I always thought of William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, as one of the Tory Shadow Cabinet’s better performers. However, his performance this morning on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme in an interview with John Humphrys was dire and I will clearly have to relegate him to the also-ran status of most of his colleagues.
He was being interviewed about the assassination in Dubai of a leading Hamas commander. However, he started by asserting that his default position was that any statement made by by a Minister was a lie – rather a repudiation of his Leader’s promise that Cameron Conservatives would not stoop to old-style “Punch and Judy” politics. This sort of comment debases the political process and undermines democracy itself.
His key message seemed to be that the Foreign Office should be seeking an assurance from the Israeli ambassador that no Mossad agent would ever in the future pretend to be a British citizen. At first sight that seems to be fine – except, of course, that to date there doesn’t seem to be anything more than newspaper supposition that Mossad were involved in this case: so any ambassador is likely to respond that the question is hypothetical. Incidentally, I wonder what the response would be from any British ambassador called into another country’s foreign office and asked to give a categorical assurance that no agent of MI6 would ever in the future pretend to be a national of that country. So perhaps William Hague needs to get real if he seriously expects to be taken seriously as a prospective future Foreign Secretary.
He resorted to saying that he condemned extra-judicial killings. Again, absolutely right. However, John Humphrys then asked him about the US use of drone aircraft pursuing Al Qaeda personnel in Pakistan and killing civilians. Hague repeatedly refused to answer. He left the clear impression that he was condemning Israel for killing the Hamas leader – condemning a country with which the UK has strong links on the basis of newspaper supposition – but that he was condoning the actions of the US.
Hardly consistent, hardly convincing, but definitely Conservative.