70,000 is the new 45 minutes 119

Precisely as I reported two days ago, Cameron really is in trouble over the Syria vote due to his patently ludicrous claim of the existence of 70,000 “moderate rebels”. Most MPs are pretty unpleasant people, but they do have a high opinion of their own importance. They will vote for anything they see as in their own self-interest, but not if it means kneeling and licking the floor when they are being treated with very obvious contempt, in public. Well, a great many of them will even do that if it advances their career, and the George Osborne tendency do it in private and pay for it. But not even pretending to take MPs seriously is a risky tactic, and that is what Cameron has done with his foolish ruse of just inventing 70,000 moderate fighters.

Today the government rubbed MPs faces further in the dirt by saying they could not give a breakdown of who the 70,000 are, because it is a secret.

Yes, honestly. The identity of our allies – even just in terms of what groups they belong to – is a secret.

In consequence the Tory majority Foreign Affairs Committee has refused to endorse airstrikes. Cameron will be under real pressure to come up with a more intellectually tenable line by tomorrow. He can hardly enter the debate on the basis that the entire strategy depends on allies whose existence is secret. Or perhaps he can, on the grounds the Blairites are conditioned to support bombing anybody, anywhere, and the Tories are mere lickspittles. He may look down his long Etonian nose with contempt at the Commons, and think “the peasants will do anything I ask”.

It is going to be an interesting 24 hours. The self-respect of the Commons is at stake. I still think Cameron may have overreached.

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119 thoughts on “70,000 is the new 45 minutes

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  • mike

    Given that the Americans have avoided bombing ISIS for over a year now, I wonder what our happy few Tornadoes will actually be firing at? To begin with, maybe a few low value targets (if the US say it’s OK). This phase will end with a few strikes on SAA assets, spun as a mistake, but it won’t be long before the true purpose of “hitting ISIS” becomes clear.

    Syria is on the neocons’ menu, and has been since Assad gave the finger to the Qatari pipeline, if not longer. It won’t come off until they get what they want (chaos that Israel can take advantage of) or until they are stopped. The only force that has a hope of stopping them is Russia/Iran and whoever else has an interest in doing so.

    Meanwhile, the EU can continue to hand-pick what’s left of the Syrian middle classes, and one or two ‘rogue elements’that have come with them.

  • lysias

    I wonder if the lickspittles are going to show up on this thread and try to defend Cameron’s lie.

  • lysias

    I thought Washington decided Assad had to go after Hezbollah humiliated Israel in 2006. Seymour Hersh wrote his prophetic piece about Washington deciding for Sunnis against Shiahs shortly thereafter.

    When did Assad turn down the pipeline?

  • lysias

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Ge. Dunford has really stuck it to Obama. Joint Chiefs chairman: ‘We have not contained’ ISIS :

    The United States has “not contained” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the nation’s top military officer said Tuesday, contradicting President Obama’s remarks last month about the terror group.

    “We have not contained” ISIS, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

    The comment runs counter to what the president said days before ISIS launched a string of attacks across Paris.

    “I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them,” Obama told ABC News.

  • YouKnowMyName

    I recently used this for a simulated situation at work, it can randomly generate (fake) names, addresses and identities (perfect for database studies), and it’s austerity compatible bneing free. . .

    apologies in advance Mr. Cameron – it can only generate FIFTY THOUSAND FAKE PEOPLE – you’ll have to think of the other twenty thousand all on your own!


  • Pan

    “Cameron will be under real pressure to come up with a more intellectually tenable line by tomorrow.”

    You mean his small army of ‘advisors’ will.

    Cameron himself is clearly not “intellectually tenable”.

  • glenn_uk

    I hope that secret of the 70,000 is shared with those “smart” missiles – they have to be very careful to distinguish between the innocent civilians, the good Freedom Fighters, and the bad Evil Doers. Tough job, since they’re all mingled in such close proximity.

  • Pan

    Lysias –

    “I wonder if the lickspittles are going to show up on this thread and try to defend Cameron’s lie.”

