"Things Need To Change"

The barbaric and godless agents of Jihad brought murder and mayhem to our Capital's streets again last night. As the texts came through to the dinner party I was at everyone’s thoughts were immediately with our kids, family and friends living in London. At some point most of us have walked across London Bridge, most of us have had a drink in Borough Market. As the days pass, many of us will be not many degrees of separation from people who were there or have been killed or injured. Again, we were lucky that the attack was close to major trauma hospitals and the Met were simply outstanding in dropping the terrorists within 8 minutes of the first 999 call. The attack could have been worse, and it again it may prove to be the case when the full details are released that we were lucky in that the full horror of what was planned was not executed to it’s fullest potential extent. 

It was encouraging to hear Theresa May say this morning that, "We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change….” Is this perhaps the “moment of collective recognition,’ to which I previously referred when as a nation we get serious about the Islamist threat rather than leaving it to for the police and security services to deal with and hope we will be okay? I hope so. Action on a broader more public perspective is overdue and the blame lies mostly on the shoulders of politicians across the spectrum who have refused to engage and debate the problem of extremism. Some of these politicians should take these mass murders as a reality check and confront some of their past decisions and their bovine intransigence exhibited when matters of individual liberty are in conflict with the safety and well being of society as a whole. Are you listening Nick Clegg and the rest of the cloth-eared Guardian reading muppets who put their arrogant ill-thought out high-mindedness before good ordinary common sense? We are not in a school debate; we are effectively, at war.

Maajid Nawaz talks to Fox News about Islamist extremism and the bigotry of low expectations. In the discussion, Maajid also argues a case for why his fellow liberals should stop saying this has nothing to do with Islam.

To that end, there are one or two immediate steps the government of the day, (whoever that might be from Thursday), can take to offer the public reassurance and I am sure that the Home Office is working on tweaking things like the Prevent policy as I write. A good place to start would be to listen to what some Muslims are suggesting. As obvious as it might sound, half of Westminster has been listening to the wrong, mostly self appointed, ‘leaders of the Muslim community,' and the other half haven’t been listening to anybody. Some, like former Islamist Majeed Nawaz have however good and logical advice to offer. We must listen and act.

For what it is worth, I think it would be a comfort to the wounded from all terrorist attacks to be told, “you are innocent casualties of war. As such you will be entitled to the full support of the State. If you choose to do so, you may elect to be fast tracked in your treatment and rehabilitation onto the military system. You will have access to the full range of medical services, doctors, mental health specialists and rehabilitation centres as you require them and you will enjoy priority access to those services for your lifetime. You will be eligible for full financial support and enhanced disability pensions with immediate effect and for the rest of your life.” Military medical services have not always been what they might have been but by the end of the Afghan engagement they were pretty slick and the work done at Headley Court, (soon to move to Stanford Hall in the Midlands), and Help for Heroes Tedworth House and Phoenix House Recovery centres provides an awesome state of the art rehab package. Moreover, any military charities who wish to offer support will be given exemption by the Charities Commission so to do. Such actions might seem trivial and disingenuous to someone lying in a hospital bed after multiple operations but in time, it might be seen as a meaningful gesture and would be well received in the country. It would also, as a statement of intent, send a message to all and help enfranchise the population in our purpose which is to defeat the terrorist.

The attack last night showed the kind of coordinated planning which was always likely to evolve from past attacks. There will be more. The suddenness, shock and brutality didn’t end last evening. The knife / machete /sword attack is much favoured by Islamists with multiple examples in the Middle East, China, the USA, Canada and Germany. Indeed, the campaign in Israel has been termed the ‘knife Intifada,’ by Hamas. Sharp blade attacks are bloody and they are terrifying. In so much as the ordinary decent citizen may be in a position to defend themselves, lets look at some elementary principles which may have value in a survival situation.

As with most incidents the citizen should be aware of the attack planning cycle, (described in this 2014 post).  Terrorist attacks incidentally are rarely spontaneous. They usually go through a distinct six stage attack cycle which includes planning and reconnaissance. Appropriate awareness of your environment can help citizens spot terrorist surveillance with things or people that are out of place, suspicious and which may represent a threat. This also represents an obvious vulnerability to the terrorist. Whilst a knife attack may be an attack of opportunity rather than one that has been planned, reconnoitred and rehearsed, there may nonetheless be ‘tells,’ that suggest someone is acting suspiciously and may be about to launch an attack. Look for unusual or erratic behaviour that is out of place. If unusual posture, tenseness, a fixed stare, agitated or nervous behaviour, perspiration or actions that suggest the person may be ‘high,’ on something then lift your ‘situational awareness,’ to your highest state of alertness.

For a knife to hurt you you must be within arms length of the bad guy. The sooner you anticipate trouble coming the sooner you can put distance between yourself and the assailant or prepare to defend yourself. As I describe in the previous post, while the art of ‘ situational awareness,’ is easily learned and practiced few people bother. Why indeed should they have needed to for most of their lives? For most it is just something one does when in unfamiliar environments or, for example, at night in a badly lit street. Staying ‘ switched-on,’ though is simple, costs nothing and could save your life. Do not for example, wear headphones when out and about. You just won’t hear the bad guy coming. Obviously, the victims of last nights attack had no warning but the next attack may differ in its methodology. 

