Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Leveson cash is a little bit rich

Russell Brand and The Dalai Lama at a youth event in Manchester
Russell Brand and The Dalai Lama at a youth event in Manchester

The Dalai Lama and Russell Brand go to a youth event together. Yes, it does sound like the first line of a joke, but it's not. They appeared at an event in Manchester, as part of the Dalai Lama's latest trip to the UK.

He came to speak at a business conference in Leeds. Leeds is due to host Chinese athletes in the run up to the Olympics. The Chinese don't like the Dalai Lama much, because he wants Tibet to be an independent country whereas China claims Tibet as its own. Around the world millions see the DL as a great spiritual leader. China sees him as a separatist threat.

Hosting the Chinese athletes will be worth around £250,000 to Leeds Council. They came under pressure from China to ban the Dalai Lama's visit. They didn't ban it but have distanced themselves from the event. The Dalai Lama's talk at the conference was about ethics in business.

So they invite him to talk ethics, then pull back under pressure from a huge country who insist on crushing his fellow countrymen and woman anytime they voice opposition. Maybe next year the theme of the conference will be expediency and hypocrisy in business.

Meanwhile, in Argentina they're demanding that the UK negotiates about the Falklands. David Cameron says he won't negotiate. Sovereignty disputes over two tiny islands that are of no great strategic or economic importance (although there's supposed to be oil offshore) led to a short, bloody war 30 years ago.

Strangely, republicans here thought that the big country next door, Argentina, should have the islands. However, these same people didn't hold that the big country next door to Ireland should have sovereignty over this place. The UK defended the rights of the islanders to run their own affairs, while simultaneously telling nationalists here who wanted the same rights, that they had no just cause.

Does it ever strike you as bizarre the amount of time, energy and hot air that's expended on b****r all? What on EARTH does it matter to the Chinese Government if the Dalai Lama talks to a bunch of people in Yorkshire? Will a half hour speech from a wee man in a robe really threaten their rapidly expanding economy?

And hasn't Argentina got better things to do than rant on about "ownership" of a dot of land they have no-one living on anyway?

Meanwhile over in La-la-Leveson Land, the chattering classes' favourite side show continues. It's reckoned the whole thing will end up costing £40m. Just to conclude that the Press and politics have been too cosy. The law already exists to punish wrongdoing in the form of illegal phone hacking and political corruption. So let the police arrest, and the courts convict, the wrongdoers.

Let's not waste any more of our money on days out for highly paid lawyers to push clever words around, showing off, but demonstrating nothing remarkable or new in the facts stakes.

It's a scandalous, self-indulgent waste of money that matters little to the millions of people struggling to stay solvent.

If, as the Chinese would have us believe, the Dalai Lama is such a powerful man that one word from him can threaten governments, why doesn't Leveson just get him to talk to the Government and be done with it? Then we could spend the money saved on something frivolous. Like jobs.

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