Posts Tagged ‘Gadaffi’
Gadaffi, our murderous hen, remains in splendid isolation. But it still produces eggs which has so far guaranteed its survival and the associated right to spend hours looking threateningly through the wire at the nearby Columbian Black Tails and to show considerable animosity to whoever ventures into the run to feed or clean. Like its infamous namesake it is loathed by all but at least we are not courting financial disaster by attempting to dethrone or reform it. Mind you, neither are we allocating it a large wad of Olympic Games tickets, as in the case of the real life monster.
Defending his decision to change tack on the NHS, David Cameron said that, when he became prime minister, he vowed not to stick with decisions that subsquently proved wrong. He would do well to adopt a similar approach to both the defence cuts and that strange adventure in Libya, before it is too late. Instead he is probably carving waxen images of Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the First Sea Lord, who announced over the weekend that we cannot sustain our action in Libya for much longer given that our only aircraft carrier is being sold on ebay, and the Harrier jump jets sold off to the Americans for £34 million after more than £1 billion pounds had been spent on them over the past decade.
Instead the giovernment has trumpeted the fact that we have despatched our four Apache helicopters. Apart from making us an international laughing stock, the plan is not working. The Apaches are struggling to fulfil the type of combat role for which the Harriers were suited and to date only two sorties have been flown since they are required to fire from over the sea for fear of being shot down. Meantime we have now spent almost £100 million on missiles, an amount that would have funded a lot of nurses or police officers at home.
At the time of the Defence Review, and its resulting cuts, much was made of the fact that we would not be undertaking any more missions overseas. So why are we becoming more and more involved in Libya? And why Libya? It can reasonably be argued that the situation in Syria is equally horrendous and there are more serious strategic impilcations there for the West. The answer provided is that we are merely implementing the United Nations’ resolution regarding saving civilian lives. But we, and the French, have gone far beyond that remit.
Indeed a senior Defence spokesman warned yesterday that there is no prospect of “a military victory’ unless we further escalate the bombing. Surely the mission was not about victory or regime change, but that is exactly what it has become. We are rearranging the concrete in Tripoli and we are causing Gadaffi to become ever more entrenched. Worse still we are causing the death of civilians. Last Friday saw the Apaches carry out their first attack on the Misrata front. Once they had departed, Gadaffis’s forces hit back with an unprecedented barrage of thousands of Russian-made Grad rockets. Rebel units, which comprise excitable civilians with popguns, suffered 31 deaths and 120 serious injuries.
Tensions are mounting within NATO. The Americans have effectively distanced themselves from the whole affair and over half of the other members have refused to contribute militarily. Together with the French we are bearing the burden and all the signs are that we are being drawn ever further into a civil war. The risk is that government and rebel forces will become more radicalised and will perpetrate war crimes. The risk of the conflict spilling over into Tunisia grows by the week, and the exodus of nearly 1 million people fleeing to neighbouring states is but a foretaste of what is to come.
Of course every decent man or woman has enormous sympathy for the oppressed in Libya, Syria and the rest. But unless we intensify the bombing even more – and thus increase the risk of horrendous civilian deaths - the stalemate will continue. If we do there is little doubt that Gadaffi’s support will crumble. But how do we then ensure that good government takes over?
David Cameron has a choice. He can intensify the mission and spend billions in doing so, plus conduct a fresh review of our Defence budget. Or he can order a policy of air strikes only when Gadffi’s forces are massing for an attack.
As things stand we are no longer in a position to play the role of world policeman or to guarantee the defence of the realm. Like the decisions on the NHS, Forests, Benefit payment ceilings, Sentencing and the rest this was a thoroughly bad and ill thought-out decision.
On Libya at least one suspects that most people would not view a U-turn with disdain. We are too fond of entering into wars that we cannot win and, at a time when police are being withdrawn from our streets, it is sheer madness.