The best defence against a sharp blade attack is to stay out of range. Always run not fight if you are able. For lethality, the assailant must get to within 3-5 feet of you. If you are cornered with no exit, prepare to fight and fight hard as some very brave individuals, including a police officer, did last evening. Throwing any objects to hand at the assailant may buy you priceless seconds or indeed deter the attacker. Bar stools, chairs, tables in fact anything that can keep space between you and the assailant should be used, as indeed they have been in a number of well publicised attacks elsewhere. Self defence training is obviously a help. Most though will not have that training and will be scared. Easier said than done but if you can keep your head and commit then your life chances increase from zero to possible. In such an attack you are most likely to be cut, slashed or stabbed. It is critical that you do not lose the will to fight and survive at the first sight of blood. In a frenzy, the cuts are not likely to be fatal. Giving up is. If the emergency services get you to hospital alive you will most likely live. 

LB4.png

If the bad guy has closed in on you do not attempt to grab the knife or machete. The grievous resulting wounds will likely incapacitate you. It is vital to get control of the assailants knife hand or arm. You may consider that getting right up close and personal, inside the arc of the arm, is safer than being at the tip of his weapon and opens up your options in using your heels, head and teeth. Remember, your aim is to survive and buy time until people can come to your aid. 

Citizen Aid App

Citizen Aid App

If you are cut or are with wounded souls then providing the attacker has left, apply first aid. Remember, the amount of blood is not correlated to the seriousness of the injury. It will very likely look much worse than it is. Most bleeding can be stopped with the application of pressure and elevation. An arterial wound, (spurting), must be treated immediately. A friend of mine died in just a few minutes from a small wound to the femoral artery after a bomb blast. Act and act fast. Learn how to make and apply an improvised tourniquet. Attending a first aid course is a good idea but at the minimum, please consider downloading the Citizen Aid app which contains advice on life saving first aid and is written by military and civilian trauma specialists.

In summary, nothing in life can prepare you for a frenzied knife attack. To do nothing is to die. If you can buy time, just seconds, it may save your life. The earlier you identify a threat the more time you will have; practice situation awareness. Be curious, be aware and trust your feelings. The most valuable thing you have, as any survival instructor will tell you, is the will to live. Have that and have it in spades and never, ever, ever give up.

The Enemy Within

We have heard the 'Manchester Spirit,' quoted a great deal this week. I must admit, I'd never heard of it before. I last visited Manchester a couple of years ago. While there I wrote an irreverent and tongue-in-cheek blog post but decided not to publish it because it was somewhat disparaging about a place that I do have a degree of affection for. Here is an extract of what I wrote,.

"I spent a couple of days in Manchester, (pronounced "Manchest-Orr"), this week. Wednesday was apparently the hottest day of the year; it rained all day in Manchester. It is in fact many years since I last visited and the place if anything has become more glum than ever it previously was despite its attempts to sell itself as being “cool.”.

Manchester abounds with people who look either like Liam Gallagher or as if they have just walked out of a young offenders institution, (I think many have). The rest give the appearance first thing in the morning of having done half a row of optics in three pubs the night before and there is barely a flicker of enthusiasm anywhere except in the electric trams hurtling back and fore. An early near miss with the Eccles tram on Market Street in fact alerted me to this new urban threat..

I quickly picked up on the idiosyncrasies of the locals who mostly say "eye-yoh" instead of hello and "c-yoh lateoh" instead of goodbye.  An additional linguistic hindrance is the inability of the populous to pronounce the word car correctly, instead sounding like a deranged and demented parrot being put through a wringer. Most of the girls appear with the same hairstyles, the same clothes and many are rumoured to all have the same husband. Husband by the way is loosely defined as someone who is "avin-yoh" and who need not actually be married "2-yoh" to qualify for this role. Most Mancunians tend to like spending their annual holiday in places like "ayanap-oh" drinking lots of "larg-oh."  .

While there I bought a birthday present in Selfridges only to find on return home that the security tag was still in place. I suppose the shop assistants must not be in the habit of having to remove many. I wasn’t an early fan of the City Mayor idea but Boris has turned me. Manchester badly needs a personality to pull it together and help it rediscover it’s soul which is deeper and richer than the sum of a bunch of night clubs and the BBC, dragged kicking and screaming to Salford by the last government.".

How terrible then that a night of indescribable pain and suffering brought to bear on the most innocent of innocents by a barbaric murderer should be the catalyst for the deep and iridescent soul of the City to find itself and shine through. As was the case after the Arndale Centre bombing by the Provisionals, Manchester is more united and in a better place as a community but at a cost which is obviously not worth paying. The many acts of individual and collective kindness in the immediate aftermath, and since the tragedy, are a fine example of people pulling together in the worst of times. From taxi drivers to local residents and passers-by, hoteliers and business owners who threw their doors open to the distressed and disorientated, to the homeless man who rushed in to give first aid to casualties. All are Samaritans and an example to the rest of us. (I would not though, recommend removing nails, glass and shrapnel from the wounded as the well meaning homeless fellow did; just leave it there for skilled surgeons to deal with)..

This was the incident when our luck ran out. A 'big one,' has been expected for a long time, ever since 7/7 in fact. That it happened in Manchester, a city with the resources and skill-sets to deal with a major incident is better than it happening in, for example, a medium sized city or market town. The grievous casualty list  could have been worse had the perpetrator entered the arena itself. Instead, he detonated the device, or it accidentally detonated, in the waiting area, just before the security entry point. This is similar to the Brussels Airport bombing where the terrorists detonated the device in the soft area before security. This has implications for security planners and for the rest of us. At a minimum, we can expect further disruption, queues and waiting when entering any crowded events for the foreseeable future.

