LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: Last night we saw the nasty side of Nigel Farage

Lynne featherstone by paul walterLynne Featherstone has written an article for the Liberal Democrats’ website in which she slams Nigel Farage’s comments on same sex marriage  and Crimea in the debate last night.

I agree with Vlad

Nigel Farage loathes the EU so much that he is prepared to side with Vladimir Putin against the people of Ukraine and the democracies of the western world.

His statement, that the EU has “blood on its hands”, was an insult to those pro-democracy demonstrators who bravely took to the streets of Kiev to fight for their rights in the face of oppression, some of whom gave their lives.

And just in case you thought that might be a slip up, here’s UKIP’s former leader Lord Pearson on the radio this morning: “Russia has been making it known for years that it couldn’t, and can’t, and won’t tolerate the Crimea coming under the sphere of influence of the corrupt octopus in Brussels…I think Nigel Farage is right to point that out and the instigator of this crisis is in fact Brussels and not Russia.”

Breaking into a sweat

As the architect of same sex marriage, she is bound to take exception to his comments:

When same-sex marriage came up, Nigel Farage broke out in a sweat, opposed it and tried to find a way to blame the European courts. Contrast that with Nick, speaking openly and warmly about his pride that from this weekend gay couples will be allowed to marry: “It is just unalloyed great news that love and commitment is going to be recognised in marriage across the country regardless of your gender. It’s a wonderful step forward.”

What sort of country do we want to be?

In her conclusion, he asks:

Last night you saw a great contest and a clear contrast. This was not just about whether or not you think Britain is better off in or out of the European Union. This was about what sort of country we want to be. Do we want to be a modern, open, tolerant and diverse country that is co-operative with its neighbours and comfortable in the 21st century world, or do we want to be an isolated, divided and fearful country that is more comfortable in the company of bullies like Putin than people who are demonstrating for their freedom? I know which side I’m on. I agree with Nick.

You can read the whole article here. 

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22 Comments

  • Ruth Bright 27th Mar '14 - 5:34pm

    Both debaters were impressive but Farage was barking about Ukraine.

  • David Allen 27th Mar '14 - 7:07pm

    “I agree with Vlad… Nigel Farage loathes the EU so much that he is prepared to side with Vladimir Putin against the people of Ukraine … an insult to those pro-democracy demonstrators who bravely took to the streets of Kiev to fight for their rights…” etc etc etc.

    Well, that is every bit as unbalanced as what Farage said. Putin has reacted badly, but the EU’s aggressive expansionism is partly to blame for this conflict, and people know it. I am a Europhile, but I have never believed in “my country, right or wrong”.

    The word “Vlad”, which of course is supposed to dog-whistle-up thoughts of Vlad the Impaler, is a piece of xenophobic hate-speech. Shame on a Lib Dem for descending to that.

  • “The word “Vlad”, which of course is supposed to dog-whistle-up thoughts of Vlad the Impaler, is a piece of xenophobic hate-speech. Shame on a Lib Dem for descending to that.”

    Eh? ‘Vlad’ is just short for Vladimir, Putin’s Christian name!

    One might as well say people who call Our Leader ‘Nick’ are trying to summon up visions of ‘Old Nick’, the Devil …

  • I seriously don’t get this. Farage was rightly pointing out the obvious fact that Western involvement ($5 billion funding from Washington + Victoria Nuland??), is what facilitated the overthrow of a ((.lets’s not forget,…Democratically elected..!!)) government in Ukraine. Why couldn’t they just wait to overthrow Yanukovych with the ballot box like normal democracies do? And the reason of course, is because the EU was worried that he would seal the deal with Russia instead of the EU (So ,.in their mind, .he had to go, and go soon!!). Seriously folks,..Western fingerprints are all over this mess in Kiev.
    And as such Farage is absolutely correct when he points out the inconvenient fact that the blood of the dead in that violent event in Kiev, lies squarely on Western hands. The argument against what is an obvious fact, is simply stupid and borders somewhere between Western cognitive dissonance and sheer hypocrisy.

  • Paul in Twickenham 27th Mar '14 - 7:46pm

    Yes, David Allen is right. While Nick Clegg regularly features in the Private Eye crossword based on the multiple possible meanings of “Nick” (devil, prison, steal), “Vlad” really has only one connotation in English (as “Vlad the Impaler”) and since I have never seen Putin described as “Vlad” anywhere before, the only reasonable conclusion is that it is a deliberate allusion. But is it xenophobic? It sounds more Putin-phobic.

    And of course the Americans seem to broadly agree with Nigel Farage, as shown by Victoria Nuland’s (in)famous comment that cannot be repeated here…

  • I think as Lib Dems we have to be extremely careful about taking sides in Ukraine v Russia, or any of the other multiple ways you could describe this stand-off / conflict. Of course the annexation of Crimea is illegal, but then so, no doubt, was the removal from power of Yanukovych. Both sides have indulged in inflated rhetoric, and it is clear that Russia are using their superior military power to cow people in Ukraine. I think, however, that those, especially the military and Republicans in the USA who are talking up threats to Moldova, and more especially to the Baltic Republics are going OTT and should be encouraged to turn the volume down. It is more than surprising that Farage, given his other views, is taking a pro-Russia line on this, which is equally dangerous to the John McCain approach.

