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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

It was deplorable that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message to our young people.

– Patricia Hewitt denounces Iranian treatment of a member of the fifteen captured British navy personnel. Is there a more perfect illustration of the misplaced priorities of Blair’s Britain?

(Via Tim Blair, who notes “as always with such a blindingly stupid quote, be alert to the possibility it’s too stupid to be true.” Perhaps regular Hewitt-watchers would not see the need for such caution.)

26 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Steve P

    This is an April Fool wind-up…right? Surely even the inept Mrs. Hewitt could be this crass.

  • APL

    “..15 sailors and Royal Marines were captured by just six Iranians..”

    Good god, it is worse than I thought.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    It must be April Fool, is Hewitt really that fucking stupid?

  • Johnathan – I thought it a possible April Fool, too, but the article is dated 31st of March…

  • Steve P

    Re. my first post, which should have read “Surely not even the inept Mrs. Hewitt could be this crass?”
    Teach me to wake up properly before posting I suppose.

  • Millie Woods

    The Hewitt comment reminds me of one of my favourite cartoons from Punch. A mom, dad and little boy are walking down a street. The little boy has a saucepan on his head. The caption reads, I’m sure everyone is wondering how we can let our little boy go out with such a dirty saucepan on his head. Plus ca change….

  • When Ms. Hewitt was in charge of the Department for Trade and Industry, I traded e-mails with her (I was, at the time, living in her constituency) about an issue that the DTI has (or had) some involvement in – the European Union Copyright Directive’s implementation of Digital Rights Management legal protection (DRM systems fundamentally don’t work, and so they require the force and coercion of government to keep them secure).

    Based on her response, she seemed not to have grasped the point of my e-mail. She has a very tenuous grasp on reality, and the above quote – which I’m pretty sure is genuine – is not out of the ordinary at all.

    Good to know that if I happen to fall ill that I’ll be treated by a system that has this bumbling incompetent fool in charge.

  • Johnny Surabaya

    “…the woman hostage…” has a name and a rank. She is Leading Seaman Faye Turney. Perhaps that woman MP should have paid her the courtesy of using them.

    I do hope the reported comment turns out to be an invention.

  • Cato

    our children?

    What the hell is she going on about?
    Are the kids national property now as well?

  • RAB

    Do you Johnny?
    I really hope it’s true. It’s just the sort of thing that the swivel eyed witch would say. However…
    Booker counters it, not with the assertion that parading our troops on video was wrong per se, but with a pop at Royal Navy lack of discipline when clambering over the side of the Ddow.
    I havent seen this Iranian footage (and if it exists only goes to prove that the kidnap was well planned.Who goes into a potential firefight filming a video?)
    So I am suspicious of it being an April fool.

  • Boswell

    “..15 sailors and Royal Marines were captured by just six Iranians..”

    Good god, it is worse than I thought.

    Remember this?(Link)

  • Ham

    We’ve all did thing when we were teenagers that we might now be deeply ashamed of: I cast my first vote in a general election for her. :(

    I knew I’d made a mistake much earlier than this. My first inkling was when I went to a question and answer session with her and she insisted on there being an even number of questions asked by both sexes.

  • John

    The kidnapping of 15 British servicemen is empathically not a defeat or humiliation for the UK. It is a humiliation for Iran – the best possible thing that could have happened.

    It is a dream come true.

    The Iranian nutjobs are not evil geniuses – they are nutjobs who have made an incredible mistake, as nutjobs are wont to do.
    Can you please desist from this idiotic criticism of our servicemen – such ill-considered blather is a total disgrace.

  • Paul Marks

    Dear John.

    The above thread is about the alleged anti smoking obsession of a British government minister (hopefully an April fools joke) showing the general P.C. nonsense that has a hold on government ministers – and their lack of interest in serious matters. This thead is not about the British 15 at all.

    As for Iran rather than Britain being humilated – hopefully that will be so, if the West strikes back and Iran loses.

    However, at the present time if you think it is Iran and not Britain that has been humilated you must be living in a different universe.

    But then you do have an odd habit of attacking comments for things they do not contain (in this case nonexistent attacks on the 15).

  • veryretired

    The deplorably wrong message that is being sent to young people in Britain, and elsewhere, is that it is acceptable to commit an act of war against members of HM’s military services, and that it is unacceptable to respond with anything but perplexed sputtering.

    I have no interest in any criticism of these soldiers.

    There will be time enough for analysis and critique of their actions or omissions, and I am sure any number of monday morning quarterbacks, whether qualified to evaluate the situation or not, will be glad to pitch in

    I am thoroughly disgusted by the actions and responses, or lack of same, by their superiors and political leadership, including NATO and the US.

    If I had wanted Jimmy Carter, I would have written his name in on the allotted space on the ballot.

  • John

    “..15 sailors and Royal Marines were captured by just six Iranians..”
    Good god, it is worse than I thought.

    Dear Paul,
    You are quite wrong.
    The comment by Boswell [above] is a smear.
    The British constantly encounter the IRG in Southern Iraq and they are under strict orders not to cause a confrontation or escalate their contact beyond the requirements of the UN mandate and international law – terms under which the Royal Navy operate everyday GLOBALLY.
    It is the Iranians who have acted as opportunistic cowards.
    The 15 kidnapped British servicemen have behaved commendably.