The challenge for the Security Services seems overwhelming. Some have been quick to criticise them this week but when we learn that five terror plots have been disrupted in just the last two months and that there are 500+ active investigations drawn from a pool of 3,000 suspects with a further 23,000+ 'subjects of interest,' the scale of the task at hand becomes clearer. When one considers it takes in excess of 20 operators to do covert surveillance properly on just one target the size of the challenge is self evident. Remember too that for some of our Security Service personnel their lives are at constant risk. They live and operate in the dark shadows to keep the rest of us safe. Most of their stories will never be told. Perhaps some stories will see the light in forty or fifty years time, (as was the case with Bletchley Park), but most secrets will stay secret. They do what they do out of a sense of duty and responsibility to do the right thing. Collectively, we ought to be just a little more appreciative and thankful for their service, sacrifice and courage.

Investigations will be following many strands but a priority will be to determine if the bomber manufactured the device himself or if there is a bomb maker on the loose. Making a bomb is not difficult. The ingredients for TATP for example, which was used in the 7/7, Brussels and Paris attacks, (and is rumoured to have been used in Manchester), are easily found in most household kitchens and ladies make-up bags. An electrical circuit, initiator and battery complete the package. The biggest hurdle for the would be terrorist is in making the decision to commit to the act. A separate specialist bomb maker however, is a game changer because it suggests that bomb making may evolve in sophistication. The good thing about DIY bombers blowing themselves up is that the evolution stops there. While acts of terror perpetrated by 'lone wolf,' individuals are difficult to predict, terrorist cells give the security services a slightly better opportunity to penetrate them. However, the numbers of jihadists out there are a concern given, if they ever got together in numbers, our problems would grow exponentially. In Belfast in the early seventies I wouldn't have thought there were not many more than 50 or 60 PIRA 'volunteers,' with perhaps 300 'runners,' behind them. At the height of the Troubles, they tied up 16,000 soldiers in Belfast alone.

So, where does this leave us?.

The incident was followed by a well worn and choreographed sequence of announcements, pronouncements and platitudes designed to arrest any sense of public panic and foreboding and to encourage us to be nice to one another whilst remaining alert for anything untoward or unusual happening around us. Given the aim of the terrorist is to murder and maim, to instil fear and to create divisions in society by their monstrous acts, the public script is fine in as far as it goes. I fear though, that as a society, we are some way from the moment of 'collective recognition,' when we become more demanding and questioning of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. .

If seventy-five of our young and unprotected citizens being shredded by high velocity 'shipyard confetti,' isn't a wake up call then it is worrying to think what kind of escalation will bring about a meaningful change in our efforts to confront home grown terrorists. Were it not so distressing for the families I sometimes think some of the images of the aftermath of a bombing should be published to bring some people to their senses. President Trump was eviscerated by social media when he introduced a travel ban to the US from some countries yet we allow the free movement of 'persons of interest,' between the Middle East and the UK. The Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, returned to the UK from Libya via Turkey just four days before the attack. TPIM's, (Prevention and Investigation Measures), should be strengthened and Control Orders, which were pushed back by the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in 2011 should be reinstated. Personally, I would drag Nick Clegg by the collar around all the mortuaries in Manchester and make him apologise to the families of the victims. 

The 'Prevent,' strategy also does not deserve all the criticism which has been thrown at it. It requires more resource and probably, some more imaginative and creative thinking but it is a start. The war against Jihadists will be with us for 100 years. We are in the early days of this conflict, at least domestically. As a society we by and large rub along together reasonably well given the enormity of change which has been forced upon the natural population in the last two generations. Certainly, we have problems but less so than some of our European neighbours who are seemingly culturally less well equipped to deal with the challenge. We are after all, despite what some may believe, something of a bastard nation in terms of our historical DNA.

Op Temperer, which saw soldiers deployed to release police officers for other duties was a not unreasonable thing to do for public reassurance and PR but nonetheless, leaves informed individuals with a slight sense of unease. There is no possible way that an armed 19 year old soldier will react with anything like the degree of professionalism, in the public domain, that one would expect from a trained police firearms officer, (many of whom are anyway, ex Army and are trained to a very specific and high degree of training for those very difficult environments and situations). That doesn't mean that soldiers cannot do the task. It means they have to be trained for it rather than for general warfare. In a previous post in 2015 I criticised the low numbers of available trained armed police officers. We need more. Here is what I suggested,

"The basis of national confidence in our response rests on 22 SAS. Even with a sub unit based in London though, they can’t be everywhere. Even if they could be within 45 mins of every town in England, 45 mins is too long in these situations. I think the Home Secretary and Chief Constables have no choice but to radically upgrade fire arms training and arming of police officers across the UK. To send an ordinary unarmed beat officer into one of these situations will have only one outcome. In mitigation, it is very difficult to acquire and move around automatic weapons in the UK. The police are very skilled at interdicting plots before they get to maturity and especially when working with GCHQ, 5 and 6 it is not easy for terrorists to plan and execute operations. It isn’t impossible though. Cuts in the numbers of police officers should be suspended immediately. Military support should not be considered by the COBRA committee after a bad thing happens but the committee should start planning on that basis now.

What does that mean? I would nominate two infantry battalions or Marine Commandos for Home Defence, one operational the other resting and training on 4 week rotations and rotate the battalions with others every 12 months. The operational battalion would be dispersed in platoon sized sub units across the UK, each with a serving or retired SAS or SBS instructor with a section on short notice to move 24 hrs a day. Their aim would be simple; in the event of a terrorist attack their task is to rapidly deploy and kill the terrorist. I would rebuild the old Northern Ireland ‘Tin City,’ to suit current scenarios, ie shopping malls, theatres, spaces for large groups and train both police and soldiers relentlessly. This is not a game, when this new enemy get in their stride the casualty list climbs by scores every minute. They do not negotiate. Speed and aggression are paramount. Our current intelligence and Special Forces based response is not commensurate with the threat. Many would recoil at the inclusion of military assets as part of normal support to the police but these are not normal times and this is no ordinary enemy. The safety and well-being of ordinary citizens is much more important that what column writers in the Guardian think. Anyone thinking that such a plan is excessive may wish to consider how we would deal with a four man fire group letting rip at the Metro Centre in Gateshead two weeks before Christmas. Thought so. I’d mostly be calling in the Commanding Officers for their briefings right now."

