Monday, 31 August 2009

An Army Without Ammunition



Yesterday's news, to be sure (literally), but interesting none the less. From time to time, it's worth paying a visit to the Army Rumour Service ("Arrse") to try to infer the mood of our servicemen, currently tasked with dealing with the most difficult enemy in the world: incompetent political leadership. This was the report:
From The Sunday Times
August 30, 2009
British soldiers banned from using live bullets to save money

Michael Smith

British soldiers are being forced to train with blanks rather than live rounds to save money.

The entire Territorial Army (TA) and a number of nonfrontline regular army units will be affected by the ban on the use of real bullets in personal weapons, according to defence sources.

Soldiers bound for Afghanistan will be spared the restrictions, but even they will start training with live rounds only in the last three months before departure. Those learning to shoot as part of basic training will also be allowed to use real bullets.

Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP and a former infantry commanding officer, said: “The idea that our frontline reserves should not be able to use live rounds is quite extraordinary..."
Only a government that has no idea what it's doing - and has made some determined enemies within the civil service - would allow a story of this sort to leak when our moron Prime Minister has decided to pay the troops a morale boosting sapping visit on - or near(ish) - the front line.

But it was a bit of a non-story, in reality. I know from (limited) experience that the only time reservists use live ammunition is on the range, but finding time for that kind of training is not always easy for the part timers. Also, because of the way the war's going in Afghanistan, all live ammunition has probably been prioritised for the battlefield. Even so, it gives you some idea of the sort of pressure our supply chains are now under, and that there are some serious replenishment and supply problems brewing (not least over food and water, would you believe).

Thanks to this twit government - and twit-Brown in particular - trying to fight the war on the cheap, it's quite possible we'll be throwing rocks at the Taliban pretty soon. But 'twas ever thus!

So, why post this? Well, some of the reactions of people on that chat forum (quite a lot of whom are either current or former soldiers) are quite telling, in terms of the mood of people who are actually in or around the thick of it.
Have we, as a nation, really been reduced to this?
When will someone grow a spine and arrest brown and darling for criminal negligence, or at least misconduct in public office?
...writes "Skycarver". While "Diripio" says:
It is funny how things have gone full circle. I can remember in the 70's when I was in Sennelager and the last Liarbour government were in power, tankies being reduced to a maximum of 25 road miles a year and no live firing, no ranges due to a lack of 9mm and 7.62.

The sooner this government are put to sleep the better, but will the alternative make any difference?
Good question. We'll get to find out soon enough, though. I wonder if Bonkers Brown actually realises that yet.

Another "Arrser" comments:
Look at all that crap Indian 9mil we bought & had to dump because it was pants!
What's next? The RAF dropping grenades out of Cessnas? The Navy going to sea in canal boats?
I wonder if all this penny-pinching woul've beenthought up if the Gov & MP's had'nt been cought out fiddling expenses....
Harsh and fair. But "Auld-Yin" reckons this is nothing new. It happened the last time the Labourists were busy trashing the country:
Very remininscent of the 60's early 70's where you were lucky to get a range day in between APWTs.
Several times doing your annual weapon test was the only time that live rounds were used - and I was Infantry FFS.
"Jeagar" spoils the party somewhat with a caution to err on the side of moderation (it's a pretty good post, though, so I've included it here):
Whenever I read something like this, which serves to confuse more than it illuminates, I'm reminded of the old adage about newspaper reporters, "first simplify, then exaggerate". I'm no fan of Brown or his utterly useless, discredited Goverment of course, but what exactly is being cut here? I've read the article and I'm none the wiser. Is it simply a reduction in ammo available for range days?,has BATUS gone completely blank?, are recruits not going to do any Stage 5 Live firing at all? What's happenig at Brecon, Warminster, Sandhurst etc?As for ammo only being available for training in the 3 months prior to deployment to Afghan, no big deal, theres lot's of other things to be getting on with in the meantime, I'm sure there will be sh*t-loads available then at least. Fact is, just how often, apart from in the run-up to APWT, do Infantry Units for example, actually go on the ranges? not THAT much in my experience.

There might be some point here in sticking your hand out for the Outrage-Bus, but not on the info. so far received and not on the basis of this tedious article in The Times.
True enough, but fails to nail the main point: as more and more of these types of story filter out, and the "utterly useless, discredited" government limps on, staggering from one crisis to another as the full scale of its incompetence and dishonesty becomes ever clearer, morale in the army will drain away. Only a change of government can reverse this because only a new government will have a mandate to change policy and fix the problems. It's pointless having a go at the press, (unless it's to make it damn clear that the MSM is partly responsible for putting these idiots in power in the first place).

Comments of the day go to "OldTimer":
How come we can't afford live ammunition but the taliban seem to have an abundant amount available. Perhaps they have a better government . Thinking of it it certainly couldn't be any worse than ours.
and to "HE117"(!), who makes this perceptive observation:
Actually I think we are looking at a shell crisis situation in the offing...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...is_of_1915

See any similarities?
Yes, and a couple of differences: Asquith was honest, honourable - and elected!

(PS: Hat tip to Anna Raccoon, who wrote an interesting piece on this latest Labourist fiasco earlier today, and who's a much better writer than me anyway ;)

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Ustinov



5:40, roughly, is the point we should all try to take (shouldn't we?).

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Libyagate: As If We Didn't Know...

BP Libya: The motive
SNP collusion: The opportunity
Release of Megrahi - lies: Brown's crime

The British government did decide to release Megrahi to sweeten a BP oil deal, the Sunday Times has revealed. So, they lied - to everyone. And Brown has pulled his usual trick of scuttling off to talk nonsense to our soldiers in Afghanistan when the heat's on at home. Only, it won't fly this time for him because marines are dying this time while he's "in country".

The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests

In a letter dated July 26, 2007, Straw said he favoured an option to leave out Megrahi by stipulating that any prisoners convicted before a specified date would not be considered for transfer.

Downing Street had also said Megrahi would not be included under the agreement.

Straw then switched his position as Libya used its deal with BP as a bargaining chip to insist the Lockerbie bomber was included.

The exploration deal for oil and gas, potentially worth up to £15 billion, was announced in May 2007. Six months later the agreement was still waiting to be ratified.

On December 19, 2007, Straw wrote to MacAskill announcing that the UK government was abandoning its attempt to exclude Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agreement, citing the national interest.

In a letter leaked by a Whitehall source, he wrote: “I had previously accepted the importance of the al-Megrahi issue to Scotland and said I would try to get an exclusion for him on the face of the agreement. I have not been able to secure an explicit exclusion.

“The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the [prisoner transfer agreement] should be in the standard form and not mention any individual.”

Within six weeks of the government climbdown, Libya had ratified the BP deal. The prisoner transfer agreement was finalised in May this year, leading to Libya formally applying for Megrahi to be transferred to its custody.

Saif Gadaffi, the colonel’s son, has insisted that negotiation over the release of Megrahi was linked with the BP oil deal: “The fight to get the [transfer] agreement lasted a long time and was very political, but I want to make clear that we didn’t mention Mr Megrahi.

“At all times we talked about the [prisoner transfer agreement]. It was obvious we were talking about him. We all knew that was what we were talking about.

“People should not get angry because we were talking about commerce or oil. We signed an oil deal at the same time. The commerce and oil deals were all with the [prisoner transfer agreement].”

