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The resignation of Wendy Alexander, or ‘Wee Wendy McNumpty’ as Andrew Neil memorably called her, is a victory for our self appointed Sleazebuster General and his assorted err, cohorts. Mind you Alex Salmond might like to claim an assist there as well. I guess Ms Alexander deserves all she gets as it was after all Labour who invented sleazebashing. As a pretty incompetent minister and Labour leader there are plenty of reasons to relish her demise. I have to say though I find it difficult to justify her resignation based on the issues involved. Both the Electoral Commission and the Procurator Fiscal have acquitted her. She goes I guess because she just does not have what it takes, the heat in the kitchen is too great.
What seems to be being ignored though is that Wee Wendy owes all she has to the patronage of one G. Brown Esq. He pushed her to the leadership and no doubt strong armed the Scottish Labour party into accepting yet another unopposed leadership election (counting Robert Mugabe, I make that 3 such elections for sure in the last 12 months). Its pretty clear poor Wee Wendy was not up to the job, thats reason enough to see the back of her (if you’re a Labour supporter that is). Her donorgate scandal is in all probability due to her dumb stupidity rather than any desperate need to garner funds and provide payback for the same. Remember Bernie Ecclestone anybody? ‘Straight sort of guy’ Blair did not feel the need to resign over that now did he?
So anyway, what does all of this tell us about the judgement of her mentor?
And what does it say about the judgement of the cabinet, the backbenchers and the party that put HIM in power?
Over at Defence of the Realm they have gone into the current situation in Afghanistan in great detail, citing and reviewing a number of opinions by learned columnists. I don’t particularly want to comment on their conclusions (they seem as reasonable as any) rather what’s important is that the debate, as described by the blog, is happening at at all. For too long the action in Afghanistan has been taking place in a vacuum, taking place under the unquestioning gaze of a mystified public which seems to be collectively shrugging its shoulders and turning back to more mundane local matters.
As a country we need to get ourselves better informed about what our armed forces are doing, because without pressure from us our army will never get the resources it needs or indeed develop the tactics required to ‘win’. I am reminded of the situation at the beginning of 1918 where Lloyd George withheld reinforcements from the western front, thus leaving it weakened at a key moment to face the German spring offensive. The government of the day had given the army a task but simply did not understand the requirements, the sacrifice, necessary to carry out its will.
In respect of Afghanistan, the situation seems to have become more doom laden since some more optimistic reports a month or two back. The Taliban seem to have resigned themselves to ‘pinprick’ hit and run tactics which can hardly effect a victory for them, rather the hope would seem to be to simply wear down the civilian morale of the soldiers they are fighting. This makes it all the more amazing that the government and senior MoD officials seem incapable of providing our troops with even the most basic protection, a policy which pays right into the hands of our enemy.
Once again a comparison with WW1 seems appropriate. There is no doubt that early in the piece that war suffered from a failure in generalship, it was a war like no other, mistakes were made on all sides. But importantly lessons were learned and weapons tactics and generalship evolved to win in the end. Right now there seems little evidence that lessons are being learned, no evidence that tactics are evolving, no evidence that we – the public who are the real targets of the latest Taliban attacks, are being prepared for the sacrifices that our army might be called upon to make if this sorry mess is to be resolved.
If Richard Dimbleby had been handed plans for Operation Overlord from a mystified train passenger in 1944, would he have read them, photographed them and talked at great length about it on the Radio or sent a copy to the Times for them to publish.? Hmmm … I think not.
So what is it with the modern BBC that they feel the need to expose the latest loss of top secret doccuments in the way they have? They have read them, they have filmed parts of them, have they photocopied them – discussed them? Oh and in the end they handed them over to the police (all filmed of course).
The BBC seems to be reporting in a vacuum. It seems to think that it can expose our security inadequacies with impunity to itself and its licence payers. Our nation is indeed under terrorist threat. We are deluged with bogus issues like 42 days when at the same time real measures to protect us are being ignored and organs like the BBC poke two fingers into the face of our security.