  • Someone on Daily Politics today said that with regard to the situation in Ukraine, the EU did the opposite of ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’ – they shouted loudly whilst carrying a very small stick.

  • The Russian nicknames for Vladimir are Volodya and Vova, not Vlad. Probably most English-speakers wouldn’t recognise these forms as being related.
    I bet Nick would, though!

  • @Phyllis I think the person speaking on Daily Politics was Patrick o’flynn, UKIP’s press officer trying to back-up Farage’s remarks. Lord Pearson made similar points on radio when debating with Paddy Ashdown, UKIP are rallying to support Farage’s comments. In this they are strangely in line with the Stop the War line on Ukraine: http://stopwar.org.uk/news/ten-things-to-remember-about-the-crisis-in-ukraine-and-the-crimea#.UzSlMMfn0k_
    Personally I take Billy Bragg’s line on both the STW line and Farage’s: As he recently posted on FB: ‘I’m embarrassed by the excuses that the Stop the War website is making for Vladimir Putin. Apparently it’s America’s fault that he has invaded Crimea. And the EU’s fault too. And our government’s. And Syria. And the Ukrainians who sided with Hitler in the 1940s. Oh and NATO too of course. WTF?? We vociferously opposed Putin over his treatment of Pussy Riot. We called him out over his prejudice against the Russian LGBT community. Now he’s sending troops into the Crimea we’re looking the other way?”

  • “The Russian nicknames for Vladimir are Volodya and Vova, not Vlad.”

    I stand corrected. The fount of all knowledge says that Vlad is specifically Romanian.

    But I suspect it’s more a question of Lynne Featherstone sharing my ignorance of Russian names than of her deliberately invoking the spirit of Vlad the Impaler.

  • The Russian invasion of Crimea looks to me to be the same as Hilter’s annexation of Austria and the Sudetenlands and as such it was illegal. However this does not mean that the EU does not have some responsibility for the invasion happening. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and annexed South Ossetia so those people who were encouraging Ukraine to have closer ties with the EU should have seen Russia’s reaction coming. It appears that the Ukraine would not have accepted NATO troops being deployed in the Crimea ahead of the Russian invasion so there was nothing we could have done to stop the invasion once Russia’s fears had been heightened. We all need to remember that Russia does not want to be surrounded by countries in the EU and/or NATO and if we can’t stop them using their military to ensure this we shouldn’t encourage countries and their citizens to believe they can join the EU or NATO if Russia objects.

  • Little Jackie Paper 28th Mar '14 - 12:19am

    ‘We all need to remember that Russia does not want to be surrounded by countries in the EU and/or NATO and if we can’t stop them using their military to ensure this we shouldn’t encourage countries and their citizens to believe they can join the EU or NATO if Russia objects.’

    Are there any other countries around the world that you think it’s A-OK for them to dictate foreign policy to their neighbours under threat of invasion? Or is Russia different?

  • jedibeeftrix 28th Mar '14 - 7:22am

    Welcome to geopolitics.

    It’s not nice, it is what it is.

  • “Are there any other countries around the world that you think it’s A-OK for them to dictate foreign policy to their neighbours under threat of invasion? Or is Russia different?”

    No, it’s very similar to the US. In 1963, when the Soviets tried to install missiles in the US’s back yard in Cuba, the US used the nuclear threat to force the Soviets to desist. What Kennedy did then was understandable. The Soviets had made an excessively provocative move. They had to back down under threat of force.

    The parallel with today’s events is quite strong. It is the West who made the first unduly provocative moves, albeit alongside courageous Ukrainian protesters who had a good deal of right on their side. Putin’s response in retaliation must also be condemned, but, he was certainly provoked. It was naive of the West to expect him to sit back and do nothing.

    As to Putin’s “threat of invasion”, it’s gentler than Kennedy’s threat of mutually assured destruction.

  • I feel very oppressed by this coalition as do many poor, sick, disabled and unemployed. May I go and overthrow the government please? Meet outside Houses of Parliament? Perhaps the US would pay me as they paid the Ukranian demonstrators. A long prison sentence is more likely. I do not understand how you applaud a democratically elected government to be overthrown without seeing the irony. Why not let us have a referendum on the EU now? Does it only work for people saying they want in?

  • @ Little Jackie Paper – “Are there any other countries around the world that you think it’s A-OK for them to dictate foreign policy to their neighbours under threat of invasion? Or is Russia different?”

    There are no countries where I think it is OK for one country to dictate to another. I thought I had made my position clear with my comparison of Russia with Nazi Germany. Countries need to consider the reaction of other countries to what they do. In 1914 Austria-Hungary may have not considered what the reaction of Russia would be. Russia had not been in a position to stop Austria-Hungary in annexing Bosnia-Herzegovina (1908), it had failed to ensure Serbia kept her conquests in Albania in 1912 and after the Second Balkan War (1913) Russia couldn’t afford to lose its last ally in the Balkans. Therefore Austria-Hungary and Germany should had understood that Russia had to protect Serbia from Austria-Hungary in July 1914. Therefore those who encouraged the Ukraine have some responsibility because they didn’t take account of what the Russian reaction might be.

