Look Charlie, I’m getting tired of all this criticism. What I told the public – and some believed me – was that we Tories were going to roll up our sleeves and get things done. You should at least acknowledge that we have been successful in this. Not a day passes without a new iniatiative: legislation, white papers, special committees’of enquiry. You name it and we’re doing it.
That’s just my complaint Dave. These so-called reforms of your’s are half-baked and driven by ideology, a narrowly based schemata of outdated right-wing philosophies common in the South of England and loathed elsewhere. You do not recognise the difference between a statement of principles and a detailed implementation of a policy, you do not genuinely consult the people who will be affected by Coalition changes and then of course when you get tired of banging your head against the wall you change your mind and parade a retreat as a victory. Do you wish me to list these policy retreats? No, I thought not.
Charlie, you are not fair. For the sake of this argument, let me accept that we have made some mistakes. But I would suggest to you that we are quick to react to intelligent comment and we have the guts to change our mind to accommodate good suggestions. Isn’t that a sign of maturity and inclusion? Well it may be Dave but I would prefer to describe it that you are indeed quick to recognise a cock-up when someone points it out to you.
I think that this is not worthy of you Charlie. I have read a book on leadership ( I can’t remember the title for the moment but when I do I shall tell you). Anyway, Charlie, this author categorised types of leader and I used these to recognise and define my own style. I am a pathfinder, Charlie. I find the right path and charge down it shouting for others to follow me. I do not want you to tell people Charlie but Tony Blair was a pathfinder! I can believe it Dave. Did you think of Tony Dave when you committed British armed forces to Libya? I seem to remember being told by Tony that ian invasion of Iraq would be a 7 day wonder. In and out in no time. Today eight years later we finally withdrew our sailors. Did you not tell us something similar Libya? How much longer will we be wasting scarce resources there.
There’s no comparison Charlie and you know it. I am determined to exercise my leadership everywhere in this small world. Just you wait and see. It will all work out well in the end. I confidently predict that we will be out of there by the next General Election (unless of course we run out of amunition!) Ha, ha Charlie, that’s a joke. Seriously, though Charlie you have a point. Not much of a point but a point. You will notice that after a year or two we shall slow down and consolidate. We have to leave something yet to be done of course. We don’t want to run out of cornucopia, so to speak. When I win the next General Election Charlie I shall grant you an interview and you can publicly admit that you were wrong about me. That’s if you want one!
Filed under Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Defence Review, Ghadaffi, Libya, Middle East, Politics, Tony Blair, Treasury, United Nations
Oh, its you Charlie! You do dog my steps. Can’t you find something new to talk about. I’ll help you if you like. A world exclusive, specially for you. Thanks Dave, but no. I think we all need to know what you’re up to in Libya.
That’s a good expression Charlie. What am I up to.That’s a good way of putting it. Well, I’m not sitting around waiting to fail because fail we shall if it goes on like this, locked into a military stalemate and no worthwhile diplomatic way out. I’m not a loser Charlie, remember that. The playing fields of Eton are a good training ground for life. They breed winners, Charlie. I’m a winner.
Well from this point, Dave, how do you win? It’s easy Charlie. Step by step you change the rules of engagement. No single move in breach of the UN Resolutions but accumulatively amounting to such pressure on Ghadaffi that he cannot resist us. Remember this Charlie, I loath the man. Years ago I vowed that if ever I was in a position of authority I would get rid of him. Give him a good kicking. Get him off the playing field, so to speak. Yes Dave, I do understand. Assad you could share a room with but not Ghadaffi. Completely, understandable. I wouldn’t fancy an emergency meeting in a tent with him, myself. Precisely that, Charlie. Blair could kiss him in the hope of reform but not me. Oh, dear no.
Let’s cut the crap Dave. What are you going to do to get us out of this mess? Well you would call it mission creep Charlie. We are going to flood Misrata and other places with humanitarian assistance workers. No fighting while they are there. You infiltrate these places with SAS in plain clothes. They tell you where the Ghadaffi lot are positioned. Zapp, zap, zap Charlie from the air. a bit of bang, bang, bang on the ground. You beef up the rebels by advisers and special forces. Down the road with close air support. Bang, bang bang again and you’re on the road to Tripoli. Come to think of it there’s a good song in this. There usually is.
