Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Is it safe?

Picture the scene: you're a neighbour of Johnny Mercer, Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View. He's just finished assembling a pergola in his back garden, and he'd appreciate your help threading some clematis through it. He urges you to clamber on top and get your hands dirty.

"Is it safe?", you ask, worriedly eyeing up the flimsy bamboo and clumsy-looking joints.

"Well, it isn't going to thread itself, so yeah it's safe," he replies, "Up you go."

Johnny appeared on Channel 4 News tonight, to comment on a piece they ran about the UK government returning asylum seekers to what they say are safe areas of Afghanistan.

Asked by Jon Snow and Dr Liza Schuster whether regions like Kabul can really be considered safe when there are multiple attacks there every week, Johnny, who sits on the Commons Defence Select Committee and served three tours of Afghanistan, replied:

"It depends how you would define that term, safe. You cannot take some of their best people out and expect that country to rebuild."

That is, according to Johnny, whether something is "safe" is conditional. If there's work to be done, bombs on buses don't count as hazardous. Stop that cowering and hop to your commute.

"We really have to define what is safe in Afghanistan," he repeated, adding: "It's different to what's safe over here."

It had me imagining scenarios like the one above, and put me in mind of both the blood-curdling dentist scene from Marathon Man (not for the faint-hearted):

And Whoopi Goldberg's infamous "I don't believe it was rape rape" defence of Roman Polanski's having raped a child.

"Is it safe?" you ask Johnny, MP.

"Perfectly safe," he replies with a smile.

"But is it safe safe?" you ask nervously.


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