His account is confirmed by other sources. Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Libya and a board member of the Libyan British Business Council, said: “Nobody doubted Libya wanted BP and BP was confident its commitment would go through. But the timing of the final authority to spend real money was dependent on politics.”

Bob Monetti of New Jersey, whose son Rick was among the victims of the 1988 bombing, said: “It’s always been about business.”

It's not the "national interest" excuse that jars, or even the deal itself. People might or might not regard these as justifiable (I don't). It's the obvious collusion that's gone on behind the scenes with the Scottish executive to lie about the real reasons for releasing the terrorist in question using the "compassionate grounds" legislation as nothing more than a convenient loophole. It's the constant lying to the British people - even when they know we know that they are lying, but go on doing it anyway. It's the attempt, incompetent as ever, to cover-up their misdeeds in the most brazen manner possible. It's the cynicism, the dishonesty; it's the corruption and, no doubt (because crooks like Mandelson are involved), the sleaze.

Above all, it's the sheer, world class stupidity of this government that people will no longer forgive.

This scandal should bring down this Labour government. It's rotten to its core. It was only a matter of time before it deceived not just the British people, but the world, once too often. That time has come.

If political corruption on this scale can't force the chief perpetrators out, then there is something seriously wrong with Britain. I fear that that could well be the case, so I won't hold be holding my breath.

Perhaps Gordon can explain to the troops while he's out there why he is doing deals with the type of people they are trying so hard (indeed, have been ordered) to defeat. Of course, it'll be too late for about 200 of them, and rising.

He, and all those who support him, sicken me.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Burry Port: Twinned With Tripoli

"Jaw-dropping", I suppose, is one way of describing this latest piece of Welsh Labourist nasty lunacy. I simply could not believe my pork pies when I read in the Western Mail what a Carmarthen councillor (and parliamentary hopeful, would you believe - not any more!) has been up to. Have a butchers:

WELSH Labour confirmed last night it was investigating a councillor and brass band chairman in connection with a “foul and abusive” phone message that has been posted on YouTube.

Carmarthen Labour councillor Marc Scaife, who has put his name forward for selection as the party’s parliamentary candidate in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, left on Wednesday for a controversial tour of Libya with Burry Port Town Band.

The band have been criticised for continuing with the tour – part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi coming to power – after the release last week of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

In the phone message, a man who identifies himself as Marc Scaife, uses highly offensive language to berate a 19-year-old member of the band who pulled out of the Libyan tour at a late stage, creating a perceived security problem.

The caller is heard saying: “Listen very f****** carefully. You are a f****** idiot...There’s a massive security risk because of you. Do you realise what’s actually going on? Is anything going on in your tiny little mind?

“We are supposed to be playing in front of some of the biggest world leaders out there. Security is 100% tight and it includes the British Royal Family.

“I expect you to sort this f****** thing out. You go up there, you sort it out or expect a call from MI5. All right?

“I’ve had some serious explaining to do because of your irresponsible actions. Call me back as soon as you get this f****** message or I’ll be driving over to your parents’ house tonight to speak to them.

“Wise up, s***head.”

The band member who pulled out of the trip posted the audio tape of the phone call on YouTube. Subsequent messages on the site in the name of Mr Scaife said: “You forgot to tell everybody that you withdrew from the tour on Saturday with just four days to go, leaving us with a gap to fill. Your irresponsibility beggars belief. I’m surprised that you are happy to broadcast this fact.

“I don’t regret losing my temper with you – you deserved it. I stick to my opinions given in the recorded message. I suggest you listen to the actual words used and take note.

“I suspect you are going to get many similar confrontations from others in the future due to your ineptitude. I suggest you abandon your cry-baby ‘I’m just 19’ approach and act like a man – learn to act responsibly!”

The band member responds, saying: “I have not tried to adopt any cry-baby approach. I am merely pointing out that if I as a teenager can try to act in a mature and civilised manner to sort things out, there is something seriously wrong when a man over twice my age resorts to abusive and childlike rants. Indeed displaying your message on YouTube may be considered immature, but I am only trying to make people aware of the vile and foul attitude I have been dealing with.”

Explaining his position in another posting, the band member said: “I had to withdraw from the trip to Libya due to working commitments and the prospect of losing my job, something I was unwilling to risk in the current economic climate.

“I warned Marc Scaife this might be the case over a week ago and confirmed this on Friday. I have acknowledged the inconvenience this could cause and have been most apologetic.”

It is understood that the band member was one of a number of musicians recruited to go to Libya because long-standing members were unavailable.

A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “The party disassociates itself from the foul and abusive language used in this telephone message. We will be contacting Mr Scaife in order to verify the authenticity of the message and to seek an explanation for this situation.

“The matter concerned is not a Welsh Labour event over which the party has any control. This is not the behaviour we would expect of any elected representative of Welsh Labour.”

Mr Scaife had last night not responded to a detailed message left on his mobile phone by the Western Mail.

According to the Burry Port Town Band’s website, Mr Scaife is 41 and plays solo trombone. He has previously played with the Suffolk Fire Service, Colchester, Crwbin and Clacton brass bands. His occupation is listed as “real estate, Bulgaria”, although it is understood that he works as a relief chef.

Bad enough a Labourist brass band has flown out to Tripoli to "celebrate" Gaddafi's 40 year-long dictatorship (why?!). If nothing else, it's heroically bad timing. But to bully and verbally abuse a 19 year old just because he rightly dropped out after being threatened with unemployment is simply evil. And the reference to MI5 is just bizarre.

What kind of people are thugs like Scaife? I'll tell you: they're the kind of people who should be removed from office immediately. Scaife should not only be kicked-out, he should be told to stay put in Libya. Why not? If he, like so many other modern Labourists, feels such a strong affinity for tyrannical regimes, he should try living under one for a (long, long) while.

I just wonder what ideas he'll be bringing home with him, is all. Not healthy ones for him, given his proclivity for violent outbursts, or for anyone his council governs in sleepy old Burry Port, I would hazard. But don't take my word for it, listen to the voicemail yourself on the newspaper's website.

Unbelievable.

Btw, the Scaife person makes a fleeting appearance in this ITN report from two days ago. How would you like him as your future MP? Quite.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Section A, Q1: Spot The Difference

From a 1968, O-level Maths paper. One of two that gave you two hours to answer umpteen questions you wouldn't find on most A-level courses these days.

Cf: GCSE "Higher" Tier, June 2008.
Um.

And:Still haven't worked it out? I'll give you a clue: one is a Maths exam for 16 year-olds being trained for adulthood and a working life, the other is an infantile joke that 600,000 British "kids" preparing for a life of texting each uvva and the dole have just "passed".

We're finished. And socialism finished us.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Another Fine LibyaGate Blog

Bomber: "Reports of my death..."

This time from some excellent chap named Daniel Korsiki in the Speccy. (Makes a pleasant change from Alex Massie's nonsensical interventions, at least.) If you really can't be shagged to click on the link, I've lifted the entire text - purely for your convenience, you understand - (and certainly not because I'm the internet equivalent of a parasitical growth feeding off the good ideas of others. Some might disagree with that, of course, and that's just peachy. They can bog off, can't they :)
One of the oddest parts of Libyagate is what it says about Gordon Brown’s notions of devolution. The Prime Minister does not want to comment on the affair because, we are told, he sees it as a matter for the Scottish government, not the British government.

So, if the actions of a devolved but subordinate level of government go against the state’s interests, the leaders of that state should stay mum? That's certainly not the view taken by successive US administrations; they have often condemned state-level actions, even when the federal government has been legally powerless to do anything in practice.