The only consolation is that Andrew Lansley is not in charge at the Ministry of Defence for had he been, we would probably be heading into World War 3 by now!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; FOOTBALL WIT; “Football is a game with 22 players, two linesmen and 20,000 referees”….Bob Monkhouse “If history repeats itself I think we can expect the same thing again”….Terry Venables “We didn’t underestimate them, they were just a bit better than we thought”….Bobby Robson “I don’t think we’ll go down. But then again, the captain of the Titanic said the same”…..Neville Southall “The score is Ipswich 0 Liverpool 2. If it stays that way you’ve got to fancy Liverpool to win”……Peter Jones “They say football is a game of two halves. Not for me, I regularly down eight pints whilst watching a live game on Sky”….Adrian Bond “The problem at Wimbledon is that the club has suffered a loss of complacency”….Joe Kinnear “The Koreans were quicker in terms of speed”……Mark Lawrenson “The England football team – brilliant on paper, shit on grass”…..Arthur Smith “David Icke says he’s here to save the world. Well he saved buggar all when he played in goal for Coventry”……Jasper Carrott “It’s not fair to say that Lee Bowyer is racist; he’d stamp on anyone’s head”……Rodney Marsh
NEW EGGHEADS QUIZ TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dear Reader You will see that the number of hits has now passed the 500,000 mark. My dream is to reach the magic million. If you enjoy joining me each day could you recommend the site to your friends. Many many thanks! D, Albert and all.
We were back to muddy conditions this morning so it was wellies on as we sorted the chickens out. Albert grumbled throughout the hour-long slog and commented that he ought to have known that the days of sunshine and dry ground were some sort of miracle. My inclination was to profer my usual rejoinder which is that such things only happen in fairy stories, but I desisted for the last thing I felt like indulging in was the umpteenth re-run of our argument about the fishes and loaves. But, as we cleared up, it did occur to me that what the nation needs is a Minister of Miracles.
There is certainly scope for one in the Coalition which seems to be in freefall right now. Let us ignore Andrew Lansley who, having already closed down half the Primary Care Trusts in the land, is now facing the fact that he is likely to be denied approval for something he has done. Even a Miracles Minister might struggle to rescue him. But such a person would have plenty of work to do in regard to the police and armed forces.
Yesterday the Police Federation published ads showing a hoodie pointing a gun. The headline read “Consquence of 20 per cent cuts to policing? Cuts are criminal”. There were predictable cries of outrage from ministers, but one doesn’t need to be a policing expert to realise that the ad is correct. If we lose one-fifth of our officers the only people to notice other than a huge problem will be the criminals.
Meantime we have sent more planes to Libya to replace those withdrawn by the United States, where the anti-Gadaffi intervention is immensely unpopular. Just as the planes were taking off, announcements of swingeing redundancies amongst the pilots and crews were announced. Which seems to raise two questuions. Why is it our responsibility to stand-in for the Americans, and how the hell can we do it when our forces are now stretched to even maintain security of our Island’s skies? . Cue the Miracle Minister!
He or she would also need to pay a little attention to the Big Society. We are told that this is all about transferring public services to the voluntary and charity sector. If you believe that take a look at what is happening in regard to the new work-capability assessments programme for incapacity benefits claimants. Out of 40 contracts to run the new regime worth between £3 bn and £5bn, only two went to not-for-profit organisations. The biggest winner was Ingeus Deloitte, which won seven huge contracts amid acid comments that its chief executive was a former director at, yes you’ve guessed it, the Departemnt for Work and Pensions. Right across the board the voluntary sector will only be given a sub-contract role, it will be invited to take on the most difficult cases, such as addicts, ex-prisoners or the mentally ill. Another winner is A4E ( Action for Employment). Its founder, Emma Harrison CBE, was named by David Cameron as his workless families tsar, and she and her husband have a joint income of some £1.4 million from their welfare-to-work empire. Any local authority chief earning £140,000 can expect an attack from Big Eric Pickles, but presumably making a fortune out of a public contract is fine if the beneficiary is in the private sector.
Explaining all this would keep our new miracle minister busy and his lot would be made no easier by remarks made at the Commons public accounts committee. Asked to explain the poor performance of many of the private companies, Sir Leigh Lewis, permanent secretary at the DWP, said that competing with the state-owned “very effective and able” Jobcentre Plus is “a tough test for private companies”. Why contract the work out then, asked a member. That, Sir Leigh replied, is a “political judgement”.
I will stop at this juncture for we have already set the Miracle Minister some big challenges. How can reducing the armed forces and police do other than reduce their effectiveness? Why continue to offer even more involvement in wars that have nothing to do with us? How does giving virtually all the outsourced public sector work to private companies fit with the big society?