Street poets and liberals who think a declaration of love and some hugs are going to keep our children safe are misguided, delusional or are just barking mad. The bad people are amongst us and are intent on bringing us harm. We need to ramp up the resources we devote to anti terrorism and do so with the same unfettered determination which the US did with their creation of Homeland Security after 9/11. Any talk or debate with an air of 'we will not let them change our way of life,' is simply detached from reality. Here's a newsflash, life changed forever on Monday evening in Manchester. The quicker we get with the programme the fewer victims we will be burying. Moreover, and despite the efforts of the good people who stood up when they were needed on Monday, Manchester and it's new Mayor need to admit that the Manchester area is a key hub in the UK for Jihadist sympathisers and activists. It has a problem and it needs to first admit it, then deal with it.

AMERICAN PUBLIC INFORMATION FILM ON RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. THERE ARE MANY SUCH VIDEO'S AVAILABLE, MOSTLY FROM THE US. HERE IS ANOTHER, THIS TIME FROM LA WHERE I GUESS THEY HAVE HAD PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD.

Finally, for individuals going about their normal daily routine, I do think this old post , from which the clip above comes, about situational awareness and personal security is worth revisiting for those who have a care.

 

 

 



 

Selective Memory

Ed Balls says abolishing the nom-dom statuses would be costly for Britain In an interview on BBC Radio Leeds in January,

I’m not yet sure if I should feel uplifted by the bountiful entertainment we receive daily through election campaign mishaps or if we should feel dispirited and dismayed that some of these utter buffoons might actually get elected on the day and god forbid, some of them might end up with the keys to something important.

Labour are of course leading the way with a daily car crash and this morning’s furore over non domicile residents is especially notable. In the spirit of “knock out a quick policy announcement, grab the headlines and don’t worry about the detail,” Labour did just that this morning and it was all going swimmingly until someone had the temerity to look at the detail. The whole nonsense has been unravelling ever since. First we discover that Ed Balls in an interview with Radio Leeds in January said, “If you abolish the whole status it will probably end up costing Britain money because some people will leave the country.” Quite.

Shabana Mahmood chucks some keroscene on the flames

Then we discover that Labour has befitted from some £12m in donations from non-doms various. Ed Balls appears to have gone missing from the airwaves and his aides have been stumbling through interviews making up more stuff as they try to make sense of the mess they've been abandoned to.

Quite frankly, I care as much about non doms as they do about me which is very little indeed. The problem here is that Labour are running an election campaign based on envy. If it doesn't fail, as it deserves to, then the economy will certainly do so in quick time shortly afterwards.

Here’s a take from my chum Marcus Ashworth at BESI,

It's the Equality stoopid... this election is coming down to two words Economy vs Equality. And I defy anyone who says this is all dull, it's a right humdinger and to misquote Samuel Johnson if you are tired of this election then you are tired of life. Golly even the sainted Nicola Sturgeon was booed as she made clear that the 2016 Holyrood election SNP manifesto would likely include a call for another independence referendum.

All the rules are being broken as Bliar is wheeled out from his political banishment despite the Labour manifesto writer John Cruddas being really rather rude about him only recently. UKIP rather enjoyed Europe having its five minutes but surely the man who tried to give us the Euro and doesn't trust the hallowed British public to make up their own minds is an odd ploy for Miliband who has fought and expects to win an election on a very clear rejection of everything New Labour? Maggie died 2 years ago so what next? My how things have changed since her time as the Marxist Kraken awakes from its slumbers.

Europe and Bliar were sharply shoved back in the closet though as Red Ed lives up to his moniker by promising to revoke something that goes back to Pitt the Younger. The Tories have already pointed out that Labour is not really going to revoke non-dom status as 1. They have no clue how much it would raise (or much more likely in the law of unintended consequences how much it would end up costing us all) 2. Would only apply to those who stay for more than 4 to 5yrs (cue a little spell abroad and hey presto I’m back under a new guise).



Soak the rich class war is the only platform Miliband has left under his Equality drive - Labour is utterly moribund under anything to do with the economy but no amount of further CEOs of FTSE100 companies signing letters is going to influence what is fast becoming the most divisive election since the war (Attlee was a silent assassin). The politics of envy are to the fore and logic is the car crash victim but Miliband has never shirked from believing that the lessons of the GFC are that the moral reprehension so ably stoked by the BBC/Guardianista bien pensant is a major vote winner and hang the inevitable consequences.
 

Ed sincerely believes it is his mission to change the UK permanently and finish the job Gordy Bruin so nearly achieved. So much for the canard that all the major politicos are alike as Farage trumpets - we have a red in tooth and claw old-fashioned socialist and he wants to alter a country near you. As does his new chum north of the border with her "have it all" message to Scotland that by voting SNP you get rid of Cameron and subsequently the Sassenachs entirely. By definition the 55% who voted for the Union in Sep should logically thereby vote Tory? Unfortunately that is a leap too far sadly methinks.

By rights Cameron should be walking away with this election but Crosby has kept him on a tight leash as he stood by and let Sturgeon and all the other left-wing rabble get away with unmitigated economic illiteracy that makes a mockery of all this coalition has achieved in averting the head on car crash that Gordy drove us towards. Clegg had his chance to be remembered favourably for his unheralded sterling work that kept his unhinged party from ruining the really quite radical work of the past 5yrs.

