In Praise of Malcolm Rifkind 9

This will annoy those who occasionally accuse me of being a closet Tory, but I have long been a fan of Malcolm Rifkind. He was the first junior minister I worked to in the FCO when I was on the South Africa desk. Apartheid was in its last throes and we were trying to kill it off. Rifkind was genuinely horrified by apartheid. But South Africa was high on Thatcher’s personal agenda and to say she was uncommitted on apartheid would be kind to her. She insisted, for example, that the ANC was a terrorist organisation. Rifkind worked away beneath her in a way that can only be described as cheekily subversive, under the benign soggy shield of Geoffrey Howe.

Anyway, I have remained a fan of Malcolm Rifkind. He made some of the best speeches on the Iraq War. I debated notionally against him at the Cambridge Union a couple of years ago, but I don’t think either of us disagreed with a word the other said, and we had a very pleasant couple of glasses of champagne together on the train back to London.

He has now made a thoughtful speech on nuclear weapons reduction, bits of which are reproduced in the Telegraph.

If we are to succeed in stopping the ridiculous and massive waste of money and resources on Gordon Brown’s obscene determination to replace and upgrade the Trident missile system, we need to make common cause with the growing number of Tories and senior military men who see the stupidity of it.

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9 thoughts on “In Praise of Malcolm Rifkind

  • anticant

    Political tribalism is the enemy or progress. We must ally ourselves with everyone we share a view or policy with, regardless of what rosette they wear.

    Of course Maggie didn’t want to dismantle apartheid. Doing so threatened Denis’s extensive southern African business interests.

  • CD

    Aye but as SoS for Defence he was a disgrace. We all hated him becuse he was an obnoxious git.

  • Sam

    I agree with anticant – the two party system has had its day. I’ll support anyone who works for democracy, the rule of law and a genuine Parliamentary representation system filled with honest, decent and transparent members.

    Meanwhile, this Trident frolic abundantly illustrates just how delusional our ‘leadership’ is. Since when was Britain a first class military power? That’s not at all to denigrate the professionalism and dedication of our forces personnel – just that clinging on to fantasies of empire-by-firepower is so passe.

  • Mark Wood

    I think you are right about the demise of the old certainties of left and right, the inner comfort of knowing your side was right has gone. I think the battle now is between civil libertarianism and the politically correct totalitarians, the latter appear to be in charge of all major national political parties. It now feels like many of us online and on these electronic boards have transcended the old dogmas and have started to question the realities of life and no longer take as gospel what we are told by others but look more deeply at the what and why.

    I can remember a time before the rise of New Labour that I would instantly without thinking, dismiss any view of a member of the Tory party, but was it not David Davies that shouted out loudest from the cesspit of parliament regarding the loss of our collective civil liberty’s, personally this was a turning point in my own growth and now think that the old constraints were nothing less than a sophisticated construct, designed to conceal its real intention of the old classic tactic of divide and rule, in a style so in your face we all missed what was really going on. We need to encourage brave and honest voices and castigate the corrupt that act not in our interest but the interest of vested power for its own sake.

  • Hugh Kerr

    Craig you are right Rifkind is one of the better Tories and in many ways preferable to new labour hacks.His speeches opposing the war were excellent and had he won Pentlands in 1999 he would undoubtedly have been Tory leader and we might not have gone to War.I met him at Scottish Opera the day Howard was elected Tory leader and said to him “you realise Malcolm if you had of won Pentlands that could have been you” well he said that was a close shave!

  • Tom Welsh

    Actually the ANC was a terrorist organization. And, if the US and UK governments applied to it the same standards they do to Hamas, they would still consider it a terrorist organization.

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck then it very likely is a duck. The ANC behaved exactly like a terrorist organization, killing civilians and inflicting damage to destabilize the existing regime. Just like the IRA, for example.

    You may be one of those people who say a given organization is not terrorist if you deem them freedom fighters in a legitimate cause. But means are one thing, and ends are an entirely different thing. Whatever its goals, the ANC’s means were extremely and frighteningly violent.

  • George Dutton

    “Malcolm Rifkind”

    My thoughts…

    Rifkind is playing the long game for the tories. The next phase of the plan will be to try and make out to scottish voters that the tories north of the border are somehow more caring…what a load of crap.

    The tories have NO intention of EVER letting Scotland have true independence only the facade of independence.

  • Jon

    @Mark Wood – on David Davis, I admired his stand, and he has definitely done a positive service to the debate, but it is still only his *version* of liberty. I don’t think his views on the acceptability of 28 days without charge and capital punishment much advance the cause of liberty at all.

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