Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Des Browne: Knowing Your Own Policy Is Very Much Like Making Love to a Beautiful Woman...

The Defence Secretary is in a bit of trouble this afternoon. Yesterday he either lied to the House of Commons, or he proved that he hadn't got a clue what the policy of his own department is towards British troops stationed in Kuwait. This is a little elongated, but bear with me. It's worth it when you get to the end.

16 October cols 719-720

Dr Liam Fox: I am sure that I do not need to remind either the Secretary of State or the Minister for the Armed Forces that the Kuwait border is only 30 miles from the Basra air base. As a result of that small difference, service members will lose out on hundreds of pounds a month, although their American counterparts receive the same bonus regardless of whether they are in Iraq, Kuwait or Qatar. If the Secretary of State made it clear that those allowances will apply to all those in the region, and not just those in Iraq, that would be a major step forward.
Des Browne: That is a classic example of the sort of thing that I was talking about. Based on absolutely no research, not even the courtesy of asking the MOD whether what he has described is the reality, the hon. Gentleman has asserted his case at the Dispatch Box in the House of Commons. But it is not true.
Dr. Fox: Good.
Des Browne: The hon. Gentleman says, “Good.” Perhaps he will now explain the basis on which he made the assertion in the first place. Is there a factual basis for it, or did he make it up for
political advantage?
Dr. Fox: I am delighted that those operational bonuses will apply, because those issues
have been raised with us by members of the armed forces so that they can get clarification from the Government. If it is clear that we will get such clarification, I will be delighted—and so will they be.
Des Browne: The hon. Gentleman now says to the House that he was asked to inquire. Why did he choose to inquire by asserting an untruth at the Dispatch Box, rather than asking me or a
Dr. Fox: Excuse me, but I thought that the purpose of the House of Commons was for us to be able to question Ministers directly. It is an entirely appropriate place to raise such issues. Now that we have clarification on those, perhaps the Secretary of State will clarify other issues— [Interruption.]

We'll ignore Browne's blatant rudeness and his incomprehension of the role of asking questions of Ministers. Instead, let's look at the evidence to see who's right. In a written answer to Mark Harper on 12 December 2006, the then Defence Minister Derek Twigg said: "The specified qualifying locations for the operational allowance are the geographical boundaries of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans..."

I have made enquiries with the Ministry of Defence and it seems Des Browne's reply has caused a minor storm among civil servants there along the lines of "what the **** did he think he was saying?" They confirm that troops in Kuwait DO NOT qualify for the Operational Allowance, unlike those serving in the US Army.

So I return to the original question. Did Des Browne lie or was he totally unaware of his own policy. I choose to be charitable and believe the latter. But whatever the truth, he should now apologise to both Liam Fox and the House. If memory serves me correctly, it would not be the first time.


Anonymous said...

Yes correct Iain a "little elongated"...Yawn.

Still waiting for this site to acknowledge Cambos poverty speech of yesterday. Think we will be waiting, as his party goes off to the right, auld Cambo is still harping on about flowers and the trees and the birdies etc etc.

This Des Browne scoop. We're you and iain bloggers all looking for the head of Liam Fox a few weeks ago.

This is a none starter story Iain...Yawn again

Anonymous said...

i sense another astroturfer trying to fertilise and artificial lawn

Anonymous said...

How about a law that makes it illegal for MP's to knowingly LIE to parliament or the country? It's common for the commisars to lie through their teeth AND getaway with it!

PS Will Cameron make it clear to his MP's that queue jumping in any form will not be tolerated in the estate?
If the NULAB commisars want to push their way to the front of queues then more fool them!

PPS Your current picture is very handsome so please dont change it!

Alex said...

The current word verification is "vpfuctk". I only mention it because it is at best very close to limit of the house rules re: acceptable language. I must confess I am very slightly offended by the word.

Ted said...

Wouldn't a little preparation by Dr Fox (or his able assistants) have been good - it would have been a killer response to Browne to say "so when did the policy change from that in the written reply of...".

For want of a bit of homework....

Prodicus said...

Anyone hear Hattersley today (R4 9 am, Freedland's programme) saying that PMQ's is entirely trivial, nothing whatever to do with Real Hairy Chested Men's Politics (I paraphrase wildly) and only of concern to the more hysterical sketch writers and of absolutely no relevance or concern to anyone else at all (I only paraphrase slightly).

So much for the respect for the dignity of the House of Commons from the Right Hon spitting image of a has-been, the former deputy to Neil Kinnoch.

This senior member of the Labour Party joins Blair, the object of his own visceral enmity, in his contempt for those who would dare question a minister.

