"I have strengths and I have weaknesses. I don't pretend to be able to write a great thesis or doctorate - I have no pretensions in that direction...But I'll tell you what I do have. I have a good feel for ordinary people, for politics, and those are my strengths." He added: "I don't try to pretend I am cleverer than a general or the Chief of Defence Staff but I can bring something else, a knowledge and understanding of Parliament and of civilian life."
So, we now have a Defence Secretary who believes the main strengths he has for the job overseeing our armed forces at a time of war are a good feel for ordinary people and and understanding of civilian life! Heaven help us. I never thought anyone could make Des Browne look good.
I am sure our service personnel in Afghanistan are sleeping in their beds a lot easier tonight.
His words apply to the whole Labour Party, which explains the awful mess we are in.
Bye Bye Bob
No radio again. Have they gone off the air?
He is probably the smartest one in Browns shiate cabinet. ha ha.
What a bloody joke of a government, I believe it is now time to really assess giving imbeciles the vote when you get such a warped result as Nu Labour.
""I don't try to pretend I am cleverer than a general or the Chief of Defence Staff "
Then, why, in God's name, will the arrogant turd not listen to his generals or his Chief of Defence staff?
brown put him there .Its not his fault he was born a muppet
These cheap ad hominem attacks show you in a very poor light, Iain. It's obvious what Ainsworth is saying here - that he's no intellectual or academic but has a grounded experience of politics and life - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with his qualities at all. Harold Wilson was probably the most academically brilliant PM we've ever had but I don't think anyone would argue he was one of our best.
His appointment was a massive error of judgement by Brown.
By both intellect and ability he is totally unsuited for the role. His staccato delivery should not be confused for decisiveness or wisdom.
He is a committee man, promoted far beyond his level of competence and he succeeds in making it obvious.
Sadly though, this is always the case in a democracy. Or are you proposing Iain that military men need to take over government ministerial jobs?
Can anyone now remember the utterly insipid Tom King, who served as one of Maggie's many defence secretaries? Memorably described by Alan Clarke as "having no side because he was not alas possessed of the character required to have one".
Well I suppose that all depends on Ainsworth's understanding of what 'the job' actually is.
He's no personal experience of the Armed Forces, he's admitted that he knows very little, so perhaps he believes he's meant to be some sort of Political Commissar. Clearly he's absolutely useless as a Minister for Defence.
I'll bet that the Taliban are quaking in their sandals at the prospect of an enemy leader who can marshall 'a knowledge and understanding of Parliament and of civilian life'. That must be the equivalent of at least eight fresh Armoured Divisions in the field.
I don't know what he does to the enemy but By God he frightens me.
A rare occasion in which you choose to play party politics, Iain.
You know what he means, as do we all - that he has his feet rooted on the ground and he hasn't lost sight of where he comes from (whether he's telling the truth or not is not the point i'm trying to make here).
The parents of our soldiers are civilians, aren't they?
Judge him on his decisions, his policies, his ACTIONS, by all means but don't micro-criticise every statement the man makes to win a cheap point.
Anonymous 7.27, I understand your point, but I am afraid it is his decisions which lead me to believe he really is not up to the job. But it is the PM who is to blame. He put him there. That's not to say I don't believe him to be a decent man trying to do his best. But I don't think that his best is good enough in this vital Cabinet job.
i wonder why we have one of the worst deficites and debt in the world mmm.
this government is now a total liability,something must be done and an early election called for the sake of our country and soldiers.
I posted a fairly similar point to Anonymous's which you seem to have blocked. Anything in particular you objected to (so that I can avoid incurring your wrath again)? Although I don't agree with you on most things, I enjoy taking part in these conversations and hope I contribute a little to them.
Sorry! Jumped the gun a bit with previous whinging comment. Have just seen the 'blocked' comment appear.
As for Mr 'elecopter, what you see is what you get.
I've seen some desperately weak nonentities in high office, but by God, this one takes the biscuit. Even Jacqboots Schmidt had more political presence than him (granted, it was mainly in her sister's spare bedroom).
Ainsworth is a caricature former Marxist trade union official, suddenly promoted to be a caricature Defence Secretary in defiance of all natural law and human expectations of competent governance.
Someone should put him out of his misery. We'd be kinder to a wounded dog, and release it from its torment with a bullet to the brain.
I agree with Iains comments at 7.30..Bob is at least being honest and admitting his limitations. The same ones Jacqui Smith suffered from but no admissions from her..
For whatever reasons Brown and Brown alone is responsible for this situation...