    How DOES one defend the indefensible?

    Guess we’ll have to wait and see – that’s a REAL hard nut to crack.

  • eddie-g

    It would be quite something if having offered Labour MPs a free vote, Corbyn went ahead and defeated Cameron on this motion.

    And I’d really like for the media to explain how Corbyn’s fights with the Blairite nasties is more of a story than the brewing Tory revolt against Cameron.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    As I suggested in a previous post on another thread, it seems likely that in due course, we will overtly be attacking Damascus on behalf of our Jihadist allies. The USA-UK-France lied to the Security VCouncil over Libya; Russia and China, etc. accepted the ‘no-fly zone’, but what happened was the ‘no-fly zone’ was used a an excuse for NATO to get rid of the Libyan state and infrastructure. I suspect a similar dynamic will apply in relation to Syria. I think the 70,000 soldiers lie is key, because it suggests that the Government is prepared to tell what everyone knows to be a barefaced lie – even senior generals are not pretending to believe it – and this is because they have a specific more generalised agenda in relation to Syria. Direct Russian involvement means that NATO wanted to get directly involved in a big way, to protect their Jihadist groups and to get rid of Syria as a functioning entity.


    Now, I would like everyone who supports this UK Government proposal to remember this day, this moment. I want them to remember it with great clarity. Later, we will hold them to account and they will attempt to wriggle out of it.

  • lysias

    Labour MP Louise Haigh Questions Government Claim Syria Has 70,000 ‘Moderate’ Troops Ahead Of Commons Vote On Bombing:

    A Labour MP wants the Government to come clean over David Cameron’s contention Syria boasts 70,000 “moderate” ground troops – a centrepiece of his case for war.

    Downing Street attempted to swat away Labour MP Louise Haigh’s suggestion 30,000 of the 70,000 were “radical Islamists” as a “mischaracterisation”, but she has told The Huffington Post tonight ministers still “need to be clear”.

    Her concern followed a briefing of MPs from the national security adviser Mark Lyall Grant, underscored by the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen Gordon Messenger, admitting the 70,000 was not a “coherent force” and represented a “spectrum of extremism”.

    Haigh’s tweet

    Louise Haigh MP ✔ @LouHaigh
    National Security Adviser confirms number of moderates on ground in Syria is 40,000 rest are much more radical Islamists
    9:17 AM – 1 Dec 2015

    was what she at least claimed were Lyall Grant’s exact words at the briefing.

  • Say what ?

    Forget 70k, the muricans kept waving $500m in the air in nearby Turkey in the hope of attracting a 15k force and all they got were 70 moderates who promptly handed over their toyotas upon crossing the border, to avoid a beheading by the bathing salt maniacs. And very soon we may be told “morally indefensible” Fallon is planning on meeting with the Bengali fathers of the 70,000 girls who have gone to Syria on jihad-al-keussy to service camerons moderates !!!

    But labour party MPs are traditionally known to be good meat pie munchers but poor in the grey matter dept. Its like they are dumb hillybillys in a jerry springer show with an aaronowitch as supporting wind-up merchant.

  • Alex Birnie

    Craig, I have fingers, toes – everything crossed – in the hope that you are right. I am in despair at the moment. I cannot believe that I am associated with a nation of psycopaths on the one hand, and apathetic ignoramuses on the other hand. We are ALL going to be complicit in murder. How many retaliatory bombs will have to explode in out major cities before the population turns on Cameron and co.?

  • Mary No child shall be harmed

    So the Tory whips will be busy tomorrow evening, or as they are laughingly titled

    The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP Chief Whip (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)

    Anne Milton MP Deputy Chief Whip, Treasurer of HM Household

    Kris Hopkins MP Government Whip, Vice Chamberlain of HM Household

    Gavin Barwell MP Government Whip, Comptroller of HM Household

    Junior Lords of the Treasury

    David Evennett MP Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

    John Penrose MP Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

    Alun Cairns MP Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

    Charlie Elphicke MP Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

    Mel Stride MP Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

    George Hollingbery MP Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury Unpaid

    Assistant Whips:
    Andrew Selous MP
    Margot James MP
    Julian Smith MP
    Guy Opperman MP
    Sarah Newton MP
    Stephen Barclay MP
    Simon Kirby MP
    Jackie Doyle-Price MP

    They receive additional payments on top of the MP’s salary of £74,000.

