Question Time 9th March 2022
Nadhim Zadawi (Conservative)
David Lammy (Labour)
Lawrence Freedman (King’s College London)
Vadym Prystaiko (Ukrainian Ambassador)
Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Former Danish PM)
Despised throughout the world. Mistrusted. An embarrassment to corporations large and small. Isolated. Failing miserably. Making sclerotic progress, stuck in the mud, being harried from all directions. A byword for corruption and nepotism. Ruled by a distant elite in the capital, uncaring of the ordinary people. Notorious for fake news, misinformation and the stifling of investigative journalism. Said to be run by a steroid addled kleptomaniac elite with no understanding of the real world. A gulag of apparatchiks where dissent is punished by exile. A paranoid homogeny where free thinking is outlawed.
So much for the BBC, Fiona Bruce and Question Time. What about Russia, Putin and the Red Army?
Far from war-torn Ukraine, a panel of talking heads had been assembled in neutral Londonigrad to answer viewers’ questions. Having said that, the fog of war descended upon the studio with an empty seat where the Ukrainian ambassador should have been, and somebody called Alexa (I think) up on the big screen talking from London but with her ‘heart and mind in Ukraine’.
“We’re a man down,” announced Fiona Bruce (Chair) somewhat awkwardly.
The first question was, how can we stop Putin?
Professor Lawrence Freedman (King’s College London) said we couldn’t but the Russian strategy was poor and the Ukrainians might. The Russian Army and Air Force were struggling and not as capable as we’d thought they were.
Alexa unhelpfully pretended that Putin had already been beaten. She saw this as a war against the entire democratic world.
Unfortunately, David Lammy is not one of those tinged people of BAME turned away at the border and told to try Romania instead. Living in a £2 million house and making, on top of his taxpayer-funded £80,000 a year salary, a five-figure sum for personal appearances during Black History Month, David is the Labour MP for Tottenham. Dressed in blue suit and yellow tie with Ukraine affinity ribbon, he wanted to beat colonialism and ethnic nationalism. He’d been to the Ukraine.
Nadhim Zahawi (Conservative) trumped that. He’d been to Russian separatist occupied Donbas. Dressed in blue tie, blue suit and white shirt, he wasn’t quite wearing the full kit but did have an enamel Union Jack/Ukraine flag badge. The camera moved to a chap in the audience draped in the Ukrainian flag proper. That’ll have Putin trembling in this boots!
Oddly, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (former Danish MP) was dressed in Soviet red and white and so was Bruce. Helle had been to the Royal Engineer’s museum and seen the map of Waterloo. This is Putin’s Waterloo, she said. We trust she meant in the role of Napoleon.
The questioner thought Putin could be beaten but more needed to be done, especially regarding airpower.
Lawrence said some of the Ukrainian Air Force was surprisingly still intact and the big, static convoy near Kiev was being attacked.
Alexa reminded us Ukraine was putting up a fierce defence as they knew what they would lose if overcome by the Russians. She then blamed us, as not enough was done by the international community in 2014 when Crimea and parts of Donbas were seized by Putin.
Next question. What is the red line that will provoke Nato into further action?
Helle thought the sanctions could have been stronger in 2014. Bruce wanted to know about the red line. Helle said this wasn’t like Afghanistan or Libya (where Nato were involved militarily) because this is a symmetrical war in which, by inference, Nato might take a thumping. She conflated a no-fly zone with ‘all-out war’.
By marriage, Helle Thorning-Schmit is one of the Glamorganshire Trougher-Kinnocks, her husband being Stephen Trougher-Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon.
Puffins will be unsurprised to hear Ms Thorning-Schmit-Trougher-Kinnock has never had a job and didn’t leave school until she was 27.
I’ll tell you what. C’mere. Listen. Helle Thorning-Schmit-Trougher-Kinnock is difficult to spell and a bit of a mouthful for the podcast. To avoid accidentally giving offence to one of QT Review’s treasured friends in the European political elite, shall we call her ‘Doris’ instead? I think we should.
