Posts Tagged ‘National Security Council’
The monsoons were back with a vengeance this morning. We have almost given up even understanding the rapidly fluctuating moods of the weather, a mood of simply living in the now has overtaken us. Joan Bakewell recently wrote that the joy of passing one’s 70th birthday is that you can forget the tiresome routines of work and simply immerse yourself in previously ignored simple pleasures. We codgers are well past that milestone and have reinvented ourselves from being executives, plumbers, chimney sweeps and accountants. But maybe keeping chickens was not a la Bakewell, they involve more routine than the jobs we held in our previous lives. We have almost reached the point where we wonder who we are, why we are doing what we do. Bit like Nick Clegg!
I have to admit that we have blown hot and cold about the Lib Dem leader. When, during the election TV debates, he ran rings around David Cameron and Grumpy Gordon several of us even invested in sweaters proclaiming ‘I agree with Nick’, a reflection of the extent to which the other leaders were humiliated in their dialogue. But then the wheels came off the Clegg bandwagon.
From the moment of his nauseous appearance with ‘Dave’, in the Number 10 rose garden, he has appeared transfixed with the prestige of being Deputy Prime Minister. He has allowed himself to be drawn into the role of apologist for policies that most certainly match Conservative ideology, but most certainly are not part of any ideology near to the hearts of those in the middle ground of political beliefs.
Now he seems to have suddenly realised that he has taken his party to the edge of oblivion and is over-compensating. Today provides the perfect example. Probably with one eye on the local elections and the probable reaction of his party faithful, whose views he has ignored, he has now launched himself into a U-turn of monumental proportions. Suddenly he is transformed from Cameron’s best pal to his arch-enemy. And in the process he is beginning to contradict himself.
The latest example is the statement that he will block any intrusive new powers that will allow the police to track online communications, such as Facebook and Skype. The words had scarcely left Clegg’s lips before Cameron hit back. He has made clear that Mr Clegg (no Nick this time) signed up to the whole surveillance plan during meetings of the National Security Council of Home Office plans for police powers to monitor internet communications. Clegg denies this but the minutes suggest otherwise. Someone is lying and the media have decided it is Clegg.
I may be as daft as a brush to believe it, but I still say that all is not lost for Nick Clegg if he has the courage to gamble. If he were to withdraw from the coalition on the grounds that he can no longer be party to policies such as the NHS privatisation, freedom of the individual etc he might be very surprised at the public reaction. Diehards apart, most people seem lukewarm at best about both the Conservative and Labour parties. In fact people seem generally disillusioned with politicians at large. Could it be that they would respond to a return to the Nick Clegg we once glimpsed so tantalisingly?
It may well be that we will never know. The real Clegg needs to stand up. Is it the fearless champion we first saw or the lapdog that took over? One thing is for sure. If Nick Clegg simply carries on as now there will be no Liberal Democrat party within a matter of a few years.
The second dry day on the trot has the ferreters changing their minds on global warming for the millionth time. The recent long period of dark clouds and copious rain coincided with the floods in the West country and led to a renewed conviction that it is almost time to visit the library in search of a DIY guide to ark-building. All it takes is a couple of non-monsoon days for opinion to swing in the other direction which suggests that the gang is still less than completely convinced about armageddon. Since no one of note across the world seems to be actually doing anything to reduce carbon emissions we can only pray that our latest mood-swing reflects reality.
Meantime we hear a lot about endangered species ranging from tigers to starlings and the evidence there at least is worryingly validated. Sadly there is little we can do on our allotment site to preserve the endangered since the two wild creatures we encounter seem to be breeding at a rate faster than we ever managed in our days of procreation. I’m talking about collared doves, which eat everything that we grow, and moles, which constantly throw up hills often to the apparent bewilderment of the chickens.
But it is moles of a different sort that is beginning to try the nerve of the government. One can only assume that the Ministry of Defence has two moles per square yard for yesterday the Telegraph - perhaps the Telegraphs’ Editor’s neice is married to a General – for the umpteenth time obtained a copy of a report so damning that Liam Fox was forced to disown the writer and Cameron to disown Liam Fox. The report is headed ‘Restricted’ and was prepared by officials working directly for the Defence Secretary.
