Wednesday 18 October 2017 – Malala Yousafzei trolled online for her ‘western’ choice of clothes at Oxford University

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Last week I was writing in my blog on the inspirational young woman Malala Yousafzei who had begun her first lectures at Oxford University five years to the day after being shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan.  Her crime in the eyes of the Taliban was her vocal support for the rights of girls to be educated in the Muslim country.  Ms Yousafzei has spent the last five years since surviving the attack, living in the UK and continuing her campaigns for children’s rights, and in particular the right of girls to be educated.  She has met world leaders, addressed the United Nations, travelled the world speaking for her causes and has won dozens of awards for her work, including the Nobel Preace Prize.

 

A truly remarkable achievement for Malala, who is still only 20 years old.  That makes it even more obscene that reports in the media today say that Ms Yousafzei has been trolled on social media for her fashion choice!  What the fuck is up with some people?  As some are pointing out today, people are freaking out more about her decision to wear high-heeled boots and skinny jeans than they were when she was targeted and shot in the head by a Taliban gunman when she was 15! 

 

The trolling began after media in Pakistan, Malala’s home country, published a photograph of her in Oxford.  Although she was still wearing a duppatta headscarf and was – by western standards – modestly dressed, she was seen wearing skinny jeans and high-heeled boots.  This was too much for some in Pakistan who then took to social media to condemn her for her fashion sense.  The fact that she is also a woman, who is being educated, and in the photo gives off the the image of a young woman who is free-spirited and confident, no doubt also scares many of the backward men who were trolling her.  Their comments also show the dangerous fundamentalist Islam view that Islamic law or sharia should be implemented around the world, regardless of whether the country is Muslim or not.

 

One troll, Yaseen Khan, suggested that Malala’s fashion sense demonstrated “She is the player of American game. I feel very embarrassed to say that she is Pakistani,” while another troll tweeted that her fashion choice “was the reason the bullet directly targeted her head long time ago.”  Truly appalling ignorant comments that were quickly re-published by media in Pakistan.

 

Others compared her to the Lebanese-American porn star Mia Khalifa, with comments such as “next Mia Khalifa,” from UxMan MaAn.  Meanwhile, a typically sexist Muslim troll named Shaiq Sirajuddin Shah tweeted: “It’s not particularly important for men but women shouldn’t  wear those tight jeans because they get exposed.”  Exposed to what?  Sexist, Muslim trolls who can’t see a woman in jeans without lascivious thoughts?  It has long since made me wonder why Muslim men can’t be trusted so much around women that the women in many Islamic countries are forced to wear burkas or hijabs.

 

Well thankfully Malala, although a Muslim, is living in Oxford in the UK and is free to dress as she pleases.  Ms Yousafzei, as far as I can see, has never shown anything but modesty and respect for herself and for her religion.  As a young woman living in the cosmopolitan and enlightened atmosphere of a university she no doubt feels the desire to express herself as a young, intelligent woman who has survived terrible trauma and has dedicated herself and her life to helping others.  She will spend the rest of her life in the pursuit of rights for girls and women – and for men and boys as well – around the world.  Like many, she is finding that university will be an opportunity to express and find herself as a person before a lifetime of work and commitments takes over.  Her choice of clothes is just a small part of this process.

 

Mercifully, social media is not completely dominated by the backward and ignorant.  Many have come to Malala’s defence online and have criticised the trolls going after her.  Elizabeth Pears, on Twitter, wrote: “Ummm.  Malala was shot by the Taliban for going to school. I doubt she cares what you think of her fashion choices while she’s at Oxford,” and Imaan Mazari-Hazir tweeted: “More people lost their minds over Malala wearing jeans than when she got shot. Our priorities demonstrate why we are our own worst enemy.”

 

 

Other tweets and comments on social media  in Malala’s defence included:

 

  • Huraira: Malala wears basic Western attire & moral police come out. Let a girl breatheee. How many tell a guy to stick to cultural wear?”

