On Friday, Kensington MP Felicity Buchan attended a series of events locally to commemorate the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Dressed in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, Buchan smiled like a friend to refugee children and their parents, but the words she spoke revealed a simplistic view of the conflict and no appetite for doing anything to stop the death and destruction.
Virtually all 650 MPs in parliament have been in lockstep to prolong the Ukrainians’ agony as they lose both territory and population in the war against their far stronger neighbour. As Ukraine is crushed, our politicians virtue signal from a safe distance. Diplomacy is a dirty word, and we’re repeatedly told that peace is impossible. Sir Keir Starmer has banned Labour MPs from questioning NATO’s provocation of the war and Boris Johnson intervened to prevent Presidents Zelensky and Putin from holding peace talks last April, as reported in Ukrainian media (the British press ignored it).
From 2014 to February 2022, over 14,000 were killed in Ukraine’s civil war following the US-backed coup that overthrew a president who favoured close ties to Russia. In the coup, the ensuing civil war and now the war with Russia, Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups and army battalions have played a prominent role.
The situation is intensely complex and dangerous, yet Buchan pledged Kensington’s and the UK’s unwavering support for the people of Ukraine. Her platitudes and clichés masked the ugly reality: Britain will support the Ukrainians on the condition that they keep fighting the Russians in an unwinnable war.
Buchan wrote about her experience of the anniversary: “I was honoured to attend the very moving remembrance service at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral. Tragically, more than 450 children have died in the conflict. Paper angels were suspended from the ceiling in their honour. Ukraine will prevail. Slava Ukraini.”
Slava Ukraini – Glory to Ukraine. But where is the glory? And what right does a British politician have to declare glory to a country they are, knowingly or unknowingly, sacrificing?
Outside the Ukrainian embassy, Buchan declared “We will not tire, we will be there to the end.”
These words are almost unfathomably vacuous. But soundbites are all we hear from our leaders as they mindlessly provoke Russia and China, two countries that needn’t be enemies of Britain.
“We will be there to the end” of what? Ukraine as a functioning state? Or are our rulers really set on decades of existential wars to impoverish and terrify us as they play brinkmanship over nuclear annihilation?
Outside the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain on Holland Park Avenue, Buchan told the assembled refugee children that the war against Russia “isn’t just about Ukraine. It’s about western values, good values.”
We emailed Felicity Buchan asking her to clarify what she meant, given that Ukraine is an eastern country, but at the time of writing, she had not replied.
Dubbed “Complicity Felicity” in North Kensington due to her part in voting down the fire safety recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry, Buchan enjoyed her moment posing as a liberal humanitarian. But her words were loaded with the complacency, fanaticism and racism of the British political establishment. Ukrainian lives mean so little that Britain sends enough weapons to keep them hanging on in the war, guaranteeing humanitarian catastrophe. This is justified through profound Russophobia and the puerile demonisation of Putin as the epitome of evil. It’s a familiar tactic, most recently used against Bashar al-Assad in Syria, a country illegally occupied by both the United States and Israel – western values? Before Assad, it was Gaddafi, sodomised to death by our allies in Libya. “We came, we conquered, he died!” squealed Hillary Clinton in delight – western values.
All this recent history, including Russia’s intervention in Syria to prevent its fall to ISIS and al Qaeda; the Ukrainian government’s role in persecuting ethnic Russians in the Donbas; the Ukrainians’ own values, traditions and their intrinsic value as humans, is all swept away with simplistic concepts like “Western values…good values.”
Like most MPs, Kensington’s “Complicity Felicity” frames the war in babyish terms, Good West v Bad East. By shunning diplomacy but acting as a friend of the Ukrainian people, Buchan is adding duplicity to her complicity and simplicity.
By Tom Charles