The UK has no written constitution as in the US, but a clear constitutional settlement nonetheless. Now I am not a lawyer, but as far as I understand it, the UK Parliament retains sole authority to legislate over so-called reserved matters. This can only be altered by further primary legislation of the UK Parliament. Within the Scotland Act 1998 reservations to all devolved matters are those concerned with the UK as ‘a state’ and include e.g. the Constitution, foreign affairs and defence.

Let's play a little thought experiment. What if a devolved level of government takes an action that is within its legal competence but which leads to war with the state and a third country? Would the state have the right to curtail the otherwise legal actions of the subordinate level of government to defend the whole country's interests and security? Most people would say so.

That was an extreme example, but the point is serious and recognized in international law. Under the so-called laws of state responsibility, a state is responsible for the actions of its officials and organs, even if the organ or official is formally independent. It is even responsible if the organ – in this case a devolved level of government - is acting ultra vires, that is, “beyond the powers” of the state. Indeed, entities not even classified as organs of the state may still be imputable, when they are otherwise empowered to exercise elements of governmental authority, and act in that capacity in a particular instance. So the UK is legally responsible for Scotland’s actions.

In other words, if the power to conduct foreign relations is truly an exclusive competency of the UK government, with no role for the devolved bodies, a logical consequence is that some devolved actions and indeed laws impinging on foreign relations are invalid, even in the absence of already-established UK government policy. Libyagate is not only about Gordon Brown's politically-calculated absence, or Kenny MacAskill’s misguided notions of compassion, but about a constitutional grey area that should be explored further, at the very least by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is responsible for legal matters arising from Scottish devolution.

Interesting. It seems quite conceivable to me that the Scots would want to try to get their own back on, I assume, the "English" for dragging them reluctantly into umpteen wars, including two of the global variety, by doing exactly the same thing.

What is certain, though, is that this moral and political travesty perpetrated by the unhappy, well-connected, corrupt-as-hell, Scottish political sets that are the SNP and the Scottish Labourists, like Brown, is not going to go away any time soon, Brown's attempts at pretending it never happened (and that he had nothing whatsoever to do with it) notwithstanding.

One simple reason why this is true is last night's revelation in the Telegraph about the freed terrorist himself, Megrahi. He's not quite as close to death's door as these idiots had led the world to believe. He was not in need of quite as much compassionate leave from justice as the sanctimonious SNP windbag who did the deal with Labour to let him go would like us all still to think.

[Cancer expert] Dr Richard Simpson said that medical reports show there is “significant doubt” that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi will die within the next three months.

The Labour MSP accused Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister, of failing to conduct sufficient checks before deciding to release the terminally-ill bomber last week.

This attack was echoed by the Tories, who said that the most recent medical consensus was Megrahi would live eight months, too long to be eligible for compassionate release.

The row broke out as Gordon Brown finally ended his silence on the controversy, but refused to say whether he agreed with Mr MacAskill's decision.

The Prime Minister stressed he had “no role” in the release and he was “angry and repulsed” at the hero's welcome that greeted Megrahi on his return to Libya.

A storm of international condemnation has met Mr MacAskill's ruling last week to release Megrahi, who is suffering from prostate cancer, on compassionate grounds.

Scottish Prison Service (SPS) guidelines suggest that inmates are only freed if they have less than three months to live.

However, Dr Simpson, who specialised in prostate disease research, said: “It is clear to me from the medical reports and the opinion of the specialists that Megrahi could live for many more months.

”Kenny MacAskill released him apparently on the advice of just one doctor whose status is not clear and who is not named.”

Dr Simpson, a former member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons' prostate cancer working group, said the minister should have sought a second opinion from a specialist in palliative care.

A health assessment compiled by a SPS medical officer for Mr MacAskill, states that last autumn Megrahi was given between 18 months and two years to live.

Who'd have thought it? He's not quite so poorly after all. Aside from the legal implications for the Scottish Injustice Secrectary, the political and moral implications of this man's survival beyond the bizarre three month life expectency limit imposed upon him by a two-faced Scottish system are severe for the pathological liars and cowards involved in this whole, stinking affair, like Brown and, of course, Mr "Higher Power" himself, MacAskill. They are now, for example, in the unenviable position of wishing this man dead - in a hurry. Very compassionate.

The only thing people with any sense are going to conclude from this latest - and worst - outbreak of Brown/Labour dishonesty is that it really is time for change. If nothing else than because we need someone - anyone - to come in and start the long - oh, so long - process of clearing up their incalculably costly, universal mess. As implied elsewhere on this blog, this latest scandal, terrible as it is on its own, has also provided further unequivocal evidence that Brown and anyone who is stupid or corrupt enough still to support him and Labour, have to go. Forever, preferably.

At the very least, perhaps a change of government will make the SNP-led Scottish "Parliament" think twice before declaring war on Pittsburg, or whatever it is they have planned as the next step in what passes for their barking, bankrupt "foreign policy".

"Brown Government Falls!" Oh, how I look forward to typing those words for real. What a great day for Britain that will be.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Brown Is Pathetic...

...according to decent MSM blogger, Nile Gardiner (whom SNP apologist and recent equivocator on terrorists, Alex Massie, surprisingly of the Spectator, refers to as a purveyor of "weapons grade stupidity", no less. Pots and kettles, Massie. Pots and kettles.)

Here's Gardiner's latest offering on this last piece of Brownian cowardice. Personally, I'd say it's a laser-guided smart bomb right down Brown's trousers.

The Prime Minister has finally broken his silence over the shameful return to Libya of the Lockerbie bomber, five days after the event. It is too little too late. Why has it taken Downing Street nearly a week to even express an opinion over the appalling hero’s welcome received by Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi in Tripoli, amid scenes that have sparked outrage and fury in the United States as well as widespread revulsion at home? This is not leadership but moral cowardice on the part of an increasingly spineless PM who is afraid of offending an odious but oil-rich tyrant with a long history of backing terrorism against Britain and America, as well as brutalizing his own people.

Brown declares that he was “angry and repulsed” by the abhorrent display put on by the Libyan regime, but clearly not angry enough to condemn the actual release by Scottish authorities of a convicted terrorist found guilty of murdering 270 people, including 52 Britons. His half-hearted comments reflect the ambivalence of the Labour government over terrorism, exemplified by Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s recent declaration to BBC Radio 4 that terrorism was justified in certain circumstances.

Gordon Brown’s pathetic response will do little to soothe the mounting tension between the United States and Great Britain over the Lockerbie issue, or the heartfelt anger of many of the grieving families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. Brown has placed the appeasement of a dictatorial regime above the concerns of Britain’s closest ally, and continues to undermine the Anglo-American Special Relationship.

It is also highly significant that Brown refused to criticise the actions of Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, even though members of his own party have strongly attacked the SNP-led Scottish administration over the issue. The PM’s denials over any British government involvement in MacAskill’s decision carried an air of desperation against a backdrop of mounting evidence of high level contacts between the Labour government and Colonel Gaddafi’s inner circle.

The Prime Minister’s spectacularly unconvincing performance today will only add to the pressure on Brown to come clean over the exact details of his own discussions with Gaddafi, as well as those between Lord Mandelson and Gaddafi’s son Saif. He has done himself no favours at all by refusing to address the three central questions that need to be answered.

