Gales View - 20th April 2014
I was, before I became an MP, a television producer and
director. One of the questions that I find myself frequently asked is why I
gave up this glamorous” and over-paid profession to seek election to Parliament.
Current events in Ukraine have a bearing upon the answer.
In 1956 Imre Nagy became, for three days, the leader of a
momentarily free Hungary. Then the Russian tanks rolled in, Nagy was spirited
away to Moscow and never seen alive again and I heard, as a thirteen year old
listening to the wireless, a voice screaming for God`s sake help us” from a
Hungarian to whom the promised assistance was never delivered. My first
politically motivated action was to raise funds and blankets for the refugees
and a year later I purchased James Michener`s The Bridge at Andau” which, as a
record of Hungarian life, torture and death under Stalin, ranks with The
Scourge of the Swastika” and Knights of the Bushido” as a catalogue of man`s
capacity for inhumanity to man.
A dozen years later came the first Prague Spring. Alexander
Dubcek lead Czechoslovakia to fleeting freedom before, again, Russian tanks
arrived to crush the spark of revolution. Dubcek survived to become an exiled
village postmaster. I took part in an anti-soviet demonstration in London
and marched on the Soviet Embassy. A CND organiser running a loudspeaker van at
the locked gates to Millionaire`s Row” saw my lank actor`s hair, mistook
me for one of her number and invited me to follow Tarik Ali’s ”thanks to the
brave Russian Army” for liberating” the Workers of Czechoslovakia from the
Addressing some fifty thousand people I learned the hard way
that it is much easier to start a speech with a flourish than to end on a
suitably high note. I said what I had to say and then resorted to
chanting Dub-Cek Dub-Cek”. As the chorus swelled down the length of Bayswater
I jettisoned the microphone in awe of what I had started, got the hell out of
it and swore that as long as I had breath in my body no child of mine would
ever grow up under Communism.
That is why, fifteen years later, I found myself elected as
the Member of Parliament for North Thanet and that is why I hope and expect
that I shall shortly be in Ukraine as an international election observer of
what will, I trust, be free, fair and democratic elections.
I know that people sometimes query the fact that MPs go on
foreign jaunts” when we ought to be at home looking after the people that
elected us” but just occasionally what is happening abroad can have a
profound effect upon the whole future of mankind. Leopards do not change
their spots and, to mix a metaphor, there is still a bear in the woods”.
If Putin is allowed to annexe Eastern Ukraine as he has seized Crimea then
Georgia and Moldova will very probably follow and the icy grasp of the
neo-Soviet empire will reach out across much of Eastern Europe as it has done
before. We cannot resort to armed force, of course, and there will be a
price to pay for the imposition of economic sanctions, but if Europe and
NATO do not pick up the gauntlet that the ex-KGB officer that now rules Russia
has thrown down then a new Cold War will be with us with all of the
consequences for the free and democratic world that I want my grandchildren and
your grandchildren to be allowed to grow up in. Unless the European Union,
whose Parliamentary” elections we shall shortly be required to participate in,
does not rise to this occasion then our status in its’ future will be academic.
It will not have a future.