Where do I stand on ‘the great expenses scam’?
Well I am absolutely disgusted that conservative MEPs should take even half of the EU expenses on offer, never mind do things like channel them via a family company – not that I even pretend to know the significance of this.
Its easy to see now why so many Conservatives (not to mention of course droves of Socialists and LibDms) are so friendly to the EU – its a nice little earner. The EU we can surmise is more than happy to oblige its parliamentarians their little quid pro quos. The EU parliament is a fig leaf of democracy for this notoriously totalitarian body and it suits it to draw MEPs into its deceit. Lets not forget that the EU actually pays lobbyist to lobby itself to formulate the policies both the EU and the lobby groups want. (The public? We are just inconvenient bystanders)
The furore of comment on and investigation into MPs expenses, set off by the Derek Conway scandal, is not much different, but here again the system seems to have encouraged the payments in lieu of proper pay increases. Its unlikely that Conway received anything serious in the way of research in return for paying his sons ,then again these payments do not guarantee quality. The exposure of Conway though opened up a whole can of worms and quite frankly it reaches right to the top, not least Brown, Blair and various members of the government, and indeed he (labour Speaker and his wife). I am not surprised. But if these payments are ‘within the rules’ then the current mini frenzy over the BBC and its claims over Caroline Spelman seems wholly bogus. A relatively short term affair over 10 years ago surrounding a new MP, young mother and no proper working constituency office – well it has the elements of a Brian Rix Whitehall farce not a Guido Fawkes one, and the media really ought to treat it as such.
We have too many MPs with too little worthwhile to do, and we probably pay them too little, we have certainly seen their pay messed around with for political reasons too often. I do not like the nonsense which has been going on over expenses, but the real corruption has been taking place elsewhere. Loans for Peerages, donations for Peerages, secret donations, self serving donations. All of which remember is taking place within a system that has honed to a fine art the idea of pushing agendas, moulding opinion via Reports and Commissions headed by pliable notaries who invariably happen ascend to some nice little sinecure.
I would like to see fewer MPs with clear responsibilities and some independent well funded clerical and research support. Despite fewer MPs I think this will inevitably cost more. I am not sure it will make us better governed either. I hope the headline grabbers are happy.
When a government makes such an enormous pig’s ear of ‘reforming’ the tax and benefits system as this one and makes such a lamentable job of introducing ‘green’ car taxes it makes the public sit up and ask questions. On top of which we have seen the governments bubble of self proclaimed fiscal competence comprehensively burst.
So, does anyone seriously trust it to look to the future of our energy supplies? Indeed does anyone think it has been making any sensible considerations these last 10 years?
On top of the government’s own incompetence our problems are compounded by the EU.
” … we shall also have to shut down nine more major power stations – six coal-fired, three oil-fired – forced to close by the crippling cost of complying with an EU anti-pollution law, the so-called Large Combustion Plants directive. This will take out another 13 gigawatts of capacity, bringing the total shortfall to 22GW – a staggering 40 percent of the total demand.”
As the government squanders our precious resources on wind energy then we have the prospect of facing a massive shortfall in our energy production. The governments incompetence is astronomically greater then its critics give it credit for.
‘Spy blog’ has a great fisking of Gordon Brown’s (and before him, to be fair, Blair’s) defence of 42 day detention without trial. But what caught my eye was a great line which summed up life in dustbin-chipped Britain –
“That is not any sort of safeguard for innocent people who get caught up in the Kafkaesque bureaucracy which the British State has now been infected by”
The nation is going to hell in a basket, I do not know what is worse, a 15 year old girl being stabbed by her boyfriend, or the fact that her boyfriend is described as 30+. But never mind all that – our pen pushers will stamp on us for not shutting our dustbins properly. Strikes me this would have been too existential even for Kafka.
If Brown is persuaded to perform the inevitable crisis solving reshuffle then top of his list should be a Minister of Expediency.