Did Gordon Brown and senior British government ministers support the freeing of Megrahi? What pressure was applied by the Labour government to secure Megrahi’s release by Scottish authorities, and was an agreement struck between London and Tripoli that Megrahi should walk free?

The Brown government’s lack of transparency on this issue must be challenged in the coming weeks and months, ideally through an independent inquiry. If left unresolved, the Lockerbie Bomber scandal will undercut transatlantic intelligence and judicial cooperation, and will lead to growing tensions in the Anglo-American alliance, a dangerous course that is distinctly against the British national interest.

When have Brown or Labour ever done anything that was in the British national interest? Never, is the answer. We've had 12 long years of a "government" that put one interest above all others: its own. And we've had a chancellor - now, astonishingly, Prime Minister - for 12 years who put his own interest above everything else in the entire world, including his own party: Brown. Well, not any more Brown-Labour. Not any more.

For this latest and for all your other crimes against the British people (I'll leave it for others to list them - it'd take too long in one blog post), you're on your way out, out, out!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Good Rowson Toon

From today's Guardian. I trust Alex Massie of the Speccy, who has formed a particularly odd, and frankly rather corrupt, view of this latest scandalous stitch-up and travesty of justice, has seen it...

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Cricket Comes Home, 2009


OURS!

Smash Mouth Summer

Despite the fact that it's sunnier than a Bondi Christmas down at the Oval, it's been hosing it down where I am - relentlessly - all day. So I'm gonna cheer myself up while Michael Hussey continues the job of wrecking the Ashes dream once more with a great summery song from a decade ago. Walking on the Sun = hot feet, wouldn't it? I think it would...

The Sunday Times Weighs In

As if the smearing of General Dannatt were not bad enough, the true nature of this government's attitude to the armed forces has now been revealed. Aside from the terminal incompetence, the cynicism of Labour's parliamentary leadership simply takes your breath away.

Perhaps the Sunday Times, an erstwhile pro-Labour rag, sums it up best in its fresh leader on the subject (although it fails to mention one of the most extraordinary statistics - that the last four years of fighting have led to 14 thousand UK casualties). No wonder Labour tried to bury it. I've lifted the most damning part of the column. You can read the rest here.

Although governments can get away with such political cowardice for a while, taking no decision can be just as bad as taking the wrong one. Eventually, inevitably, the issues will return and the earlier failure to take a decision and look to the future will have damaging consequences. That is where we are now in Afghanistan. The failure to provide our troops with adequate equipment is the direct responsibility of a government that buried its head in the sand for more than a decade.

No government can predict specific circumstances. But what they must do is regularly take a panoramic view of defence needs. The last strategic review was conducted in 1998. “In corporate life no enterprise would persist with a 12-year-old strategy without at least re-evaluating it fully on a regular basis,” Mr Gray writes. “Few who would expect to prosper would even try to do so.” With the sole exception of John Hutton, who commissioned the Gray report, every defence secretary since 1998 — Geoff Hoon, John Reid, Des Browne and now woeful Bob Ainsworth — should hang their heads in shame. They are responsible for the situation in which failure at the Ministry of Defence is, according to Mr Gray, “endemic”.

Above all, this is the responsibility of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Mr Blair took us into war without ensuring that our troops were backed by a defence administration and equipment suitable to their needs. In his liberal interventionist foreign policy he willed the ends but not the means. As for Mr Brown, his behaviour has been cynical in the extreme. His response to the warnings of shortages given by Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the army, was not to take heed but to allow a defence minister to attempt to smear the general over his expenses.

In 2002 the Dutch government resigned when a report found it had sent soldiers into combat without the necessary equipment. It says much about the prime minister that his only response has been to suppress the report.

Brown's government of all the smearers is falling apart - and he's on holiday. The storm clouds have been gathering for him for ages. I think that storm has just broken.

Swimming In Smears

"Medic!"
Uncle Bob has already blogged brilliantly about this latest piece of Labour filth, so I'll keep my scornful rant brief: New Labour are the most corrupt, twisted and morally empty group of incompetent wasters this country has ever had inflicted upon it. You still have doubts, after everything that's been written, blogged, proved and resigned over? Well, here's a bit more for you, this time from the ST. Read on...

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted to the Ministry of Defence, and uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, asks for publication of any correspondence between Gen Dannatt and Hadyn Parry, the chairman of the Help for Heroes charity.

It comes after Labour MPs and ministers were accused of using FOI laws to make trouble for Sir Richard by unearthing his expenses claims, after he publicly criticised the lack of resources given by the Government to the troops in Afghanistan.

Whilst the MoD would not disclose who was behind the Help for Heroes FOI request, which was submitted in June, Conservative MPs claimed it looked like fresh evidence of a smear campaign.

Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said: "There is no target that Brown's bullyboys will not pick upon to protect themselves or divert attention from their catastrophic management of the military. New Labour is now the most corrosive and corrupting influence in British politics."

Whoever submitted the FOI request could have been seeking to find out whether Gen Dannatt had claimed expenses from Help the Heroes following his unpaid work on the charity's behalf.

Mr Parry described Gen Dannatt's work for the charity as "exemplary". He said: "Sir Richard has done a tremendous job for the charity. His work has been exemplary – beyond reproach.

"He has never submitted any expenses claims, nor have any of the other charity trustees, because we want as much money to be spent on charitable work as possible."

Last week it was revealed that, on a tip-off from inside government, several FOI requests were submitted to expose the 58-year-old general's expenses. Kevan Jones, the Veterans Minister, was named on political website Guido Fawkes as the figure behind it. But he dismissed the accusation as summer tittle-tattle and heaped praise on Gen Dannatt.

Mr Jones last night denied again that there was a smear campaign, saying: "I do not know anything about this Freedom of Information request, nor do I know anything about Freedom of Information requests that were put in as part of a campaign against Sir Richard."

When allegations of a smear campaign first emerged a month ago, Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, sent a note to all his ministers – Mr Jones; Quentin Davies, Defence Equipment and Support; Bill Rammell, Armed Forces; Lord Drayson, Strategic Defence Acquisition; and Baroness Taylor, International Defence and Security – warning them not to brief against General Dannatt and demanding "complete support" for military commanders.

But last week it emerged that a minister had discussed "chasing" Gen Dannatt over his expenses in an attempt to smear him. Requests were allegedly made under the FOI Act, with the backing of the unnamed minister, to find out the extent of entertaining by the general, who retires as Chief of the General Staff next week.

It was also alleged that a minister had called Gen Dannatt a "complete bastard" for making so many public statements critical of the resources given to the troops in Afghanistan.

Wow! That list of "ministers" reads like a who's who of utter Labourist mediocrity.

Not content with their usual, now-predictable, contemptible attempt at rubbishing anyone who dares to speak the truth, a method perfected by Alistair Campbell and Mandelson (the truth in this case, as Dannatt has bravely implied on many occasions, is that total Labourist incompetence and, one is forced to suspect, their underlying hatred of the armed forces, has cost the lives of many British soldiers in Labour's foreign adventures), now they are willing to drag into their appalling smear campaign a charity set up to help the ones who make it back from the front merely wounded, but who are then abandoned by their own country (another Labour triumph).

Who needs the Taliban when you have an MoD occupied by these uberhoons? Just when you thought they couldn't get any worse...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Martin Bright Is Quite Right

At least, he is on the subject of Mandelson's depraved deal with Libya over the Lockerbie terrorist. Yours truly has been watching cricket all day, so came rather late this evening to the blogosphere. Hence the delay in catching sight of Bright's half-decent recent blog for the Speccy.

