What’s wrong with us? Why isn’t there loud, universal support from all shades of political opinion, in Britain and across the West, for the anti-regime protesters in Iran? Why such reluctance to encourage these brave young men and women who are risking their lives by taking on the theocrats?
Have we forgotten the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, or is it that our elites are now so embarrassed by Western values that they can no longer relate to those in other countries who also yearn for freedom and democracy?
For the cultural Marxists who now control the Labour Party, the answer is simple. My enemies’ enemies are my friends, and the only prism through which to view the world is that of “exploitation” and imaginary power struggles.
Hence why Jeremy Corbyn was happy to get paid to go repeatedly on the loathsome Press TV, a rabidly anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Western channel owned by the Iranian government.
Scandalously, but unsurprisingly, Mr Corbyn has yet to speak out about the protests: he was quick to condemn Donald Trump’s commonsensical recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but has nothing to say about the murder of dozens of Iranians.
"Why is the British government still clinging to the absurd notion that the Iranian nuclear deal was a good idea?"
Hypocrisy barely even begins to describe the Labour/Momentum position, and that of its army of social media warriors. The fact that what is now the official British Left claims to believe in human rights, sexual freedom, feminism and social liberalism, but is refusing to support the dissidents fighting to bring them about in Iran simply exposes yet again its utter moral bankruptcy.
So much for the hard-Left. Why are the Tories and the (clearly hopeless) Foreign Office almost as silent, in effect aligning themselves with the worst of European foreign policy, despite the liberating potential of Brexit?
Why has Boris Johnson been so uncharacteristically mealy-mouthed? Why is the British government still clinging to the absurd notion that the Iranian nuclear deal was a good idea, rather than a shameful exercise in appeasement which ended up propping up an illegitimate regime while lining the pockets of a few European companies?
Jeremy Corbyn against a blue sky and cotton bud clouds speaks into a microphone
For Jeremy Corbyn, all that seems to matter is anti-West credentials
It was one of Barack Obama’s greatest foreign policy blunders, together with his administration’s cowardly refusal to support (if only verbally) the previous Iranian uprising in 2009, and the decision to buy into the myth that the current incarnation of the Iranian regime is “reformist”, some sort of tolerable semi-Perestroika.
Try telling that to Iran’s political prisoners, to those endlessly persecuted by the religious police, to young people who simply want to live freely, to women who wish to dress as they please (despite a relaxation in recent days in Tehran only) and who are sick of being subjugated, to anybody who simply wants to work hard and better their existence. Life for atheists, Christian converts or gays is grim.
"This is a powerful counter-blast to the pernicious idea that the Middle East is somehow different, that none of its people want democracy, individual liberty or toleration"
There were at least 80,000 Jews still living in Iran in 1979; today, there are fewer than 10,000. The Baha’i Faith, which has just celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, its Iranian founder, has been savagely persecuted for decades, its adherents demonised as apostates. Many of its members have been jailed, tortured, murdered, dispossessed of their property or livelihoods, denied an education or forced into exile.
I understand that Boris feels he must tread carefully after the disastrous Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair, but it is deeply disappointing that Mr Trump’s foreign policy towards Iran is far more ethical than Britain’s. We need a Kennedy-esque oration, a “we are all Tehranis” moment from our Foreign Secretary to give the rebels the kind of moral support they desperately need.
The Americans get this: Mr Trump – yes, Trump, the president despised by so-called liberals the world over – has adopted exactly the right tone in recent days, and Nikki Haley, his ambassador to the UN, has been superb and now looks like a future Republican presidential contender.
The reality is that there is no moral ambiguity when it comes to the Iranian protests, no shades of grey, no trade-off to be had for reasons of realpolitik. There are the good guys – the young, brave counter-revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the brutes who have ruled their country for so long – and then there is the regime, a barbaric and corrupt mob that has brought a once great society to its knees.
The protests were precipitated by economic chaos, as is often the case, but quickly mutated into open attacks on the regime. Iran’s GDP per capita is a pathetic $5,757, according to the World Bank, barely any higher than the $5,653 in constant currency seen in 1979. In social terms, there has been an explosion in drug abuse, mental illness, depression and atomisation.
Most encouragingly, the protesters are furious that the regime is spending so much on financing terrorism and on its wars in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, rather than on its own people. They have been saying so, clearly, in demonstrations around the country.
This remarkable message – a powerful counter-blast to the pernicious idea that the Middle East is somehow different, that none of its people want democracy, individual liberty or toleration – is far more radical than the demands made during the 2009 uprising. If any country is ready for a real dose of modernisation, it’s Iran.
True, the protesters are disorganised and they disagree about much, but they deserve our support, and that of all of the global bodies supposedly concerned with human rights which have been pretending not to notice what has been going on (they are only interested in the “right” kinds of rights violation, that is those by Western countries).
We cannot be sure that a new, successful counter-revolution would not lead to chaos, but Iran doesn’t need an authoritarian regime to prevent tribal warfare and the Islamists are totally discredited, so the omens are better than they were in Afghanistan or Libya.
What is certain is that we’ve failed the Middle East appallingly in recent decades. We mustn’t also betray Iran again. Its dissidents need a clear signal that the world would be delighted to work, when the time is right, with a new government in Tehran. Foreign Secretary, are you listening?