Paul T Horgan: Blame the despotic Iranians, not Boris, for jailed woman’s plight

Politics is human. Politicians are human. They are not meant to be bland bureaucrats. However, by comparison with the politicians of a few decades ago, most of them are.

There was a time when people thought the late Geoffrey Howe was a bit boring, a kind of Penfold to Danger Mouse. But then he had to compete in an environment dominated by such strong personalities as Margaret Thatcher, Neil Kinnock, Norman Tebbit and Denis Healey, to name but some of the big beasts of yesteryear. Compared with today's politicians, Howe was a star turn, never more so than in his devastating resignation speech that led to the downfall of Mrs Thatcher.

Few politicians today actually have a comparable personality to those of yesteryear to project through our television screens. Cosseted and controlled by special advisers, they seem robotic in their answers. The passion seems to be drained out of them, if it was ever there in the first place.



Labour politicians are especially guilty of this. Their ideology means that their use of language has to be tightly controlled lest it offends any of the coalition of minorities that they believe comprise 'the many' and who they champion over a nebulous and ill-defined 'few'. It is ironic that Labour's official ideology is to victimise a minority. It is disturbing that they have not noticed this.

Having a personality in politics is a risky business. On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians with personalities face calls to resign. In the USA, Donald Trump has completed one year since being elected President. The sky has not fallen in, not even over his use of Twitter that resulted in the creation of a new word. There have been no disasters or ‘covfefes’ directly attributable to the change of incumbent at the White House. Yet the protests still go on in the media and on the streets. Not about Trump's policies, or their effect, but about Trump the man. The protests are simply an expression of dislike and nothing more. They are all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Boris Johnson appears increasingly to be characterised as our version of Donald Trump. He is accused of numerous foreign policy disasters and there are calls for him to go. Yet the sky has not fallen in on this side of the Atlantic either. The latest cause of contention is the plight of an Anglo-Iranian woman imprisoned by the theocratic dictatorship that runs the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mr Johnson has been accused of potentially causing this woman's prison sentence to be increased by his suggestion that instead of vacationing in a despotic regime, she was training journalists. Most journalists in the UK have received some training. However, they would never in a million years consider that their trainer should be locked up for doing their job. This seems to be a criminal offence in Iran. Who knew? No British journalist has explained in print why this is so, or considered how horrendous this concept actually is. It is also perverse that the supposed fate of a British Foreign Secretary should rest on the whims and caprices of the Iranian justice system. This is a country that executes homosexuals, yet it is accorded greater respect in the press here than a senior minister in Her Majesty's Government.

Anglo-Iranian relations have a rocky history. Britain is regarded as the 'Little Satan' compared with the 'Great Satan' of the USA. British interference in Iranian domestic affairs up to the 1970s is a continuing source of resentment in Iran, including as it does the toppling of governments. So the Iranian government which brought that interference to a halt by revolution is not necessarily out to do this country any favours. It has a history of being hostile to this country and its people since Ayatollah Khomeini took power. Boris Johnson is not to blame for this.

Jeremy Corbyn has strong links to the Iranian state. He has received thousands of pounds to work for it. It is therefore strange that he has failed to use any influence he accrued while in the pay of the Iranians to help this poor woman. If Corbyn cannot use his connections to any effect, it is likely that the Iranians are proceeding without reference even to friendly foreign opinion.

Public life would be the emptier without Boris Johnson. He embodies the fact that fully-rounded human beings with actual personalities can still enter public office on a par with bloodless technocrat careerists. Is Johnson one of our greatest Foreign Secretaries? It is difficult to determine. There have not been any policy fiascos or national embarrassments, apart from his opponents stating there have been some. Being Remainers or Socialists, the critics of Johnson might be attacking him from a partisan standpoint, in which case they may be ignored.

The nature of a Foreign Secretary is to be all but invisible in UK domestic politics. Douglas Hurd embodied this. However Boris Johnson has arguably the highest personal profile of any Foreign Secretary in decades. It is this profile that is being used against him, and nothing more. But that's politics.

Paul T Horgan

  • Flaketime

    No! Lets not blame the Iranians who should be free to run their country the way they want without the authoritarian Fascist libtard politicians in the West deciding how they can live and who can rule them. It is the act of supreme arrogance to think otherwise, far worse than any colonialism.

    The reason the Iranians came to have a Shia theocracy is because Western idiot politicians unquestioningly backed the Shah and turned a blind eye to the oppression of the Iranian people.
    When the Salafist extremist Saudi regime turned against their Shia rivals the West fell into line and backed yet another totalitarian regime even worse than the Iranians and continue to do so to this day.

    Where are your protests against Saudi or have you been so completely brainwashed by corrupt politicians and media that you can’t see the hypocrisy of your position?

