Theresa May delivered a sombre assessment yesterday on the attack on Russian defector Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and the valiant police officer Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who went to their aid when they were poisoned with toxic nerve agent – Novichok. Mrs May told MPs it was ‘highly likely’ that the Russian State was responsible for the “brazen attempt to murder citizens on our soil” and has given the Putin government until midnight tonight (13th March 2018) to respond. If no reply is forthcoming the Prime Minister has indicated that the government will conclude that this attack was a deliberate “unlawful use of force” by Russia.
The Russian state’s response so far has been predictably dismissive and the wheels of propaganda swiftly turned. Mrs May’s comments were ‘provocative’ and a ‘circus show in the British parliament.’
This is but the latest in a string of bizarre deaths and assassination attempts in the UK of former Russian spies and emigres – most famously Alexander Litvinenko. In the past the UK government has been accused of ‘turning a blind eye’ to these attacks and this perhaps has emboldened the FSB/agents of the Kremlin to the extent that they feel they can brashly murder people in broad daylight on the streets of Salisbury – and put hundreds of British lives at risk in the process.
Anyone who cares about Britain should be deeply concerned about this – and Russia’s dismissive and discourteous unwillingness to co-operate. This attack is terrorism plain and simple and whoever is behind it should be brought to justice. If the protagonist is the machine of the Russian state then there is no comparable assault on our nation by a major country in modern times.
Incredibly however, since the poisoning of Skripal, his daughter and Nick Bailey on the 4th of March – some of the loudest self-professed patriots in the land have been strangely silent. Nigel Farage, for example, has made just two mentions of the events in his twitter feed. Once – when publicising his LBC show and once (indirectly) when asked by Kevin Maguire whether he still venerated Vladimir Putin. Farage is on record as saying that Mr Putin is the world leader he most admires and has appeared many times on the Russian State propaganda channel RT – even being offered his own show. But ‘straight talking Nigel’ declined to give a straight answer.
In the two LBC shows in which Farage has (presumably been obliged) to discuss Skripal – he has been very careful indeed not to criticise the Russian leader and suggested, instead that Mrs May should reach out to him, sit down with him and ‘thrash it out.’ Mr Farage – who for years has branded Mrs May ‘Theresa the appeaser’ has clearly never looked up the word ‘irony’ in his dictionary.
Nigel is not alone in his near silence on Skripal. Arron Banks’ Westmonster ‘has made one brief mention of it; right wing website Breitbart London – edited by UKIP acolyte Raheem Kassam has, between dozens of tweets and articles about rampant knife crime in Sadiq’s London, made two. One of those focused mainly on criticism of the UK government’s handling of events. Across the board, the majority of what might be termed ‘Brexit accounts’ have spent the week bleating about a Canadian right wing extremist, Lauren Southern, being denied entry to the UK for her views (yes I know). The few tweets Westmonster and others have sent have left trails of comments beneath them from dim witted ‘nationalists’ and obvious Russian trolls blaming the attack on (variously) the Jews, Soros, or the British authorities themselves. There is also a widely circulated rumour doing the rounds that as Porton Down is just a few miles from Salisbury – MI6 did it.
By contrast to his fellow Grassroots Out colleagues, former MP George Galloway has been anything but silent. His twitter feed has been buzzing with conspiracy theories and with good reason. With all those ex-wives, Galloway has bills to pay and as Putin’s highest paid propagandist he is obviously putting in some overtime. You see gorgeous George Galloway earns hundreds of thousands of pounds fronting his show on the RT channel where he is ever willing to do his paymaster’s bidding.
The one thing all of these useful idiots are absolutely certain about is this – that the most obvious suspect – Vladimir Putin – the one holding the massive smoking gun – the one who swore revenge on all traitors and double agents and said that they would tracked down and killed – is innocent or at least ‘not proven to be guilty and thus not guilty’.
For years, the Russian state has had the West for fools. The country may have oligarchs bursting at the seams, but it has very little money and fairly weak actual military capability. It has instead managed to extend its power, muscle and influence through misinformation and highly effective propaganda. Like an old style Lada, AK47 or T-34 tank Russia has made a virtue of simplicity. Why spend billions of roubles on nuclear submarines when – for a fraction of the cost you can sow discontent, fear and division among your enemies. Russia Today – the glossy flagship of Kremlin deception – has created memes and tropes that dance at the edges of our political discourse and often tip into the mainstream. The myth that the EU caused mass unemployment in the South of Europe for example or the ‘no go zones’ in Londinistan or the idea that Sweden is overrun with murderous rampaging Muslim jihadis are all RT tropes. Now to be fair – they are very good at this – the true masters of fake news and there is a steady line of journalists, politicians (of all hues) and pundits willing to take the fee and feed the machine. But depressingly – there is a much wider contingent of gullible fools willing to lap it all up.
The Russian state has long targeted the EU in particular – because the EU poses a direct threat to her dimming power. Brexit worked in Putin’s favour. We know that Marine Le Pen’s anti-EU Front National received money directly from the Kremlin. It can hardly be a coincidence that so many at the centre of the Brexit storm have links or expressed admiration for Vlad – how deep those links go and to what extent they compromise the integrity of Farage and others has yet to be fully established but the whiff of cordite is in the air.
What is patently obvious and what the Skripal incident nimbly underlines, is that the loyalty of these self-professed ‘patriots’ to Great Britain plays second fiddle to their unwillingness to criticise Russia even when (apparently) the Kremlin is trying to murder citizens and snuff out any hapless passers-by on the streets of England. Some serious questions need to be asked about how long OFCOM will allow RT to broadcast its misinformation into UK homes but the bigger question is this – just how loyal are these fellow travelling Lord Haw Haws to the country they purport to love? And how long are the rest of us willing to let them get away with it?