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December 07, 2006

Litvinenko's murder - and our collective response to it - has spoilt many a dinner party for Alex Deane

Posted by Alex Deane

Alex Deane - formerly Chief of Staff to David Cameron - is outraged by our collective response to the murder of Alexander Litvinenko by Russian agents.

Alexander Litvinenko's poisoning wasn't just a world-shaking diplomatic incident. It has also prompted some of the worst, most irritating dinner party chat I've ever been subjected to - and I say that after normally being the lone pro-Bush, pro-Iraq war voice at the table for the last three years.

Responses have ranged widely. There's the absurd - "maybe he did it himself". Polonium 210 is not like semtex. It is not seen outside of the laboratory. It's incredibly rare. Number of known poisonings before Litvinenko? Zero. None. So the idea that this was an elaborate self-sting isn't just absurd, it's an impossibility.

There's the proto-eugenic: "but didn't you see the picture of him when he got British citizenship? You know, posing with a sword? He was weird". So is Graham Norton - wanna whack him too?

Then there's the fatuous - "we can't be sure the Russians did it". You think someone else, with no motive but framing the Russians, got some dedicated agents, got hold of this stuff and then, rather than taking up the career in world class chemistry that beckoned to them, smuggled it into the UK to kill someone who was… erm… one of the best attackers of the regime they must clearly hate if they wanted to do down Russia..? It's like the moon landing conspiracy - no matter how stupid, its proponents keep obstinately at it, until you're at the dinner table bleeding from the eyeballs, wanting to run out into the streets, screaming the obvious and absolute truth - "The Russians did it! The Russians did it! The Russians did it!"

What do these people need, a Cleudo-style dagger to the chest, a polite note in Cyrillic dangling from it - "I did this, signed V Putin"? Killing someone with the refined product of your state's atomic laboratory is about as explicit as it gets. And that's the thing - the Russians just don't care that it's bloody obvious they did it. Maybe that's the point, maybe it being blatantly apparent that messing with Putin gets you dead is the message. After all, they could have just run the poor sod over.

Worst of all the responses so far, there's the pseudo-diplomat doing real politique at the dinner table - "Ah, but the Russians have all the oil - we can't mess with them". At least this one admits the truth - that Russia killed a man in cold blood - but then goes on to an unforgivable conclusion. A man has been murdered in our capital by agents of our "ally". Extra-judicial execution of a British citizen has been done! What good are our laws and our values if we simply allow such things to pass?

At this point in the dinner conversation, I'm talking more loudly than I need to and I'm on my own. Then some bright spark asks me, "well what would you do then?" But it seems that the litany of answers I produce - expelling the Russian Ambassador, boycotting Russian goods, demanding explanations in the United Nations, insisting that the Russians agree to extradite suspects, freezing Russian assets in the UK (boy would that one hurt… Chelsea, anyone?) is thought, well, a bit over the top. Wouldn't we rather just ignore this and let it go away? Then there's this awkward pause and someone changes the subject. And so, I fear, will the powers that be.

Alex Deane is a Barrister and is the former Chief of Staff to both Tim Collins and David Cameron MP.


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Brilliantly put!

That is the problem with the modern lefty, they are all gutless at anything but politics. Making a decision and taking action is anathema to them, what they like is endless talk.

The only problem is that we on the right are also becoming less that ardent in our our beliefs. We are letting the whiny little lefties wear us down with their constant harping on about Iraq and the war on terro, or their carping on about the non-existant climate change problem.

Posted by: Peter L at December 7, 2006 10:17 PM
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Hmm. Let me think about those comments.

Because the Russians have so much oil and gas, we can't do anything about the murder of Litvenenko. Because "lefties" keep harping on about the war in Iraq which is really about oil, we can't face facts re the murder of Litvenenko. And to top it all off the carping about the non-existent climate change which is attributed to the burning of foddil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) so the burning of same must be drastically reduced silences rational discusion of the murder of Letvinenko.

If only the lefties were listened to there wouldn't be a need to destroy Chechnya once again or to bomb the Iraqis into oblivion or make them think about joining Al Quaeda and blowing up some other interesting and useful things.

In the mean time I suppose most lefties will just talk about Letenenko's murder. We can't afford to attack Russia. All the soldiers are fighting for an oil patch in Iraq. Iraq's are dieing like flies but British and American soldiers are taking action. Yes Sir. They acted and there are no weapons of mass destruction but there is a tsunami of hatred for the West.

Posted by: Maggie at December 9, 2006 01:58 PM
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Actually, Marie Curie, who discovered Polonium, also died of being poisoned by it... but that was not a Russian conspiracy!

Posted by: Benjamin Bilski at December 9, 2006 02:56 PM
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