Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Who is John Randall? - 11th March 2003, 22.38

John Randall was the conservative whip who resigned yesterday because he wished to speak more freely on the war with Iraq. He was already noted for opposing the intervention in Kosova. IDS understood that he had to step down on a manner of principle, so he said.

Randall is, as they say, an interesting product of deepest Surrey. Like all the best Tories, a veneer of backwoods behaviour hides a twitcher and Serbo-Croat speaker, who I suspect hails from my own obscure corner of the University of London.

It appears that his stance stems from an attachment to international law that led him to oppose the bombing campaign in Kosovo.

Some of us have believed for a long time, although it is generally disregarded in this and other western countries, that the NATO bombing had only a negative effect on the opposition forces trying to bring real democracy to Serbia. The opposition parties told us repeatedly that their job has been made 10 times worse. One of the main culprits that they blamed for their lack of movement was the American Government, who for a long time sustained the Milosevic regime because they could do business with it. When there might have been an opposition boycott of elections, the American envoy pooh-poohed the idea. Opposition parties regarded that as a major setback to their own progress towards democracy.

Randall has many ties to Yugoslavia, now Serbia and Montenegro, and felt repelled by the propaganda that smeared the Serbians with the same brush as their leaders and the ultranationalists who were responsible for the atrocities. He was involved in the development of a democratic opposition in Serbia proper and acted as treasurer for the Friends of B92, the radio station promoting liberal and democratic values.

Why, then, do I have misgivings? I could echo many of the statements that have already been made, but I do not want to detain the House. It is profoundly dangerous to attack an independent sovereign country. As we have heard, the problem, however unpleasant it is to witness, is essentially a civil war. I am not a lawyer and I cannot speak about international law, but it seems that the UN has given the operation no legitimacy. Above all, if we in this country stand for anything, we stand for upholding the law, including international law. Making the rules for ourselves because we know best is a dangerous precedent for any country to set. No national interest of ours has been threatened.

Randall is not afraid to speak his mind and make a stand up on unpopular causes even if they are the target for propaganda in Britain and America during a military campaign. He's showing consistency.


Post a Comment

Blog Archive