Thus is Parliamentary democracy honoured by those - like Hattersley - who pray it and its traditions in aid when they are fighting off calls for a refendum.

Madasafish said...

Hattersley is a never has-been and therfeore bitter.

Anonymous said...

Non starter it may be but this is important. I would also be generous and deduce he is clearly unaware of his own policy. A liar I am content Mr Browne is not: a Def Sec who has too many other jobs when his country is at war he clearly is. He should be seized with not just understanding but implementing his primary and crucial policies. He has a duty to commit to our troops, their families, the bereaved and injured nearly as many hours in the day as they are fighting, worrying and supporting. I have been impressed in some areas, not all, by Mr Browne. Dr Fox should therefore refrain from asking administrative trivia he knows already that can be sorted out with cameras off and moreover challenge the Government on why the resources, cash and time to do more for our boys is being led by a Def Sec with more than one job. Dr Fox could champion the cause of the injured, I understand he had visited our boys, and expose to the British Public about what our lads are doing in foreign fields. I couldn't agree more with Ted...oh for the want of some homework Dr Fox. Be careful before the troop train leaves.

Anonymous said...

Hattersley? hmmm... isnt he the thick plank who had to go begging to the IMF because he made a train wreck of the UK economy? Oh no, that was Healy wasnt it? And now they are playing at "elder statesmen"? That pair of thick oafs brought Britain to her knees with their Stalinist economic training! They should have spent the rest of their lives in the tower of london!

Anonymous said...

"Er, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, they're all the same, aren't they? I didn't want defence, I wanted to be a LUMBERJACK!"

Des Browne (or possibly someone else), as overheard by Clothilde Simon

P.S. "ngznwzd" is a Polish swear-word, isn't it?

strapworld said...


Let us not forget we are talking about our men and women in War situations. We are also talking about
a small amount of money to you, your friends and parliamentarians BUT to the men and women of our forces it is a lot!

I could not care less for the niceties of the house of commons BUT I DO care for our armed forces who get a bloody poor salary and are being used as pawns in this sordid little game of schoolyard politics.

The Sec of State has said they will be paid. THAT is the only way to look at this.

Unsworth said...

Yes this Browne person is a man who is doing two, or more, jobs. Very badly indeed.

He is loathed by the military - with every good reason. That loathing is based on two things, Browne's clear incompetence and his history of continual deception and dissimulation. He is simply not trusted.

Quite what the Scots make of him I really don't know, and I'm not sure that I care, either.

Scary Biscuits said...

Iain, I think you've got it wrong. Des Browne was arguing that Kuwait isn't actually next to Iraq. This is the 'untruth' he speaks of.

He's so ignorant, this really shouldn't surprise anyone.

The real villian, however, is Gordon Brown who clearly cares so little for our armed forces that he puts an imbecile like this in charge of them.

Des Browne is the new John Prescott.

Anonymous said...

Des Brown is the Defence Secretary (God help us) so what troops serving in war zones receive which allowances is something he OUGHT to know. Obviously he had no idea - doesn't know, doesn't care.

Question - does he know where Iraq and Kuwait actually are?

Anonymous said...

What a surprise! Des Brown is just another totally incompetant member of the parliamentary jockanese mafia. I wish they'd all sod off back north of the border and run their own little patch of hills and heather into the dust.Skirt wearing perverts.

Anonymous said...

These are ministers of an elected government you are talking about.

Who gave you the idea that elected governments have much if anything to do with what is happening in the Middle East? Please don't tell me the BBC. If you have not worked out by now what a pile of lying propaganda the BBC has always been, you never will.

Our troops fight for the interests of the Crown not the British government. They always have and always will it seems. If the interests of both turn out to be the same then it is simply good fortune, nothing more.

If someone can give me a date when the British armed forces started fighting for the British people and not our commander in chief and most gracious Lady, I would love to know when it was. Because I know a lot of history, but that one must have completely passed me by.

Des Browne I can assure you has not much more control over what the British armed forces do in the middle east, then you Iain. One thing Des Browne does know for sure is that his government have absolutely no sensible choice's in the matter at all.

Anonymous said...

This is a none starter story Iain...Yawn again

No, you're a troll.

misleading the house may be a non-story to the congenital liars you call your masters, but not to most people.

meretricious little tick.

The Remittance Man said...


If what you say were really true, I am sure Her Maj would not leave her soldiers in such dire straits. And yes, they are hers, in name. But her government in Parliament controls the purse strings and there's little she can do about it.

As to Mr Browne's slight departure from the truth. Let's allow that it was because he is incompetent. After all, lying to parliament is a resignation offence (or at least it was until this shower of Richards took over).