Hapless. That's the only word to describe Des Browne, who I gather is known as 'Swiss Toni' in the armed forces. I have rarely seen a weaker dispatch box performance from a Cabinet Minister than the one the Secretary of State has just given. When you make a statement as a Minister you are supposed to reply to points made by the Opposition Spokesman. Des Browne answered hardly any of the points made by Liam Fox, most importantly the accusation that he had ignored Queen's Regulations which clearly outline that the decision on whether the servicemen and women should have been able to sell their stories to the press was HIS decision and not the Navy's.
Sky News has just pointed out several inconsistencies in Browne's statement and I do not believe he is off the hook. Up to now, I have taken the view that this is an issue which is not serious enough to warrant a resignation. However, all the people I know in the Armed Forces tell me that Browne's reputation is shot to pieces and they all want him gone. In the end, that's what will do for him if anything does.
Very hesitant performance, but I think he has just scraped over the bar of living to fight another day.
Whether he survives another week does rather depend on there being no cock ups in the next week.
Iain It works both ways.
You know Paul, "defending yourself at the Dispatch Box is very much like making love to a beautiful man. You grip it tightly with both hands, thrust ypurself forward and unload yourself, before meekly apologising at the ineffectiveness of the delivery".
Browne cannot go until the Report is produced...that is why Blair is keeping him or else it will look like Blair's departure is connected with the Report
Voyager, that makes sense. It's all about Tony. It always is. Diana's death. The Queen Mother's funeral. The Millenium Dome. The Olympics. Several layers of Man Tan and a dazzling white shirt to pose in front of a tank in Basra.
Everything's all about this monstrous ego, except ... except ... our troops coming home in a box. Then, it's nothing to do with Tony.
To think this inept buffoon is in charge of anything other deckchairs at Great Yarmouth seafront is a national disgrace in itself. The disgusting remark from Stephen Pound "The tabloids would have just printed 'sailors gagged' stories if they hadnt let them speak" sums up the total lack of concern this government shows for the truth or rationality. They SHOULD have all been publishing that headline as they SHOULD have been gagged as per the rules that exist. What utter nonsense.
Des Browne takes responsibility for the cock-up, wont go into the details of that cock-up, lied about the PM involvement (if opposition members knew about the PCC offers and therefore the dilemma of Mr Browne) it is inconceivable that No. 10 was not fully appraised of the situation.
We are left non the wiser as a result of his statement. The reputation of the armed forces remains in tatters and for him not to resign is an utter disgrace. Patrick Mercer hits the proverbial nail on the head; the government simply are not up a job they all wish they didnt have to do and are only doing because the PM refuses to accept reality.
I am sickened that Browne started his speech by reading out a list of yet more British deaths in combat when he doesnt even have the courage to resign.
If this doesnt show us we must bring our troops home now I simply do not know what will.
Joy be unbounded ! Hideous Hewitt is trying to justify the cock-up which Modernising Medical Careers is now becoming...
Check out this take on it..
A dreadful performance by this non entity who at last used the word 'sorry' but a bit too late.
As Liam Fox put it,' in a more honourable time' this so called minister would have resigned.
Labour.. Total sleeze and spin.Be gone with you.
Crikes..Patronising Patricia could do with a few 'sincerity tablets'..
She could at least TRY to sound as though she cares, even if she patently doesn't give a flying...
You Tories are pathetic.
I wasn't aware we lived in a military dictatorship, so therefore what the army think of Des Browne is not the issue. he's accountable to Parliament and not the brass hats.
In any case, you'bve only made an issue of this because you have absolutely cock all to say about Iraq and Afghanistan.
I'll bet bin Laden is backing Cameron
Well done Verity,
Sadly dead service men and women don't have a vote, so they're of no further use to Tony Blair.
Has anyone even seen him visiting the wounded in hospital?
Crispin Blunt also nails it. The country are behind our troops but not behind the government or this campaign. the troops know this and it must be appalling to know that loved ones are sacrificing their lives for this pointless war.
