Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Defence Matters

The UK has a new Defence Secretary. Liam Fox continues in the role but on the other side of the House.

Out of all the appointments mentioned today this one concerns me most. Liam Fox, as shadow defence secretary, never performed better than average. His media interviews were composed of soundbites and no substance and often he seemed far more concerned that the public knew he had been to visit our troops in various parts of the world rather than address their concerns.

As you will gather I'm not impressed with Dr Fox. During the defence debate a few weeks ago he was dreadful. Even Bob Ainsworth made mincemeat out of him. Not a good omen for someone who has one of the most challenging portfolios in government. Dr Fox was a supporter of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as believing that military force is an option against Iran. He strongly supports NATO and is opposed to European defence integration (as well as European political integration).

In recent years he has been vocal in his opinion that the Military Covenant is broken and that the armed forces are being asked to do too much for what they are resourced to do. He has pledged to restructure the defence procurement process in the MoD and also stated that it would be a matter of policy to see Britain's share of global defense exports increasing under this new government.

David Cameron has, as promised, has set up a war cabinet in the form of a National Security Council and the initial meeting will be tonight. Details can be read here.

I remember Liam Fox's entrance to politics when it was mooted he was destined for great things. He had an enthusiasm about his work in those days and dare I say more than a little sparkle. It's my wish his enthusiasm returns. Our troops deserve the best from the government. Nothing less will do.

Bob Ainsworth shouldn't be a hard act to follow. I remember when he was appointed I was informed he had asked to speak to a group of senior army officers. The feedback I received was that he seemed a genuine person but continually referred to his lack of formal education throughout his talk. It's generally accepted he was promoted beyond his capabilities but no doubt he did his best. One rather nice touch from him is a message he left on the MoD's website.

Liam Fox has followed his example.


emiko said...

Hi Subrosa,

As an Ex Serviceman who has listened to Liam Fox talk and even had the opportunity to ask him some questions, I have to disagree with you. Liam Fox knows what is wrong within the MoD and the Military, and there is plenty wrong. To start with Defence Procurement, moving on to Tri Service co-operation between senior officers and most importantly serviceman welfare. From what I have heard Liam Fox has been spot on with where many of the problems lie and has good ideas to resolve them. In some cases (i.e. Defence Procurment) it will take time to resolve, but I am confident he is the best man in the cabinet to do the Job.

CommonDog (Ex Engineering Officer Submariner)

Mr. Mxyzptlk said...

Camerons watch now subrosa


I WENT into a public 'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, " We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, go away " ;
But it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, wait outside ";
But it's " Special train for Atkins " when the trooper's on the tide
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's " Special train for Atkins " when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap.
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, 'ow's yer soul? "
But it's " Thin red line of 'eroes " when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's " Thin red line of 'eroes, " when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's " Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's " Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! "
But it's " Saviour of 'is country " when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An 'Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

we will see how our Tommy fairs under Tory Hegemony

Fitaloon said...

I'm with you on this SR, I don't really rate Fox, I'd heard Ashdown was going to get the role and was pleased. It was not to be.

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

Liam Fox has been shadow SoS for Defence for years now- and regardless of whether you like the man, or his politics, he has had bags of time to descover the problems.

What the UK needs is a full time Defence Secretary, and Dr Liam Fox will provide this, and love him or loath him- he is regarded by Tory grass roots as a 'big hitter'.

I am pleased that at last we may have a Defence Secretary willing to defend his department from abuse in the cabinet. I am confident that Fox will be the militaries man in the cabinet, and not just the cabinets man in Defence department.

CrazyDaisy said...


Like you I am far from enamoured by Fox who sits in a safe English seat, perhaps because ordinary Scots wouldn't vote for him and his ilk.

To date the jury is out and awaiting a verdict, he must first prove capable and ensure Scotland receives it's fair share of defence spending before I will trust him.

Still serving - Blackcat!


subrosa said...

Emiko, I do so hope you're right. I've never heard him speak in any depth, I wrote from what I've heard and during the campaign I thought he was dreadful.

Yes he may know what to do but will he insist it is done? I very much hope so.

subrosa said...

Thank you Niko. Rhymes well it does. :)

subrosa said...

Ashdown would have been far better Fitaloon. What really is needed in the post is someone with actual experience.

subrosa said...

Well Dean, as I said he was regarded as a big hitter. He hasn't made any hits with me in recent times, far less big ones.

subrosa said...

Aye CD, we'll have to see if he walks the talk.

Mind you, credit to Cameron, he said he'd set up a war cabinet in his first week and he has done so Fox has to meet that kind of efficiency.

Anonymous said...

Awful man. I hope he is the first to go when it's reshuffle time.

Although I detest the idea of Cabinet members coming from the Lords (there is far too little democracy in the UK already with unlelected heads of state and a whole house of appointees and aristocrats, not to mention FPTP and whips), but I would have been happy with to make an exception for Ashdown, whom I don't like, but accept knows his stuff.

I suspect that he will be the Lords spokeman, and a junior minister in the War Department.

I hope that Fox defers to his knowledge and experience, because he has none.

subrosa said...

I take it you're not impressed either Tris. ;)

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, i suppose he's got what's his name, General Dannet to hold his hand.

subrosa said...

Oh he'll be there DL I'm sure.

Clarinda said...

I see he has worked in the civilian medical care system in the past and as Shadow Defence since 2005 - so surely that should have given him some inside experience - albeit that which he was allowed to see after Labour redaction tactics. I do agree that he comes across as soft - let's see what some real power and the promised 'war cabinet' does for his backbone. The Afghan and other areas of on-going and potential military action are too important to give to a duffer - aren't they....Portillo, Robertson, Hoon, Reid, Browne, Hutton, Ainsworth....hmmmm

subrosa said...

Yes he has Clarinda, he was a GP before going into politics and served with the TA I think.

Out of all you mention Hutton is the one who stands out as having a grasp of the remit but of course, he stood down. I'm sure he was well aware Brown wouldn't budge an inch on expenditure.

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