Thursday, 30 September 2010

English & French Military Alliance

It's the year 1415 and the English have just routed the French at Agincourt despite being outnumbered twenty to one.
Very impressive even if the French troops were masterminded by King Charles the Mad, a man who believed he was made of glass and who forgot which side he on was during one battle and killed 8 of his own soldiers before being overpowered and held down by his knights until he fell asleep.
Not the toughest foe we ever crossed swords with but the English and the French have a proud history of pounding each other.
Almost 600 years on from Henry V hacking his way across Normandy, the French and English are considering combining military forces in a new alliance.
Due to drastic military cuts in both the countries, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy are to meet up in November to discuss the possibility of a shared Anglo-French nuclear deterrent.
It is an idea that has been mooted before but has proved so politically explosive both here and across the channel that it always forced the politicians to backpedal faster than footage of a Tour de France cyclist on 16x rewind.
Things are different now though with Dave slashing things like a posh Freddie Kruger on speed and admitting that although he wanted to replace our aging nuclear deterrent, "one had to adjust one's sights" to achieve it.
The little englanders may moan but there are far worse countries we could be getting into bed with in a military sense. That said there are far better countries also but Switzerland wouldn't want us trampling all over their pristine alps with our muddy boots.
Of course the ideal would be we scrap the nuclear weapons altogether and spend the billions on proper things instead but why would either place need hospitals when we can both have some gleaming new weapons we won't ever use rusting away on a submarine in Brittany or Southampton instead?
Maybe we can arrange some more closer ties with the Frenchies. We lend them some decent musicians and actors in exchange for them teaching us that wonderful ability to not give a rats what anyone else thinks of them.
As Henry V said 'Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more'
As Charles the mad said 'Don't stand so close, I've just been polished'.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Labours back

It was always a somewhat bizarre feeling that i helped get the Conservatives into Government.
I was one of those who couldn't bring themselves to vote Labour so voted Liberal Democrat instead who then went and used their new found popularity to get the Conservatives into Downing Street.
Now we are stuck with the last thing we wanted, David Cameron and his rich boys running things or rather running down things. It if isn't nailed down they are looking to cut it or stop it altogether. Oh well, only another four and a half years to go.
I am a Labour Party voter by rights but after the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, there wasn't a peg strong enough to allow me to vote for Blair or Brown but now Labour is back again with a new leader and all of the Blair brigade swept away.
I don't know much about Ed Miliband, he sounded like a Labour man in his initial speech where he received a roar of approval with the line 'We must protect those on middle and low incomes. They did nothing to cause the crisis but are suffering the consequences'.
A poll put Labour a point in front of the coalition and once the cuts hit at the end of October, when it is put into action the severe cuts to public services, there is a very real chance that the demonstrations and public outcry could bring down the coalition and force another election.
With the Lib Dems as a party now almost obsolete thanks to Clegg tying them to the Tories star, Labour would be in the perfect position to get back in power with all the bad remnants of the last Labour Government washed away and a fresh new cabinet with a proper Labour leader.
I'd put up with 12 months of Conservative rule for that so maybe the voting Liberal will turn out to be a great decision by those of us who gave voting Labour a miss last time.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Answering Irish terrorism

The threat level to Great Britain from Irish-related terrorism has gone from moderate to substantial, meaning an attack is a strong possibility, the Home Secretary has said.
Right, we have been here before and we know exactly how to deal with this.
Firstly we need a snappy name, something along the lines of 'Operation Kick the Mick' and then take out the Irish Government because as George W Bush said 'we can't distinguish between terrorist organizations and governments that harbored them'.
As the IRA have been hanging around Ireland for decades, the Prime Minster Brian Cowen and his gang have obviously not doing anything to root them out.
A coalition of the willing would be good, no need for any UN backing or that nonsense. I expect the powerhouses of Albania, Estonia and and Macedonia will be up for another adventure. If we pretend Ireland has oil there we can guarantee the Americans signing up as well.
We will need some Apache helicopters and a few high altitude bombers to hit whatever they like. Weddings and groups of civilians fleeing always seem a popular choice for our crack top gun boys.
Keep it up for a decade or so, smash the country with bombs and pollute it with uranium from the weapons and then withdraw stating that we have won while leaving the country in a mess and even more of a danger than we found it.
A tried and tested response to terrorism so what could possibly go wrong? Load up those 500lb bombs lads and Dublin is that-a-way.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Flotilla Report Published: Israel Lied Shock

The Human Rights Council have published the results of their fact finding mission into the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of Gaza bound ships in May, and i expect the words 'anti-Semite' and ‘bias’ to be bandied liberally about by Israeli apologists.

Let’s take a seat and marvel at how the cargo was checked by three independent authorities and sealed before it left Ireland and how the seals remained intact when the ship was boarded by the Israelis. Not arms smuggling as the Israelis accused.