Unfortunately he has chosen to pick and mix selective memory - if he loses Sheffield Hallam it will be the ultimate irony for the man who petulantly reneged on the Boundary Commission changes - the egregious bias that might really usher in a Miliband Govt. We can't expect Labour to have any shame but any such Admin will be founded on a lie and as with the inevitable consequence of an ending of the Union as the prize that Sturgeon/Salmond will wreak as their prize for supporting a Tories out at any cost mandate then I guess we will really get what we voted for. It's life Jim but not as we know it...

 

Scottish Independence; Ahmm wee word, Mr Cameron....

The kind of backfire that Mr Cameron is currently experiancing

When I mentioned in my last post that PPE at Balliol hadn't prepared the policy wonks and advisor's in Westminster for the General Custer, "Where the fxck did all those "Yes" votes come from?" moment I had little idea that I would be so quickly validated by the pointy headed clowns.

We discover today that messrs Cameron, Clegg and Milliband are sufficiently in melt down mode that they've binned Prime Minister's questions tomorrow and are all off to the North "to listen." 

“There is a lot that divides us – but there’s one thing on which we agree passionately: the United Kingdom is better together. That’s why all of us are agreed the right place for us to be tomorrow is in Scotland, not at Prime Minister’s Questions in Westminster. We want to be listening and talking to voters about the huge choice they face. Our message to the Scottish people will be simple: ‘We want you to stay.’”

Crumble's interpretation of that statement is, "oh bloody fxck, fxck, fxck bloody fxck. I'm not going down as the one with his name above this fxcking fiasco.......... book the fxcking tickets - I do humble better than anyone else, I'll go and beg."

Wee word Mr Cameron, and even I down here can figure this out. The 'word on the streets' is why only offer 'extra powers' now?

The Yes campaign are being very quick to point out that that was one of Salmond's original requests for the ballot paper.  He wanted 2 questions on it - 

1. Should Scotland have more devolved powers? - The 'Devo-Max' option.
2. Should Scotland be an independent country?

Cameron was emphatic that there would only be one question - a straightforward IN/OUT - YES/NO question and no more powers would be devolved whatsoever!

It's backfired a wee bitty hasn't it?

We love our neighbours

From a friend in the Highlands,

"It's still close - but I'd put the Yes voters in front of the No's for now. The people just don't seem to trust (with reason in many cases) anything Westminster says anymore which is why there has been such a big swing in the polls..... To be perfectly honest, even I am wavering a bit now too! ..... I don't believe what Westminster are saying anymore either, so it's going to be interesting to see what this 'package' of new powers consists of. All 3 Westminster parties have their OWN agendas and ideas on what they should be and leaving it to the last minute to cobble 'something' together that they ALL agree on, certainly doesn't fill me with confidence....."

New Powers to Scotland

I remain of the view that the last thing Salmond wants is full independence; the Devo Max thing will do just fine. In fact, no one is probably flapping more than he is at present at the prospect of actually having to get a spreadsheet to add up that can't and won't ever do so and it wouldn't surprise me if he was paying for Cam's tickets. Whilst though, we are all hoping for restoration of level headedness when Scots voters peer over the abyss in a Quebec moment, the Westminster team may well be playing this wrong at the crucial moment. Fighting Celtic emotion and passion with repressed English emotion and passion will not help. The loss will just be bigger. I understand they have to take action and be seen to be taking action but they must rely on presenting mature arguments and logic and leave the Scots to make their own minds up on that basis.

A reflection of the level of panic, and stupidity of 13 year old advisor's, is the decision to fly the saltire over Downing Street from today until the referendum. However well intentioned, it's just a very visible sign of the wheels coming off and won't go down to well elsewhere in the Kingdom where people feel they're just rubbing along as best they can. 

Aye Pods

Aye Pods

David Cameron has been on holiday every three months since he became Prime Minister and only on one of those has he been to Scotland, (Jura). Not withstanding my own views about that kind of idleness perhaps the time to show an interest was in August or perhaps at Easter. He and his parliamentary colleagues are in fact in danger of making a bad thing worse. That's it, if in doubt throw more kerosene on the fire Mr Cameron, pass the bucket.

Rotherham; Lacking Leadership

Rotherham; Abdication of leadership

Let's stand back from the continuing furore for a moment and reflect on what our political leaders have said on the subject,

"                                                                                                                                                         "                                                                                                                                  David Cameron

 

"                                                                                                                                                         "

                                                                                                                                  Ed Milliband  

 

"                                                                                                                                                         "                                                                                                                                    Nick Clegg

That is just an astonishing abdication of leadership promulgated I have no doubt, by pointy headed PPE policy wonks, Australian and American media guru's and Boss-suited electoral consultants. You can hear them now, "Well, best to say and do nothing in case you are tainted politically in the minds of the swing voter in the key marginals just by being on the same news segment. We'll get you on Marr this Sunday and you can do the reflective, mature statesman thing....................."

I'm afraid gentlemen, it won't do. It won't do at all

One more thought. The media are on their traditional witchhunt for the odd responsible individual to resign. My more radical contention, (see below), is that central government needs to sweep in and take over with the sort of special measures to reform and rebuild that are successfully applied to schools. The scale of the cover up however, has been so vast that I can't help but wonder if organised crime might be sitting behind some of this. I'd mostly be sending the National Crime Agency up there to have a look see....... just in case.

beggers belief

 

 

Clegg The Ungrateful

 

Nick Clegg's Political Career Takes An Unexpected Turn

After a weekend of bluster Nick Clegg has failed to appear in the House of Commons this afternoon for the Prime Ministers statement on on the EU treaty. Aides say he didn't want to be a distraction. Poor lamb.