After graduating in cand.scient.pol (the Danish equivalent of PPE) at the University of Copenhagen, too clever for Applied Mathematics or Aeronautical Engineering, Doris took a master’s degree in European Studies at the College of Europe in Bruges. On completing the course, Doris worked in Danish Social Democrat politics at the European Parliament, becoming an MEP aged 33 and subsequently a Danish MP and prime minister of Denmark.
As true socialists, herself and her husband sent their daughter to public school and then lied about it. When asked of his daughter’s education during the Labour candidate selection process in the Aberavon constituency, husband Steven said his daughter, Johanna, was educated at a state school in Denmark.
However, blogger ‘Jac o’The North’ revealed Johanna was educated privately at the £28,000 a year Atlantic College near Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan.
When challenged, Mr Trougher-Kinnock claimed it didn’t count as private education as the Danish taxpayer was part-paying the school fees for him through a scholarship.
Puffin’s will be pleased to hear Johanna, now 25, is still at university.
This isn’t the only time Doris and Trougher have lied about money. Previously, Stephen claimed to be working and paying taxes in Switzerland. Does one pay taxes in Switzerland? Not being a Danish resident, he was therefore not liable to pay Danish taxes. At the same time, Doris documented Stephen as a Danish resident regarding a property transaction where he (for tax purposes) would own half of her house.
Another big lie, relevant in present circumstances, is Stephen’s tour of the news studios claiming he was once a victim of the Russian police. What he omits to mention is, he was in St Petersburg doing a non-job with the British Council at the behest of his father, true socialist Lord Neil Gordon Kinnock, The Baron Kinnock PC. At the time, The Guardian newspaper described Stephen’s apprehension by the police as follows,
“Russian police detained Stephen Kinnock at 11.30 pm last night when he was driving in the city. They claimed he had a “heavy smell of alcohol on his breath” and had violated traffic rules. Officials held him for an hour and then released him.”
Ordinarily, one would hesitate to believe the Russian police but given Trougher’s track record one feels obliged to give Leningard’s finest the benefit of the doubt.
Lawrence wasn’t keen on a no-fly zone either.
Sir Lawrence David Freedman, KCMG, CBE, PC, FBA is emeritus professor of War Studies at King’s College London and their former vice-principal. He was appointed a visiting professor to Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government in 2015.
Puffins may recall King’s College apologising to snowflake staff for emailing a picture of ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ Prince Phillip to the faculty following the duke’s death.
Despite the duke being a governor of the university since 1955, staff reacted with fury over the duke’s alleged ‘historic racism’ with associate director Joleen Clarke apologising thus,
“The picture was included as a historical reference point following his death. The inclusion of the picture was not intended to commemorate him. Through feedback and subsequent conversations, we have come to realise the harm that this caused members of our community, because of his history of racist and sexist comments. We are sorry to have caused this harm.”
King’s are yet to apologise for accepting over £7,000,000 in donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or for trousering £20,000,000 from Chinese businessman Dickson Poon.
They are also more thick-skinned when it comes to lobbying for Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. In 2018, Friedbert Pflüger, who has no scientific background, published a pro-Nord Stream 2 strategy paper emblazed with the King’s logo and sponsored by the five Nord Stream 2 investors – Shell, OMV, Wintershall, Uniper and Engie.
At the time, Pflüger was director of the War Studies department’s European Centre for Energy and Resource Security. He was also, unannounced by King’s, a Berlin businessman at Pflüger International who lobbied on behalf of politicians and energy firms.
As Ulrich Müller, of German watchdog LobbyControl, asked at the time, “Why is King’s helping to cultivate a commercial lobbyist as a neutral academic expert?”
As for Freedman’s connection with the Blavatnik School, founder Sir Leonard Valentinovich Blavatnik was born in Ukraine but moved to the United States as a teenager. The 64-year-old returned east at the end of the Cold War and made his money in privatisations, particularly aluminium, coal, oil and chemicals. The oligarch’s oligarch, he is thought to be the richest man in Britain with a personal wealth of over $39 billion. His business partner is Kremlin favourite Viktor Vekselberg, a Cyprus passport holder banned from America by Trump.
A man in the audience made a very important point. The red line is an attack on a Nato country, not anything that happens in Ukraine.
