The fog of war
While I supported imposing the no fly zone on Libya, I did warn that once involved, we would bear some of the responsibility for what came next. I talked about the fog of war and how it clouds men’s thinking. Now we have bombed Gaddafi’s forces for three weeks, we have discovered that they are stronger than we thought and the rebels weaker. The UN resolution specifically prohibits ‘boots on the ground’ but we cannot leave the rebels to their fate so we are contemplating ‘advisers, ’ who will train the rebels to defend themselves. This sounds lengthy, expensive and dangerously like what happened in Vietnam 50 years ago. It’s also the very definition of ‘mission creep.’ I think the fog of war has already clouded our thinking beyond rational limits. And there are sinister rumblings from Russia’s President Putin, which concern me. Without the full and unequivocal backing of our NATO allies, I am afraid I think we should pull out.
Posted on 28 April 2011 by Richard Drax
Having an open border policy for EU members was a ridiculous idea in the first place. It was ideologically driven by those with no sense of history or pragmatism. Now Italy and France are complaining to Brussels about a massive influx of Tunisian migrants, which is making a mockery of the system. An open border policy would only work if the citizens from each country were equally well off, but the likelihood of that happening is nil. Instead we have yawning gaps in member country's economic prosperity and stability, where those with nothing will understandably do anything they can to move somewhere which offers a better life. By surrendering our borders, we have reduced the need to give emerging economies sustenance, advice and help. Chaos on this scale will, in the longer term, bring social and political instability.
Posted on 26 April 2011 by Richard Drax
The increasing irrelevance of AV
The more I read, see and hear about what's going on around the world, the more I realise just what a sham this referendum on AV is. Add to this the increasingly desperate, whining cries of the Lib Dems and you begin to wonder just what sort of country we do live in. Quite apart from the fact that first past the post has served this country well, there are many more important issues we should be debating and holding referendums on, not least our continued membership of the EU. The fact is that the Lib Dems can't win using our old and trusted electoral system because their policies are not accepted by the majority of the electorate. And the more they whinge about their predicament, the less people will vote for them.
Posted on 26 April 2011 by Richard Drax
The House of Lords is not a consolation prize
The war of words with the Lib Dems over AV does not fill me with much hope for the future. And now rumours abound that should they lose the AV vote on May 5th, they will be given a consolation prize, such as the reform of the House of Lords, to chew on. Certainly, I don’t think we should be rewarding failure – if indeed that is how things turn out – with more opportunities for constitutional meddling. The House of Lords was always intended as a revising house and that is what it should be. It is already over politicised. I fail to see how allowing the Lib Dems free rein on another precious institution will benefit the British people in any way.
Posted on 25 April 2011 by Richard Drax
The futility of war is perfectly illustrated by the untimely death in Libya this week of the English photojournalist and film maker Tim Heatherington, 42. Covering the attack on Misrata by Gaddafi loyalists, he was killed by an RPG, along with an American photographer. His unforgettable documentary film Restrepo, about a platoon of US airborne soldiers holding a forward firebase in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, in the face of insurmountable odds, was nominated for an Oscar and won the Sundance Film festival last year. His reporting from hellholes like Liberia and Sudan was always extraordinary and took great courage as well as great skill. He will be sorely missed.
Posted on 24 April 2011 by Richard Drax
Council 'non jobs'
I was aghast to discover, via this week’s Sunday Telegraph, that 4,000 new ‘non jobs’ have been created by councils since last May’s election. This was the first survey of Town Halls since the Coalition came to power and it showed that although most councils have reduced their overall staffing levels, 205 have created a total of 4,145 new posts – that’s more than 20 each. These are not - as you might hope – essential jobs concerning libraries or lollipop ladies or basic services for the very young, the very old or the disabled. These are for ‘walking co-ordinators’, ‘obesity strategy officers’, ‘woodland development officers,’ ‘healthy workplace coordinators’, and the like. So far, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary has described them as ‘self indulgent’ and ‘irresponsible’.
Certainly, with the local elections on May 5th, there is some politicking involved, where Labour-run authorities are cutting front line services and blaming the Tories. I can only hope that the perpetrators get found out – then thrown out.