The Guardian has arranged a group of "leading thinkers" to give their views on the release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi from prison on compassionate grounds. There is a quite a split in the liberal establishment over this issue.

I find myself completely in agreement with Geoffrey Roberston QC. Unfortunately this doesn't appear to be online, which is a real shame. But his first paragraph sums up my feelings exactly:

"It seems to me an utter perversion of the meaning of compassion, both in law and morality, to suggest that an unrepentant, mass murderer of entirely innocent human beings should not be required to end his life in prison."

He also makes an important point about the morally corrupt thinking behind Kenny MacAskill's bizarre decision:

"The decision to release him for what any person of any intelligence at all would forsee as a hero's welcome in Libya was lacking in compassion to every victim of terrorism and makes an absurdity of the principle of punishment as a detterent."

Those who approved this decision should also read the words of Libyan novelist Hisham Matar, the author of In the Country of Men.

"I am imagining my father today. For the past 20 years he has been a political prisoner in Libya. The Libyan government continues to deny his existence. This even though Amnesty International has documented the case. In this time he has not been able to see or communicate with anyone outside the prison. Then I think of him listening to the celebrations of the prison guards at the news of al-Megrahi's rturn. The prisoners might have been given presents to make the occasion. Then I think of al-Megrahi's children welcoming him home."

The Libyan regime funded IRA terrorism, pursued and murdered its dissidents on the streets of European cities and is the only foreign government I know that is responsible for the killing of a British policewoman.

This was a truly dark day for the reputation of this country.

Too right, Bright. And your party was responsible for it, chum. Care to abandon it now? Or do your words amount to no more than a hill of beans (as usual)?

Incidentally, one of the comments in response to Bright's post is worth quoting, too - even though it is rather long:

Congratulations Martin on affirming the view of the progressive Left which tries to uphold a set of universal values , prominent among which is the need to affirm that the deliberate targetting of civilians is a crime under international law wherever it happens.

I am sure that if it had been a planeload of Scots who had been blown up over Lockerbie, Kenny MacAskill would have stuck to his earlier position that whoever had been convicted in a Scottish court must serve out his sentence.
The SNP's mindset and priorities are parochial ones and it would not have risked the wrath of so many bereaved Scots. But the victims were mostly from the US, a country whose institutions and indeed its people are regarded with scorn by pro-SNPers - as any glance at newspaper electronic comment spots will quickly show.
Absent from the Scottish airwaves and from the opinion pages of newsapers like the Scotsman and the Herald are left-wing journalists like yourself Andrew Anthony, Joan Smith and Nick Cohen who try to stem the slide of the political Left towards making common cause with religious obscurantists who, if they prevailed, would wipe out many of the civilizational gains of the last 500 years.

Too many 'small toon kailyard Nats' wre prepared to find excuses for Milosevic in the 1990s and Middle east tyrants today because their defiance of big powers is a reflection of their own struggle against foreign overlords. These Nats overlook any moral dimension and asume that it is the small country resisting American power which invariably has right on its side even if its policies are tyrannicial, genoicdal and deeply misogynist.

The Grande dame of the Scottish chattering classes,Lesley Riddoch who struts her stuff on BBC radio, the scotsman and the Guardian hailed MacAskill for 'placing compassion above vengeance , and independent decision-making above kow-towing to the world's most poweful nation'. (Guardian 21 August)
She even approvingly linked al-Megrahi's release with MacAskill's plans for non-custodial sentences for violent offenders and knife-carriers.

She showed the elitist and essentially non-democratic mindset that prevails among he interst groups that flank the SNP by arguing these policies must be right because of the support of profssionals and a range of quangos involved in criminal policy.

There was no mention of the plight of ordinary Scots many of whom will never get true 'independence' because they live in communities where thugs prevail and the authorities just walk on by.
So it make sense that Alex Salmond, macAskill or their new friend Lesley Riddoch ought to be unconcerned about the new wave of hurt caused to relatives of the 1988 bomb by the feting of al-Megrahi in dictatorial Libya.

When the Scottish parliament meets on Mnday it is likely that the Riddoch view that the Scots have just won gold in the OLympiad for international compassion will prevail.

We can only hope that his episode which fans hostility to the USa for electoral captital and credibility in the metropolitan media will spur Scots who want their country to have a progressive and responsible role in the world (whatever its constitutional status), to become more vocal and organized.

Time for the Scots to take back their country - and from their own "Nationalists", no less, it seems. Scottish people should feel humiliated by the behaviour of their terrible administration and hold them to account. They should also realise that none of this could have happened without the collusion of Jack Straw and Mandelson. There wasn't just a deal made with the Libyans - it was made with the SNP leadership, too. And it stinks.

It really is time for us all to force Mandelson's Labourists out once and for all. If this issue doesn't galvanise people, as this commenter suggests it will, but north and south of the border, then nothing will. It will tell me that Britain is finished as a moral voice in the world and deserves its fate. Thank-you Labour. You did this because you are the people who wouldn't know a principle if it hit you square in the face.

Mandelson Lies Through His Teeth - Again

Mandelson: a compulsive liar, the plaything of plutocrats, an unelected, unofficial Prime Minister...and totally out of control

So, the release of the Libyan terrorist responsible for the Lockerbie bombing wasn't part of an oil and gas trade deal brokered by the evil Lord Mandelson...according to the evil Lord Mandelson (as I've just seen on Sky News)? So Gaddafi's son is a liar, is he? Not bloody likely. Labourist liar-in-chief, Mandelson, is behind this whole, stinking affair. And now he has the barefaced cheek to go on national television and lie to people's faces about it.

Perhaps I was too hard on the Scottish Nationalist idiot who claimed to have released the terrorist, who is (we are led to believe) dying of cancer, on compassionate grounds and then, in the same breath, claimed that the Scottish "government" was forced to take the decision because of pressure from the "UK" government. Perhaps he - sort of - well - wasn't lying. Perhaps his decision to make propaganda capital for his "nationalist" movement out of this sordid affair, and the grave insult dealt particularly to the families of the American victims, were understandable and justifiable, given Mandelson's behaviour. Well, maybe all that's true. Frankly, it's for others to decide - especially the people of Scotland. Given Labour's strong links to that country, I have my suspicions about the level of collusion between them and the nationalists over this deviant policy shift.

As for Mandelson: this twisted individual is not fit for any, let alone high, office. He's as dishonest as he is scheming as he is greedy as he is vain. Twice he has been forced to resign for brazenly lying to the public, over issues that involved some shady deal or other from which he made some kind of personal gain.

Hey, Mandy, third time's not a charm, "mate".

If the Tory party is worth its salt any more, liar and fraud Mandelson will gone again in a matter of weeks. Get on with it.

Update
The report at Sky.com:
Lord Mandelson has dismissed claims that the release of Lockerbie bomber is linked to a trade deal - as the head of the FBI slams the Scottish government.

The claim was made by Seif al Islam, the son of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, in a television interview filmed as Abdelbaset al Megrahi was flown home.

"In all commercial contracts, for oil and gas with Britain, (Megrahi) was always on the negotiating table," he said.

"All British interests were linked to the release of Abdelbaset al Megrahi."

The claim was rejected by the Foreign Office, and was followed by an angry response from the Business Secretary.

