He’s not religiously prejudiced, of course, but whenever there is a Muslim scare story to be generated, Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan is there to supply it. And following the Commons vote on Syria, and Young Dave looking daft after some of his jolly good chaps accused Labour of “giving succour to Assad”, Gilligan is there in short order to tell the world that they were right after all.
Not going inside there, are you, Andy?
“Ed Miliband’s friends of Assad” is the title, which is designed to do one thing, and one alone: suggest that Mil The Younger is pals with Bashar al-Assad. The sub-heading merely reinforces this: “Stop the War Coalition has swayed Labour on Syria ... but its motives are questionable”. Is Labour part of the Stop the War Coalition? Well, no it isn’t, but that doesn’t stop Gilligan.
And he lets slip that his is not a disinterested stance: of that Commons vote he claimed “MPs hadn’t, of course, stopped the war. In fact, they had decided it should continue unchecked indefinitely”. No, they had decided the UK would not be sticking its bugle into a scrap that has already been joined, overtly or covertly, by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and probably Russia, with Israel maintaining a watching brief.
The best way of allowing the Syria unrest to “continue unchecked indefinitely” would be to stir up even more trouble by lobbing a few dozen cruise missiles into the area and thereby killing and maiming a few hundred more unfortunate souls. But Gilligan knows who swayed Labour: it was Stop the War, or at least that this was the group “which did some of the pushing”, which is not quite the same thing.
And for Miliband to take note that “back-bench and front-bench Labour MPs made it clear they were unwilling to go along with the Prime Minister” is no big deal. Listening to your party? Wow, this democracy thing is catching, better commission Gilligan to smear it! Yep, first it’s “The great majority [opposing intervention], including many members of Stop the War, did so from perfectly respectable motives”.
And then come the Communists, who are affiliated to Stop the War, and one of them is a Muslim! And Gilligan has found two more Muslims involved! And in any case, “most of the Arab world supports some form of action”. No, Andrew, what you might have more accurately written is “most of that part of the Arab world that is interested is already taking or supporting some form of action”.
It is highly unlikely that the Labour leadership has ever met any of the individuals that Gilligan uses to smear Miliband. The best he can manage is to accuse Stop the War of doing “some of the pushing”, and even then he concedes that the “great majority ... including many members of Stop the War, [acted] from perfectly respectable motives”. That’s not quite the same as saying “Assad must win”, is it?
Still, it exonerates the Tory smears, just at the right time, so that’s all right, then.