The covenant between country and the armed forces has been broken on mant levels and someone MUST carry the can.
He offers no excuse at all as to WHY he thought it was a good decision at the time which strongly suggests that the reason is not something he wants us to know.
YES !! Andrew Lansley is giving her a bloody good kicking. More !!
Funny - I thought that MPs, be they ministers or back-benchers were accountable to the electorate and I can't help feeling that the voters of the UK are no longer behind Tony Blair and his ministers...
...and why would Bin Laden need to back Cameron? He's already made Tony Blair look a complete idiot!
According to the BBC: "Ninety per cent of contributors to one popular Army web site say they have no confidence in Des Browne's leadership."
Has anyone even seen him visiting the wounded in hospital?
More Tory hypocrisy. If he was seen doing anything of the sort you lot would say it was all done for spin.
And, as for Crispin Blunt - he stands in the firm Tory tradition of Chamberlain, Douglas Home and RAB Butler: appeasers to the core.
In case you lot haven't realised there is a shooting war on between the enlightenment and the loonies. Running away from the frontline won't stop the fight, it will just bring the front line closer.
Why does he keep referring to the sailors and marines as "young people" the same as he would refer to schoolchildren, are we now sending schoolchildren to fight?
Is it not indicative of our times that less than 2 years ago ALL this bunch were re-elected?? God & France save us!!
"I'll bet bin Laden is backing Cameron"
That's because /everybody/ except you paid Labour shills is backing Cameron. Freak.
Pity so few people speak German nowadays. What did the ordinary German press/radio etc think of our Iranian adventure? THEY LOVED IT !!!! Thanks to Des, we (and especially the Navy) are a true laughing stock - and today just compounded it. No control, no management, just abject grovelling - this is truly a Government at the end of its tether (and lifetime). But no resignation - no siree- might just show a hint of honour. Didn't see Gordon Macavity on the front bench, either. Just wiener Prescott; probably because he has experience...
I think if he resigns over this issue it is a worry.
If you look at just this issue - exclude all other defence related ones - then yes he should resign.
BUT are you saying that a Secretary of Defence should resign over the fact that two service personnel made a bit of money and the MOD and UK Armed Forces looked foolish... YET a Defence Secretary does not have to resign because of lack of equipment, some of which resulted in deaths of servicemen when there was no need; or the "facts" over why we want to war in the first place.
I think we have already entered a time when the only time you have to resign if when there is a media campaign, not a political one. Under John Major many Tory ministers were forced to resign becuase of media coverage; but Steve Norris (who had just as colourful personal life as other politicans) was saved as the media had a different story to move onto (if I remember correctly it was concerning Thatcher's book?).
My point is yes he should resign; but there are other people in government in should also be collecting their P45s.
I hear on Sky News that now the Health Secretary is saying sorry. Dear oh dear new Labour doesnt say sorry for 10 years, then rushes them out all at once!
Is the rumour on the grapevine that two people in downing street (Nos. 10 and 11) are due to say sorry. Makes you wonder if they can even say the word in private really.
"In case you lot haven't realised there is a shooting war on between the enlightenment and the loonies. Running away from the frontline won't stop the fight, it will just bring the front line closer."
Thanks for clearing that little misunderstanding up for us all.
You reckon that things are safer in the UK now, because of the war that Tony Blair conned the British population into supporting?
Anon at 4.54 - we have noticed there is a shooting war on, actually. We have seen our servicepeople coming home in coffins - we have seen (despite the best efforts of NuLab) our servicepeople getting shitty care from the fabled NHS, because the Government has shut the military hospitals "to save money".
Our question is - why are we involved in this "shooting war" in the first place? Because Tony Blair lied to the country about WMD, that's why. Don't think we've forgotten - we haven't.
Has Des just lied to parliament?
He said it was SOPs for the Helicopter to return to ship after boarding has taken place
Captain Christopher Air made this prepared statement on His return from Iran.