I do agree with the suggestion that we need to stop giving the vote to imbeciles though...
For what it's worth - and I know this is probably a minority view - I think a sense of one's own limitations is a very attractive quality in a politician. Clement Attlee is an obvious example of someone who combined great leadership skills with personal humility, but there are others I could name.
To be honest, I was surprised Bob Ainsworth got the MoD job ahead of Shaun Woodward, but there seems no reason to me to think that the political skills Bob alludes to in his interview will not stand him in good stead in the role.
I could say a lot more on the motives behind the general media campaign to undermine Bob, but I don't really believe Iain is part of it so I'll leave it there.
Jesus Horatio Christ! Somewhere a village is missing it's idiot!
Iain Dale 7.30pm
It's not often I agree with you, but on this point I am in total agreement.
Oh, that the current party in power would see the error of their ways!
If it is the Bollocks Bob decisions Iain - as opposed to Tory procurement decisions from way back as the lead time on some kit is long, or the Generals choices when required to prioritise, or his predecessors decisions, or advice from (very Tory) MoD civil servants, or even that Tory defective we welcomed who seems to be making helicopter procurement decisions (is he a double agent?) - then please do stick to that. This particular job is perhaps one of those where too much initiative and entrepreneurialism from the Secretary of State is a mistake. And Bollocks Bob's humble rather than thick I'd say. Which can't be said for many of the top brass.
Well said Paul. I have far more contempt for John Hutton walking out on his job when frontline troops were engaged,in a fairly transparent attempt to topple Brown.
John Hutton did say that Brown "would make a f**king awful Prime Minister" so he does get some things right!
Snooty - I think Zuagro makes the point. Surely to goodness if he has these qualities (the qualities of 'nouse') that he claims, then he would be acting in a far more politically astute manner and in the course of which be doing more to see our troops properly resourced for the combat they are in NOW.
Ainsworth has been Armed Forces Minister as well but we have not been getting the answers from him that we need.
To be frank these common sense qualities are important because the Army and the MoD have been making a lot of mistakes over Iraq and Afghanistan. If he has them - there are no signs that he is making them count.
Paul Linford, what political skills would these be? He hasn't shown any. He clearly has no idea how the public feel about the soldiers, almost everybody I speak to are really cheesed off with the way the soldiers are being treated by the government. He was army minister before he became Defence secretary so he should be up to speed by now.
It was Falconer who said that Benji, contrary to what everyone thinks.
It's not the service personnel sleeping in beds (even in Afghanistan) we have to worry about; it's the poor buggers in shell scrapes and ditches out in the countryside.
These Tory procurement decisions you speak of. Those would be the ones made more than twelve years ago when we were at peace, would they? So nothing NuLabour has done since then could have affected the situation? Bugger me! By your logic that would mean the country must have fought the Korean war with Hurricanes and the Vickers Light Tank.
@ Paul Linford
"but there seems no reason to me to think that the political skills Bob alludes to in his interview will not stand him in good stead in the role."
How? Why would political skills be of value to a Minister for Defence who has, at the very most, only a few months in office?
War, and the Defence of the Nation, are not matters which are amenable to the short termisms of party politics.
You'll possibly find that the comments over at ARRSE are an insight - that is if you have not personally experienced life in the Armed Services. Those comments are being made by individuals who have direct experience and clear understanding of all aspects of the military. In my view they are salutary.
To put Ainsworth alongside Attlee, who was Major and extensive service in WWI is a false comparison. If anyone has seen the film Office Space, Bob is just like the character Milton.
In a way I feel sorry for him, a very small man put in a role too big for him, and he feels overwhelmed by his responsibilities.
What these comments from Bob Ainsworth tell me is that he has sufficient self-awareness to know that he isn't up to the job.
However, instead of refusing the post (probably didn't have the guts to say no to Brown), or resigning it, he is trying to justify his poor performance by explaining his limitations.
He should resign, and would earn more respect if he did so.
I guess there will be knives being sharpened over the weekend. Really, how can this plank survive the summer?
Brown and Ainsworth have been "asked" by the British Legion NOT to attend the dignified Remembrance Day parade in London. The rumour circulating is that the booing previously given to Brown will be 10 times worse. Clearly the event itself will not be compromised but Brown will be snubbed and ridiculed,
Ainsworth wouldn't have passed day 1 recruit training and is clearly so far out his his depth his nickname in the forces is UBOAT
A little nicer than TCH issued to Hoon.