David Lammy said we must use our soft power before our hard power. He defined our soft power as the BBC and the British Council. Dear God. He was going to put Putin on trial for war crimes, somehow.
Nobody mentioned that the red line in Syria was chemical weapon attacks. A red line for The Donald, but not Barak Obama. One doubts if Biden is aware of a thing as complex as a line.
At this point, Alexa was kicked off and replaced on the big screen by the ambassador. Bruce asked him the questions that he’d missed. Yes, Putin can be beaten, possibly by his own people. The red line has already been crossed, he continued, with humanitarian corridors being bombed, maternity hospitals destroyed and Chernobyl under threat. Other countries had already promised to guarantee Ukrainian security following their giving up of nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War.
Vadym Prystaiko is the Ukrainian representative Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Court of St James. It would be churlish to call him ‘Kevin’ given the circumstances his country faces but if his late father was on the panel we might have to.
I must confess, this modest reviewer’s colloquial Ukrainian is a bit rusty, particularly the dialect and idioms of the Kalush oblast relevant here, but General-Leitentant Volodymyr Ilyich Prystaiko’s biography deserves an attempt to turn it into English.
Born in 1941 in Western Ukraine, he graduated from Kharkiv Law institute both with a law degree and what I will translate as ‘a pass in the KGB entrance exam’.
From 1968 to 1971 he worked in a prosecutor’s office in Odessa before joining the local investigation department of the KGB. Rising through the ranks, he headed ever larger regional KGB departments within the Ukraine SSR. At the end of the Soviet Union, business continued as normal with the KGB in Ukraine changing its name to the SBU. General-lieutenant Prystaiko was to become deputy chairman of the entire Ukrainian security services before retiring in 2004.
Puffins will be disappointed to hear the Ukrainian version of Amazon defeated me and I am unable to compare his works «ертви репресй» and «визволення Укра-ни» with the Marquis De Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom.
During his career, V.I. Prystaiko did well for himself and for his family both under Communism and capitalism. The post-Cold War pro-Russian regime awarded him the medal “For Impeccable Service”, and appointed him to the Order of Bodham and the Order of St Stanislav.
After leaving university, his son Vadym had a career in the private sector as a co-founder of Electronni Visti, one of the Ukraine’s first internet and electronic media companies.
According to wiki, ‘following his family’s tradition of government service’, he took a position at the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and subsequently served in Australia, Canada and Washington DC. After a spell as Ukrainian foreign minister, he was appointed to the Court of St James.
The moral of this story is, the Ukrainian elites are neither capitalist nor Communist, neither pro-Russian nor pro-EU. They are opportunists, in it for themselves. Even in the present unthinkable circumstances, supping with them requires the aid of a very long spoon.
The next question was about refugees.
Nadhim wanted 100,000 Ukrainian children admitted to our full schools. He boasted 104,000 Hong Kong Chinese are on their way too.
Nadhim Zadawi is also no stranger to the movement of hydrocarbons, having made his money as an intermediary between his own native oil-rich Kurdistan and Her Majesty’s very own tax havens in the Caribbean. The interesting tale is covered here in a previous QT Review.
Suffice it to say, amongst other positions, Nadhim has slummed it as a £20,000+ a month Strategic Manager at Gulf Keystone Petroleum of Hamilton, Bermuda.
Lammy found it all sad. Fasuands of boat people. Fausands from Uganda. Fausands from Windrush, but only a trickle from Ukraine. The cucks in the audience applauded. Nadhim promised everything done for the Afghans would be done for the Ukrainians. Maybe one of these days he’ll do something for us?
Doris said the EU was leading this not the UK.
The final question asked what is the end game?
The ambassador said the Russians had to withdraw. Since the annexation of Crimea and the separatism in Donbas, the Russians had broken down the bridges of compromise. He quoted the Minsk agreement which Lawrence then tried to explain, concluding a negotiated settlement was likely to end the current conflict.
Let’s hope he’s right.
BBC, Stephen Kinnock denies concealing private education
BBC, Danish politics rocked over Kinnock tax status
Evening Standard, King’s College London forced to apologise
The Guardian, University accused of giving platform to Nord Stream 2
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