Dot Commons Diary: Michael Fallon and threats to national security: a brief history
The Defence Secretary has never been shy to inform voters of the implication of their choices.
It's been 48 hours since Theresa May’s election announcement, and Michael Fallon has already been deployed to claim Vladimir Putin wanted Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister. Here are a few of the Tory attack dog's previous highlights/lowlights (delete as appropriate):
Most famously, there was this attack on Ed Miliband in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
“Remember: Ed Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister and put our country’s security at risk,” Fallon told The Times. Miliband responded by saying Fallon had “demeaned himself... and his office”. The intervention has since been seen as the archetype of the ‘dead cat’ strategy to distract attention away from the then-Labour leader’s popular policy to change the rules around non-domicile tax status.
But he was less successful during the London mayoral contest last year.
That got Fallon in quite a lot of hot water – and landed him with a hefty legal bill. It began early, as Fallon flew the kite – which eventually became a centrepiece of the Conservative campaign against Sadiq Khan – of trying to link the Labour candidate to extremists. He said: “That is why we need a candidate who can unite our city, not a Labour lackey who speaks alongside extremists, proving himself unfit to perform that role. A man who has said Britain’s foreign policy is to blame for the terrorist threat...Labour cannot be trusted with our country’s security and they cannot be trusted with London’s either.” Then he stepped up his attack and claimed falsely that Suliman Gani, an imam with whom Khan had shared a platform before, supported so-called Islamic State. It ended with Fallon settling a libel case against him by apologising and agreeing to pay compensation and legal costs to Gani.
Fallon also used IS to make the case against Brexit last year.
The Remainer said leaving the EU “would only be good news in Raqqa and Moscow”. That prompted his former Cabinet colleague Iain Duncan Smith to describe the claim as “dishonest”. “They might not cheer a leave vote in Brussels but it will make us safer. In an increasingly uncertain world it is clearly much safer for us to be in control of our borders,” said IDS.
And Jeremy Corbyn has been in the sights of Fallon in the past, too.
He was the first top Tory to be wheeled out to go after the Labour leader when he was first elected to the job in 2015. “This is a very serious moment for our country. This election shows that Labour is now a serious risk to our national security, to our economic security, and to the security of your family."
Emily Thornberry’s appointment as Shadow Defence Secretary in January 2016? Yep, you guessed it...
“This reshuffle shows that a divided Labour party is a threat to national security. The Labour party has a leader who would abolish the Armed Forces and withdraw from Nato, a Shadow Chancellor who wanted to disband MI5, and now a Shadow Defence Secretary who would scrap our nuclear deterrent.”
Surely during a visit to the Falklands he would leave the politics at home. Almost...
"The biggest threat at the moment isn’t Argentina, it’s Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party who want to override the wishes of the islanders."