It tells us that the rushed and seemingly shambolic way in which the government conducted its strategic defence and security review has “badly damaged the confidence and morale of the armed forces”. We read that the decision to scrap the Ark Royal aircraft carrier and its fleet of Harrier jets was taken at the last minute.n fact the armed forces personnel first heard of the decision through the media. Officials in the National Security Council , chaired by David Cameron, are criticised for the way they handled the whole defence debate and the way they reached decisions. “People should have been consulted” the report booms.
According to the leaked report communications were abysmal. “At Cabinet Office direction , there was no pre-briefing of the chain of command and no pre-warning of units affected by changes. The combination of covert media briefings and restrictions on internal communicatiuons have “badly damaged morale and confidence and created a poor baseline for implementation” says the report. And it has few words of praise for the National Security Council, saying that meetings “did not provide the guidance the MOD needed”. Even worse “its members took too long to understand the complex issues”.
The report goes from bad to worse. Allies such as the United States were consulted so late that their comments were only received and collated as the plan “was being confirmed”.
The document makes depressing reading. It clearly points to rushed and inadequately thought through strategies and certainly adds strength to the argument of those who for some days now have contended that the whole defence package will lead to a istuation where the United Kingdom is inadequtely defended.
Predictably Liam Fox has condemned the writers as too junior to know but that doesn’t wash since they were clearly appointed to carry out the review. And it all gels suspiciously with his own early outburst about being unable to accept cuts. Of course that was before his sudden conversion which seemed to suggest that he had his collar touched as Knacker of the Yard is wont to say.
I can never decide whether moles do us a service or simply boost the sale of worry-beads. We are for ever trying to stab ours with a fork and the likelihood is that right now Cameron is proposing to do something simialr to Mr Fox!
Maybe we should build that ark for it seems that if the floods don’t get us Bin Laden will!
COALITION BARES ALL- AND REGRETS IT!
The coalition deserves great credit for its historic decision to publish full details of all expenditure in excess of £25,000, in fact many departments have gone further by using a mere £500 as the transparency line.
I hope they now hold their nerve because such openness is surely a huge step forward why would they waiver? Because the details reveal an appalling story of waste. Many will focus on trivia such as £55,000 to improve the PM’s office or nights in 4-star hotels. But for me two numbers stood out by a mile on the waste scale.
Since coming to office the coalition has spent £200 million on management consultants and £80 million on public relations. To spent so much on such frivolity when the services such as those for the mentally ill in the community have been cancelled is nothing short of scandalous.
But at least this lot is being open about its misuse of public money which is more than can be said for previous governments! My self understanding tells me that I wouldn’t have been so brave!
STAMPS FOR CHRISTMAS?
As a compulsive stamp collectors I have no alternative to buying the Christmas stamps plus the special brochure. But I did find myself wondering about this year’s choice of Wallace and Gromit.
Yes they are brilliant and funny but where are the traditional Christmas scenes based on the greatest story ever told? When I mentioned this at the bar a pal said that it was right and proper to keep religion out of Christmas. I found this odd since without religion there wouldn’t be a Christmas!
I just hope that Royal Mail has not become infected with the cult of political correctness!
HAVE THEY NOTHING BETTER TO THINK ABOUT?
Today’s papers are full of material relating to the forthcoming Royal wedding, no surprisev there. But the Daily Express has added the Charles ‘drama’ to the offering. It seems that the Prince conceded the possibility of Camilla being called Queen.
Alan Berry is the co-founder of a group called the ‘Diana Appreciation Society’ and is apparently outraged. In fact he doesn’t even accept that Charles should become King. I must confess that I had never heard of either the society or Mr Berry.
Am I in a minority in wondering why he and they cannot find something a more productive way to pass the time? Perhaps I live in a non-typical community for I have never heard anyone express the slightest interest in what the future holds for Charles’ second wife!
YESTERDAYS QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Walter Mondale 2 Graham Greene
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which country maintained Syowa Station in Antartica? 2 Which French carmaker did Peugeot take over in 1974?