"It was during the boarding that we noticed the helicopter had returned to 'Mother', and we started calling the ship on VHF to find out why. A short while later two speed boats were spotted approaching rapidly about 400 metres away.
Who is telling the Truth? The RM Captain who was on the spot or Des in Parliament?
Browne, Hewitt, Brown, Blair
Oh, to think how cruely we were deceived by the hope of a new dawn back in '97. We kicked the sleazy Tories out then - and we will kick the principleless Labour lot out as soon as we can. At least the Scots and the Welsh can have a go at that very soon.
West Lothian Question? - it is it which is splitting the Union apart, and the performance of most Scottish MPs does little to dampen growing English unrest.
Anonymous 5:44 said: Oh, to think how cruely we were deceived by the hope of a new dawn back in '97.
You were? How old were you at the time? Seven?
We kicked the sleazy Tories out then - and we will kick the principleless Labour lot out as soon as we can.
You will? As soon as you can? But you didn't.
Oh, the brave music of a distant drum!
Funnily enough though I have little time for Browne I disagree Iain. Fox was limp. Browne was solid. Fox's comparison with Carrington is as bizarre as it is ridiculous.
Des Browne got our navy personnel back from Iran safe and sound with no deals done.
It is typical of the cretinous unthinking critics of this government that this far more important achievement is ignored and the relatively less important 'cash for stories' "scandal" is hyped out of all recognition.
How many Lynx CAN HMS Cornwall carry? Answer=2. How many Lynx DID HMS Cornwall carry? Answer=1. I'll leave it to you to work out why this was the case. How can journalists and politicians hold this malign and duplicitous government to account when they can't be bothered to research even the simplest of military facts. 5 minutes with Janes' Warships would potentially have had Browne's head on a platter by now. I still buy into the conspiracy theory that this is a political expedient to deflect fire from the colossal and virtually unremarked underfunding of the Royal Navy. There is a national scandal here that the opposition and media are too ignorant of military activity to recognise and expose. Buck up you lot!!
He said it was SOPs for the Helicopter to return to ship after boarding has taken place
Well that would be a very stupid military decision to withdraw the sentry as the boarding is underway.......it is illogical not to have a lookout so he must be being a lawyer (Hoon probably taught him this line of reasoning)
Needless to say, Nick Robinson at the BBC is fully on board with the Brown spin machine (no doubt mindful of not upsetting his sources).
Mind you, he should perhaps be checking his sources more carefully: apparently all the senior miilitary staff support Browne. Now that's credible isn't it?
"An ordinary voter...":
Arguing that this country is more dangerous because of the Iraq war is like saying Britain was more dangerous because of the Second World War*. It is a statement of the obvious: this country will only be safer once that war is won and will be more dangerous in the short term, obviously.
*(Incidentally as in Iraq, we also started WWII, when the evil regime refused to back down. This was even though it wasn't strictly anything to do with us under international law at the time). People who argue against the Iraq war on a legalistic basis should remember that the same argument would also remove a country's right to respond to a future Nazi type threat.
You can argue which of (a) appeasement, (b) fighting incompetently or (c) fighting well for a bit and then running away is the least worst strategy but I feel fairly confident arguing that fighting and winning is superior to all three.
Scary Buscuit says
we also started WWII, when the evil regime refused to back down.
Even Basil Fawlty has a better grasp of international law than this - "you started it" ... "no we didn't you did, you invaded Poland"
In 1939 we had a mutual defence treaty with Poland, similar to that between all Nato countries currently
Des Browne quotes the royal marine captain as saying: that I support the decision of the Royal Marine Captain to order his boarding party to lower their readied weapons. As he put it, he judged that, if they had resisted, “there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won, with consequences that would have had major strategic impact". Where in Gods name did they recruit this captain of marines, a kindergarden??
We have no business to be in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are not The Enlightenment - nor is our Blessed Leader - and even if we were, it would be a matter of no interest to the internecine religious quarrels of Islam.