    Why is it acceptable to now attack and name call the Iranian regime when they are only doing what many many Muslims in Britain want to do, that is to implement Sharia law and to enforce it ruthlessly. If it is so bad in Iran why are you not shouting from the rooftops about Theresa the clueless attempt to integrate Sharia law into British law, and the commissioned research on how to do it being carried out at Edinburgh University?

    Then there’s the overt clear an obvious racism exhibited by the British government when white Christians have been arrested the government does next to nothing.

    Remember Karl Andree, a 74-year-old British man sentenced to 350 lashes for brewing wine, the Telegraph even wrote an article about our inaction:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/11928433/350-lashes-for-a-British-grandfather-is-the-cost-of-doing-business-with-Saudi-Arabia.html

    Or how about Jamie Harron jailed in Dubai for ‘touching’ another mans hip? Again the British government did nothing to assist him.

    So in conclusion we absolutely can blame Boris, and the entire panoply of greed ridden clueless idiots in the Tory party for dealing with what is essentially a Muslim foreign national in a manner more favourably than they have ever dealt with White British Christians.

    That is the part which is unforgivable.

    • Reborn

      Your opinions seem harsh, but completely justified.
      Personally, I have a problem with people who have duel nationality.
      Especially if one of the nations is not Western.

      • Little Black Censored

        “Duel nationality” – now that might be exciting.

        • Reborn

          It’s my very smart new computer which thinks it’s even more clever than I am & regularly substitutes it’s own choice of words.

    • Owen_Morgan

      The Iranians are not “free to run their country”. They have a bunch of mullahs and ayatollahs running it. No election in Iran ever makes any difference. The regime is corrupt, brutal and murderous. It props up Assad in Syria and supports hezbollah, hamas and the taliban. Osama bin Laden got aid from Tehran, too. Whataboutism is never a particularly coherent argument. The fact that Saudi Arabia is bad doesn’t make Iran any better. Incidentally, Saudi Arabia has started an attempt at reform. I see no sign of any such thing in Iran.

      • Flaketime

        They are free ! If they didn’t want the Ayatollahs they would rise up and remove them like they did with the Shah!
        What’s so wrong with Assad? He led a tolerant multi faith regime, until Saudi & the West decided to destabilise it and turn it into another intolerant Islamic hell hole.

        Saudi – and by extension the US and UK government support ISIL and Hamas can you not see the double standards, or have you been so blinded by corruption in the West?
        Osama Bin Laden was Saudi Sunni highly unlikely the Iranians would give direct support, so I’ll call you on that one.

        You have completely failed to address any of the other issues I raised here, in a post which is all about double standards.

        “Whataboutism is never a particularly coherent argument. ”

        Clearly double standards aren’t an issue for you.

        • Reborn

          I have to agree with you re Assad.
          He even had a Christian woman in his cabinet.
          Those who led us in to that illegal war will, sadly, never be held to
          account. The Iraqi people have suffered horribly due to Western intervention. As have the Syrians & the Libyans.

          • Nockian

            Western government interventions. I didn’t vote them into power and I don’t support what they did. How many others think that ?

        • Stuart Fairney

          The Shah fell because he declined to use the military fully against his people, the Mullahs would have no such restraint as we saw in the protests against the 2009 elections. Trust me on this one, I’ve been there, Iran is not a free country in any sense and its leaders are widely hated.

          • emma2000

            This is very definitely true, I was there until the end and forced evacuation in Feb 1979. The Shah didn’t release the full force of the army and tried to make some changes egged on by the incompetent President Carter.

  • hereward

    With that headline I expected some information on what is happening to the jailed lady . All I got was friendly waffle on buffoon Boris , the current tail on the USA dog .
    What are the charges against this woman and what is the evidence ? When is the trail ? Are the Iranians just playing politics or are our Foreign Office lying about the holiday . Some facts would be nice . A puff piece about BJ is superfluous to requirements .

    • Ex Realfish

      You obviously didn’t read the headline then.

    • Ian Walker

      How is the weather in Tehran?

    • Little Black Censored

      “I expected some information…” It is not a news article but a piece of comment.

  • Royinsouthwest

    For any readers who have forgotten about Jeremy Corbyn’s connections with Iran here is a link.

    Jeremy Corbyn was paid by an Iranian state TV station that was complicit in the forced confession of a tortured journalist
    http://uk.businessinsider.com/jeremy-corbyn-paid-iran-press-tv-tortured-journalist-2016-6

  • Cynical Ex Academic

    The woman in question has dual nationality, and Iranian origins, so she is not quite so ‘British’ as some people hounding BJ are making out. In fact, the FO expressly states that it cannot intervene in any matter relating to a holder of dual nationality in the other state.Imagine, also, what the outcry would be if we jailed a terrorist holder of dual nationality if the other state tried to intervene. After all, murdering Kuffars and raping underage Kuffar girls is official dogma in some state religions, and us not liking it shows what infidels we are.