You’re mad Dave. You can’t get away with that. Emergency meeting at UN , heated debates in the Commons where you would lose the vote, to say nothing of the Lib Dems. I’m not a loser Charlie. Remember that. Things were going badly for Margaret Thatcher until the Falklands. Then she became a heroine. Very patriotic the British working classes. Come on board HMS Victory my lads. We all love a winner. If you can pull that off Dave you will deserve to win. I may even vote for you myself. Now I know you are joking Charlie. But I’m not joking. Just you wait and see.
Filed under Arab League, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Commons, Eton, Ghadaffi, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Libya, Middle East, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Politics, Sarkozy, SAS, Syria, Tony Blair, United Nations, Yemen
I am at a loss. For the first time in my life I find myself at one with the Left Wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party.Why is it right for Britain, France and the USA to intervene on the side of the social and political revolution sweeping the Middle East in Libya and wrong in the numerous other states busy putting down their protesting masses with a mixture of violence, imprisonment and intimidation; in particular Bahrein, Yemen and Saudi Arabia? It is said that it is because the Ghaddafi regime is peculiarly obnoxious. Not only is he a threat to his own people but he can be in some undisclosed way be a threat to others. This is true. However, it is also true of many other states in the Middle East and elsewhere. Should there be a no fly zone imposed in Iran or military action against Syria. And surely we should not stand idly by while the Chinesese Government tyranises Tibet? No two cases are the same, of course and no one in their own mind would advocate itervention in Iran or Tibet. Hold on, is this true? So could it be that Ghaddafi is a convenient tyrant. We can corner him and chalk up a few brownie points at home .Foreign wars start as popular. Ask Mrs Thatcher, it won her a General Election; or Tony Blair who became a prophet, although not in his own land; and now David Cameron, who is hopping about as if he was on drugs. What is it about war that our politicians of all parties get high on it and invite us all to get high with them.
I hate to point it out that drugs can be highly dangerous not only to the takers but to bystanders. Wars are unpredictable. They rarely work out as one hopes. How about a short holiday in Iraq or a a pilgramage in Afghanistan, chaps. You must be joking. You do not need to be a soothsayer to predict that this Libyan adventure will not work out as you now expect. It could be the most horrible of all foreigh interventions of its type,
One disappointment for me personally is the attitude of the Labour Party. ‘We could not stand idly by’ may turn out to be a gravestone epitaph from a party that has learnt nothing about foreign wars and remembered nothing. Courages, mon braves. Use your noddles.
The truth is that US diplomats have been very busy these last ten days. To get any type of resolution through the UN Security Council has required the support of the Arab League. We have seen the US supping with the devil using a long spoon. The nod has been give to the Gulf States that they are free to put down the revolutions in any way they choose so long as they continue with modest changes and in return for their support of a Western intervention tp put down Ghadaffi. We hear the guns in Benghazi but not in Bahrein or Yemen. So the US can continue with its policy of supporting the known and relied upon in oil producing countries while giving a friendly nod to change. All very real, predictable and real politik. Let us all unite and give the bully within our reach a good kicking. We have been wanting to do this for a long time. Pity about the coffins and the body bags.
