Malcolm rifkind

Why we must not forget about Hong Kong

China’s decision to make its own ruling over the legislative council oath-taking controversy in Hong Kong is something that is of great concern to the United Kingdom. Beijing becoming involved in what has – until now – been purely a matter for Hong Kong is questionable and is far more likely to inflame matters than settle them. Now more than ever, the UK must take note of what is happening in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) and ensure that China upholds its side of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. The UK’s relationship with Hong Kong is one of the most important we have in Asia. The links with London date

What does Malcolm Rifkind really believe in?

Never speak on the same platform as Sir Malcolm Rifkind. I tried it once, at a Spectator debate held during the Scottish independence referendum campaign in 2014, and I will not be repeating the experience. The former Foreign Secretary spoke as usual without notes, and with such ringing clarity and confidence that all the other panelists were easily eclipsed. That included Kelvin McKenzie, the former editor of the Sun, speaking in favour of Scottish independence. Sir Malcolm might just as well have recited the Edinburgh phonebook from memory, in his Jean Brodie tones, and the audience would still have cheered him to the echo. It was a magnificent performance from

Ken Clarke caught on camera discussing Tory leadership hopefuls – ‘Theresa is a bloody difficult woman’

Don’t expect to see Ken Clarke on Sky News anytime soon. The former Chancellor has been left red-faced after the broadcaster aired footage of him engaging in a very honest assessment of the Tory leadership — not realising the camera was rolling. No candidate mentioned got off scot-free during his lively discussion with Sir Malcolm Rifkind. While raising the prospect of Michael Gove as Prime Minister, Clarke expressed concerns about his ‘wild’ views on foreign policy — concluding that, with the Justice Secretary as PM, Britain would go to war with ‘at least three countries at once’: ‘I remember having a discussion once about something we should do in Syria or Iraq

Leave wins The Spectator’s second Brexit debate

There’s just over a week to go until the polls open for the EU referendum and Britain decides what it would like its future to look like. The debate has been fierce – and no more so than when The Spectator brought together key figures from both campaigns to make the case for Leave and Remain for our last debate, when Leave won. Tonight, Andrew Neil chaired a second debate between key members of both sides. The Leaves had it again – they initially had 308 votes, and swung to 369. Remain had 138 and swung to 160 – and the undecideds had 144 and swung to 69. This was the line-up: Suzanne

The ‘Darknet’ is dangerous. It’s also deeply democratic

The ‘Darknet’ is in the spotlight. Over the past few months, stories of paedophile rings, drug empires and terrorist organisations have set pulses racing as investigative journalists have begun dipping their toes into the network. Cue stories such as: ‘Five scary things ANYONE can buy in the Darknet’s illegal markets‘. Now, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology have released a briefing. The note, entitled ‘The Darknet and Online Anonymity’, centres on Tor. Tor is an easy-to-use web browser that makes tracking a user’s online activities much more difficult. It is designed to prevent government agencies and big corporations learning your location, your identity and your browsing habits. As well as

Monitoring social media is easier said than done

The three British girls who packed their bags and took a flight to Turkey have apparently crossed the border into Syria. Their intention seems to be to join the Islamic State and it looks like they may have succeeded. It emerged over the weekend that there had been contact between one of the girls and Aqsa Mahmood, a Scottish woman who travelled to Syria herself. Initially communicating through Twitter, it appears Mahmood played a role in their journey to Turkey and now into the heart of the conflict in Syria. Criticism turned on the security services: according to Aamer Anwar, the lawyer for the family of Aqsa Mahmood, they are not even doing the

Portrait of the week | 26 February 2015

Home Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative foreign secretary, resigned as chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee and promised not to stand for Parliament in May after he and Jack Straw, the former Labour foreign secretary, were suspended from their parties. This followed their being separately secretly filmed apparently offering their services for payment to reporters from the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme pretending to be acting for a Chinese company. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, declared that Labour candidates would in future not to be allowed to have second jobs. Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green party, apologised for an ‘excruciating’ interview on LBC with

MPs hang out with the wealthy so is it any wonder their worldview is warped?