Like it or not Clegg is part of the government and should be there; the deputy prime minister can't cherry pick only the fluffy warm user-friendly announcements that he wants to be associated with. In fact, Clegg has done himself enormous damage this weekend. Flip flopping between different views doesn't sit well with voters who, like and agree with them or not, prefer men of conviction and loyalty. Clegg meanwhile is displaying all the characteristics of a political and moral coward and in effect is ensuring his own political end.

What he may have failed to appreciate is that if Cameron had gone along with the treaty, the subsequent referendum would have kicked the EU firmly into touch in the UK and the subsequent and inevitable general election would have signed off himself and the rest of his lie-down-and-cry party into deep oblivion for a generation. Cameron's act of defiance therefore was in fact in the Liberal's best political interests.

It is anyway a common talking point amongst Liberals that Clegg will get the heave at the next general election from the good people of Sheffield. He may find that the EU commissioner job he was pencilled in for is off the scorecard now and so should it be. 

The best thing that Clegg can do is to man up and stand firm for the government and for Britain. If it alienates his party members then so be it. His only alternative is immediate resignation. Any compromise between the two will leave his reputation and future in tatters and regardless of what some of his more naive colleagues and flapping BBC journo's may think, the same will be true of his party's electoral prospects.

 

Out of Touch and Out of Time

 

 

Global markets have been in turmoil for a month. A precipitous drop at the beginning of August was followed by a rally that clawed back much of the losses only to again see them wiped out in the first few days of September. This instability will continue until there is robust political leadership, especially in Europe which, for the moment, is ground zero for markets.

Here in the UK we are under the illusion that, apart from some local stock market turbulence, we're in no way as bad a shape as they are either on either the Continent or the US. I wouldn't be so confident. 

The UK consumer is only a couple of rate rises away from total meltdown, business is being strangled by high taxation and a banking system that is locked down. The middle class, however much Clegg and his chums may hate us, are the engine of the economy and we're being hammered like never before. I have to earn for example, £1,000 a month before tax just to pay for my rail ticket to London; that's insane and unsustainable.

The thing that worries me most however, is the complacency of government. We are two steps from crisis and our leaders think nothing of taking three week holidays and popping home to take the kids to school. Exactly what planet do they live on? Whereever it is, it's an alien place to the rest of us. 

The expected bonfire of the quango's and slimming down of government simply does not seem to either be happening or have any urgency about it at all. For example, the disclosure that over 100 quango heads have pension pots worth over £1m leaves me apoplectic with rage. How in the flying fuck does the head of the Olympic Delivery Authority have a pension pot of £1.354m?; the bloody thing was only conceived a few years ago. There I was expecting to see entire government departments scrapped but all we seem to get is more creative ways to asset-strip the productive members of society.

Last September, I wrote this,

"Still, while he salves his fluffy conscience there are a few issue to deal with back home. This is no time for either Cleggie or the Prime Minister to be doing photo opportunities, going abroad, taking holidays and what the whole paternity leave thing is all about I just don't know. They should be working night and day.

Just to remind them, we have a crisis here and a sense of urgency is required........ right now. Ambling along is not good enough"

The British Government have an opportunity to get on and get things done while Europe is burning. When Europe is finally squared away, and it will be, markets will turn their attention to the UK and at that point, being less bad than the worst will not be good enough.

At this point though, they are venerable to being out of touch and out of time.

If they want a starting point and guiding principle for cutting government spending here it is, (thanks to Grant Williams of Things That Make You Go Hmmm):

Pythagorean theorem: 24 words
Lord's prayer: 66 words
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
Ten Commandments: 179 words
Gettysburg address: 286 words
US Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
US Constitution with all 27 Amendments: 7,818 words
EU regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words


Libya; Who's the Nutty One?

Libyan Rebel

As the engagement in Libya rolls on, it may yet dawn on some of the self obsessed minds in Whitehall that this thing may be a wee bit more complex than the initial wheeze it might have seemed to their PR orientated minds. Obviously, our coalition government has a plan so cunning that only a fox could spot it which would explain why I, not being a fox, am completely confounded. We've discussed before, here and here, what madness it is for the UK to be involved in Libya and events have moved on.

Having dispersed with the usual niceties of having diplomats shuttling all over the place trying to find a diplomatic solution before committing our forces, we went straight to weapons free as a result of a backroom deal cobbled together at the UN by a disparate collection of diplomats. The British people now find themselves, without any national debate, embroiled in a complex problem that I'm convinced our apparent leaders only have scant, if any, appreciation of. 

David Cameron & Nick Clegg discuss Libyan Intervention

 

The whole thing is an ill advised and poorly thought through shambles, which has all the ingredients to morph into a complete catastrophe.

I've been loitering over at Think Defence and I repeat here some comments I made there about where we now find ourselves. 

Consider the following:

1. What is the national interest of the UK here?

2. Germany, a key NATO member, is on the sidelines.

3. …. so is Russia, who are happy to see the West embroiled in yet another middle eastern op.

4. The Italians, who have the greatest national interest in Libya are on the sidelines and hedging their bets; ie, their airfields can be used, (for the moment), but their forces are not engaging.

5. What exactly has all this to do with NATO, has it become the armed wing of the UN now or just a convenient cover for some countries to legalise their offensive ops without declaring war?

6. Where did the Arab League disappear to? Bet none of us saw that coming did we…..

7. Who is actually making the calls on the operation now, what is the aim and what is the exit plan? No, I didn’t think so….