 

  • Mary: “Amazing that they want to control her style. She is  beautiful full of love grace and compassion!  Let Malala flap her wings and fly.”

 

  • Anite Anand, a BBC presenter: Malala can wear whatever she likes as far as I’m concerned. The baying criticism is coming  from the most regressive quarters, and I doubt she could do anything to please them. I sincerely hope she never tries. She is a heroine and a role model.”

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As you’d expect from Ms Yousafzei she has maintained a dignified silence on the trolling and has no doubt been focusing on her studies and her campaigning.  They, in comparison, are what are important to her – not probably the views of some idiots on social media.  Malala Yousafzei yesterday did take to her twitter account to publicise her new book, a picture book for children called Malala’s Magic Pencil, which is illustrated by Kerascoët, and which is based on her childhood in the Swat Valley in Pakistan.  She said on Twitter: “I hope this book inspires children to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. Available today: http://bit.ly/2y6Ds7r.”

 

 


 

Sources & Further Reading:

 

 

 

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Monday 9 October 2017 – Five years after being shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai begins her first lectures at Oxford University

pri_56032285Malala Yousafzai was just 15 when she was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban in the Swat Valley in Pakistan.  A gunman had boarded the school bus she was on with other schoolgirls.  He asked: “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all.” When she was identified the gunman shot at her, hitting her with one bullet which went through her head, neck and ended up in her shoulder.  She was left unconscious but alive.  Two other girls were also wounded in the shooting – Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan.  These two girls also survived.

 

“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” – Malala Yousafzai

Malala was airlifted to a military hospital in Peshawar (pictured below).  Doctors had to perform surgery to remove the bullet, which was near the spinal cord, and to relieve the pressure and swelling that was acting on her brain, this included a decompressive craniectomy in which part of the skull is removed to allow the brain room to swell.  Two days later she was moved to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi where she was given a 70% chance of survival according to doctor Mumtaz Khan.  It was also decided to move her to Germany where she could receive the best treatment when she was stable enough to transport.

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However, on the 15 October it was chosen to transfer her to the United Kingdom instead and she was flown to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England.  The hospital specialises in treating military personnel injured in conflict.  Despite the UK’s public-funded National Health Service (NHS), the Government in the UK emphasised that “the Pakistani government is paying all transport, migration, medical, accommodation and subsistence costs for Malala and her party.”

 

Malala didn’t come out of her coma until the 17 October, no doubt relieved that she had survived the attack but also bewildered that she was now in England.  By the 8 November she was well enough to be sitting up in bed and posing for a photograph.  She remained in hospital until January 2013 when she was discharged and moved to a temporary home for her and her family in the West Midlands.  In February 2013 she underwent further surgery to reconstruct her skull and restore her hearing with a cochlear implant, after which she was described as being stable.

 

Malala was shot by the Taliban because she openly campaigned for the right of girls and women in Pakistan to be educated.  From the age of 11 Malala, who wanted to be a doctor, spoke out for female education as the Taliban took over her town in northwest Pakistan in 2009.  She began writing a blog for the BBC about her life under the Taliban and she quickly became a symbol of defiance against the subjugation of women and girls by the Taliban.  Following her being shot in 2012, the Taliban issued a statement via a spokesman Ehsanullah Ehshan.  He called her desire for female education as “obscene” and continued:

 

“She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it. Let this be a lesson.”

 

He also warned that if she survived her injuries they would try to kill her again, which was one of the driving forces behind transferring her and her family out of Pakistan.

 

Malala’s courage in standing up to the Taliban when it took over her hometown in the Swat Valley was an inspiration to many before she was shot.  After being shot she became one of the most famous people in the world.  Malala’s school in her hometown was one of the last to still educate women and was run by her father.  Her blog for the BBC described the ever more desperate situation for people – and especially women and girls – in the Swat Valley.  The Valley is picturesque and before the Taliban arrived it was famed for its music and tolerance and was a popular location for honeymoons in Pakistan.

