Call Clegg: A well-informed 9 year old, empathy with the Kings and the moral dilemmas of dealing with terrorists

Nick stopped off at LBC on his way to the NATO summit in Newport. As an aside, my heart has been warmed by the lush and beautiful Welsh countryside, but who have planning permission for that building in the middle of it? Could they not have built something with more of a soul?

The star of the show was 9 year old Rowan who was incredibly well-iinformed about the school meals policy, telling Nick that his school meals weren’t that healthy and that the evidence of their efficacy in improving learning was a) marginal and b) more relevant at Key Stage 2 than 1. It is worth listening to the whole exchange. Nick said that it’s difficult to target by areas because 4 out of 10 children in poverty don’t qualify for free school meals. He said that the evidence is that if you want all children to do well, having them share a healthy meal together at lunchtime it has a dramatic effect. Sadly, though, it means that Rowan’s sister at his old school is missing out on her gym class because the gym is being used for dinners. It was absolutely brilliant to see a 9 year old completely confidently arguing with the Deputy Prime Minister. We need more of them. Nick referred Rowan to read Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent’s School Food Plan. I have the feeling we haven’t heard the last of that young man.

The fight against Islamic State saw Clegg looking back to the first President Bush’s example of “meticulous” coalition building when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. He said that it would be a disaster if the fight against IS became The West against The Rest. They will only be beaten by a broad coalition of countries working together on political, humanitarian and military fronts. He emphasised that IS are offensive to everyone and that we are in solidarity with most Muslims in the world in standing against them. This is not something that the Ministry of Defence can hope to fix.

The heartbreaking and intense moral dilemma of whether countries should pay ransoms to kidnappers came up next.  He said that, ultimately, if you paid the ransom, you created a greater incentive to kidnap and more lives would be lost. He was asked whether newspaper editors were right to name the British hostage being held by IS and replied that they had to be accountable for their own actions but he felt that he wanted to heed the advice of the security experts who said it could make life more difficult for the hostage. Although, I have to add,  how much more difficult his life could get at the moment is hard to imagine.





* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Philip Rolle 4th Sep '14 - 2:38pm

    The internet is telling us he’s a fake. But they’re not sure about the nine year old!

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

  • Unfortunately, the recent email from Nick to party members suggests that far from holding firm, he is trying to soften us up for a compromise on exclusions: ‘… there may also be circumstances where it would be beneficial to our security to exclude, on a temporary basis, UK nationals who are known to have fought for ISIL and where there is a risk that they will carry out attacks in the UK.’

    No, no, no! We need to be loud and clear on the need to fundametally redirect the security services towards the goal of convicting ISIS fighters and locking them up, not just excluding them from the country, which just makes them an even greater danger to Britons (and others) overseas! There is scope here to outflank the Tories with a tough and practical message, which those interested in civil liberties will recognise (without being told!) respects human rights. Those less interested will just see Nick being tough. Win, win.

  • There does seem to be a significant effort underway to build an Islamic State war crimes case for prosecutions under International law

    As I understand it citizenship is currently being removed from dual-nationals and naturalised citizens known to have fought with Islamic extremist groups. The temporary exclusion referred to is presumably the issue of British born Jihadi’s and the applicability or otherwise of the exceptions listed within the UN convention on stateless persons that provide for the withdrawal of citizenship.

  • “We need to be loud and clear on the need to fundamentally redirect the security services towards the goal of convicting ISIS fighters and locking them up,…”
    Are you sure you have thought this through GPPurnell?
    To process a (British), murderer through the legal system, (+ appeals), can easily cost over £1 million, then 15 years of High risk prison placement at £38,000 per year, and you get to £1.5 million per person. (Add to these costs the investigations abroad?)
    Then,… multiply that with a potential 500 ISIS ‘returners’, and you have to ask the taxpayer to find close to £ 1 billion ??
    Trust me, tearing a passport into two pieces is a far better option?
    We don’t want these psychopaths back.

  • Caron please tell me you don’t really believe that ‘Rowan’ was a 9 year old boy? The voice is very clearly that of an adult female.

  • Tony Dawson 5th Sep '14 - 11:59am

    John Dunne,

    There are UK citizens at present fighting AGAINST ISIS (and Assad) within the Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga. D o you think all these should be locked out of Britain as well on the say-so of our magnificent (sic) and trustworthy Immigration authorities and intelligence services? What you are pushing for is a ‘sus’ law where anyone who is suspected of being an ISIS fighter is excluded (or possibly, as a variation,detained) on the scantest of evidence. As for the cost, have you thought of the fortune that lawyers will make contesting the legality of any such laws and the costs of what all these people, forced to stay together in a foreign country, will get up to?

    Should the British volunteers who went off and fought Franco or the US Citizens who joined us against Hitler pre-1942 have also been excluded by their home countries?

  • Yes, Joe Bourke, I think we have a responsibility to the international community – including British expats – to lock up British criminals, where we have the evidence to convict.
    Your policy of NOT prosecuting criminal behaviour on grounds of cost would grant virtual immunity to such people, provided they did not visit this particular island. Not very comforting for our neighbours, nor for the millions of British expats. I do not think the cost need be as prohibitive as you claim.
    Perhaps you favour a military solution? How much would that cost?

  • Tony Dewson asks:
    “As for the cost, have you thought of the fortune that lawyers will make contesting the legality of any such laws and the costs of what all these people, forced to stay together in a foreign country, will get up to?”
    I think my worry about what they might get up to in the UK, has a *much* higher priority than what they might ‘get up to’ in Northern Iraq?
    As for the ‘cost’,… have you considered that after these psychopaths return, the daily fear of a parent, who sends their child to school with no security, hoping that they don’t get a phone call to pick up their dead child?

  • GP Purnell,

    I would not advocate withdrawal of citizenship from any British born citizen. I would be open to temporary security restrictions e.g. a short period of ‘community type’ service in humanitarian aid camps as a preliminary to a return to the UK, where there is insufficient evidence to bring prosecutions in the law courts, but sufficiently strong evidence of a security threat from individuals returning to the UK. that can be presented to a British judge.

    I do not think that British citizens fighting with Free Syrian army groups, the Kurdish Peshmerga, Israeli defence force or joining the French foreign legion would constitute such a threat. Those that have been engaged in service with groups that endorse or instigate terrorism , such as ISIL, Jabhat Al-Nusra and other Al Qaeda affiliates may well constitute a sufficient threat to warrant judge sanctioned temporary relocation orders.

  • To follow from the Clegg – Farage fiasco, we now have our leader outdebated by (an admittedly well coached) nine year old. Surely he must have some pride.

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Sep '14 - 6:21pm

    Oh dear – what Terry said. Absolutely obviously not a child, by voice and choice of language. And I think it’s pretty obvious Clegg rumbled that straight away but realised he couldn’t call “him” a liar on the radio.

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