Monday, October 18, 2010

The Smears Against Liam Fox Must Stop

Well it didn't take the anonymous smearers to start having a go at Conservative ministers, did it? Yesterday, the Mail on Sunday carried a smear story against the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, alleging that someone, somewhere was apparently concerned about Liam Fox's so-called "partying" lifestyle. He was made out to be someone who spent half his life in nightclubs and there was an implication of some issues with alcohol. A classic smear story of which Downing Street spinners in the previous regime would have been proud. It's what they used to do to their own ministers - remember Ivan Lewis?

I would like to think that this smear story was placed by someone with no links to the government at all, but it's impossible to say for sure where it came from. I know Simon Walters well enough to know that it must have had some reasonable provenance.

Liam Fox has laughed it off and described it as ther "rufty tufty of politics". He's right to laugh it off - that's the best reaction. When I interviewed him this morning in his MoD office I told him I'd been asked to look behind the sofas for the Tequilla bottles. He roared with laughter. But he wouldn't be human if he didn't wonder who was gunning for him. Whoever it is, should be ashamed of themselves and they should realise that this sort of thing is not something anyone in the coalition should be indulging in.


Paddy Briggs said...

The decent and courteous exchanges between DC and EM at PMQs last week ought to presage a political world where issues not personalities are the subject for debate. But so long as the media brings rubbish like the Mail article that is wishful thinking...

Tony Butcher said...

I feel Liam Fox is very under-rated. He was by far the best party chairman in recent times.

His past work on establishing conservatives links with the U.S. has been impressive and so far he seems to be sticking to his guns (pls forgive the pun) at the MOD.

That fact that there are smears against him is probably indicative of the fact that some feel he is a power in the party and a potential rival/threat to those who seek greater power.

Overtiredandemotional said...

He's been around a while, speaks with authority, and seems like a human being, not a political clone. Perhaps we should expect nothing else?

Paul Burgin said...

There is the old adage to finding who is behind the smears and that is Qui Bono - Who Benefits? Whoever did this would also have form as well, although I have to admit that whilst I suspect one individual, it could equally be someone who is good at not leaving their fingerprints about :-/

trevorsden said...

I agree - but Fox has a tough job sorting out the MoD and as yet there is no evidence that the tough or indeed the visionary decisions are being made.

We cannot afford the fancy toys which the MoD aspire to and at the same time maintain the numbers of troops ships and aircraft.
This is a huge problem and we may well have to scale down the sophistication of our equipment. The super carriers are a case in point; we do not need ships this big and to have them the Chiefs of Staff have abandoned the rest of the navy.

We did not need sophisticated equipment in Basra - but we lost.

We lost in Basra and we lost in Sangin - under normal circumstances that ought to produce some radical change.
But no one in the whole of the political establishment, labour or tory, Fox or Cameron, nobody seems to have the vision to reorder our armed forces into something that is actually useful and viable.

Sean Haffey said...

Oh, go on, Paul, tell us. You know you're with friends here ...

trevorsden said...

PS - off topic (but showing the radical changes of thought that are needed) I see Huhne has announced the building of 8 new nuclear power stations. It shows that being in govt has forced the LDs to grow up.

On the downside he has ordered the building of 44,000 wind turbines around the coast. But probably their will not be anything like the available ships and equipment to build these.

FX Man said...

A fox should look after its own tail: Liam seems quite capable of this.

Twig said...

They outsource defence procurement to Tesco and leave the EU.

We could cut the deficit in no time flat.

Moriarty said...

Couldn't they cut down the number of MI5 officers to 5, that'd save some money. It works well enough in Spooks.

Jimmy said...

"I would like to think that this smear story was placed by someone with no links to the government at all,"

Oh you are funny.

Mirtha Tidville said...

It is a sign of how seriously Liam Fox is being taken in the circles of Government and he`s no Dum Lub luvver either!!..Expect more of the same but expect Fox to con tinue to rise above it..Interesting times

DespairingLiberal said...

Fox is obviously capable and strong-willed, which is why he comes under attack. I prefer him any day to that leering ninny, George Osborne, 5th Marquess Inbreedingshire.

On another security note, what are we to make of the new threat of Cyber-terrorism? I started trembling uncontrollably this morning when reading on the BBC that "up to 500 threatening emails a day are being received". Then I listened to more coverage. This "threat" information is coming from GCHQ. The "emails" turn out to be spam, phishing and malware-loaded web pages. What on earth can be motivating this hysteria? It obviously isn't the "threat" itself which entirely consists of low-level stuff, tinkering with websites and a program somebody designed to attack an Iranian power station. Which only worked because the people who ran it were dumb enough to connect it to the internet via USB!

Can it be that GCHQ (perish the thought!) are engaged in budget-defending at this critical hour for the nation? It would be too horrible to imagine our fate if some of those cushy well-paid senior civil servant roles in pleasant Cheltenham were to be endangered.

Never mind. I felt reassured this evening as the BBC interviewed Bill Gates on how to defend ourselves. The fact that the first useful step in improving security would be to remove all Microsoft products from your PC did not, strangely, come up.

trevorsden said...

Dear Mr Despairing Liberal -- what a load of toss.

I can only draw your attention to your friends at the BBC

The (Democratic) 'US homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano told the BBC that protecting against virtual attacks was a matter of "great concern" and something the US was "moving forward on with great alacrity".'

maybe 'Computer World' is a more reliable source?

'Security researchers at Herndon, Va.-based NetWitness Corp. have unearthed a massive botnet affecting at least 75,000 computers at 2,500 companies and government agencies worldwide.'

Tapestry said...

Liam Fox pointed out the risks for Russian rearmament two years ago - 1000 helicopters and planes, a new submarine fleet and 5000 tanks. Russia withdrew unilaterally from the Treaty limiting conventional weapons.

Many in the EU believe that sitting down and talking with Russia on mutual security each month will deal with the threat.

Fox might be unpopular with those who like burying their heads in the sand, and want to rely on the EU for all things.

It would be typical enough for such cowardly traitors to fight against him while hiding in the shadows. Cameron would do well to declare support for Fox, if he hasn't already. Trust is a rare and much prized commodity in politics, and Fox inspires it by speaking the truth as he sees it with conviction.

DespairingLiberal said...

Botnets are nothing new Trevorsden - they are nearly all aimed at either porn-spreading or credit card number obtaining. Nothing to do with national security - the NSA press machine in the US and the GCHQ machine here are just using these "threats" to justify budget for their departments. They are no more noble than the anti-virus companies who consistently over the last 15 years talked up the virus threat to ship software.

starfish said...

trevorsden - I agree

The cyber threat is wider and more insidious than our resident armchair strategist seems to appreciate

In a truly networked society the thing you attack is the network, not the nodes on it

These attacks are already in progress - anyone remember the Baltic State that was effectively shut down a year or two ago?

Whether that was a state-sponsored attack or amateurs is beside the point, it occurred and something similar could be calamitous for the UK. It is not even a matter of scale as one very direct attack can have a dispoportionate effect

It is also worth pointing out that this is not a recent development - the last government had its head in the sand about this, as in so many things

Personally I would elevate energy security to Tier 1