One of the main reasons given to this House in 2001 for our involvement in Afghanistan was that 90% of the heroin consumed in Britain came from Afghanistan. Thirteen years later, and after the tragic deaths of 447 of our brave soldiers, 90% of the heroin on the streets of Britain is still coming from Afghanistan, where the heroin crop is at a record level. Helmand is controlled by the Taliban. Can this be described as “mission accomplished”?
The hon. Gentleman is right that the flow of narcotics from Afghanistan remains a very serious problem that has not been defeated, but of course many other things have been achieved in Afghanistan, and he is losing sight of that in his question. Terrorist bases that were operating for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan have been destroyed, the threat to the world from terrorism originating in Afghanistan is now much less than it was in 2001, and the Afghan people have been able to make enormous progress in other ways—so that is only one dimension on which we should measure the operations in Afghanistan.
For many years the majority of the delegates to the Council of Europe from this Parliament have been members of the same group as Putin’s Russian party and Yanukovych’s Ukrainian party, and have collaborated with them closely on a number of reactionary policies. Can we take it that the breach with the European Democrat Group is permanent, and that the Conservatives in the Council of Europe will be joining their natural allies in the Christian Democratic Group?
The hon. Gentleman will have heard what was said earlier by Conservative members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe who made clear their departure from the previous arrangements. However, I believe that for all this time members of the so-called Liberal Democratic party—an extremely nationalistic party from Russia—have sat in the Socialist Group, so some attention needs to be given to the issue on the other side of the House as well.