8. Has anyone bothered to explain the risks involved here to civillian population in the coalition countries of a terror strike by Gadaffi agents?

9. Can we run a concurrent and potentially much larger op in the Gulf if trouble kicks off there, and where our real national interest lies?

10 Odd that the French, who took what they suggested was the moral high ground in Iraq, should be so aggressive in leading the Libyan campaign…….. why though, are we trotting after them?

11. The loose, and temporary, affiliation of rag tag rebels are only advancing because they are backed by billions of pounds of the best military technology on the planet. At some point, boots will be required on the ground, if just to maintain order when Gadaffi is swinging from a lamppost. From where will they come?

12. It’s not news that the rebels include AQ fighters. Gadaffi was happy to send some of the more fundamentalist elements in the East to Afghan over the past ten years. Now they’re back, how do we feel about supporting them?

13. Isn’t this one operation where the Chiefs could have turned round and said, “On this occasion Prime Minister, it might be an air bridge too far?”

14. Interesting too that the Sherman’s are stepping back by refusing to countenance arming the rebels or committing ground troops. They’ve also sent the USS Enterprise back to the Red Sea. They are definitely on a direct path to let Europe deal with this. We’re going to be left holding this orphan baby and it’s not ours.

15. At the moment, we’ve succeeded in helping to disperse lots of arms all around the area which have been looted by the rebels from government arms dumps. These include, just to keep us on our toes for the next twenty five years, hundreds if not thousands of shoulder launched air defence missiles.

16.Potentially supplying arms to a disorganised rabble with no command and control, no logistics and no training will not help to eject Gadaffi. We’ve seen in the last 24 hrs that the rebels turned tail and legged it down the road at 80mph, not because they needed more arms but because they’re crap and didn’t know what to do when someone had the temerity to shoot back at them.

17. Meanwhile, a king sized problem is brewing in Yemen where things are very close to kicking off but nobody is taking any interest. Thing is, AQ do have power and influence there and could easily slip into any power vacum created by instability.

18. Our key national interest in the region though, remains firmly focused on Bahrain and Saudi. Instability there, under Iranian influence, would create massive problems for the UK and actually, the whole global economy. 

Anyone normal citizen, who doesn't spend most of his time talking to the media or policy advisors will be well aware there is no groundswell of public support for involvement in Libya. Whilst no one has any sympathy for Gadaffi there is no resonance from the public who, at the least, question the unnecessary cost involved. EUReferendum has some interesting numbers, and a few other pithy facts in posts which HMG may find somewhat unsettling in the event they listened to anyone other than the BBC or Sky. 

 

The whole sorry situation brings to mind a speech that Cameron made on the deck of Ark Royal, shortly before he promptly scraped it. After grandstanding about the Covenant, Drake and Nelson he said,

" It is time for us to think again about how to make our country safe, how to project power in the world, how to look after our national interest, and how to make sure we are secure for the future.  That is what we should do."

 Getting into his stride of fairy tale make belief he then went on to say,

".....it is time for us to rewrite that Military Covenant, to make sure that we are doing everything we can for you and your families at home, whether it is the schools you send you children to, whether it is the healthcare that you can expect, whether it is the fact that there should be a dedicated military ward for anyone who gets injured or wounded in Afghanistan or elsewhere."

 Well, I'm here to help so here's an idea Prime Minister. Instead of loosing off Storm Shadow missiles at £1m a copy in a country where we have no business being, why don't you throw some cash at whichever genius came up with this, so we can get our lads out of wheelchair's....

 

 

Clegg & The Land of Make Believe

UK Conservative / Liberal Coalition

So, taking us a stage further in the Politburo's new Five Year Plan, Cleggie's latest new idea is to impose Cable's old idea of a "Mansion Tax," on us.

Here's a newsflash for the Liberal's and the supine Tories who are giving way at every turn to their junior partners; we're already being taxed down to asset stripping levels and there's a limit to how much you can hit people and for how long.

With tax at 50%, national insurance at 1%, employers contributions at 12%, (rising shortly to 13%), we are already at the stage where for every £1 earned 63p is lifted by the government from the employee and employer.

Moreover, with VAT at 20% and fuel running at 141p / litre, (fuel was cheaper when oil traded at $150 / barrel), households are becoming very hard pressed. Obviously, utility bills, local taxes and food inflation are adding to the misery but the key point is this......... anyone who thinks this is a package for growth is smoking something that isn't legally sold over the counter.

With inflation at 5% in the UK, growth deteriorating and government debt at wartime levels, and still growing as a share of national income, we are in a world of pain. In the Alice-in-Wonderland Fairy Land that the Liberal's inhabit they clearly believe they can go back to the middle class piggy bank whenever they have a new point to prove to their own constituency. That though, is changing.

We are getting perilously close to a negative inflection point in the Laffer Curve.

A growing number of people of my acquaintance are chucking the towel in and opting for early retirement or legging it out of employment to become self employed to work as sole traders, on their terms. The incentive for getting out of bed at 5am, commuting and working for 12-14 hours a day is fast losing it's shine.

This obviously is lost on Cleggie boy, not that he's paid much credence to working hard anyway, having instructed his staff not to pass work into his red box after 3pm.  If he worked in the City, which he so despises, he'd be fired on the spot for idleness, not fulfilling his contract and bringing the company into disrepute.

Clegg can spout bollocks about his "work, life balance," because he doesn't have to pay for it; we have that pleasure.

Instead of engaging in wars we have no business participating in, and where there is absolutely no national interest, the quicker we have another election and give these muppets a wake-up call the better.  