    In 2010, the Government Chief Whip received £175k pa in total.

    Then there are these + 400 wallahs attached to the Cabinet Office.

    Plus Special Advisers SPADS ie the ones we are told about


    Your guess on the cost of it all? £x million

    I won’t go on. There are many more similar lists.

  • Habbbabkuk (scourge of the Original Trolls)

    I see that a certain poster living far from these shores (allegedly) is whipping himself up into a frenzy. Judging by the number of his posts on this thread so far, that is.

    Given that the US has been bombing ISIL for some time now, it would be interesting to know if our Friend has been as active on American blogs as he suddenly is on this British one….

  • Habbbabkuk (scourge of the Original Trolls)


    “I won’t go on.”


    Unfortunately you will.

    And on…and on…and on.

  • harry law

    The Government motion..”Welcomes the Government’s continued determination to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters and weapons”:
    Putin said he has proof ISIL pillages Syrian oil and transfers it in tanker convoys stretching as far as the eye can see into Turkey. http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20151201/1031041612/erdogan-turkey-oil-proof.html Turkey also facilitates the movement of fighters and weapons into Syria, Erdogan has just arrested two top Journalists for reporting the transfer of arms. Presumably the UK’s first step is to censure its NATO ally and warn Turkey of serious consequences unless it stops supporting terrorists. It should also do the same to Saudi Arabia and Qatar who supply most of the funding.

  • mike

    Lysias, 2009 was when Qatar had its pipeline blocked. That came from Nafeez Ahmed in the Guardian, before they gave him the boot.

  • Habbbabkuk (scourge of the Original Trolls)

    “Are 30 or 40 enough to enable Cameron to win the vote?”


    A somewhat surprising question from Someone who delights in parading his in-depth knowledge of the UK political scene (amoung many, many other subjects 🙂 ).

    But I’ll overcome my surprise and attempt to help.

    It all depends, my Friend, on how many Conservative MPs vote against the govt’s motion.

  • lysias

    One of the lickspittles has finally shown up, but I notice that he does not dare to defend Cameron’s lie.

  • Pan

    Yes, Mary…

    What is it with this “Honourable” and “Right Honourable” Orwellian nonsense?

    They dishonour themselves and, much more importantly, they dishonour the people of this country.

    And it seems they can NEVER, EVER get anything ‘RIGHT’.

    WE pay for THEIR craven, greed-driven acts.

  • Hierglyph

    So, the bullying commences. Doubtless a few interesting facts about backbenchers will be kept quiet, a few promotions promised. And in the PLP, there will be strict admonishments that a vote for Corbyn will be remembered, once he is removed, and of course the usual promises about keeping interesting facts quiet. That’s our parliament: full of (often male) MP’s who are very keen on promotion, and who might have a few things in their private life they’d rather not be made public.

    I don’t think Cameron’s over-reached, though I hope to be proved wrong. His case is full of holes, and the centaurs and unicorns really won’t be much help to us, but it’s rather hard for us plebs to understand the kind of pressure put on MP’s. Even the decent ones cam be subject to nuanced threats. So, suspect we’ll have our stupid war, and I also suspect there will be a clause allowing for boots on the ground. Cameron ‘win’ by less than 10 votes. Terrorist attack within 6 months.

  • Andy

    Habba: Why would it be interesting to know if ‘a certain poster living far from these shores’ is posting on US forums? I couldn’t care less about who is posting on what forums but being stalked by you must be a little unnerving. Would you like to address the 70,000 moderates myth which your Tory friends are pedaling?

  • lysias

    That I am being asked by a certain lickspittle to post elsewhere is a sure sign that I have struck a nerve.

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