Posts Tagged ‘Splendid Isolation’
I never thought I’d live to report it, but this morning David Cameron received a unanimous round of applause on the allotments. A few days ago we scratched our ancient heads at his choice of the financial sector as the UK’s red-line for the EU negotiations. We still do, but what we hadn’t anticipated was his willingness to slug it out in the face of what amounted to bullying tactics by the Germans, French and almost every member of the EU. If this was a tabloid it would have Cameron asking ‘Just who do EU think we are?’. But it isn’t and I’ll content myself with admitting that he has surprised us all, not least those who saw him as a PR guru and little else.
Of course, given the attitude of his back-benchers, the Prime Minister had little alternative to doing what he did in demanding some return for his support, but a whole series of his predecessors have rolled over when ordered to do so by the EU big guns. He didn’t flinch and we all have seen pictures of the animosity shown by Sarkozy and others. Few of us will lay awake at the revelation that if we refuse to bend to their will, the French and Germans just won’t love us. One spokesman for the furious EU gang has said that we will face revenge. If my memory serves me well they have tried that before!
Apart from the sudden transformation of the Old Etonian into a David happy to take on the Goliaths, one new truth has dawned. Whilst it is difficult to forecast the future given that the problems of the Euro still look insurmountable, one thing is clear. In an attempt to win German financial support most of the other Euorpean countries are surrendering their sovereignty. The deal leaves Britain in splendid isolation and the time has surely come to ask ourselves just what are the benefits of being members.
Such Lib Demmers as still exist will insist that we gain from influence at the Brussels table. That has now gone and suddenly the ‘for’ column looks empty. Trade? Hardly since we currently buy more from Europe than we sell to it and, in any case, manufacturers on either side of the channel will never turn down orders. Indeed, the talk yesterday of the new EU bloc freezing out trade with China and the USA sounds like commercial suicide that we are well out of.
The ‘ against membership’ column looks a tall one. Our subscriptions exceed our recipts by a large margin, and our industry is handicapped by a mass of laws. Our island is over-populated and there is nothing we can do to prevent EU citizens pouring in. Our laws are repeatedly overridden by the European Court and our agricultural and fishing industries are at the mercy of unelected bureaucrats. Viewed objectively, rather than politically, it is hard to spot the advantages of staying in the EU that will now emerge.
For this gang of old codgers the most puzzling aspect of yesterday was the response of Ed Miliband. Clearly it is politically dangerous to shower your opponents with even faint praise, but his claim that Cameron has got it totally wrong automatically triggers the question as to what he would have done. So far we have heard nothing on that score and we are left wondering if he seriously believes that we could allow ourselves to become even more enmeshed in an authoritarian and undemocratic organisation that will progressively assume control for every sovereign nation’s affairs.
Inevitably today’s right-wing press is demanding a referendum. It is likely that Cameron would not be averse to that since being able to speak for the whole country would help him when he has to respond to the inevitable EU backlash. Little doubt about the nation’s verdict when asked whether we should remain in Europe, but it would spell the end of the coalition and, given the apparent view of the Labour Party, would trigger an election. At this very moment Mr Cameron is probably reflecting on the fact that Churchill took on external threats only to be dumped when the ballot boxes were wheeled out in 1946.
But would the Lib Dems and Labour seriously consider going to the country recommending that we sign up to a ’Merkozy’ regime? Do turkeys vote for Christmas?
IT’S TIME FOR YOUR FAVOURITE WEEKEND QUIZ!; 1. How many times did Joe Frazier fight Muhammad Ali? 2. What was designed and made in a variable form by Sikorsky in 1941? 3. The TV series ‘Spooks’ is about which organisation? 4. Who had hits with “One Night in Heaven” and “Moving on Up”? 5. Which “dog like” peninsula formed Canada’s tenth province in 1948? 6. What was Coco Chanel’s Christian name? 7. Quilp appears in a book about what kind of shop? 8. In which European country are the Pindus Mountains? 9. If a creature is demersal, where does it live? 10. In which county was the first Youth Custody Centre set up in 1908?
??????????? ANSWERS TOMORROW ??????????????
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.
Let me reassure Peter and other readers that Gadaffi is alive and well. For the benefit of those who haven’t followed the saga I hasten to explain that the mad Colonel has not sought political asylum on the allotments. We are referring to our bullying hen. She is now in splendid isolation and has the added punishment of being in Albert’s care. My old pal is not in a good mood and this morning alternated between muttering about the mindless thugs who attacked policemen in London, and the inept performance of the England cricketers who were hammered into the ground by Sri Lanka.
