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Saturday, 22 August 2015

Britain's Crap Generals

Crap General Lord Chelmsford
I've known three generals on a beer and rugby match basis; all were affable, well-socialised and quite unremarkable chaps, though one had a senior ceremonial position and lived at the Tower. And I wouldn't trust a single one of them to organise a fireworks party, let alone direct forces in battle.

We have a long and proud tradition at times of peace and Small Wars of breeding crap generals. From Isandlwana to the first retreat from Kabul to our more recent ignominious defeat in Basra, inadequate generalship has triumphed to overcome the superb professional skills of our lads in turning victory to rout. The skills needed in peacetime to attain general officer rank are not the same as the skills required in wartime, when the Gentlemen go out and the Players come in. And like Lord Chelmsford, our crap generals are acutely sensitive to bad publicity.

So I'm hardly surprised that it's the crap generals and crap senior civil servants who screwed up Iraq that are co-responsible with the guilty politicians for holding up the Chilcot report.    

Corbyn apology
As a comment to the post below indicates, a Corbyn apology for the Labour Party's part in Blair's War will be something of a red letter day. But the party wasn't responsible for the war; it was Blair and his cronies. If Corbyn becomes leader, the best he can do is not to apologise but move to expel Blair from the party - along with Campbell, Hoon, Straw and Irvine. The failure of any of them to make it onto an honours list may also speak volumes as to the jury still being out on their eventual judicial disposal; the palace won't want to ennoble another about-to-be-convicted crook.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

What will Corbyn wear to the Cenotaph in November?

It was Kenneth Widmerpool's overcoat, readers of Powell will recall, that condemned him to the stigma of difference that followed him from his schooldays. If only his parents had purchased the standard specified overcoat from the school's tailors and outfitters ...

Michael Foot's supporters still aver to this day that what he wore to the Cenotaph on that single excruciating outing was an expensive green loden coat, and not a duffle-coat at all. Still, it's the image of Foot in a different overcoat  that sticks in the British mind; these occasions demand uniformity, demand a single-breasted wool or mohair overcoat in black or Navy of conventional length and cut. All of which offers speculation as to Jeremy Corbyn's wardrobe. Surely he wouldn't dare pitch up in a peacoat and what my chum insists on calling his dutch cap?

This is the least of the many unknowns that will follow a Corbyn victory. An ineffective opposition will allow Osborne unfettered reign, goes the argument. Ah, runs the counter argument, that will provoke a swing back to Corbyn in 2020 as we Brits can't stand one-sidedness. Corbyn's honesty and openess at the dispatch box will make Cameron look like a hooray-henry twerp, we're told. Or his terrorist links will sink him - even now the Met Commisioner is being asked to arrest him, say others. 

Personally, I'm going to avoid predictions altogether - I think we're so far into far-odds territory that no predictions are, er, at all predictable. But the Cenotaph will be a good test.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Economic migrants fuelling far-right resurgence in Europe

The map below explains why I've been keeping an eye on Austria's treatment of economic migrants; along with Hungary, the little nation is on the front line against those crossing continents in search of a share in Europe's wealth. 

Already little Slovakia is baulking at the coming burden; the Slovaks have declared they are willing to take war refugees only, and then only Christians 'as there are no mosques in Slovakia'. Hungary has announced it will treat illegal border crossing as a criminal act and imprison defaulters for four years - throwing them back to Serbia when their time is up. Latvia are refusing even to take the token 250 migrants that the EU is pressing upon them. East Europe generally is in revolt against the EU - stoking support for the far-right against what's perceived as being a left-wing policy problem driven by Brussels. 

It's alike a domino effect in reverse. The harder the Eastern nations resist accepting a share of the costly and disruptive migrants, the greater the pressure on Spain, Greece and Italy - and Germany, which has acted as a sponge to soak up migrant pressure. However, German voters are getting close to their limit - putting pressure from the far right on Merkel's social-democratic centrist government. 

The UK won't escape opprobrium. Along with France, our rash and ill-advised action in Libya is seen in Europe as precipitating the migrant crisis; and having helped create a massive problem, we're now seen as trying to escape payimg for the breakage by hiding behind our moat.  

This is all boiling to a head across Europe. 


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Sacrificing one's colleagues for the sake of the party

The Labour leadership election is the gift that continues to give; the weekend saw the Corbyn alternatives calling on each-other to quit for the sake of the party, demonstrating once again that true socialism means sacrificing anyone for the sake of the party except oneself. The masks have slipped, revealing Burnham to be a dull and unimaginative placeman, Cooper a bitch with a face like a sack of rivets and Kendall a calculating opportunist. Only Saint Jeremy rises above the petty squabbling with an air of serene innocence. 

The old Mentalist emerged to plead with the party to preserve his legacy of economic incompetence, political inadequacy and bigotry by voting for the incompetent, the spiteful and the inadequate; the dour old son of the manse urged the party to eschew populism in favour of dull, uninspired pseudo-worthiness as exciting as a Sunday in Llandrindod-Wells in 1933. Having bottled the only election he even stood a faint chance of winning, no doubt the party gave the old Mentalist's counsel due regard. 

And on the radio today the historic Welsh windbag demonstrated that age and senility had not robbed him of the ability to talk for eight minutes and say precisely nothing. It is actually almost impossible to recall a single word he said, let alone ascribe some meaning to it all. If the bloke was ever hauled in front of an expenses-nabbing tribunal he'd walk free; the most rigorous cross examination could not elicit a scruple of meaning from his blather.  

And we've still got three weeks to go ...

(Apols for the lateness of this post - the interweb died overnight and a rather useful little chap in India had to rouse a BT engineer from his pit at 5.15 this morning to attend to our local junction box)