Be amazed at how the insulting references by unknown persons referring to ‘Auschwitz’ and the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York which the Israelis said were transmitted to them over the ships radio by the flotilla are dismissed by the HRC as 'fabricated' and 'no such statements were made by anyone involved in communications on the flotilla.'

Gasp as it reports 'live ammunition was used from the helicopter onto the top deck prior to the descent of the soldiers.' Included in the fatalities was a man 'using a video camera and not involved in any of the fighting'.

Shake your head with dismay when you read how 'Israeli soldiers continued shooting at passengers who had already been wounded' and how 'forensic analysis demonstrates that two of the passengers killed on the top deck received wounds compatible with being shot at close range while lying on the ground' and how 'none of the four passengers who were killed on the top deck posed any threat to the Israeli forces' and reaches the conclusion that 'under the circumstances, it seems a matter of pure chance that there were not more fatalities as a result' and deciding that 'Israeli forces carried out extralegal, arbitrary and summary executions prohibited by International human rights law, specifically article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights'.

Sob at how 'a number of passengers were injured or killed whilst trying to take refuge inside the door or assisting other to do so'.

Feel ashamed at how after the Israeli forces has taken control of the flotilla, they meted out 'physical abuse of passengers including kicking and punching and being hit with the butts of rifles.'

Shift uncomfortably as you read about how at the processing centre in the Israeli port of Ashdod one 'Greek national, was dragged along the ground for some distance and then surrounded by a large group of Israeli officials who proceeded to beat him severely, including the deliberate fracture of his leg' or how a passenger 'was seen having his arm twisted behind his back by police to the point that the arm broke.

Weep at how Israeli authorities stole 'laptop computers, credit cards and
mobile telephones and how 'stolen credit cards were later used to purchase items in Israel'.

Nod in agreement at the conclusion that 'there is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
• wilful killing;
• torture or inhuman treatment;
• wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.

And they will have us believe that Iran is the dangerous one in the Middle East.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Difference of opinion on Blair

What a week for Tony Blair. At the start of it he is dodging eggs and shoes while cancelling book signing sessions for fears of rioting in his own country and by the start of the following week he is receiving yet another yankee medal and being applauded by an American audience.
Not sure what that means about the British and the Americans but i can have a stab at it.
Now we all know American Governments have always liked a spot of armed conflict and we know Tony was always up for a bit of sending the guns in so they seem a perfect match for each other.
As for the British and American citizens view of Blair, he is detested here and seemingly loved over there.
The lowest ratings of any Labour leader ever, he was bounced out of power by his own party and is unable to even make a public appearance in his own country out of fear for his own safety.
For a lot of Americans he is treated as almost a hero for exactly the same reasons that made him so damned unpopular here.
Possibly the Americans population in general are more up for a war than the Brits who seem to have moved into the pacifist, some might say appeaser, camp.
Another reason may be because the Americans are unaware of the blatant Blair lies that were offered up and dismissed in the lead up to the Iraq War. Nukes became WMD's which became WMD programs which became UN resolution breaking and ended up as he was a tyrant who at some point in the future may have nukes, WMD's & WMD programs.
Another reason could be that Blair was gullible enough to give the Bush & Clinton Governments the fig leaf of cover they needed in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, three conflicts that can be diplomatically called highly dubious at best.
Whatever the reason America keeps hanging medals around the mans neck, he is more suited to American way of thinking than British and the truth is he should probably stay over there because all he will get here is more eggs, shoes and abuse whenever he shows his sickly grinning face.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Defending HMRC

Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs have been having a hard time of things recently over yet another foul up over the tax system. This time they took too much tax from 4 million people and not enough from 2 million.
Apparently they have a new system and worked out two years in one go and discovered all those that had slipped through the net.
My take is if you had been paying too much tax for the past 2 years, you obviously had not noticed otherwise you would have been on the telephone screaming at the Tax people to change it when you got your first pay packet 24 months ago. Greet the news as an unexpected bonus and spend it on something nice.
If you had not paid enough tax for the past 2 years then i'm glad that they have finally caught up with you and now you will be paying your fair share like the other 36 million of us. As the repayment is going to be spread over a couple of years and paid back through your tax code it is quite a good deal and if you owe less than £300, it is being scratched off anyway.
The problem seemed to be that employers and employees didn't inform the tax office of any changes so the codes never got amended so its a bit rich to be moaning at HMRC for not making the changes when they didn't know about them in the first place.
Nobody likes paying tax, i moan as much as anyone when my payslip arrives, but it is a necessary evil to allow the Government to keep things going and to quote Frankie Boyle, those Afghan wedding parties won't just blow themselves up.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Fighting recession Russian style