Filed under Afghanistan, Arab League, Bahrein, BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Ed Milliband, Europe, France, Ghadaffi, Gulf States, Iraq, Israel, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Liberal Voice, Libya, Middle East, Obama, Politics, RAF, Revolution, Sarkozy, Tony Blair, Yemen
Q. Dave, when you were a young lad were you a Cowboy or an Indian and why? Answ. A Cowboy, of course. I believed that the Cowboy’s were the winners and the Indian’s the losers, and history proved me right, did it not? Q. Who were the moral winners? Answ. The Coyboys of course, the right is always morally superior. Why do you start with such a question? Q. For good reasons. You have recently approved an SAS and Royal Airforce mission into Libya in what appears to have been a storm in the desert, that is an intrusion into the airspace of another country, the use of ground troops and the involvement of Royal Air Force C130s without the approval of Parliament , NATO or the the UN. Wasn’t that an incredibly dangerous thing to do? When President Carter tried it he made a terrible mistake and became the laughing stock of the world. Answ. Oh come off it. we won didn’t we. The British public love the SAS and we pulled it off didn’t we? Q. What I understand is that a plane was hit by small arms fire and wasn’t some attempt made to slash the tyres of one plane? What if the people firing had heavier calibre weapons, might that not have brought the plane down with the loss of 150 lives including foreign nationals. Answ. I never comment on operational details. Are you saying we should not have acted to save these men? Q. Yes, I am saying that? Answ. Well I think you will find that British people are on my side in this. Everyone loves a winner. Q. Another question Dave. Were these C130s given fighter aircraft cover and if not why not? Answ. Good question. Naturally, I took advice but every Captain must in the end trust his own judgement. I didn’t become Chief Cowboy, if you pardon the mixed expression, by accident. Q. Straight answer Dave, please , yes or no? Answ. Look, you know me well. I’m a politician I can’t give you such an answer. Q. Were the Chiefs of Staff consulted? Answ. Ditto. Look I’m getting rather cross about this. Chief Cowboys are not asked these kinds of question. Q. OK. Let’s vary it a little. Have you had any military resignations over this and are there any in the offing? Answ. Well I can answer that one. No. And I don’t expect any. Q. Last questions Dave. Isn’t this a prime example of the strategic advantage of aircrat carriers. Not in the misty ages to come BUT now? Wouldn’t the Ark Royal and a few Harriers have provided the air cover that a mission like this needed? And secondly, did you consult the Americans? Answ. Look you liver-lilied journalist (a joke, let’s see you smile). A Leader must lead and journalist must follow. Isn’t that the right order of things, the Scheme of things? As for the American’s, all you journalists go on about the inability of Britain to act independently but when I do it you are the first to criticise. And thank you for the session , very invigorating it was too. Now back to the war games. Tally oh, chin chin, and all that. All I need now is a twiddly moustache. Can’t afford the wax in this age of austerity. All the responsibility of the previous Labour administration as I have said before.
Filed under Army, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Defence Review, Economics, Labour Goverment, Liam Fox, Middle East, Obama, Parliament, RAF, SAS, Tony Blair
Look old chap this interview is off the record. I trust you to keep it under your hat because you look a trustworthy sort of cove. OK? Good. Of course I’m worried about the student reaction to we Lib Dems breaking our pledge on the raising of student fees. When it came to the cruch we did not think that this was an issue on which we should have called a halt to Dave and abstained on the Commons vote. I know it and you know it and I suspect that students know it too. On reflection we should not have signed the pledge. I agree that we made too much of it for short term electoral advantage in a number of university towns. Have a heart, we are only human you know. We didn’t think for one moment that we would finish up in a Coalition with the Tories. At least I didn’t, did you? It was so very tempting. After all who but a fantasist takes note of the daft election promises of a party that has never shared power with any other party ( a short, dry laugh). Am I upset about it? Of course, I am. Broken promises on issues like this do come back to haunt you. I accept that. What I really think that if after five years all turns out for the best, electors will have either forgotten about it or will forgive us for doing the necessary dirty stuff. They do have short memories you know, I can quote you some examples. No? All right it’s your loss. If the Coalition fails no one will dwell on our mistake with the pledge and I shall go down with the ship. What if we go down and not the Tories? Of course that is possible. I have bad dreams about this and wake up sweating. The Tories win an election and we are reduced to seven members. God I hope not. Clegg the man of vice who ruined his party and went down with the ship! When I have had a shower and some coffee and toast, I usually recover. Look at it from my point of view. Leader of a tin pot party and then to everyone’s astonishment – including my own – Deputy Prime Minister and a heartbeat away from being number one. More than I could have dreamt about a year back. And for five years! When I look back on all this I shall wonder at what I achieved and make a fortune from my memoirs. Well, if Tony could do it why not me? And the party? Well, it will be a shame but a lot of people will praise me for giving them all a ride. Am I a hypocrite. In some ways, perhaps. Name me a man who isn’t if you care too. I thought not. Difficult isn’t it? Could it be that I am a plotting man of vice as some of my members dub me. Yes, they do. A volatile lot these Lib Dems. Let me give you a quote. Oscar Wilde, Hypocrisy, he said is a tribute vice pays to virtue. Abolition of student fees? Desirable. One day, perhaps but I doubt if I will be around at the time. Tempus fugit and all that, dont you think? Bottoms up.
