Hawkish Fox hunted down by woman with ‘big story’ to tell
Shadow Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox’s
photoshoot is interrupted in Finchley Road
I WAS surprised as much as Chris Philp, Tory candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, when he came to my table in a café where I was interviewing Dr Liam Fox, Shadow Defence Secretary, and exclaimed he had been turned away from the Territorial Army HQ in Hampstead.
Important though he is, he wasn’t able to enter the building because he wasn’t an MP, he had been told.
As poor Philp unburdened himself, Dr Fox, now in full flow, explained that while TA funding is being axed nationally, there is one part of this valiant body that isn’t being touched – and that is its intelligence units.
And Hampstead’s TA in Fitzjohns Avenue, where there are just army intelligence experts, is thriving.
“This unit is better than most I have seen and I have seen a lot in trouble,” Dr Fox told me at a café in Finchley Road where I had set up the meeting.
“There’s one thing this government can’t afford to do, and that’s cut back on intelligence.”
Turning to Pakistan, Dr Fox said is was on the “edge of exploding”.
Warming to his subject, he said: “What people need to understand is that national security is on the line. We need to show these people that we are staying for the long-term.
“It would be a green light to every Jihadist.”
He added: “Sometimes people say I sound too hawkish – but the hawks survive much longer than the doves.”
It was at this point that the interview became a little bizarre when a tired and emotional woman came to our table and began tugging at Dr Fox’s suit demanding he listen to her “big story”. The front-bencher was hurried away into the street. But the woman wouldn’t back down – and the surreal scenes continued during the photoshoot in the street until the flapping hawk finally flew away.
Flags, and waving goodbye to history
AS my eye caught a man dangling a St George’s flag from a third-floor window in a block of flats in Caledonian Road, Islington, I wondered how much he knew about England’s history.
He may be able to rattle off the names of kings and queens and when our armies defeated the French and the Germans, but had he heard of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, for instance?
That was why I had joined nearly 500 people on Saturday on a historic march from Market Road, Caledonian Road to Edwards Square to commemorate a much greater procession 175 years ago when 150,000 people demonstrated in the same area in support of the Martyrs – a group of six poor West Country farm labourers deported to Australia for daring to join a trade union.
The original march was amazing in size. Imagine, that somehow this staggering number of people had come together drawn mostly by word of mouth. There was no radio, TV, newspapers or YouTube in those days!
There was a jolly, almost carnival atmosphere, on the procession – yesterday the courts could sling trade unionists into the clink but it wouldn’t be possible to do it so easily today.
Progress, albeit painfully slow, had been made.
As I marched alongside Islington Labour councillor Gary Doolan we chatted about the Englishness of the protest nearly 200 years ago, the same Englishness that lies behind the St George’s flag, and he smiled, too, when he glanced at the flag fluttering from the window.
Banners galore coloured the procession, but one made me smile. “Historians for the right to work,” it said. “We demand a continuing supply of history.”
Diana Shelley, an amenity campaigner, who had made it for a CND march nearly 30 years ago, told me she had found it again in a plastic carrier bag at her Islington home.
No laughing matter: Protests over comedy venue’s army show
THE closest Camden Lock Market usually gets to political controversy is a Che Guevara T-shirt.
But yesterday (Wednesday) evening it suddenly became a hotbed of protest, as pro-Palestinian campaigners rallied outside the Dingwalls club to demonstrate against the Israeli army entertainment troupe performing inside.
The musical group of young soldiers from the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) was forced to move its show from the Bloomsbury Theatre last week after the theatre’s owners, University College London, became concerned over the show’s political implications. Dingwalls, a club more familiar with stand-up comedy, seemed to have no such problem with the political hot potato last night.
Tributes to feminist Mary, 250 years on
DINAH Livingstone gave an impassioned rendition of her poem on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft at the feminist’s 250th anniversary celebrations on Monday evening.
In the ancient setting of Old St Pancras Church,
Livingstone called on today’s campaigners for a better world to follow the example of Britain’s
radical poets, heroes and martyrs.
The hour-long event included a musical based on the thoughts of Wollstonecraft, and a ceremonial cutting of a 250th cake at her graveside opposite the church.
Ms Livingstone said Wollstonecraft was an inspirational figure who fought for women’s rights.
“But if she came back today she’d be appalled by the huge gap between the rich and poor,” Ms Livingstone added.
She said she believes there is still a “glass ceiling” in the workplace, and at home it is often hard for young mothers to combine work with families.
“But fatherhood has improved,” she said. “My first husband in the early 1960s wouldn’t even push a pram.”
Susanna Griffin, who organised the evening, said Wollstonecraft was a feisty woman who reminded her of her own mother. “Mary said things people didn't want to hear and kept repeating them,” she added.