On reflection it would be a miracle if we found anyone daft enough to take on such a role. As a sign on our office wall used to claim “The impossible we can do at once but miracles take a little longer”. Quite!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; BOOKS “Agatha Christie has given more pleasure in bed than any other woman”……Nancy Banks-Smith “From the moment that I picked up your book until the moment I put it down I could not stop laughing. Someday I hope to read it”…..Mark Twain “Last time I went to Portugal I got through six Jeffrey Archer novels. I must remember to take enough toilet paper next time”….Bob Monkhouse “Why pay a dollar for a bookmark? Use the dollar as a bookmark”…..Fred Stoller “Henry Kissinger may be a great writer, but anyone who finishes his book is definitely a great reader”…..Walter Isaacson “There is nothing so rare as a Woollcott first edition except perhaps a Woollcott second edition”……Franklin P Adams “Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers”….T S Eliot “Watership Down? I’d rather read a novel about civil servants written by a rabbit”…….Craig Brown “This is not a book to be thrown aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force”…..Benjamin Franklin
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. 50 mph 2. Ian Paisley
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Where was Liam Cosgrove premier? 2. What happened to Rutland?
Having sorted the animals, five of us headed for the coast yesterday. I drove and then sat on the rocks whilst my pals fished. Well, they continually hurled lines into the waves but did nothing to diminish the Irish Sea’s stock of fish. They may not have enjoyed it but I did, for beaches and cliffs are for me places of escape, raw nature, a reminder that we are an island race.
Of all its aspects the most striking feature of our coast is its cliffs. There are those in the north of blackest basalt, in the south of purest white, in the west as red as blood, and sands in the east the colour of honey. The rocks that form our oldest shores date back three billion years and it may be extreme age that explains why arrival at the coast always seems to bring serenity, a sense of unchanging stability as one watches the tide slap and gurgle as it has for near eterntity. It reminds us of who we are and brings back, however briefly, the sense of pride in being a Brit.
Sadly that sense is becoming dulled. Yesterday we learned that many of the Naval personnel deployed to Libya and many of the troops in Afghanistan are to recieve notices of possible redundancy. What sort of pathetic country have we become? On the one hand our prime minister is posing as the world’s leading policeman, and on the other is content to sow the seeds of insecurity in the hearts of men and women he sends to fight on our behalf.
I never thought I would live to say it, but we now compare very badly with Germany. They were quick to refuse to support the UN resolution on Libya pushed so vehemently by Cameron and Sarkozy. Without doubt they share our loathing of Gadaffi but recognise that the world is full of such monsters and are not prepared to divert their resources into endless wars. Meantime unemployment is at its lowest since June 1992, Volkswagen is creating 50,000 new jobs and Bosch is greating 9000 jobs for graduates – just two examples of the dramatic success in manufacturing and job creation in Germany. And their economy is healthy, growing and robust. They clearly believe in making stuff, not war.
To contrast that with us is humiliating. We are in financial distress, a condition likley to worsen as growth prospects are destroyed by the rapidity at which we are rendering the public purchasing power impotent. And, worst of all, we rush to lead the world into conflicts whilst continuing to scrap our ships, planes and servicemen.
We can no longer afford to be a world policeman, indeed we can no longer police our own society as shown just yesterday when a five year old girl was left fighting for her life after being shot by teenage gang members in London. And today we learn that, because of a shortage of bobbies, Manchester police have been reduced to having civilians drive police cars in the hope that a presence on the streets is inferred.
In an interview today Norman Tebbit say that he respects Nick Clegg more than he does the leader of his own party. I wonder why!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; “A horse, like Cary Grant, lends romance to any venture”….Roberta Smoodin “A horse is dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle”…..Ian Fleming “A racehorse is the only animal that can tak ethousands for a ride at the same time”……Herbert Prochnow “The platypus; do you think God gats stoned once in a while?”….Robin Williams ” Scientists say there are over 3,000 spiders for evry human being on earth. Does anybody want mine? I certainly don’t”……Chuck Bonner “Only one thing seperates us from animals; we aren’t afraid of vacuum cleaners”……Jeff Stilson “Imagine if birds were tickled by feathers. You’d see flocks of birds laughing hysterically”….Steven Wright ” I can never remember if Moby Dick is the man or the whale”……James Thurber “What do you do if a bird craps on your windscreen? Don’t ask her out again”……Anon “Penguins mate for life. Doesn’t surprise me ’cause they all look alike – it’s not like they’re gonna meet a better-looking penguin some day”…..Ellen DeGeneres “Two little srdines swimming in the sea, came across a submarine. ‘What’s that?’ asked one, peering in. ‘Only people in a tin’ “…..Spike Milligan “A rhinoceros is an animal with hidetwo feet thick, and no interest in politics. What a waste”…..James Wright
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1 Bing Crosby 2 Spain
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who wrote ‘The Philanthropist’ ? 2 Who wrote ‘Forget-Me-Not-Lane’ ?