    As jedibeeftrix wrote, “Welcome to geopolitics. It’s not nice, it is what it is.”

  • That’s false from many, many different points of view, but the most obvious one is that Putin never made any statement or threat that a revolution in Ukraine could lead to annexation of the Crimea or any other part of the Ukraine by Russia. In fact, the Russian Foreign Ministry spent the entire time that Yanukovych was shooting demonstrators in Kyiv saying “hands off, no one should interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs.” So no, nobody had any reason to *expect* Russia to invade Ukraine, except Putin’s inner circle, who were obviously playing this very close to the vest. In fact, it’s just possible that Yanukovych was *encouraged* by Putin to flee Kyiv in order to give Putin the excuse he wanted (not “needed”) to attack the Crimea.
    No matter which way you look at it, *all* of the responsibility for the Crimean invasion belongs to Putin. One hundred per cent.

  • @David Allen: You don’t understand the Cuban missile crisis well. Khrushchev not only *tried* to put nuclear missiles into Cuba, he *did* put missiles in Cuba. Kennedy blockaded Cuba to keep more Soviet supplies from coming in. There was no overt nuclear threat from Kennedy, though the possibility of an armed confrontation between US and Soviet ships raised the stakes and risked the start of a shooting war. Castro wanted the Soviets to attack the US, even with nuclear weapons; Khrushchev thought this was a really bad idea (he never let the Cubans get near the missiles) and engaged in some fairly tense bargaining with Kennedy. The end result was that Khrushchev pulled back the missiles from Cuba (openly) and Kennedy pulled out the corresponding missiles from Turkey (quietly, and a bit later, to avoid it being seen as the quid pro quo that it pretty much was).
    So you’re wrong on both counts: Kennedy didn’t threaten nuclear war (*except* in the case of missiles being launched from Cuba, which was not exactly a new or surprising policy); Khrushchev didn’t back down in the face of threats, but bargained and got something that he wanted.
    Unlike the Ukraine situation, no military force was *actually* used. No missiles were launched, and the US did not invade Cuba. The whole affair was very tense and frightening while it lasted, but it was resolved peaceably and to the satisfaction of both sides (though it was not at all satisfactory to Castro, who wanted gringo blood).
    In short, it’s a terrible analogy in every conceivable respect.

  • @ David-1 – In fact, the Russian Foreign Ministry spent the entire time that Yanukovych was shooting demonstrators in Kyiv saying “hands off, no one should interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs.”

    I think that was Russia’s way of saying that the interference it believed was happening from the West should stop.

    @ David-1 So no, nobody had any reason to *expect* Russia to invade Ukraine,

    Russia and Putin have form – Georgia and South Ossetia in 2008. Therefore international relations experts and Russia watchers should have been able to see that Russia might take action to annex part of Ukraine and it is this failure to look at this possible outcome that is why some responsibility lies with those who encouraged the Ukraine. However Putin is much more responsible because he clearly had the power not to act.

    David-1 you are most likely correct in that Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the Ukraine was encouraged by Putin.

  • After the carnage of World war 1 and the subsequent collapse of the League of Nations, we had the global devastation of World War 2 and the advent of the nuclear age. The establishment of the United Nations, for all its faults and frustrations , represents the only real forum that humankind has for preserving some sort of order between warring states.

    We need to respect the norms of International Law, in both our words and actions, if the UN is to retain any influence as an effective mediator in International disputes – this is particularly the case for the five permanent members of the security council i.e. USA, Russia, China, France and the UK.

    All of the veto wielding members of the security council have been guilty of breaches of International law and putting national self-interest ahead of the interests of maintaining International peace since the UN was formed.

    In the case of the Crimea, 13 of the 15 members of the UN security council have voted for a resolution determining that the referendum was illegitimate with China abstaining and Russia exercising its veto. The UN general assembly came to the same conclusion in a non-binding resolution with 100 members determining the referendum was illegitimate , 58 countries abstaining and 11 voting against.

    Nonetheless if, as appears to be the case, Crimean’s have taken the opportunity of a political vacuum to exercise their right of self-determination to secede from Ukraine, there is nothing the International community can or indeed should do about it. It is an internal dispute between the Kiev and Crimean parliaments.

    The same opportunism on the part of Russia to interfere in another countries affairs at a time of political instability and bring part of their territory within its Federation cannot, however, be excused. That is how major wars get started and the UN has rightly expressed its condemnation of Russian actions, so reminiscent of the Anschluss of Nazi Germany.

    Just as Crimea has a right to self-determination so too does the rest of Ukraine and that includes entering into agreements with the EU and/or Nato. Ukraine cannot be expected to accede to a Russian insistence on maintaining a dominant influence in former soviet states or threats of invasion if they do not consent to remain as weakly defended buffer zones between Russia and the West.

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