 

10pakistan-articleInlineAlthough the blog was written anonymously, she was taking huge risks in writing it.  Her school was eventually forced to close and she fled with her family to Abbottabad – the town where Osama Bin Laden would be found and killed in 2011.   Malala continued her campaign for female education in Abbottabad, speaking for the right of children.  In 2011 she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and she was later awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Prize.  Malala’s activism made her change her career aspirations.  Instead of wishing to become a doctor she aspired to a career in politics, despite once saying that she didn’t like politics.  Her father also expressed that she could do more good in politics than as a doctor.

 

“I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools. Only 11 out of 27 pupils attended the class because the number decreased because of the Taliban’s edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.” – Malala Yousafzai in a post entitled “I Am Afraid”, 3 January 2009.

 

Malala’s continuing activism made her a prominent target for the Taliban.  They considered her speaking out for female education as a threat to their beliefs and desire to impose strict Sharia law upon the Swat Valley.

 

“She symbolizes the brave girls of Swat. She knew her voice was important, so she spoke up for the rights of children. Even adults didn’t have a vision like hers.” –  Samar Minallah, documentary filmmaker.

 

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Photo: (l-r) Malia Obama, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, & President Obama at the White House, 11 October 2013.

 

Once Malala was stable and living in relative safety in the UK, she continued her activism becoming even more prominent in her campaigns for children’s rights and in particular for female education..  In July 2013 she addressed the United Nations  and in the same month had an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. In October, just a year after being shot, she met with President Obama at the White House.

 

“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born … I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists.” – Malala Yousafzai in her address to the UN, July 2013

Video: Malala Yousafzei addresses the United Nations

 

In 2013, also, her memoir I Am Malala – The Story Of The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban was published.  It was co-written with the British journalist Christina Lamb and was published in the UK by Weidenfeld & Nicolson and in the States by Little, Brown & Company.  One reviewer in The Guardian called it “fearless” and stated that “the haters and conspiracy theorists would do well to read this book.” There was some criticism of the co-writer’s contribution, that it detracted from Malala’s story and powerful message, but nevertheless one reviewer in the Washington Post  called the book “riveting” and said that “it is difficult to imagine a chronicle of war more moving, apart from perhaps the diary of Anne Frank.”  Entertainment Weekly wrote: “Malala’s bravely eager voice can seem a little thin here, in I Am Malala, likely thanks to her co-writer, but her powerful message remains undiluted.”

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Photos: Malala addresses the UN and meets Queen Elizabeth II

 

Kailash_Satyarthi_March_2015In 2014 Malala spoke at the Girl Summit in July, which was held in London.  Her speech was in support of rights for girls.  In October she received the World Children’s Prize and she donated the prize money to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to help rebuild schools in Gaza. On the 10 October 2014, just two years after being shot, Malala was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigns against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.  At just 17 she was the youngest-ever recipient of the award.  She shared the award with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist from India (pictured).

 

“There are problems in Mexico, there are problems even in America, even here in Norway, and it is really important that children raise their voices” – Malala Yousafzai speaking at the the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Norway shortly after a Mexican man interrupted her speech protesting the  2014 Iguala mass kidnapping in Mexico.

 

On the 12 July 2015, Malala’s 18th birthday,  she opened a school in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. It was near the Syrian border and was designed to educate Syrian children fleeing the war in Syria.  The school was funded by the not-for-profit Malala Fund and was for children aged 14-18.  She used the occasion to call for world leaders to invest in “books not bullets.”