    Frankly, if the woman was so stupid as to go to Iran, family or not, when she knows what they believe in, then she deserves what she gets. I wonder if she ever got refugee status in the first place, and of course, she still seems to believe in their medieval death cult from her choice of dress.

    I’m irritated that she takes up any time of officials over here.

    • I fully agree. Anyone who goes back to Iran (and a number of other countries) having obtained dual citizenship with the UK is extremely foolish. The have obviously never read UK media whilst they are here to realise what has happened to other individuals who have returned home, or they take the attitude “that will never happen to me”.
      As Boris can’t know about every such case, he must have had a brief from the Foreign Office otherwise he wouldn’t have known she was a journalist. I suggest that all that has happened is the fault of some Foreign Office official who either provided a poor brief or else gave him one deliberately designed to discredit Boris at the expense of this woman.

      • paul parmenter

        I recall Boris’s words were “I understand she was training journalists”, or words to that effect. It was certainly not a definitive statement of fact. The clear implication being that he had simply been briefed accordingly. If the briefing was wrong, all it should have needed was a public correction – and a few smacked heads behind the scenes. But are the Iranians so hyper sensitive that they would have chosen to believe the first statement and ignored the correction? And would the furore have ensued if it were not for the political advantage of embarrassing a big Tory beast?

        • Bik Byro

          The Iranians weren’t hyper-sensitive, they worked out a chance to jack up their ransom demand and jumped on it.

        • I think the mandarins at the FO are a law unto themselves and don’t like a Minister who wants to take control. Boris is a risk to their comfortable pro-arab policy and so he must go. Method – drop him in it!
          No-one will be reprimanded, indeed they will probably get promotion for doing a good job.

          • Little Black Censored

            With everybody trying to catch him out it is amazing that Boris has survived for so long. We may yet seem him as Prime Minister (if not “World King”, as he would prefer).

          • My choice for PM would be Jacob Rees-Mogg. His interview on Hard Talk was masterly; he was perfectly calm and well controlled. He never raised his voice whilst insisting on fully answering the questions.
            https://youtu.be/hnKgC_btfwA

    • amoorhouse

      If she had two passports, if she wanted to use the UK one she would have to have got a Visa which is practically impossible especially if you are a recognized enemy. It is likely she used an Iranian passport. If she did then, irrespective of support for dual nationality or not, she cannot receive consular support as she entered as an Iranian citizen. Lots of people do this around the world and suffer for it. You cannot enter Iran declaring you are an Iranian and then expect UK support.

  • Bik Byro

    Most of the complainers seem more excited at the thought of Boris losing his job than the thought of releasing the woman.

    • Ian Walker

      Because it’s an anti-Brexit crusade to weaken prominent Leavers prior in case May goes. Hence the failed attempt to drag Gove into it on Sunday.

      These people give as much of a damn about Mrs Zagahri-Ratcliffe as they do about any other British person. She’s a pawn in their Notting Hill dinner-party games, to be used as a sacrifice in order to take out a key opponent.

      • Bik Byro

        I don’t even think it’s that sophisticated. I think it’s simply the fact that Boris is a Conservative minister.

  • shred

    The main point about Boris’s much criticiised statement has been widely missed and ignored by the BBC/Guardian completely and for good reason. The Guardian wrote in an article in October 17 that Mrs Radcliffe had been employed by a BBC agency to train journalists who worked for the BBC World Service Iranian section. This station puts out liberal propaganda against the Iranian revolutionary Guard and is hated by them. They watch and read everything and presumably Boris was briefed that the probable reason for the arrest was this involvement. He never said that she was training journalists IN IRAN. This has been repeated by the BBC/Guardian Remain journalists and politicians such as Sobry as part of the anti-Brexit subversion. In doing so, it is they who have highlighted the position of the unfortunate prisoner and made her position worse. The press should be questioning why the BBC did not exercise their duty of care to a junior employee and warn her about the danger of going to Iran- or perhaps they did.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/17/letter-from-ex-pm-about-jailed-british-iranian-woman-proves-government-links

    • shred

      Biased BBC covered the hypocrisylast week.

      https://biasedbbc.org/blog/2017/11/07/get-boris-again/

    • fred finger

      When you dig into her employment, also knowledge of Iran; it is reckless to an incredible degree for her to go to Iran. She knew the IRG are a law unto themselves, in 2014 jounos got long sentences. The IRG hate journos and the BBC, what possessed her to go to Iran; it was plain stupid.

    • Little Black Censored

      I had never read this anywhere else. Most important; thank you.