As you will have seen from yesterday’s comments a reader suspects our rogue chicken is a Libyhen. We suspect that Peter is right and whilst her nickname of Gadaffi is not gender-perfect it seems apt. Fortunately our task of dealing with the avian version is going to somewhat easier than that involving the human one, today she heads into ‘solitary’ thanks to a small run constructed by Bob.
If only the resolution of the Libyan impasse was as clear! Yesterday MPs lined up to demand details of the exit strategy. Rory Stewart, a Tory member and former diplomat, insisted that we should limit our involvement to enforcing a no-fly zone, and avoid being dragged into the country’s internal conflict. “Do not get sucked into Libya” he warned. Mark Lancaster, a Tory member and ministerial aide, said that we need either further UN resolutions or a rapid exit and another Tory backbencher, John Baron, warned that we rusk being drawn into an “ill-defined mission whilst civilian casualties rise”. In fact Consevative MPs lined up to make what sounds a very sensible demand. And Julian Harris made a very telling remark. He pointed out that Harrier jump jets operating from an aircraft carrier would have been far more effective and would have cost only £5,750 a mission as against the £200,000 being incurred with planes flown from the UK. Alas, the Harriers have been scrapped together with our only carrier. The Lib Dems said nothing but we can safely assume they will concur on this as they do on everything else. Labour members are keeping their heads down, the shadow of Iraq still looms large in their collective psyche.
But it is good that some politicians at least have acknowledged what looks like a tricky decision. If Gadaffi’s fanatical support stands up – and it appears very large – it is hard to see other than a long civil war. Of course we all want to see civilians protected from the ‘mad dog’ but the last thing we want is to commit forces to fighting on the ground. If we learned anything from Iraq it is surely that before invading one needs to have a clear plan for subsequent resolution!
But there is another reason for pausing for thought. Thanks to the programme of cuts imposed on our armed forces we lack troops, planes and ships. In fact the Ministry of Defence is close to using up its full-year budget. And, brief though it has been so far, the Libyan venture is not cheap. The cost of the four day operation to date is £28.5 million. The deployment of four Tornado GR4 bombers, three Eurofighter Typhoons plus support aircraft costs aound £3,216,000 per day. The Tornado costs £33,000 an hour to operate, including fuel, capital costs and training and the Typhoon costs over double that.
We have read much about the successful deployment of missiles. Let us hope so for the Storm Shadow missilles and submarine-launched Tomahawks cost £1.1 million and £800,000 each. Even more worrying is that our stock is heading for depletion. Defence experts say that the Navy has already used up to 20 per cent of its entire stock of 64 Tomahawks. The government has said that if necessary it will obtain supplies from the Americans, but President Obama is under great pressure to ease back US involvement.
It may seem mercenary in the extreme to be banging on about money at a time like this but a dose of reality is needed. Either the government immediately reverses the Strategic review or it stops playing world policeman howver politically tempting that is. If it doesn’t the M.O.D will need huge injections of taxpayers cash and, in any event, we will run out of ammunition.
The underlying problem is that David Cameron has made clear that his aim is to rid Libya of Gaddafi. Whether such a mission will ever be sanctioned by the United Nations is extremely doubtful but even if it is the present scenario suggests that it would involve ground troops and the serious risk of escalation right across the region.
Sympathise as we do with the lot of people oppressed by madmen the time has surely come to recognise that we are no longer a major world power. In the great days of Empire we used to ‘send a gunboat. Now the only ones we have are in Portsmouth scrapyard and although we still have several submarines the weapons that they use are about to go on to the back-order list.
Cameron should listen to his MPs and settle for a supporting role in Nato when it takes over!
QUOTES FOR THE DAY; UNIVERSAL LAWS “If anything can go wrong, it will”…Murphy’s law “Everything takes longer than it should except sex”….Murphy’s law “Anything you buy will be in the sale next week”……Erma Bombeck “If it’s good, they’ll stop making it”…..Herbert Block “When ripping an article from a paper, the tear is always into, and never away from, the required article”….Alan Fraser ”When you give a child a hammer, everything becomes a nail”…..Leo Kaplan “When a man says his word is as good as his bond, always take his bond”…..Hugo Vickers “Every household has a box of keys.None will ever be found to fit any lock”…..Pam Brown “Preudhomme’s law of window cleaning; it’s on the other side”…..Winston Preudhomme “More always means worse”….Kingsley Amis “At any bank, post office or supermarket, there is one universal law which you ignore at your peril; the shortest line moves the slowest”…..Bill Vaughan
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. The British Museum 2 The Netherlands
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who was the first US President to visit Russia? 2. What kind of airliner came down in Britain’s worst ever disaster?