"It's not only completely wrong to make such a suggestion it's also quite offensive," Lord Mandelson said.

He said he had met Colonel Gaddafi twice in the past year, and on both occasions he had raised the issue of Megrahi.

"They had the same response from me as they would have had from any other member of the Government. The issue of the prisoner's release was entirely a matter for the Scottish Justice Minister," Lord Mandelson said.

"That is how it was left, that is how it was well understood."

Meanwhile the head of the FBI Robert Mueller, who as a US Justice Department lawyer led the investigation into the 1988 bombing, said the decision to release Megrahi made a "mockery of justice".

The comments are said to have come in a letter Mr Mueller wrote to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, the man who made the decision to the release the bomber.

So that's alright, then, is it? Assumed issue-linking is not agreed issue-linking. Robert Mueller is wrong: it's not merely a mockery of justice, it's a mockery of the British people. We are being dragged into a cess pool by people who care nothing for ethics or morality, justice or liberty, decency or principle - people like Mandelson (and any number of Labourist politicians, like Millipede, for instance).

They've got to go. Urgently. Or this country really is finished. The Americans, for one, will make bloody sure of that. They have long, long memories and they will not forget this betrayal in a hurry. Nor will it have escaped their notice the curious role in all this of Russian oligarchs sympathetic to the Moscow Mussolini, Vlad Putin. Mandelson certainly has some strange bedfellows, they will think. And they will be right to do so. He does...and, by implication therefore, so do we all in Britain. Talk about being shafted.

(PS: Mike Smithson did say something about Mandelson's wriggling earlier today, btw. Worth a quick read.)

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Scotland the Depraved

Whoever this Scottish "Justice Minister" might think he is, he has no idea about the concept of justice - or of compassion for that matter. Compassion, for instance, can be a double-edged sword. What might appear compassionate for one man - in this case a dying, convicted mass murderer - will be and is agony for others, in this case the American families of his victims. They have to live with the knowledge that this man will die convicted, but essentially free. So, no compassion there. And no justice, either. By all that is just in this world, in the absence of the death penalty for his heinous crime, the man should have died in a prison in the country of his conviction. There can be no equivocation about that.

Whatever the real reason for this man's release - and, as has been posited around and about, the cold, dark, malicious, amoral presence of Mandelson seems to have been a factor - some deeply disturbing questions have been thrown-up by this latest, appalling Labourist intervention. One of those questions is this: doesn't this mean that Scotland is now de facto independent? At least, that is, when it suits its arrogant nationalist schemers to present it as such. They've used the release of this terrorist as a new propaganda weapon against the "UK government", (as if it is somehow entirely separate from the Scottish administration). In other words, the mellifluous, mindless platitudes of that idiot Scottish "Minister" were also dishonest. Further, Mandelson has used it for some Machiavellian reason known only to himself (and a few Russian billionaires - and Colonel Gaddafi's son, of course), which is simply sickening. And all the while, hopeless foreign secretary Milliband, the terrorist apologist and all round stupid boy, is nowhere to be seen. As for Gordon-cuckoo-Brown...where the hell is he??

As you can see, I'm still trying process exactly what happened today. My guess? I think it will be remembered as the day the Union was finally lost. Thank Labour for that. And well, Scotland, if depraved, lying "nationalists" like Kenny MacAskill are all you have to offer the world, get ready for one tough "independence". Good luck. You're gonna need it.

Mind you, Scotland gave us Brown, too. And a plethora of other, equally useless Labourist politicians who have brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy and will leave the Union on its last legs. I'm beginning to think that was the plan all along. A deep, deeply depraved, Scottish game. Brown's been working for the nationalists all along!

Yes, I know: time for my medication ;)

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Terrorism: Justifiable - If You Happen To Agree With The "Cause"

So, extraordinarily, incredibly, unbelievably, astoundingly says the incumbent minister in charge of Her Majesty's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, David Miliband. I did hear on Radio 4 a few days ago while driving home from work a fawning, honeyed plug for this idiot's interview. I paid it no mind, thinking there was no way even he would be stupid enough to go down that road. I figured he'd give his qualified support to the ANC cause he connects himself with like any good little snot-nosed, Oxbridge, PPE student with a well-connected Marxist daddy (connected with Joe Slovo's killer Communists, for instance), but distance himself from their murderous terror campaign in an appropriately diplomatic way as befits a Foreign Secretary. It seems I was wrong. Read Nile Gardiner's blog about this foreign policy disaster and weep:

The Foreign Secretary’s remarks to the BBC Radio 4 Great Lives programme condoning terrorism in some circumstances are an absolute disgrace, and should be disowned by the Prime Minister. The Radio 4 interview focused on the life of South African Marxist Joe Slovo, a leading member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC’s bombing campaign included the targeting and killing of civilians.

As The Daily Mail reports, when asked by presenter Matthew Parris whether terrorism can ever be justified, Miliband stated:

“Yes, there are circumstances in which it is justifiable, and yes, there are circumstances in which it is effective.”
“The importance for me is that the South African example proved something remarkable: it looked like a regime that would last forever, and it was blown down.”
“It is hard to argue that, on its own, a political struggle would have delivered. The striking at the heart of a regime’s claim on a monopoly of power, which the ANC’s armed wing represented, was very significant.”

The full interview can be heard here, and yes, the comments are accurate.

Miliband’s ill conceived statements demonstrate a serious lack of strategic judgment by a senior government official at a time when Britain is actively engaged in combating terrorism both at home and across the world. They will be used by homegrown Islamist terrorists to justify their own terror attacks against British targets, as well as by the leadership of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

There are absolutely no circumstances under which terrorism is acceptable. The Foreign Secretary is sending an extremely dangerous mixed message to Britain’s enemies and handing them a huge propaganda opportunity. He should issue an immediate apology and the Labour government must clarify whether or not it actually believes that some forms of terrorism are acceptable.

It is hard to see how Miliband can continue representing Britain on the world stage after he has publicly condoned the use of terrorism in certain situations. The figure responsible for crucial aspects of British anti-terror operations cannot be seen to be justifying the use of terror in any form, whatever the historical context. The Foreign Secretary’s foolish words are a bridge too far at a time when British soldiers and security services are putting their lives on the line combating terrorism.

Who can possibly argue with any of this analysis? Government policy for decades has been never to negotiate with active terrorists. Has this policy changed? Are we now to assume that this Labour government will not only listen to, but actually support, terrorist organisations if it happens to share their aspirations and/or worldview? That's the direct implication of Miliband's lamebrain platitudes. And it is a desperately dangerous one. It's also obvious why: Miliband has admitted that terrorism is justified "under certain circumstances" and insodoing has just given the green light to every violent extremist on the face of the earth to argue precisely this: "We believe in what we're fighting for - and even if you don't, we have the right to do whatever we think it will take to achieve our objectives. And you've just admitted that."

I'm not even interested in this sickening fool's resignation (though that must be the minimum requirement for his criminal arrogance). It's too late to worry about that. Lives of fighting British soldiers - possibly even British civilians - will be lost as a direct consequence of the morale boost he's just handed to those whose hatred of Britain is only matched by their willingness to commit mass murder.

