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Steerpike

Ben Wallace’s weird war of words

Ben Wallace's weird war of words
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Just what is up with Ben Wallace? The Defence Secretary is widely thought to have had a 'good war' in Ukraine, receiving much praise within parliament and outside it for the way he's handled Britain's response. Yet Mr S can't help but wonder about some of the Lancashire MP's recent rhetoric. Just this week he publicly claimed that Vladimir Putin is a 'lunatic' suffering from 'small man syndrome': hardly diplomatic, given Britain's stated position is explicitly not regime change in Russia.

In April of course he also said it would be 'legitimate under international law' for Ukraine to hit logistics targets in Russia, even though this would, er, significantly escalate the conflict. The previous month he rambled for nearly ten minutes to a prankster in a recording that was subsequently released by the Russians as propaganda (whoops!). Before that he'd also boasted that 'the Scots Guards kicked the backside of Tsar Nicholas I in 1853 in Crimea: we can always do it again' and described Putin as having 'gone full tonoto.'

In fairness to Flashheart, he's not the only member of the cabinet prone to verbal excess. His colleague Liz Truss suggested that Brits should sign up to join Kyiv's struggle while Boris Johnson, who once proclaimed that 'voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts' is now singing a somewhat different tune. He told German broadcasters that the war was a 'perfect example of toxic masculinity' and that 'if Putin was a woman' he wouldn't have invaded Ukraine: news, of course, to Catherine the Great who did just that.

Still, Wallace's pitch for higher office (be that in Westminster or Nato HQ in Brussels) has always been that he's the sensible grown-up who just gets on with the job. He might therefore want to perhaps consider some of his recent public musings, given his own aspirations for advancement.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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