Had the public been asked, before Monday morning, to identify two MPs who stood for honesty and decency, the names Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind would have been prominent among their replies. Both have served as foreign secretary, Straw also as home secretary and justice secretary. Neither seemed unduly driven by personal ambition, nor were they the worst offenders in the expenses scandal. Both are probably right in saying that they have not broken any rules when discussing work opportunities with employees of a Chinese company who turned out to be undercover Daily Telegraph reporters. But it is astonishing that both seemed to believe this sufficient to let them

Malcolm Rifkind quits as ISC chair and will stand down at next election

Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s political career is over. Following the Dispatches/Telegraph lobbying expose, the former Conservative defence and foreign secretary and MP for Kensington has announced he is standing down at the next election. This has created a vacancy in one of the most sought-after Tory seats in the country, represented in a previous incarnation by Alan Clark and Michael Portillo. It’s hard to see how Sir Malcolm could have stayed on. His unforgiven attitude to the cash for access accusations — and remarks suggesting his £67,000 salary as an MP wouldn’t allow him to ‘have the standard of living my professional background would normally entitle me to have’ — were toxic for the Tories. His party withdrew

Forget lobbying, the real scandal is that MPs don’t have enough to do and aren’t paid enough

I am sorry to hear about Malcolm Rifkind, though less sorry to hear about Jack Straw, whose ‘outside interests’ I have had cause to write about here before. How often do MPs fall for this sort of sting? Every six months? Every nine? Think of all the ones that don’t make it as far as our TV screens because their intended target cottoned on while being asked to speak more clearly into their interviewer’s tie? Anyway, for all the fun and damage these scandals create, the truth is that lobbying scandals are the gift that keep on giving because nobody will address the twin underlying problems that cause them. Plenty

James Forsyth

The lobbyist’s web still threatens the reputation of MPs, parliament and politics

Allegations that Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind were involved in the latest ‘cash for access’ scandal is a reminder of the threat that lobbying poses to both the reputation of parliament and politics. In 2011, as Liam Fox was caught up in the Adam Werritty scandal, The Spectator examined how the lobbying industry works and how it threatens to skew our democracy: Old hands in Westminster are confident that they know what lies behind the Liam Fox-Adam Werritty relationship. With a knowing glint in their eye, they lean forward and whisper: ‘He’s a lobbyist.’ They’ve seen it all before, they say. It explains why Werritty thought it was worth spending tens

Facebook insists it does tackle terrorism as finger points at site for Rigby messages

Facebook is responsible for hosting a conversation Rigby murderer Michael Adebowale had about killing a solider, according to the Telegraph. Both the ISC’s report and the committee’s chairman Malcolm Rifkind have been critical of an ‘internet company’ for not alerting the security services to the conversation. ‘Had MI5 known about the conversation,’ says the report, ‘there is a significant possibility that MI5 would then have been able to prevent the attack’. Facebook are on the defensive and have refused to comment on the speculation Adebowale discussed killing a solider on their site. According to a spokesman: ‘Like everyone else, we were horrified by the vicious murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby ‘We don’t comment on individual

Lara Prendergast

Sir Malcolm Rifkind suggests internet companies are ‘a safe haven for terrorists’

The battle between the spooks and the geeks is heating up. A new report into the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby has suggested that the brutal attack could have been prevented if an internet company (which remains unnamed in the report) had allowed online exchanges between the two killers to be accessed by intelligence services. While the 191-page report suggests that both MI5 and MI6 made errors, the real villains to emerge are the US-based web giants. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who chaired the report, has suggested that internet companies are ‘providing a safe haven for terrorists’. The report says: ‘What is clear is that the one party which could have made a

Five things you need to know about the Lee Rigby report

Could the intelligence services have prevented the murder of Lee Rigby last year? Probably not, but there was more they could have known and possibly done, according to a report from the Intelligence and Security Committee (pdf) out today. While the committee has praised the intelligence services for the work they do, there are criticisms levelled at people both in and out of government. Here’s what you need to know: 1. Although errors were made, Rigby’s murder was unlikely to have been prevented The report credits the intelligence agencies for protecting Britain from a ‘number of terrorist plots in recent years’ — one or two serious plots each year. However, a ‘number of errors’

