Saturday, January 06, 2007

Doomed, I tell you, doomed

Perhaps the most telling comment on the current situation in the military comes not from a serving officer, or even a serviceman, but from MJ Downey, a serving canteen manager (NAAFI) on HM warships. He tells us he has been in this post for 31 years and, writing in The Telegraph, he tells us:

I have never seen things so bad and morale so low. Progressive governments have had a hand at running down the RN/RM, Army & RAF; but this Government has plumbed the depths in its contempt and abuse of our military personnel. I am dumbfounded why Cameron has not been vociferous in denouncing this action against the Royal Navy.
A NAAFI manager is in a good position to gauge morale – and let no one say they are mere non-combatants. It was during the Falklands War that a manager manned a general purpose machine gun, to help ward off Argentinean aircraft and, on a warship, there are no REMFs. Everybody is at risk.

With the comment about Cameron, I suppose I should feel vindicated – although it is too early yet to crow. Nonetheless, it was on 27 November last year that I wrote the second of my three-part piece on the state of the Conservative Party.

And it was in that piece that I warned that defence would probably play a much larger part in electoral politics that it had hitherto, strongly suggesting that that the Party would gain much advantage from a more proactive stance on defence issues.

Today it is the Navy – it has been the Army, and there are issues with the RAF and will be with the Marines. Yet, in the policy-free environment of the Cameronian bubble, the Boy and his spokesmen look lightweight, flatfooted and derivative.

While they should be at the centre of things, leading the change on the government for betraying our armed forces, they are merely tagged on to the end of newspaper pieces, being allowed to adding ritual comments as token contribution from the opposition.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, we also read that UKIP is beginning to be regarded as a serious threat to the Cameron experiment. No one though is under any illusions that this is because UKIP has suddenly got its act together and has become a credible political party. Nor is it even about the European Union. Simply, so much do so many people loathe the Boy and what he stands for that UKIP looks an attractive alternative.

The same applies others of the "minnows". Where, in days past, Thatcher was particularly successful in hoovering up disaffected Labour voters, they are now more likely to go to the BNP than Cameron's Girlie Boys.

A robust stance on defence could change all that, but such is the incompetence of Liam Fox and his defence team – and the inability of the Tory Boys to engage seriously with hard-edged defence issues any more – that the Girlies are almost certainly doomed to electoral obscurity.


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