In fact so poor was the bowling and fielding performance that Messrs Tharanga and Dilshan were able to knock off the required runs with ten overs to spare.Without doubt this Sri Lankan team is an excellent one but, with the honourable exceptions of Trott and Morgan, England lacked guile, energy and just about everything else.
With England on the plane home it is clearly time for a post mortem, for one-day cricket is important and we seem incapable of producing a winning team. One wonders if there is a mental block on the part of the selectors and cricket authorities since we continue to treat the shortened version of the game as being a minor distraction. All of our efforts are devoted to the Test arena which would be fine if that was the general view of world cricket. But it isn’t. Support for Test cricket is falling almost everywhere and, with the exception of the Ashes, the number one priority in every major cricket-playing country is the 50 over game, laced with some Twenty20 excitement. Cricket purists like me may regret that but the reality has to be faced.
One only has to study the lack of preparation for what has become cricket’s major tournament to find support for this argument. Our players followed a hectic summer with a five match Ashes series in Australia. Not surprisingly some of the players such as Jimmy Anderson were by then showing signs of wear and tear. What did our authorities agree to then? Seven one-day internationals and two Twenty20 games that’s what! By the time that the squad flew home after a gruelling four month tour, they had just three days at home before flying out for the World Cup. The same applied to Australia you may retort, I can only reply by asking what happened to them? Like us they received the order of the boot.
The earlier games in the tournament did not all go well. We lost to Ireland and Bangledash as one player after another had to head for home with an array of stress related problems, damaged backs, torn hamstrings and assorted other problems. By the time we face Sri Lanka we had players on the field who were either not up to this level or were simply mentally exhausted.
How else would on explain the fact that in the first 25 overs of the Sri Lnakan innings, not one slower ball was attempted by any of the England seamers? On benign pitches such as Colombo, bowlers have to conjure up wickets against good players. On low, slow surfaces for one-day matches, bowlers need an extra ingredient. They found none, and clearly learned nothing from having faced an attack that maintained nagging accuracy and deployed regular ‘yorkers’ into the blockhole. Our batsmen were rooted to the crease and rarely used their feet against the Sri Lankan spinners. Once Morgan was out at 186 for four the England batsmen froze in the face of balls speared into their feet, slower balls looped teasingly, and skiddy bouncers. It really looked like men against boys, yet just a month or so ago we were Test heroes.
The sad fact is that we still prioritise Test cricket in our coaching, team selection and most other things. In fact we don’t even play 50-over cricket in this country. A few years ago I would have sighed and said well it doesn’t matter, supremacy in cricket means winning Test series. Like it or not, those days are disappearing fast.
If we want to be a top cricketing nation in tomorrow’s world we have to change our priorities. It sounds like blasphemy but we will have to focus our coaching on bowling to contain and batting to score quickly. We will have to be prepared to rest from Test series those players crucial to our one-day success. We will have to play less cricket of the long-form and reintroduce 50 over matches at County level. If we don’t we will be in danger of being champions only in the one form of cricket that the punters across the world have deserted.
The only thing to be said in defence of Strauss and his weary warriors is that they maintained a decent standard of sporting behaviour. They never descended into the level of boorish behaviour shown in the New Zealand defeat of South Africa. And they most certainly didn’t behave like the 300 or so yobs who in London yesterday attacked bobbies, who themselves are subject to cuts and redundancy.
Given a fresh focus and resolve there is still hope for the England cricketers. There is none for spotty-faced thugs who believe that hurling missiles into crowds containing small children is acceptable!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; THE KISS ” A kiss is an application on the top floor for a job in the basement”…..Brian Johnson “I feel great and I kiss even better”…..Emo Philips “it takes a lot of experience for a girl to kiss like a beginner”…..Jaon Rivers “Kissing Marilyn Monroe was like kissing Hitler”….Tony Curtis “With lips like those Mick Jagger could French-kiss a moose”…..Joan Rivers “Buy me a Mercedes and I’ll make your neck look like a relief map of the Andes”…….Roz Doyle “Kissing Edwina Currie was like kissing a can opener”…..Godfrey Barker “People who throw kisses are mighty hopelessly lazy”….Bob Hope “I wasn’t kissing her. I was just whispering into her mouth”……Chico Marx “How about a Spanish kiss under the mistletoe? It’s like a French kiss only a little further south”….Lorna Adler “I was dating a guy for a while because he told me thatb he had an incurable disease. I didn’t realise it was stupidity”….Gracie Hart
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. 12 2. 5p
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who was the author of ‘The Realm of Gold” (1975)? 2. Where was Jean Drapeau a political leader?