Filed under BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem MPs, Lib Dems, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Students, Tony Blair, Treasury, University fees
Ruthlessness is a underestimated political virtue. With the election of Ed Miliband as Leader of the Labour Party, we have three ruthless, youngish, men leading our main political parties and the ‘game is a-foot’. Ed Milliband has had the courage to sweep his brother aside, separate himself from a past that had in the end failed his party, and thus able to re-shape the social democratic message to an electorate that may be willing, if not now at some time, to listen to him. This is precisely the path that Cameron and Clegg have taken in the pursuit of power. And this is what WE ELECTORS expect of them all.
For the moment the Coalition is centre stage. If we are to be fair they are confronted with a massive challenge to deal with a budget deficit that could swallow us all in a ‘black hole’. Fortunately for Labour it can stand aside if it wishes and the fruit may fall off the tree. If so it must be far more effective in deflecting the blame for our economic woes away from a Labour Government that in some ways failed us. If these massive Coalition budget cuts do not work out well, and they might not, it won’t matter. A decent par round will do the job. After all I remember Nick Faldo winning a major with a final round without any birdies. If the economic outcome is indecisive with a long period of modest growth, which seems to me to be the likely outcome, playing a straight bat and making the right noises (to mix my sporting metaphors) may still do the job. According to the OBR there is a 40 percent chance of the Coalition economic policy producing the goods. Of course the OBR is now under different management so the odds may change by end October. but at the moment the odds are not unattractive.
What should Ed do? Having cleared a space for himself he might place a stress on competence, new faces, appropriate noises, not too many policy initiatives; an Opposition that is co-operative but determined, with emphasis on a few political strategic issues of importance to us all and where he can win. Push, push, push and hold onto everything he wins.
Can he do it? I think, yes. So far he has been very brave, determined and right. But not many, not really, are watching, and he will not be able to hold the stage. But what an opportunity he has for striking electoral gains in Scotland, Wales and much of England by next May. We all love a winner.
Filed under Alan Budd, BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, David Milliband, Deficit, Ed Milliband, George Osborne, Labour Blogs, Labour Ministers, Labour Party, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Local elections, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, OBR, Politics, Tony Blair
The play has been extensively rehearsed. Not everything has been well executed. Observors have remarked that there has been too much playing to the gallery. Not all has been word perfect. But at 4pm on Saturday next all this comes to an end and all (if not all, many) eyes will turn to centre stage. Enter stage left our leader and prophet. And what will he say? We should know but we don’t.
The actor has the briefest of moments to catch our attention. We know the play but as lovers of this form of entertainment we remain open to its eternal attraction. We long for a new interpretation, a new vision. Even at this moment we are distracted by other visions. I knew this player’s father. I get an image of a semi circular group of us lapping up something called historic inevitability. Karl Marx had a neat turn of phrase. I remember, ‘Man is responsible for his own destiny but not the circumstances in which he must find it.’ Or something like that. Our principal actor is now responsible for his fate and the blessed Gordon of beloved memory is no more.
And he says…Well, of course, I do not know what he will say. What he must demonstrate in a very few words is that he is a pathfinder. He must have a vision of an alternative Britain to the one the Coalition offers the voters. A vision true to the past, which takes account of the reasons which enabled the Coalition parties to grab power and to the necessary changes that are occuring in British society and he must give us – the voters- hope for a better future.
I can offer no advice. It is too late for that. What I do know is that while this leading player must oppose, for it is the first duty of a Parliamentary Opposition to do so, he must also propose. What is the Big Idea? In an edeavour to distinguish themselves with the Labour Party electorate, the leading actors gave us parodies of their Big Concepts. One of these Milliband’s gave us the concept of Back to the Future, we had the Party of the Working Class and the Man of the North while Diane Abbott was content with The Past We Never Had. None of these will do for the real electorate.
Here is a warning. Fail this test and the game is up. Prepare well for it because if feet begin to shuffle this play is over and something more traditional takes its place. Of course, a good beginning is not everything. But the experienced actor senses the moment, an almost audible sigh of contentment grips the viewers, it is content, expectant and a magic has been woven linking audience with actor. Now is the hour of… Well go on finish it!