When times are tough world governments come up with some novel ways of boosting the coffers.
They have tried taxing windows, beards and tea but people just blocked up the windows, shaved off their beards and threw the tea into the Boston harbour.
What they need to do is tax things that people can't go without hence why petrol, cigarettes and alcohol is so heavily taxed.
Of course Governments have a responsibility to look after their voters so they pretend that the tax hikes are for our own good so we consume less but in reality they want us to use more so we create more revenue, only they cant say that. Or at least most can't say that but the Russians don't seem to have a problem with it because the finance minister is urging Ruskies to smoke and drink more.
He explained that higher consumption would lift tax revenues so that more could be spent on social services. “People should understand, those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the State,” he said.
I have a feeling that this might not be a long term solution but at least in a few years time they will save a bundle on state pensions.
Gordon Brown likes to tell us that he saved the global economy with fiscal responsibility but maybe what was needed was some social irresponsibility and the Russians are leading the way.
Smoke, drink and be merry comrades for tomorrow you will literally die but at least the Moscow library can afford some new books now. If only everyone wasn't either too drunk or laid up with emphysema to get there.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Blair: Bumpy Journey

I suppose somewhere inside Tony Blair's little mind there was a thought that he would write a book putting his side of events and everyone would say 'Now that i have read it, I've been completely wrong about this chap all along'.
Did nobody within his rapidly shrinking circle of friends think of taking him to one side and whisper to him 'Tony, everyone thinks you're a dick, stay indoors' because somebody should have.
It is hard to think of anyone except that American bloke Russell Brand labelled the 'retarded cowboy' who would generate such ill feeling if he turned up to sign copies of his book.
The suggestion was that Blair began his book signing tour in Ireland because they would be the most welcoming and unless the traditional Irish greeting is being pelted with shoes and eggs and crowds of people screaming war criminal at you, he got that fantastically wrong.
If Ireland was the best place to go, Blair's dry cleaner must have pound signs spinning in his eyes because he is going to have to hire some extra staff for when Blair comes back to the book stores this side of the Irish sea.
Hilariously, shoppers have been moving copies of Tony Blair's memoir to the Fantasy
sections of bookshops and although i haven't read it, or plan to read it, the bits i have seen being discussed on the television, the fantasy section is truly where it belongs.
On an interview on the BBC he said if he was still top banana, he would stop Iran militarily from gaining nuclear capability, regrets banning fox hunting but would do everything the same again in Iraq. He looked very uneasy when the host of the Irish TV programme ‘The Late Late Show’ spent the entire interview picking apart his argument for the Iraq War. Not as uncomfortable as he will feel in the fiery depths of hell where he is heading obviously but uncomfortable enough.
Tony, a word in your ear mate, you're a dick but don't let it put off your book signing tour.
The shoes shops and egg farmers are banking on you helping them survive the recession.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Iraq: Was It Worth It?

That's that then. After 7 years, 5 months and 12 days, the Iraq War is over. Everyone else left a long time ago but today Obama formally marked the end of the combat mission and the American troops are going home.
So did Iraq become the 'dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region' as President George W. Bush envisioned in February, 2003?
It isn't easy to measure just how successful or unsuccessful the Iraq War was but the usual question asked is 'are the people better off now at the end of the war than they were at the beginning of it'?
A civilian death toll ranging from 250,000 to a million, another 2 million internally displaced, oil production below its pre-invasion level, homes enjoying fewer hours of electricity, daily deaths and kidnappings with suicide bombers reaping havoc would appear to say the Iraqis are no better off.
If we measured the war effort in terms of what would have happened if the invasion had not been launched is pure speculation but we can assume Saddam and his sons would still be in power. How much of a threat he was to us in 2003 has been highlighted by the Chilcot inquiry where it has been borne out that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein before the invasion in 2003 was low. The no-fly zones, sanctions and weapons inspections were holding Saddam in his box. He possessed no weapons of mass destruction, had no programmes running to implement chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and his military was a pale shadow of the 1991 force that invaded Kuwait. In all probability if the invasion had not gone ahead, we would be in the same position in 2010 as we were in 2003. A weak and beaten leader with hardly a military capacity to his name.
The war could be measured in how much safer the World is today. Al Queada bombings killed 45 in Riyadh, 25 in Istanbul, 190 in Madrid and 33 in Algiers. British born suicide bombers angry at Britain's role in the Iraq War killed 56 in London. Countless other attacks have been thwarted either by intelligence or sheer luck as in the case of the Glasgow Airport attack when the jeep packed with propane canisters got jammed in the glass doors.
Al Queada has dispersed around the globe and Osama Bin Laden is still at large and taunting the West with sporadic audio messages.
Tony Blair was forced from office by his own party, George W Bush was a global hate figure and America was alienated from its allies.
At a cost to the UK and US of almost a trillion dollars and 4500 military personnel, Iraq did not become a beacon of democracy, nor did it create a domino effect that toppled other regimes in area and the Iraqi people may not be under a tyrants rule, but are worse off in every other respect. The World is not a safer place and the UK's and America's reputation for human rights has taken a beating that will take years to rectify.
It does make you ask, was it all worth it?

Lucy