 

Screenshot_1Today, on the 5th anniversary of her being shot by the Taliban Malala is undertaking an incredible milestone in her life considering her life so far – she is attending her first lectures at Oxford University.  She wrote today on Twitter: “5 years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls’ education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford,”  and posted a picture of her textbooks on her desk with her laptop.  Malala’s grades were not revealed but she obtained a place at Oxford on condition of receiving at least three As at A-level.   Her first lecture will be in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) – a favourite course for potential world leaders.  Malala will be feeling the trepidations and anticipation of all new university students today but the fact that she is today sitting in a lecture room at Oxford University is quite remarkable considering the tumultuous journey she has undertaken to get there.

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Malala is due to release a picture book on the 17 October 2017 called Malala’s Magic Pen,  in which she hopes to “inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them.” The book has already been banned by the All Pakistan Private School’s Federation for being disrespectful to Islam and because, according to them, it could have a negative influence on children.  The Pakistani investigative editor Ansar Abbasi described the book as “providing her critics something ‘concrete’ to prove her as an ‘agent’ of the West against Islam and Pakistan.”


Malala_Yousafzai_par_Claude_Truong-Ngoc_novembre_2013_02AWARDS, HONOURS AND PRIZES GIVEN TO MALALA YOUSAFZAI

  • 2011: International Children’s Peace Prize (nominee)
  • 2011: National Youth Peace Prize
  • Anne Frank Award for Moral Courage, January 2012
  • Sitara-e-Shujaat, Pakistan’s third-highest civilian bravery award, October 2012
  • Foreign Policy magazine top 100 global thinker, November 2012
  • 2012: Time magazine Person of the Year shortlist
  • Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice, November 2012
  • Rome Prize for Peace and Humanitarian Action, December 2012
  • 2012: Top Name in Annual Survey of Global English, January 2013
  • Simone de Beauvoir Prize, January 2013
  • Memminger Freiheitspreis 1525, March 2013 (conferred on 7 December 2013 in Oxford)
  • Doughty Street Advocacy award of Index on Censorship, March 2013
  • Fred and Anne Jarvis Award of the UK National Union of Teachers, March 2013
  • Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, Global Trailblazer, April 2013
  • One of Time‘s “100 Most Influential People in the World“, April 2013
  • Premi Internacional Catalunya Award of Catalonia, May 2013
  • Annual Award for Development of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), June 2013
  • International Campaigner of the Year, 2013 Observer Ethical Awards, June 2013
  • 2012: Tipperary International Peace Award, Ireland Tipperary Peace Convention, August 2013
  • Portrait of Yousafzai by Jonathan Yeo displayed at National Portrait Gallery, London (2013)
  • Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International
  • 2013: International Children’s Peace Prize, KidsRights Foundation
  • 2013: Clinton Global Citizen Awards from Clinton Foundation
  • Harvard Foundation’s Peter Gomes Humanitarian Award from Harvard University
  • 2013: Anna Politkovskaya Award – Reach All Women in War
  • 2013: Reflections of Hope Award – Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
  • 2013: Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought – awarded by the European Parliament
  • 2013: Honorary Master of Arts degree awarded by the University of Edinburgh
  • 2013: Pride of Britain (October)
  • 2013: Glamour magazine Woman of the Year
  • 2013: GG2 Hammer Award at GG2 Leadership Awards (November)
  • 2013: International Prize for Equality and Non-Discrimination
  • 2014: Nominee for World Children’s Prize also known as Children’s Nobel Prize
  • 2014: Awarded Honorary Life Membership by the PSEU (Ireland)
  • 2014: Skoll Global Treasure Award
  • 2014: Honorary Doctor of Civil Law, University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 2014: Nobel Peace Prize, shared with Kailash Satyarthi
  • 2014: Philadelphia Liberty Medal
  • 2014: One of Time Magazine “The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014”
  • 2014: Honorary Canadian citizenship
  • 2015: Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album
  • 2015: Asteroid 316201 Malala named in her honour.
  • 2016: Honorary President of The Students’ Union of the University of Sheffield
  • 2017: Youngest ever United Nations Messenger of Peace
  • 2017: Received honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa
  • 2017: Ellis Island International Medal of Honor
  • 2017: Wonk of the Year 2017 from American University

Video: The Story of Malala’s survival after being shot (ABC News)


 

Sources & Further Reading/Viewing:

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 22 September 2015 – Media having field-day over lurid David Cameron pig story

with additional update on Wednesday 23 September 2015

The papers and social media were having a field-day today after billionaire Tory donor Lord Ashcroft made remarkable claims about Cameron’s past – including that he had inserted his penis into a dead pig’s mouth as part of a bizarre initiation ritual.