Whatever you think of Joe Slovo (and I think very little of him), or of the happy outcome that was South Africa's eventual, general liberation and tentative reconciliation, the fact is that Miliband, all on his own, has just handed the Taliban and Al Qaeda a massive, deadly propaganda triumph - and the initiative. Bravo.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

National Health Sulkers

NHS staff: Not worth the money

The problem with the NHS is not the commendably egalitarian principle upon which it is founded: universal health care (not, you will note, "free" health care), but the appalling behaviour of vast numbers of the people it expensively employs. I felt absolutely certain that my own, generally terrible (with one exception) experiences of British hospitals are by no means unique. So you can imagine I was pretty relieved to find there's at least one honest journalist left in Britain, who is unafraid to challenge the Labourist myth, which has taken such a firm grip of the British imagination, that the overall performance of NHS staff, 'carers' and managers alike, is anything other than below average. I'm not the only one, it seems, that knows NHS staff are often rude and/or incompetent, overpaid and quite frequently do more harm than good, particularly but not exclusively to the elderly; that its disastrous management practices and overmanning has bled treatment budgets dry; that its costs are now completely out of control.

I'm not the only one, it seems, who has lost a member of his family as a direct consequence of if not malpractice, then mistreatment, by medical staff.

Other than all that, I do concede: it really is the world's best health service.

Christina Patterson in today's Indy is the honest journalist in question. While she does (inevitably) pull one or two punches thanks to her inexplicable left-slant, the thrust of her piece is sound and self-evident: the National Health Service does not adequately serve the people who pay for it.
Since I don't twitter or tweet or cheep, I can't, alas, add to the patchwork quilt of warm, cosy feelings to which Sid_Goon, LimeJellyTeddy, Flopsydaisy and a certain Gordon Brown have contributed lovely little crocheted squares. But it's hard not to be a little bit touched by the British response to the Americans who will fight to the death to preserve the right of 40 million of their neighbours to die without medical treatment because they are – spit the word – poor.

While our transatlantic cousins dig deep into their pockets to fire javelin or hellfire missiles at their Joker president and his plans to swap the current system of private health insurance for communist death camps, we're responding with the battle equivalent of macramé catapults and pots of home-made jam. Sarah Brown, who has, apparently, attracted a massive Twitter following for her comments about nice weather, strawberries and trips to the zoo, was in Hallmark mode. "#welovetheNHS" she said, making impressive efficiency savings on spacing, "more than words can say".

Andy Burnham, the 12-year-old Health Secretary, indicated post-political aspirations to reffing by declaring himself "over the moon about strong support for NHS", but felt obliged to add that his primary allegiance as New Labour new lad was to Everton FC. And "PM" (not, thank God, the one whose moobs have recently been subjected to massive media scrutiny) thought he'd kill two birds with one stone by drafting a Twitter-length foreword to his next book on courage. "NHS often makes the difference," he said, "between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there." Or perhaps it was intended as a text message to Sarah.

And then, of course, there's the public. Civilians, non-celebs, non-politicians, ordinary people (but not, please God, "hard-working families") boring on about how they had cancer and the NHS saved their life. Well, let me add to them. I had cancer and the NHS saved my life. I'm extremely pleased to be alive, and I'm very, very grateful. But the process, it has to be said, lacked grace.

I will not bore you now with the contradictory statements by consultants, or the three-hour waits for appointments that were cancelled, or the invitations to appointments for dates which had passed. I won't bore you with the lost files, and the lost X-rays, and the mammogram that turned out to be an X-ray of an ankle, or the surgeon who told me that he thought my approach to a mastectomy (which I didn't, in the end, have) was "a bit heavy". I won't bore you with the nurses who sighed and sulked and were soldered to their chairs, apart from the one who asked me, in a rare fit of bewildered humanity, why I was crying. Er, because I've got cancer and I'm still in my 30s? A teensy bit upsetting, non?

But I will tell you this. The big problem with the NHS is the people in it. Maybe they start out wanting to help their fellow human beings, to lift them, as our dear leader says, from pain to comfort, from despair to hope. Maybe they fill out a form in triplicate (two of which get lost) saying that they want to help people, and get sent off to training schools: the consultants to one where they learn to flick through a file with a sense of harried self-importance and turn to you briefly and sneer; the receptionists to one where they learn to regard the arrival of a patient as a nasty intrusion in a nice day's chatting, and one to be punished with a lengthy wait; and the nurses... It would be frivolous to mention Abu Ghraib. But tempting.

And as for the managers, some of whom earn more than the Prime Minister, more even than a GP... Well, let's just remind ourselves that a group of them, from Liverpool Primary Care Trust, have suggested this week that children should be banned from seeing 101 Dalmations because they might catch a glimpse of a cartoon cigarette. How about forgetting being Stalin and sorting out your IT and your files?

There are exceptions. Of course there are exceptions. And in the six years since I found that little lump in my breast, a lot has got better. Waiting times for my check-ups are now much shorter. The waiting room is much, much nicer and at Christmas you get mince pies. So when, a few weeks ago, one of my friends found a lump in her breast, I hoped things would be better for her. She was diagnosed quickly, thank the NHS; she was operated on quickly, thank the NHS, but the nurses were sulky and lazy and rude. One of them, she said, spent all day at her computer, writing religious poems.

We seem to be living in an age when everyone wants the security, and holidays, and sick leave of the public sector, but there's one little problem. They don't like the public. They don't like nursing them; they don't like filing their X-rays, and they don't like representing them in Parliament.

So, let's be clear. Universal healthcare, paid for by taxes, is the hallmark...of a civilised society. But there's another hallmark of a civilised society. And that's showing a bit of kindness to people at their most vulnerable. If you can't do it, do something else.
Precisely.

England and Wales - Joined At The Border



Try being half-and-half. Confusing. The process of racially patronising myself all day is only punctuated by inexplicable outbursts of full-throttled close harmony. And the bizarre urge to dig a hole 500 feet deep and then spend my entire working life in it is sometimes overwhelming. Thankfully, I still only seem to want to eat (baby) sheep...

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Burnham Test

Andy Burnham, our Health Secretary (no, really, he is), has accused Dan Hannan of being "unpatriotic" - presumably for failing to support the current US government's healthcare policy. Curious definition.

With Blair it was illegal Bush wars, with Brown it's madcap Obama health nationalisation plans.

So we now have what we might call "The Burnham Test": if you don't support a US government policy a Labourist UK government happens to like, then you're somehow anti-British. That's a pretty odd test of patriotism - and one that will attract only richly deserved contempt from our "partners" in Europe and beyond.

As for the NHS - well, I have to assume this is the same "world class" health service that failed to spot my aunt's two broken fingers three weeks ago and fobbed her off with a couple of packets of cocodamol (the NHS's drug of choice). Oh yeah, the broken fingers were in the original radiology notes. But the doctor treating her apparently failed to notice them because he could barely speak English. Nothing controversial about that. It's just a fact - and one which was acknowledged today after she went back to the hospital - in agony - to complain that her hand was not healing and a doctor who could read English immediately discovered the "mistake". "Oh, Mrs ---, you've got two broken fingers!"

Lucky she wasn't being tested for cancer the first time around, I guess. She'd probably be dead by now - like so many others.

World class indeed.

Sorry for sounding so "unpatriotic", Andy.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Welfare Murder

Been chaos at work for the last week or so, hence the recent abandoned feel of this inconsequential little blog. Just thought I'd take the opportunity to make a note of the excellent recent blog of Ed West in the DT which says everything I would like to have said about the welfare state's complicity in the murder of Baby P, Haringey-style.

