Saturday, 12 September 2009

Golden Age Concerns

A fusillade of blank bullets is the final salute to the recently deceased Golden Age in which we have lived since it was ushered in by Attlee's government over half a century ago. Blank bullets because the MoD is billions of pounds in debt.

A symbolic salute because it has been A Fool's Golden Age. When the benefit society was launched we were poorer than we had ever been in our history. The war had left us deeply in debt to America, a debt that generous country insisted should be paid back immediately, thus achieving one of its war aims which was the destruction of the British Empire.

I do not complain about the notion of a Benefit Society. It was that rare thing in politics, a generous gesture, and I have benefited from it.

My great-grandfather was so rich he bought a separate house for his children and hired servants to look after them. Thanks to an unwise marriage, my grannie ended her life living in one room in Moss Side, sharing kitchen and bathroom.

Since I became eighty I have had Rolls Royce medical service and am still visited regularly by district nurses. I have pensions which meet my needs; I qualify for an an attendance allowance; my TV licence costs me nothing; I am not charged for chiropody treatment, optical examination or medical prescriptions. I have a disabled pass which entitles me to park almost anywhere and the key to disabled lavatories, worldwide. Thanks to the Internet, I am in touch with my circle of much valued chums. Grannie's only sources of entertainment were her books and the accumulator powered radio. The Internet is my club, my shopping centre, my research library, my concert hall, my Citizen's Advice Bureau and my secondhand bookshop. I can listen to the radio on it, watch TV programmes and write blogs and books.

Sadly, the talentless crew who run TV networks are only creative in assessing their own salaries. The technology over which they have no control is brilliant, the programmes they air are not. They are largely repeats. Happily, viewers have at last tumbled to this confidence trick.

ITV1 and BBC1 suffered their worst ever month of ratings in August, whilst Channel 4 clocked up its poorest score for 25 years as viewers turned off lack-lustre summer schedules on the main networks. ITV1 pulled in an average all-day share of just 15.15% for the whole month, eclipsing its previous worst figure of 16.1% in July. BBC1 also had its worst monthly all-time share, at 19.51%. Channel 4 had a share of 6.47% for August, down on its performance in August 2008.
Predictably the talentless ones have found a new way to waste millions. Not by making better programmes. They say they cannot afford that. We will soon be able to switch on High Definition making it possible to watch programmes we have demonstrated are not worth watching on old- fashioned TV.

For all that, as Oscar Wilde observed, I am dying beyond my means and I wonder if my grandchildren, nay, my children, will be able to boast a similar end-of-life style?

I can remember when our policemen were wonderful, when politician were honourable and when the House of Lords was staffed by gentlemen. I can also remember music. How different are things now. The tribal chant has replaced music. The nation's dpoctors have signed on o crew the ship of fools. They say we can cure a our feral young of binge drinking by banning adverts. I wonder how many were encouraged to become drug addicts by adverts.

Moonlighting MPs have admitted their spare time jobs are bringing fifty times the average salaries of their constituents. Yet in hundreds of pages of submissions they made to Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. they expressed continued resentment at the public's anger over the abuse of expenses. They continued to argue that they should be allowed to sell taxpayer-subsidised homes at a profit; insisted they should be allowed to employ family members. One backbencher said he should not even be required to submit receipts for expenditure and claimed: "This makes MPs into petty accounting clerks."

Only nine MPs responded to a consultation on the siting of eco-towns and none responded to consultations on human embryo research and compensation for crime victims.

In one thing the MPs were correct. They have done nothing wrong in charging excessive expenses. Their crime was much greater. They passed the fraudulent legislation that made their claims tenable. Every MP who voted yes should be barred from office.

The banks which all but wrecked Western civilisation are using the money borrowed from tax payers to continue to pay themselves massive bonuses. Quangos proliferate, Council executives are wildly overpaid, though the services they provide are being reduced. We are committed to wasting more young lives in an unwinnable war to support a corrupt government which is incapable of ruling Afghanistan. The only thing our Establishment has learned from its mistakes, apparently, is that it can continue to get away with making them. Even when they accidentally get something right, they alter it to make it look wrong.
On inadequate evidence, that Libyan got a life sentence. Cancer has ensured he served it. Of course Brown did not want him to die in a British prison. Think of the excuse that would give the terrorists.
Brown denies he extracted commercial gain out of the repatriation. More fool him. A BP team were given permission to survey for oil of which the West stands in desperate need. If the agent's death has been parleyed into a new source of oil then those luckless passengers who died over Lockerbie have been martyrs in a good cause.

Parenthetically, the Scottish Nationalist Party is calling for Scottish Independence. I believe more Englishmen than Scots are in favour of this historic change. Scotsmen see the UK has been ruled by their fellow countrymen and are aware what a mess they have made.
The government policy-makers should spend some time reading Carl von Clausewitz. Echoing the great 19th-century Prussian military theorist, nation-building advocates must always keep in mind that military strategies are formulated to reach political outcomes, and not the other way around.
Mr Brown, who has achieved the impossible by being an even worse prime minister than his bloodstained predecessor, has recently given a superb example of this kind of muddled thinking. He says we cannot leave Afghanistan until the Afghan army is able to hold the country against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. That means a revival of the Hundred Years War. I have a friend who has earned his living writing about wars from the Falklands on. He knew most of our generals when they were junior officers and keeps in close touch with them. He has close ties with our Special Forces. He recently sent me this email:

“............The problem is the politicians who will not listen to the generals, brigadiers and colonels on the ground. The soldiers are patrolling day after day and returning exhausted and have to leave the ground - even that just outside their bases - to the enemy. The Afghan Army cannot be trusted and the police are a fifth column. Another brigade will allow the British Army to do what it does best and that is fight and dominate ground at night while the Special Forces of the SAS and SBS can be inserted deep, deep into the badlands - assuming, of course, they have the helicopters - to attack the leadership and the real bad boys in their own midden. The technology for calling in air strikes is so advanced nowadays that the Special Forces can call in the raid and vanish without having to fire a shot themselves. Boots on the ground mean that the soldiers can watch for the bombers and either deal with them themselves or call in a drone or Apache or even an American B-1 bomber. Another brigade and the proper number of helicopters and you will see a drastic downturn in casualties caused by IEDs. But the politicians won't listen and, if they do, won't do what they are advised. The days of Colonel Blimp are long, long gone. Today's generals are incredibly clever men as are the brigadiers. Most double their money in civvy street as soon as they leave the Army. To the politicians it is all about fighting war on the cheap. They don't cut off the money to the idle dossers who won't work or the leeching drug addicts who can't work through their own stupidity or the families of illegals who seem to have more rights here than the natives. Hard decisions have to be taken and if they want to win a breathing space to sit and talk the Taliban round - after killing off a few of the drug barons - then they're going to have to give the commanders the tools they need to do the job. The politicians don't seem to understand the cultural differences between the Afghans and their stone-age mentality and that of the West. Democracy in Afghanistan. That means doing what the Elders decide, not what some half-cock corrupt politician like Karzai and his cronies want as they skim off millions and zillions of foreign aid.

Mr Tory Blair, who ordered our youth into both Iraq and Afghanistan so he could sail to world glory on a sea of the blood of our children, has at least two children of his own of military age, but neither is serving. One, Euan, has led a gilded life, university, internships in Washington, at banks etc and the fat daughter who could also serve. Neither does. It also begs the question: How many children of the politicians who took us to war are in uniform? The answer - NONE. How many of the politicians who took us to war have ever served? Answer, you've guessed it, NONE.”

I don't think I can usefully add to that.