The claim was made in Lord Ashcroft’s biography of Prime Minister called Call Me Dave. He said that Cameron performed  the sexual act as part of the initiation into the Oxford dining club Piers Gaveston. Ashcroft claims the story originates from “a distinguished Oxford contemporary” of Cameron who had seen a photograph of the incident, which he called a “disgusting ritual.” The source, who is a MP, has made the allegations before and claims to know the name of the individual whohas the photograph in his keeping. Ashcroft was unable to confirm the story with the owner of the photograph but suggests that it is “an elaborate story for an otherwise credible figure to invent.”

Other claims in Lord Ashcroft’s book include one that says Cameron was a womaniser – that he would spend evenings seeking female company – something Cameron called “wooding.” Of Cameron’s alleged womanising in his Oxford days, Ashcroft said: “I was quite jealous. Most people were I imagine. I think he slept with all the good-looking girls from college.” Ashcroft also alleges that Cameron was possibly taking cocaine. He followed up claims of drug taking by the future Prime Minister made by the journalist James Delingpole – who was an Oxford contemporary of Cameron. However, Ashcroft was unable to find any hard evidence to substantiate his susipicions, but nevertheless repeated the accusations. 

Ashcroft claims that Cameron’s more “liberal” view of illicit drugs as a young MP stems from personal experience. The Lord alleges that a close relative of the Prime Minister was addicted to a class-A drug when Cameron was a young MP. He alleges that the partner of the relation acted as a drugs mule and collapsed and died in Argentina, at an airport, when “bags of narcotic burst” in their stomach.

Cameron’s liberal views on drugs were expressed when earlier in his Parliamentary career he was a member on the Home Affairs Select Committee. But since then he has toughened his stance. When a more recent Home Office report suggested relaxing the law, Cameron rejected  the findings outright.

The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said of Ashcroft’s pig claims: “I’m not intending to dignify this book by offering any comment or any PM reaction to it.” Sources close to the PM also dismissed the ideas, saying they “did not recognise” the pig and drug accusations – but why would they know anything of it if it were true?

More potentially politically damaging allegations were also made by Ashcroft – that the Prime Minister knew of his non-dom tax status a full year before the Prime Minister claimed he first heard of his status. Ashcroft said he discussed the issue with the PM in 2009 and that the PM misled the public on the subject before the 2010 General Election.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow minister without portfolio, said there was a “serious question mark over the consistency of the Prime Minister’s statements.” He called for the PM to “immediately clarify” when he knew of Lord Ashcroft’s tax status. Meanwhile, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the claims “perhaps shouldn’t just be allowed to disappear into the ether.”

David Cameron’s direct silence on the pig story seems to suggest either that it is untrue or demonstrates his confidence that any photo of the pig incident is either destroyed or in the hands of someone Cameron trusts or has influence over. Doubts also emerge over the veracity of Ashcroft’s allegations when you look at his “motive” for writing the book – co-written with journalist Isabel Oakeshott.

After donating millions to the Tory Party, Ashcroft expected to be rewarded with a significant position in Cameron’s Cabinet when he became Prime Minister in the Conservative-led Coaliton in 2010. However, he was only offered a junior post – which he rejected. This led to a dramatic falling out with the Prime Minister.  Ashcroft admitted that this was partly his reason for writing the book. He says that he was promised a major role, only for Cameon to phone him after the 2010 election to apologise and tell him that Nick Clegg – the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior party in the Coalition – had blocked his appointment. 