No EU agreement on ‘Tier 3’ sanctions against Russia

Sir Malcolm Rifkind was right: there was no agreement in Europe on serious against Russia. The FT’s Peter Spiegel tweets the news that many have been expecting: The #EU ambassadors meeting finally breaks. No decision on “phase three” sanctions, but meeting again tomorrow. And maybe Mon. And Tues. — Peter Spiegel (@SpiegelPeter) July 24, 2014   The EU’s account of the meeting refers, comically, to an ‘exchange of views’ on the ‘preparatory work’ on tier three sanctions. There was some agreement on the extended list of ‘Putin cronies’. Zero Hedge has a summary of the discussion, drawn from a variety of sources. The headlines are that the number of listed ‘cronies’ is expected to be increased to

The truth about being a politician’s child

It was a Friday morning in 1992, Britain had just had an election, and I was on an ice rink. No special reason. You’re in Edinburgh, you’re a posh teenager, it’s the Christmas or Easter holidays, weekday mornings you go to the ice rink. It was a thing. Maybe it still is. I was only quite recently posh at the time, having moved schools, and I was — in both a figurative general sense and literal ice-skating sense — still finding my feet. My new boarding-school life was pretty good, though. The way you went ice-skating in the holidays was a bit weird, granted, but you could smoke Marlboro at

Should London leave the union?

We’re four months away from Scotland’s day of destiny, with the London-Scottish media fraternity becoming increasingly alarmed, and ironically (considering their total unionism) far more noticeably Scottish. At the Telegraph Graeme Archer made a characteristically elegant appeal to Sir Malcolm Rikfind to step forward, and there would indeed be something touching and rather beautiful about the grandson of Jewish immigrants being the man who saves Britain. The film script would write itself, if someone were to make a film about the Scottish referendum (which I admit is pretty unlikely). Sir Malcolm’s son Hugo meanwhile seems to think that the end of a 300-year union that helped export liberal democracy and

Alistair Darling is not being replaced as the leader of the Better Together campaign

‘Utter fucking bollocks’. In case that’s not clear enough for you, the suggestion that Alistair Darling is being replaced as the head of the Better Together campaign is, as one insider puts it, ‘absolute horseshit’. Douglas Alexander, the man replacing Darling according to the Daily Mail, was at the Better Together HQ in Glasgow earlier today and, I understand, mildly surprised to learn of his elevation. Then again, the Mail only reports that there will be ‘no formal announcement of a change’ merely a ‘secret agreement’ that Alexander should effectively supplant Darling. So secret, however, that no-one involved appears to have heard of it. James Chapman is a fine reporter but one can’t

Sir Malcolm Rifkind delivers a stern warning on Ukraine

MPs moved seamlessly today from debating the breeding season of the hare to the situation in Crimea. It’s been quiet recently, but this afternoon the House of Commons chamber hosted one of its better speeches from Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was bristling with a cold, disapproving fury. This crisis, he told MPs, wasn’t just a crisis for Ukraine, it was a crisis for every European country. And Europe was failing to recognise this, and failing to respond adequately, he argued. ‘For the first time since 1945, a European state has invaded the territory of another European state and has annexed part of its territory. The Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister,

Gordon Brown leads tributes to Nelson Mandela in the Commons

All three party leaders paid eloquent tribute to Nelson Mandela in the Commons. But by far the most powerful speech came from Gordon Brown. His speech, which combined wit with a string of serious points, was a reminder of the qualities that made many in the Labour party prepared to overlook his flaws. Brown, the timbre of his voice so suited to these occasions, spoke movingly about the Mandela he knew. He gave us a sense of the man as well as the statesman. He recalled how at the concert for Mandela’s the 90th, the former president had to sneak off to have a glass of champagne as his wife