    John

  • Pa Annoyed

    Paul, I think John’s comment was directed at that of APL and the follow up from Boswell. Whether it should be considered a humiliation depends very much on your point of view. I don’t think one needs to be in another universe to think otherwise.

    Veryretired and others, arresting foreign people, even without cause or jurisdiction, isn’t generally an act of war. Otherwise we would be declaring war every time a visiting serviceman got a parking ticket in New York. And a serviceman who went along with the police rather than disobeying orders by shooting it out with them is unlikely to get court martialled for cowardice. Yes, in practice the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are not quite the same as New York cops, but in law and international diplomacy they are.

    Casus Belli is defined in laws like Kellog-Briand, the London Treaty, and now the UN Charter. An illegal arrest is simply not in there. This is a diplomatic incident, and the British government are playing it as such. Everybody who is saying that the British are being weak for not escalating is simply helping the Iranian PR.

    Likewise, we should only judge the lack of action and response after they’re back.

    Thank you.

    Now, back to Patricia Hewitt and her comments…

  • The 15 kidnapped British servicemen have behaved commendably.

    What an odd view in my opinion. Some of the servicemen/woman may have behaved quite questionably since they were captured (we will not know for sure until we eventually hear the full story) but as for their behaviour at the moment of capture, my guess is that were acting under rules of engagement that prevented them from defending themselves.

    If that is not true, their behaviour (or more correctly the behaviour of their commander) was idiotic. If that is true however, that means the British servicemen acted according to their orders (which I suppose could be said to be ‘commendable’), even though the orders were self-evidently preposterous as if they had defended themselves (as US troops did in a similar land encounter with Iranians early last month) there would be no hostage situation at all now. Moreover it would have sent a rather different message to the Iranians that opportunistic acts of war (for that is what this is) are not a good idea and will be resisted.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Perry,

    Are you happy for the topic to be diverted back onto the rights and wrongs of ROEs, justifications for war, and our failure to nuke Tehran for daring to arrest British people?

    Because besides thinking we ought to leave this topic alone until they’re back (I’ll shut up about it if you will), I thought this thread was supposed to be about dear Patricia and the Ministry of It’s-for-your-own-good.

  • Jonathan

    Veryretired and others, arresting foreign people, even without cause or jurisdiction, isn’t generally an act of war. Otherwise we would be declaring war every time a visiting serviceman got a parking ticket in New York. And a serviceman who went along with the police rather than disobeying orders by shooting it out with them is unlikely to get court martialled for cowardice. Yes, in practice the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are not quite the same as New York cops, but in law and international diplomacy they are.

    Wrong metaphor. They were kidnapped, not arrested. The IRG, unlike the NYPD in NYC, has no legitimate authority in Iraqi waters (never mind whether the IRG’s authority in Iran is legitimate). The kidnapping of the British sailors would have been an act of piracy had the kidnappers been members of a criminal gang. As the perps were acting on behalf of a government it was an act of war.

  • Johnny Surabaya

    Do you Johnny?

    Yes RAB. Whilst I would rather that Mrs Hewitt wasn’t an MP, let alone Secretary of State for Health, I would like her to practice as little idiocy as possible whilst holding those offices. A vain hope, perhaps.

  • RAB

    Ah but Johnny,
    By their words shall ye know them !
    And hopefully avoid voting for the cretinous bitch the next time.

  • Sunfish

    This isn’t like the NYPD making a custodial arrest of a foreigner over a parking ticket. Holy jeez, can you imagine how overstuffed Riker’s would be if they did?

    It’s more like the NYPD going into Ontario to arrest fifteen RN sailors, who were in Ontario at the invitation of the Canadian government and had never entered the US at all, and especially not New York City.

    Any police department with 40,000 on the payroll is guaranteed to have someone that stupid. However, the response would be for Blair to call Bush and say “Tell those morons in the Big Apple to LET MY PEOPLE GO.” And Bush would say, “Our bad.” (Okay, being Bush he’d probably find a way to mispronounce ‘our bad,’ but they’d be released pretty quickly.)

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle something like this without making it worse. Not making it worse, though, might preclude the coming of the Twelth Iman and the incineration of all of the Persians who survived Thermopylae, and Ahmadenejad can’t have that.

  • Gospel of Enoch

    From Christopher Booker’s column this Sunday:
    “An Apology

    On April 1 this column alleged that Patricia Hewitt had said, of a TV appearance by Leading Seaman Faye Turney, that ‘it was deplorable that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message to our young people.’

    This was quoted by other newspapers and even mentioned on Have I Got News For You. I am happy to offer Miss Hewitt my apologies for setting this fictitious hare running but suggest that she looks again at the date.”

  • Ken

    Saw the same comments about one of the “best” war photos so far to come -it WAS NOT a “April 1″ “joke”.
    On the front page-above the fold-of Huston Chron. after the 1st “battle for Fulugia(sp)” there was a picture of a battle tired Marine sitting on a step smoking!!!!! (the shame!)
    The next few days of “LTE” were of the nature of “how DARE he smoke!!!, dosen’t he REALIZE the EXAMPLE he’s setting?