Filed under BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Daiane Abbott, David Milliband, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, Gordon Brown, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Politics, Tony Blair
Frankly it amuses me, all this talk about the Lib Dems doing a deal with the Devil. Do I look like a man who plays chess with the Devil? Of course not, I do not even play chess! I am smiling because I am a cheerful sort of fellow and not because of my recent appointment as the Vicar of Bray. That’s a joke, in case you missed it!
I cannot pretend that I do not enjoy office nor the marked improvement in my social life. But do you think I would sell my soul for that? It is true of course that I am now supporting policies my members abhor, not least the public expenditure cuts. I confess that we, my Cabinet colleagues and I, bought into the Tory economic policies. But so what. In a few years time who is going to harp on about that. Victims have short lives. Does Mrs Thatcher get hate mail from miners? Of course not. Historians and reformers like me must take the broad view, the panorama of history so to speak. What I possess is a depth of vision. I look into a golden future and if some are slow in coming to the feast there will come a day when we all reach the table. If a few are sated and lie beneath it, that is understandable as well.
Now I don’t wish to be quoted. Be a good chap and put down your notebook. I didn’t come into the Lib Dems to wear sandals and grow a beard. Not that I have anything against beards. Each to his own. You will have noticed that I am perfectly at home in the corridors of Power. There are many of my Winchester and Cambridge chums roaming about and there is no need for me to exclude myself. If you are right and all this comes to a sorry end I shall be able to handle it. I, and my friend Faustus, will ruminate about it. Don’t worry about it he will tell me. There are plenty of other opportunities in this life. Think how well Tony has done for himself with half of my dexterity. Was he a friend of Faustus? You’re teasing me.
Look. All this is confidential. Don’t go pie on me. If anything of this gets out, I shall deny it. Of course, my friendship with Dave might be long term. I could introduce him to the good Doctor if need be.
Filed under BBC, Big society, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Dr Faustus, Education, Free Schools, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Lib Dem MPs, Lib Dems, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Politics, Tony Blair, Treasury
In politics there are two things you should not vote for: standing still and moving backwards. The first of these seeming options rests on the assumption that the duty of the Opposition is to oppose – a necessary function – and not to propose. I guess the electorate is heartily tired of the obfuscation of all Labour politicians confronted with the straight question of how to deal with the deficit. What would you cut then ? And to reform. Does the NHS need reform and if so of what should a reform programme consist? The second option is even worse. Going backwards to a golden age leads to nowhere. There was no golden age. Your father may have known Lloyd George but I doubt it. The 1983 Labour Manifesto stands as a stark warning. Described as ‘the longest suicide note in history’ it led an enthusiastic Labour Party to the brink of disaster. In retrospect we all adore Michael Foot. In my experience of him Michael had one speech and a very good one at that. The first time I heard it I was greatly moved, on the second occasion I clapped politely, and on all subsequent occasions I made for the exit. But like a good sermon it should not be lightly abandoned.
Reform is both necessary and, in the end, unpopular. But there is no alternative. Hard judgemnts have to be made; and, yes, some people lose their jobs and retrain for others. Reform is inconvenient: few people want constant change. Stop the train, I want to get off. Gordon, of blessed memory, wanted to get off, the Parliamentary Party was fed up with the constant stream of reform bills, trade unionists just hated losing members and tea and crumpets in Downing Street. Let’s get rid of this man Blair who wins us all these elections and restate Labour values and policies. It’s Buggins turn. He has waited too long and no.10 is his by right of presence and ‘all who sail in her.’ Well, we know where this led the Labour Party.
What has this got to do with anything? Well there is this issue of the election of a new Labour Party leader. Who should we vote for? Choice is always a difficult matter BUT thank goodness there is choice on this occasion. My advice to a perplexed electorate is to choose the person who most wishes to commit him/herself to a rational reform programme and studiously refrain from voting for any candidate who makes you yearn for the past – the illusory golden past. Choose the candidate who will give the Labour enthusiast a hard time, will make you think hardest, who will lead you to new pastures.
Well cocky, you might say, if you are so clever dick, tell me who is this person of steely resolve and visionary gifts? I’m so sorry. I have listened, I have read, but alas I cannot tell you? Perhaps you, if you have been thinking about it, would kindly tell me how you are going to vote?
Filed under BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, David Milliband, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, Gordon Brown, Labour Goverment, Labour Home, Labour leadership, Labour Ministers, Labour Party, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Politics, Tony Blair, Uncategorized