Try reading some serious history of the conflict between Sunnis, Shi'as, Twelvers, Ismaelis, Nizaris, Wahabis etc, and you will know that 'we' will never bring peace to the Near and Middle East, our interventions will always make things worse.
I see that Tony Blair has made time in his important schedule to gift the world with his considered opinion on the break-up of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
"They should be left alone," he opined.
However trival, however not, by any stretch of the imagination, any of his business, Blair seems to believe people await guidance from him on every subject under the sun.
He's not just a malignant man, but he is also hopelessly bonkers.
Judith, what you say is broadly correct, but the muslims have made it our business with their enthusiastic beginning, 30-odd years ago, of the current round of jihad.
If they were just killing and maiming one another, I don't think anyone here would be too disturbed. But when their primitive squabbles impinge on our advanced civilisation, sadly, it becomes our business to defend our own,superior, culture.
Saddam would be proud of you.
To compare the threat to Britain from Nazi / Axis forces in WWII to the threat that Saddam presented us with, really is stretching a point, wouldn't you agree?
You're not Alistair Campbell, by any chance are you? It would explain a lot.
Whilst most people could grasp the logic of taking on the Taliban / Al-Quaeda "axis" in Afghanistan, the basis for attacking Iraq was always dubious at best and, has since been proven, a terrible deceit that we, in the west, continue to pay for.
Never mind about appeasement or fighting badly / well...we shouldn't have been there at all.
All it has succeeded in doing is to radicalise disaffected young Muslims in the UK.
And that is going to be Tony Blair's most dreadful legacy.
Browne is a nonentity.
The RN can't organise a drinking party in a brewery.
If you want a proper inquest start there.
But I'm afraid most UK (Cons, LibDem and NUlab) are so dumb...
no wonder we are a laffing stock
I think we should send verity to Iran as a special envoy - they would soon change their tune and be begging to stop their nuclear power station programme if only the west would agree to taking her back...
i missed the bit in his speech about why he thought it was a good idea to let them speak to the press. All he said was it was bound to come out anyway, quality excuse. he apologises and says sorry for an utterly mystifying decision but offers no reason as to why he made it.
so it was def a spin related decision then to get the public to believe the official story. How utterly pathetic.
in the words of kate hoey "what would constitute grounds for resignation then?
Browne's non-performance: all that fake anger at being asked to apologise: macho resentful in-denial aggression very typical of Scottish NuLab politicos.
The problem is that there are so many of them now, they're just egging one another on, incapable of checking one another's worst outrages.
Watch out for the banana skins, bros!
We've got a little list
We've got a little list
And they'd none of them be missed
They'd none of them be missed.
"How many Lynx CAN HMS Cornwall carry? Answer=2. How many Lynx DID HMS Cornwall carry? Answer=1. I'll leave it to you to work out why this was the case."
Because she was also tasked as flagship of Coalition Task Force 158, having to accommodate some 50 extra staff and their equipment to carry out the command and control duties. The overspill goes in the hanger, so there is no room for the extra Lynx or the personnel needed to fly and maintain it.
A number of points in reply Richard. T22s have conducted CTF duties perfectly successfully in the past without resort to using half the hangar for overspill flag planning facilities - has the Flag bureaucracy grown so much that we denude fighting capability? How do other nations cope as CTF without the vast space available in a T22? What is the 2031 winch well used for now that T22s are not ASW capable? Don't tell me, it's a gym! I remember 2/3 of the wardroom being turned over to Flag planning facilities, along with the capacious flag cabin, are you telling me that officers are no longer prepared to sacrifice comfort for military effect? do tell, I can't wait to be enlightened. T22s have survived several attempts over many years at culls due to their 1*Flag capability, to say that this has been achieved at the expense of hangar capacity needs to be explained and indeed justified given the other options available in such capable platforms.
"How do other nations cope as CTF without the vast space available in a T22?"
Methinks Ocean 6 has a tad more space than a Type 22. Vast, it is not.
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