    • Andy

      From Wiki -: ‘Zaghari-Ratcliffe used to work for the BBC Media Action international charitable project, (which sits in the BBC World Service Group) which is linked to a BBC training course offered to Iranian journalists, some of who were convicted for participating in the foreign training course in 2014. Nazanin worked for BBC Media Action between February 2009 and October 2010, “in a junior capacity as a Training Assistant” according the CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, before moving to Thomson Reuters Foundation.’

  • Nockian

    Exactly as the header states. It’s Iran that we need to blame, followed by the stupid woman who must have known what she was walking into.

    • fred finger

      The media does not make clear the structure of gov in Iran. That is the religious heads, underpinned by the civil gov and in parallel the IRG. It is the IRG and their courts that are detaining her. So appealing to the Iranian gov is a waste of time as they are not holding her and have no control over the IRG.

      • Nockian

        They treat Iran as if it’s some secular bastion of democracy. As others have said, we turn a blind eye to Iran and Saudi Arabia and we know why-oil, arms, money and power balance. Our Government is an immoral set of hypocrites working for an establishment that couldn’t give a toss about Western civilisation.

        • Reborn

          You think this lot are bad.
          Wait ’till you experience Corbyn’s lot.

          • Nockian

            I don’t really care. I don’t vote for any of them anyway. I lived through the 70s filth, darkness, rationing and price inflation so it won’t be surprising to me if I live through another period of collapse.

          • Reborn

            Me too.
            Difference now is that Labour is the de facto Communist & Muslim Party of Britain
            Also, the destructiveness practised in the 70s, which nearly succeeded,
            and was driven by Communists failed, because the public knew about life
            in East Germany & did not want it here.
            Now, miseducated young people think communism is a viable economic
            & social model.
            Additionally, Labour has guaranteed millions of mohammedan votes.

          • Nockian

            All that may be true, but what are YOU going to do about it ?

            This is what I see when people are so frightened by the future, to the extent they are impotent in the present. All that happens is a kind of blind terror and panic, an almost excited longing for their vision to manifest.

            What can you do ? Educate. Stop looking at the concretisation of your personal fears as if it’s a wall which is impervious to consciousness. Everything is ideas. Every idea is in the open market place to be adopted, or rejected. Be a small business, an innovator, let your ideas be known and watch how word of mouth transfers those ideas from place to place rapidly.

            The problem for people like you, is that you aren’t confident in your offering. You are still clouded by doubts because you have never chased your own philosophy to its end points. It means that you waver, doubt, concede, are inconsistent and will eventually compromise, or accept someone else’s philosophy, even grudgingly.

            What do the great heroes prove ? That one man, with perfect resolve and conscious clarity can not only make a difference, but, from the right stance, can defeat an entire army. Doubt is fear and fear is the mind killer, you will lose before you have drawn your mental sword. Find out where your philosophy is weak and do the work necessary to resolve that weakness. Do not be concerned about winning the war, you can only fight your small corner, but you must know that you are competent, confident and capable of doing so. It is that confidence which is your self-esteem and from which your happiness is born.

            Those that lack all confidence discuss people; those that have doubts discuss events; those who are confident discuss ideas. Be the latter, not because of the prestige, but because that is all that interests you. Do that and your little shop will flourish. You may not ever know how many have bought into your philosophy and you should not care. Just make that product the best it can be and that will be its own reward.

            I make no apologies at all if this sounds preachy, get over it. 🙂

  • Sarah

    Yeah, no. Sorry. Much as I agree with much of Boris Johnson’s politics, he made matters worse with a daft comment about her teaching journalists, which was never part of her current job or previous ones. She was in fact on holiday with her family, as her parents still live in Iran. THAT is why, fellow commenters, she went ‘on holiday’ to a despotic regime. If my parents lived in a despotic regime, it wouldn’t stop me visiting them if I could. Boris’ comments simply make him come off as completely ill-informed about Nazanin’s case, and the very public fight to free her led by her husband. This is, perhaps, a case of an aide not doing their research properly and embarrassing the Foreign Secretary, but nonetheless the Iranians will take his comments as proof that this unfortunate lady was doing something that they consider untoward.

    While I understand more now about why it might seem that nothing has been done (from David Davis’ excellent article yesterday) and despite my agreeing with Boris on my political issues as a conservative, I will not hesitate to say that he dropped the ball by making those comments. Just because we like someone who’s a bit of a character in our bland politics, doesn’t mean we don’t admit their faults (of which BJ has many, including extramarital affairs and funding an abortion…!)

    • Sarah

      * many political issues

    • fred finger

      Her job with the BBC 2008-2009 was setting up jounos teaching course. Her current job is with Reuters Foundation that issued a statement 9th Nov, that she has a job of setting up jounos training courses.

  • Tethys

    To be fair, a wheely-bin would do less damage in the Foregn Office.