Liberal Agenda for the Coalition

Sense of Urgency

Apparently our Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been in New York this week, speaking at the UN and promising hundreds of millions of pounds to continue to subsidise civil wars in Africa. I'm sure some of that money will trickle down to the needy but time and again it's proven that aid is not the answer to Africa's many problems........ free markets are.

Still, while he salves his fluffy conscience there are a few issue to deal with back home. This is no time for either Cleggie or the Prime Minister to be doing photo opportunities, going abroad, taking holidays and what the whole paternity leave thing is all about I just don't know. They should be working night and day.

Just to remind them, we have a crisis here and a sense of urgency is required........ right now. Ambling along is not good enough. The only man in the cabinet who is displaying grip is Eric Pickles; the rest spend their time being nice to one another whilst unleashing Vince Cable to placate the liberals by switching on his random word generator of a brain, thereby diverting any residual flak from journalists.

Public sector net borrowing overshot at £15.9bn last month which was the largest deficit since record began in 1993. For the moment, international lenders are giving the UK the benefit of the doubt but if there is any slippage on delivery of the cuts they will react ruthlessly. The result will be higher borrowing costs which will be unhelpful, to put it mildly.

It'll All be Over By Christmas

In a day when more nonsense about Defence fills the newspapers, "Britain and France to share Carriers," (what are we going to do, time share the bloody things?), Nick Clegg pops up in Camp Bastion to reiterate the 2015, "it'll all be over by Christmas statement."

As I live and breathe I have no idea what goes on in the minds of these idiots. How can Clegg announce with such certainty that,

"We have been very clear, we have put a full stop at the end of our engagement," Clegg said. "By 2015 there will not be any British combat troops in Afghanistan."

Apparently, thats going to happen because,

"The choice (for the Taliban) is this: they can either carry on fighting ... or they can put down their arms and recognise the Afghan constitution, they can turn their backs on al Qaeda and they can play a role in creating a stable Afghanistan."

Well Mr Clegg, much as I dislike raining on your parade Terry Taliban might have other ideas... then what? Many have already observed that these silly pronouncements of "end dates," started by the US over recent years, may be interpreted by political advisors as showing a firm political hand but to anyone connected to the real world they just sound childish and naive. Critically, they give succour to the enemy; he's just been given a four year timeline for victory.

This is all very reminiscent of Nixon's, "Silent majority," speech of 1969 in which he announced the process of Vietnamisation and ultimate US withdrawal. Nixon indeed succeeded in withdrawing US troops but his speech to some also marked a decline in Army morale, when conscript soldiers began to realise that if they died or not, the result would be the same.

What might be of interest to the British public Mr Clegg, is if you might have the courtesy of explaining just why you believe that the,

"the military campaign in Afghanistan is "turning the corner."

It's just the rest of us are sitting blind in what is one of the most under reported engagements in our history, yet the casualty numbers continue to rise alarmingly. We could all be mistaken for thinking that we're stuck in a quagmire there and no one has the first clue how to extract us from a situation which is far from improving.

That no one is able to clearly articulate why we're still there and exactly how we are going to put in place national institutions which are brand new to a medieval society, when it took us in this country the best part of 300 years to do the same, to enable our withdrawal is simply not acceptable.  The 400 or so young men, at current rates,  who will die between now and 2015 deserve much, much more.

Perhaps the best thing that could happen to some of those dead men walking is that they are chopped on paper by the forthcoming Defence Review, long before they step on the plane. There is a strong and lingering distaste though, in watching Mr Clegg exploit front page photo opportunities with troops shortly before he and the rest of his tofu munching friends achieve their long awaited ambition to stick the knife into Defence.

.. and this Mr Clegg, is mostly what I'll be inserting sideways, if you touch my Regiment..

Liberal Jedi Mind Trick

 

One of the few uplifting moments of the whole election debacle was in it's aftermath when we enjoyed watching the tortured introspection of the kafkan, sandel wearing tofu munchers wondering how it all went wrong. It went wrong Cleggie boy, not because the electorate lost their bottle but because they eventually saw through your Alice in Wonderland manifesto. (Is it just me or is Cleggie beginning to adopt the mannerisms and voice characteristics of our future King, no not you Cleggie - sit down boy). Now, having given them a kick up the backside and put them in their rightful place as the third party, we now have this ridiculous comedy of us all being held to ransom by the Liberals whilst they hide like cowards behind the, "for the good of the country," cliche. Bollocks. If they cared about the country they would compromise instead of following self interest and get on with stabilising the nations bankrupt books.

Here's a newsflash for Cleggie and his dispirit band of cry babies; this country doesn't want the sort of electoral free for all that leads to the sort of coalition government that occasionally blows up in Europe. Insofar as I've noticed, my wife isn't called Bella, I don't eat pasta every night and I don't drive a Fiat whilst honking my horn and running over any innocent pedestrians. I'm English and the Tories have a majority of one hundred seats in England; we've made our mind up and if we were treated equally with Scotland and Wales the Liberals would be out on their arse. We don't need lecturing and the only reform we need is for equality.

If anyone can explain to me why a schoolkid from Surrey can't get into Edinburgh University but an Italian or Spaniard can then I'm all ears. It's a wonder people aren't out in the streets with their pitchforks as one particularly irritated friend has suggested.

In fact the Liberals have done a Jedi Mind Trick on the media who are trotting along lapping it up. As always, they are making a meal of events, especially the print media, before events to return to normal and they resume their inexorable decline in circulation. 

The optimal outcome for the nation is to restart the LibLab bus which will drive straight off the cliff within months, we'll have another election and the Tories will return for ten years. Unbelievably, the only person emerging from this nonsense with any credit is Brown, the British love a good loser although there are those who suggest he will only leave when sectioned under the Mental Health Act.