Page 4, 8th March 1991

8th March 1991
Page 4
Page 4, 8th March 1991 — The going gets tough

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Organisations: Liberal Democrats


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The going gets tough

THE fainthearts, the appeasers and the pacifists should now be reposing in some form of sackcloth. Victory in the Gulf has gone to the strong of arm and heart.

Saddam Hussein has been defeated in the one place where he had to be defeated — in the field — and Kuwait is free of Iraq. It will, I think, be some time before any aggressor tries again to annex or molest a weaker neighbour.

The armed services have done their job with stunning efficiency. Would that we could believe that the politicians will now carry on the work with half their courage and sense of purpose.

War normally bestows some electoral blessing on one party, but I can see little advantage coming to any through the Gulf engagement. There will certainly be no khaki election in the accepted sense. What has been demonstrated during the past six months is that all-party unity is possible on an issue of supreme

importance. Messrs Major, Kinnock and Ashdown have stood as one.

Paddy Ashdown, as I have remarked before in this space, has been as steady and uncompromising as a tank. In Jo Grimond's old phrase, the Liberal Democrats are not afraid of marching towards the sound of gunfire.

Neil Kinnock never waivered and contrived to keep most of his troops in line, apart from the regular awkward squad. He has emerged from the crisis with added credit and now knows how to wear a tin helmet. Mr Major (1 still find it hard to call him Prime Minister) had a comparatively easy time of it since he leads a party that does not go in for intellectual quibbles when the ammunition wagon is about to explode.

It was heartening, anyway, to see this sense of unity and have no repetition of the party bitterness that flared at Suez and, to a far lesser degree, at the time of the Falklands. What was strange about the whole affair was that although the nation was, as a whole, solidly behind the war against Saddam Hussein the fainthearts, the appeasers and the pacifists had rattling good publicity for their money.

It is good that this was so. They condemned themselves out of their own mouths. They did not convince us or frighten us by their predictions of frightful and unacceptable casualties. We put our faith in men with names like Schwarzkopf and de hi Billiere rather than in British-sounding ones, such as Heath and Healey and Wedgwood Bean and Kent.

We were right, although it is sad that those four made such asses of themselves.

'MERE are certainly far more thick ears than compliments in the newly-published memoirs of Sir Kingsley Amis. All the more reason that I was pleased to see the brief but genuine tribute that he pays to Elizabeth Jennings, the poet whom Paul Goodman featured in Catholic Herald last week.

A surprising omission from the Amis hook is any reference to Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, one of his chums of yesteryear. Has friendship cooled, memory slipped or discretion taken over? Looks a bit rum to me and there was a far from friendly piece on Sir Kingsley in the pages that Sir Peregrine edits of this week's Sunday Telegraph.

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