 2001.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq , I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives - 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies."

As the New York Post's headline put it on Wednesday: "Brit fries senators in oil". Nice one, George.


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