Of everything I’ve read about Tracey Connelly today, this little titbit stands out:

And when paramedics were called to the house on August 3, 2007, to find Peter blue and cold in his blood-spattered cot, they were horrified when his mother kept the ambulance waiting while she searched for her cigarettes.

That says it all. I know conservative commentators risk accusations of playing politics over an infant’s death, but if we’re to reduce the frequency of such cases in the future (we’ll never stop them) we need to be honest. Tracey Connelly was the ideal welfare state client - paid hundreds of pounds of taxpayer’s money every week to sit at her council-funded home getting drunk and fat, surfing the internet for poker and porn, sexually incontinent and lazy, totally irresponsible about her offspring and skilled only at taking advantage of naive liberals in social services.

She grew up in shocking chaos herself, the product of a one-night stand between a drug-addict and a paedophile, and with that background Oxbridge was never likely to be on the cards. Neither her biological nor step-father was up to much; but her surrogate father, the state, did not help either by throwing money her way. Her entire life seemed to be a litany of bad behaviour being rewarded by the authorities – every time she did something bad or stupid, they did something nice for her, until finally she, along with her mentally sub-normal, violent boyfriend and his even nastier brother, went too far.

I’m a Haringey resident and pay their extortionate council tax rate, but I would have been happy to contribute towards giving Peter Connelly a decent life. Instead our money ensured his death. In December 2006 Peter’s injuries were deemed so bad that he was taken away and placed with a friend for a few weeks, before being handed back again. So what did the council do to punish his mother? They took away her three-bedroom flat and gave her a larger four-bedroom house.

What did they expect? That rewarding someone for bad behaviour would stop that behaviour? Have the authorities lost track with human nature? Baby Peter’s life ended in that four-bedroom house, his death assisted by a welfare state that is as dysfunctional as any alternative family model. It’s become a cliche to rant about single mothers and their free council flats, but one of the under-reported, unintended consequences of the system is that such properties attract a breed of work-shy, violent “stepfathers” and sometimes, in this case, their family or friends.

The statistics suggest that children living in step-families are 100 times more likely to suffer fatal abuse than children whose biological father is at home, while analysis of 35 cases of fatal abuse between 1968 and 1987 showed children living with a unrelated men were 70 times at risk. And why do some many children live in such high-risk surroundings? Because the state encourages it.

Liberalism is supposed to help the weak and the defenceless against the bad and the strong, but in its unintended consequences the welfare system now does the opposite. Despite the money spent by the state, or perhaps because of it, Peter Connelly’s brief and pathetic life was lived in Dickensian poverty. It is a problem we are unable to cure because, unlike the Victorian social reformers, who understood that eliminating poverty required improving both the physical and moral state of the poor, our campaigners for “social justice” do not believe in being judgmental.

Until we change that attitude, and our welfare system, many more children will die in circumstances like Baby P.

The only dot that remains unjoined here is the direct responsibility of the British Left for the long chain of events that led to this parlous, feral, savage and nationwide state of affairs. It grieves me that mindless "progressives" like Mary Drivell are still peddling their incontinent claptrap in the main pages of Ed West's broadsheet. But not half as much as it grieves me to contemplate just how much damage and harm the social experiments politicians that share her shade of red have done.

The murder of Baby P is a "progressive" murder. Those who Mary cheerleads for should be held accountable.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Curious Casualty

Bare-faced Liar-In-Chief in action

The first casualty of war is the truth, so the saying goes. That may be so, but now it seems the lies themselves, once the truth is KIA, can claim the odd victim, too, or so Sky News reported this morning...
A former spin doctor is to sue the Government, claiming years of being made to tell lies over the war in Iraq made him ill.

The press officer felt torn over the safety of the army's Snatch Land Rovers

John Salisbury-Baker was responsible for supporting dead soldiers' families, attending funerals and dealing with the media.

He claims holding back information about troops' safety led him to develop stress-related illnesses.

The 62-year-old is set to sue the MoD for disability discrimination.

While working at Imphal Barracks in York he told the media army vehicles such as Snatch Land Rovers could withstand roadside bombs.

He then "felt responsible in some way" when soldiers were killed, his partner Christine Brooke said.

She explained: "It goes back to the fact he felt torn because he had a moral dilemma based on the fact he knew a little bit more about the situation than the people he was dealing with whose sons had died."

Ms Brooke added: "We're all aware that some of the personal protection equipment wasn't of as good quality as it might have been and there were things missing, I think that's sort of common knowledge, but perhaps the families weren't as aware.

"John felt that he was holding back, being frugal with the truth.

"I think it's caught up with him really, it pushed him over the edge as far as his levels of stress were concerned."

Mr Salisbury-Baker was diagnosed with stress-related angina in 2007 and PTSD a year later.

But while Salisbury-Baker fights for his compensation for the 'damage' to his mental health being a mouthpiece for Labour's endless lies about our troops' equipment he claims has caused (yes, mate, it's called a guilty conscience), the lies go on and the troops keep dying, as umpteen reports and blog entries have shown just today. Here, for instance.

For myself, I would simply point out that if this bloke knew he was telling lies on behalf of a government hell-bent on keeping the truth about their incompetence from the nation when he was in post, and if he knew our troops were dying as a direct consequence of that government incompetence, then he should have had the courage to speak out about it in public at the time. That he didn't says as much about him as the lies themselves speak volumes about this Labour government (under both lying leaders, Blair and Brown).

He's a coward, isn't he? Yes, more or less. So it's pretty straightforward really: set aside the money he would be awarded if (ridiculously) he won his case for the genuinely wounded and the families of the war dead. After all, his willing dissemination of Labour's lies contributed to their plight, whether he liked it or not.

I wonder if Labour cabinet ministers will be trying-on the same scam once they're out of a job next summer. I wouldn't put it past them.

Monday, 3 August 2009

A Sane Voice In Swansea

Rene Kinzett: Clearly Sane
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a comment from René Kinzett, leader of the Conservative opposition on Swansea City council. His correction in his cheerful message of a predictable but nonetheless very shoddy inaccuracy in my previous post was most welcome, and not a little entertaining.

Here's what he had to say:
Just a quick point of correction - the "crew" running Swansea are a bunch of directionless LibDems supported by a group of "independents" who range from former communists, former Welsh Nationalists, disgruntled former Labour Party members and the extreme right (including one councillor who delivered BNP-designed leaflets in the 2004 elections). Labour ran the Council up until 2004.

René Kinzett
Conservative Opposition Leader
Swansea Council
His blog is pretty good too...

I am rather glad he's taken the trouble to point out my glaring error. If I'm going to take an interest in local(ish) politics, I suppose I ought to take the trouble to get my facts straight. Must try harder (a bit like the Lib Dims and the Labourists, in other words).

And on the subject of the lunatic fringe, Mr Kinzett pointed-out in an excellent post some days ago that the medical profession in Swansea took a very dim view of the forced sterilisation argument put forward by certain nutters on the council:
The two Independent Councillors who made bizarre comments in favour (to varying degrees) of compulsory sterilisation have been publicly horse-whipped by the City's medical profession in the pages of today's South Wales Evening Post.

The two Councillors, who make up part of the ruling LibDem-led coalition on Swansea Council, have continued to remain silent on the issue - but, of course, we do have an email from one of the alleged offenders, in which she attempts to explain that her preferred method of social engineering involves only the use of enforced contraception, so that's all right then!

As someone said to [me] the other day, "only in Swansea!".
Indeed. Or Berlin circa 1938, perhaps.