Much discussion this morning about what we should do with a hen that is plucking the feathers of many and generally acting in a bullying fashion. There are many products on the market, all of which offer distraction aimed to relieving boredom which many believe is the cause. We codgers of the allotments don’t go along with this, we believe there is only one answer which is to expel the villain and leave her in solitary for a few weeks. So furious have we become at this one individual which is single-handedly destroying our prospects of prizes at this year’s show that we have seriously considered bringing in a cockerel to rule the roost. But our fear of neighbours is even greater than that of not winning prizes. By way of compromise we have named her Gadaffi.
Which reminds me. Not surprisingly all attention is focussed right now on Libya and where things are going to end. In confusion and great acrimony is a fair bet, but that is not my point. What worries us is that the Murdoch deal will slip through almost unnoticed and we will wake up one morning to find that thanks to the cosy relationship that David Cameron has with the tycoon, the majority of our media is owned by just one man.
Over the Christmas break the prime minister demonstrated his views when he and his wife visited the home of Murdoch junior. And we all know where the sympathies of culture secretary Jeremy Hunt lie because he has repeatedly told us. The final decision on approval of the mogul’s NewsCorp £8 billion buyout of BSkyB rests with Hunt. Even he couldn’t simply nod the deal through and a clause which supposedly prevents the Murdoch influence becoming total has been announced. And it would scarcely fool Baldrick!
Under this arragement the NewsCorp’s offer would ” split off Sky News”, the inference being that it would be independent and free, for example, to take a different line when its masters decided to back Cameron at the next election. The inference is that if, for example, there was a new hoo-hah about the News of the World phone hacking, Sky News would copy the BBC in investigating and reporting in a balanced way.
But Sky News would be financially dependent on NewsCorp because it would rely on it for an estimated 85% of its revenues under the spin-off plan. It would also be dependent on NewsCorp for its distribution and, even more telling, would be dependent on winning a renewal of its contract with NewsCorp. This, according to a submission from opponents (including the Telegraph, Mirror, Mail and Guardian) of the buy out, would profoundly influence decision making at all levels within Sky News.
It all sounds suspiciously like a get-out clause for Hunt who has already said that he will allow the bid to proceed if Sky News is seperated. He must surely realise that the response to this is ingenuous and will leave it effectively still within the control of his pals.
This cosy stitch-up deal will narrow our choice for honest news reporting. Given that Hunt and his colleagues are also hell-bent on emasculating the BBC, the day may well come when our access to independent reporting is no greater than that in totalitarian states. It merits a massive reaction and an independent assessment. Sadly it may well slip through almost unnoticed whilst the bombs rain down on Libya.
At least come the next election Cameron et al will need few spin-doctors. It will be The Sun ‘wot wins it’ and the chance of Miliband getting fair coverage on TV and the like will be akin to the Lib Dems surviving at all!
Farewell democracy, farewell!
QUOTES FOR TODAY; COMEDY “The producer said, ‘How are you feeling?’ I said ‘I’m feeling a bit funny’. He said, ‘Well, get out there before it wears off’”….Tommy Cooper “A rich or important man’s joke is always funny”…..Heywood Broun “Everybody laughed when I said that I wanted to be a comedian – well, they’re not laughing now”….Bob Monkhouse “The first rule of comedy is never to perform in a town where they still point at aeroplanes”…..Bobby Mills “The difference between English and American humour is £150 a minute”……Eric Idle ”The first thing a comedian does on getting an unexpected laugh is to verify the state of his buttons”…..Alva Johnson “I don’t make jokes; I just watch the government and report the facts”….Will Rogers “The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused”……..Russ Dudley “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”…..Jane Austen “The reason angels can fly is they take themselves lightly”…..G K Chesterton “Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast”….Oscar Wilde “Everything is funny as long as it is happening to someone else”……Will Rogers “I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation”……George Bernard Shaw “You know, Homer, it’s very easy to criticise. – Fun too” Marge and Homer Simpson
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Denis Thatcher 2. Norman Hartnell
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Where in London were Tutankhamun’s treasures on show? 2.Which country did Queen Juliana reign over?