Posted on 12 April 2011 by Richard Drax
Wind Power - the truth
The John Muir Trust - a Scottish environmental charity – has just reported that last year, Britain’s combined wind turbines operated at only 21% of their capacity. The Department for Energy and Climate Change also put out figures showing that the 3,168 turbines we have built contributed an average of 1,141 megawatts to the national grid last year – less than a single coal fired power station. Christopher Booker, who has long campaigned against the global warming industry, has calculated that taxpayers in the UK have paid a £1.2 billion subsidy – on top of the cost of electricity - for this miniscule contribution. We are signed up to an EU renewables target of 15% of our total energy by 2020 – hence the plans to build a further 10,000 turbines at a projected cost of £100 billion. Certainly, on past form, these turbines seem unlikely to solve our energy crisis. Once again, the unaccountable bureaucrats in Europe are imposing ludicrous targets on us – and costing us all money.
Posted on 11 April 2011 by Richard Drax
The butterfly effect
I never really understood the ‘butterfly effect ‘ – the chaos theory idea of how, when a small change occurs in one place in a complex system, it causes large effects in another. But the unfolding drama at Fukushima, where the nuclear disaster has today been upgraded to a 7 – the same as Chernobyl – is a perfect example. Shocked and horrified by the potential for an environmental catastrophe similar to Japan’s, the German Green/Social Democrat coalition has made huge gains in local elections. Last month, they captured the state of Baden Wuerttemburg (BW), where there are four aging nuclear reactors. BW had been a traditional supporter of Angela Merkel’s party for 60 years. Other states too, inspired by anti nuclear protests, went the same way. Therefore, as a result of events on the far side of the world, Angela Merkel’s German presidency now looks much less secure.
Posted on 9 April 2011 by Richard Drax
A dignified silence
Mr Clegg must be desperate if he's prepared to reveal his innermost feelings at a contrived interview to the Press. We read that he's been spat at, had dog dirt pushed through his letter box and that he cries to music and is not a punchbag. While I feel sympathy for the first two, I'm afraid Mr Clegg's outpouring had me reaching for the sick bag! Mr Clegg and others should learn that when you are in a position of responsibility, and privilege, you get on with it, quietly and with dignity. Leading is not a popularity contest, it's about standing up for what you believe in and taking the knocks from those who disagree with you with grace and humour. Mr Clegg's reputation, and that of his Party, was damaged after he misled tens of thousands of young people during the election over tuition fees. Now, his boast has come back to haunt him, and every politician in the land should take note that you must never promise what you can't deliver. Cynicism about politicians has grown, not because of a lack of integrity in the House, but because of the behaviour of some of those in it. Mr Clegg take note.
Posted on 7 April 2011 by Richard Drax
Another fine mess
Now it's Portugal's turn to beg for billions of euros from other EU members. Despite not being in the eurozone, I understand we are in danger of having to contribute to any future bail out, which some claim could be as much as £6 billion. I call on the Prime Minister to say 'No'. It's a much underused word, but it has a finality about it which is almost reassuring in circumstances like these. The EU edifice is crumbling, as I've always said it would, and now Portugal follows Greece and Ireland into the red. Only the other day, councillors in Dorset were debating cutting lollipop ladies and gentlemen, and here we are perhaps facing calls to prop up a eurozone country with billions of pounds. It's madness, and I hope a more spirited defence of our country and her people starts now.
Posted on 7 April 2011 by Richard Drax
I read today that we are sending more aircraft to bomb targets in Libya. This at a time we are also announcing thousands of redundancies across the armed services, which can't be good for morale. While I quite accept we have a huge deficit to deal with, and savings to make, I am concerned as we appear to be sucked in more and more to this conflict. What's so true is that it is easy to enter a war zone, but far harder to get out. The danger is that the more bombs we drop, the more will be expected from us if and when Gaddafi is ousted. And it's this post-conflict stage where the danger really lurks, as Iraq has so clearly demonstrated. This moral stance we have adopted will be have to be followed through, but can we afford it and do we want this huge responsibility when we are still heavily committed in Afghanistan and struggling financially at home? I don't think so.
Posted on 5 April 2011 by Richard Drax
Miserable little compromise
The Prime Minister warns us we could be sleepwalking into a disaster as the referendum on electoral reform looms ever closer. We could well be, but it must be remembered this was the price that Mr Cameron was prepared to pay to form a government and become Prime Minister. It's a big gamble and one the No vote has to win. If not our political landscape would change forever. The Alternative Vote is a horrid, grubby system, where you the voter lose out. Whenever Liberals bang on about fairness, you can bet your bottom dollar they are campaiging for a system which allows weak and flawed political ideology to hold more sway. Vote No in May, for this country's sake and yours.
Posted on 4 April 2011 by Richard Drax