@ Chris Paul
Do you believe that those who are currently fighting, suffering grievous wounds and seeing their colleagues being killed - on our behalf, it is said - would agree with your views? Do you think that their families would?
Just remind us how many wars this NuLab government has sent our troops to. This 'government' is even now trying to run wars like a bunch of politicised accountants, with a casual disregard of the human suffering and losses. It has had a decade of power. What has it done to our armed forces? Why don't you, too, toddle over to ARRSE and post your views there. I'm sure they'll be most interested to hear from you.
Humble Ainsworth may be, but is he able? If he is not - and he seems to recognise that to be the case - then it follows that he should immediately resign. Indeed he has a moral duty to do so. If he does not then he is himself immediately complicit in the resultant deaths and injuries.
These cheap ad hominem attacks show you in a very poor light, Iain.
Whereas piles of dead and maimed British soldiers show Brown, Ainsworth and Labour in an outstanding light.
It's amazing to me that when people are dying because of the government's incompetence - when lives are literally being lost every single day - there are still people who play party politics, who will defend Labour simply because they're Labour, no matter how patently wrong their policies are or how many people are killed by those policies.
You know what he means, as do we all -
I know what he said. You can claim that what he said and what he meant were two different things but that does not change a thing.
that he has his feet rooted on the ground and he hasn't lost sight of where he comes from
So the highest ideal in a Minister of Defence is remember the street where he grew up? The marker of competence in a complex war is to admit that you are uneducated and unintelligent? The definition of a man capable of marshalling the forces needed to achieve victory in an Asian land war isa knowledge of parliamentary conduct and partisan politics?
You are a very, very stupid man.
(whether he's telling the truth or not is not the point i'm trying to make here).
Imbecile, you don't have a point to make beyond "Disagreeing With Any Labour Politican = Treason".
Rather depends on how he approaches the job. Some of the past problems have been Ministers (or rather the SPADs)who knew better than the generals.
The given the shambles in tehir accounts the MOD Civil Servants dont inspire confidence either
I've never felt moved to comment on one of your posts before but you seem to totally deny the idea of democratic politics as a form of representation, we don't elect these people because they're 'better' than us we elect them to represent us. I only wish more people in frontline politics were willing to acknowledge this, whatever their political allegiance or post.
Surely this as much as anything should highlight the absurdity of elected politicians having this sort of power, all hail the technocrat
Of course "Bollocks Bob" isn't, jut like Postman Pat who admits he is is not up to being the leader of the party, but will run anyway.
I have written a little expose of the ID card scheme which should sink Johnson very nicely. How would you like 51 items of your data to be held by Postman Pat?
Its just shows you how much Labour really hate our armed forces. They spin their lines of affection whilst at the same time cutting of equipment, compensation and budgets.
Labour are just showing themselves to be filled with class hate and spite.
If Bob Ainsworth had a feel for ordinary people he wouldn't have refused Gurkhas the right to remain in the UK when ordinary people wanted them to have that right, he wouldn't be taking two soldiers to court for their compensation claims when ordinary people can see that they deserve the money, and he wouldn't be refusing to accept that the army needs more resources when ordinary people are perfectly happy to give them what they need to do the job. It would seem that the army and ordinary people understand each other: it's the SoS in the middle (along with our PM who is unforgiveably dismissive of the armed forces) who are out of touch.
I'm sure Ainsworth is a useless prat, but many of the comments here seem to suggest that the Tories would take a different line to the armed forces. Yet haven't they already made it clear that there will be significant cuts in defence expenditure under a Cameron government, of the order of 15/16%?
I suppose it depends on what - if it's Trident and pointless air superiority aircraft then so much the better, but I wonder. Will Cameron in office really go up against the yanks? Or will he take the soft option of further cuts in welfare for troops, etc?
Time to remind everyone that it was the Thatcher and Major governments who created the dismal living quarters for the British Army by flogging off army residences cheap to a bunch of profiteering foreign businessmen, who then totally ignored their obligations.
Anyone for selling off the MoD to a foreign venture capitalist?
Bob Ainsworth strikes me as a decent, patriotic man, doing his best for the troops, and clear about who the enemy is. And that all has to count for something.
George Galloway calls him Captain Mainwaring. Anyway, Made me laugh.
"clear about who the enemy is."
....in the Labour Party or Afghanistan?
@ Despairing Liberal
And this was all how long ago? And who's been running things for a decade and more? And who's been slashing the defence budget all that time? And who's been sending our troops out to just how many wars?
How do you feel about Lloyd George's actions and their effect on the 'War Against Terror'?
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