Ashcroft’s assumption that he would be qualified for, or would merit, a position in the Cabinet simply because of his financial contributions is outrageous. It is sadly a symbol of the corruption and moral ambiguity of many modern-day politicians.

As for the pig story. I don’t know if Ashcroft is telling porkies about the Prime Minister porking a porker. However, if Cameron was a member of the Piers Gaveston club then it would be hard to believe he didn’t take part in the club’s notorious debauchery. He was a member of the Bullingdon Club, also notorious for its behaviour, so it is not a huge leap to accept that Cameron would join the Piers Gaveston.  Photos of the group in the 1980s show members including Nigella Lawson, Hugh Grant and Nat Rothschild. They are shown in bizarre costumes looking distinctly worse for wear. 

The club largely concentrates on organising an end-of-year party where a select group of posh twats are invited. According to a recent member of the group, the party is drug-fuelled but nowhere near as bad as some people make out. He told the I newspaper: “They pick you up in a minibus, confiscate your mobile phones to avoid pictures being taken and drive you out into someone’s countryside for a massive party. Everyone gets smashed and a lot of people hook up. Everyone knows drugs are very easy to find, including hard drugs. Sometimes you’ll see people having sex in public.”   A different member of the club said: “there was some sexual debauchery at a Piers Gav party, a pig was around and people have added two and two to get five.” These two people, however, are recent members of the club so it is possible their memories of the activities of the club do not reflect the behaviour of its members twenty or more years ago when Cameron was supposed to have been a member.

Whether the allegations are true or not the discomfort they are causing the Prime Minister and Government is very real. Social media has been ablaze with pig-related  jokes and mockery of the Prime Minister. The claims of debauchery and lurid sexual acts with pigs are disturbing enough and, if true, would demonstrate his extreme poor judgement, lax morals and simple idiocy in his younger days.

The claims regarding Ashcroft’s tax status are much more serious. If true they show Cameron was lying before the 2010 General Election as to when he found out about the Tory donor’s tax status. The issue of tax avoidance was a big issue in the 2010 General Election campaign and Ashcroft’s avoidance of tax through his non-dom status was a symbol of the anger and frustration amongst the public on the issues of tax avoidance – both legal and illegal.

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UPDATE: Wednesday 23 September 2015

The feud between Lord Ashcroft and the Prime Minister continued today when David Cameron cracked a “joke” at a Conservative dinner. He told his fellow diners that: “while having treatment for a minor back injury, his doctor warned him he would need an injection involving ‘just a little prick, just a stab in the back’,” according to the BBC reporter James Lansdale.

Lord Ashcroft replied on Twitter: “Good to see the PM retains his sense of humour. We must have the same doctor. I had the same in 2010 when the PM emerged.”

More accusations about Cameron have emeged in the serialisation of the book Call Me Dave by Lord Ashcroft and Isobel Oakeshott in the Daily Mail. One allegation claims he intervened in legal action against a friend who, in 2008, was being prosecuted for taking part in an illegal fox hunt. The case against him was eventually dropped on a technicality.

According to the Daily Mail, the former Tory chairman Michael Ancram has criticised Cameron over Libyia, saying that Libyia was the Prime Minister’s Iraq and that the country is more unstable now than under Colonel Gaddafi. The ex-Defence Minister Nicholas Soames has also accused the Prime Minister of “stripping (the Royal Navy) down to nothing.”

David Cameron continues to remain silent, publicly, on the allegations in Lord Ashcroft’s book.

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Related comment by Simon Kelner in The Independent: “Lord Ashcroft has unwittingly shone a light on the corrupt heart of politics” at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/lord-ashcroft-has-unwittingly-shone-a-light-on-the-corrupt-heart-of-politics-10515930.html