Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Attack mode

For anyone with a brain, self-doubt goes with the territory. In considering any course of action, there are usually several options and the best is very often a matter of fine judgement. It is, therefore, inevitable that one will tend to second-guess one's own decisions.

It is actually quite comforting, therefore, to read the letter from Sir Edward du Cann in The Telegraph today, where he offers an explanation for the failure of the Conservative Party to attract the support it needs to form the government.

His recipe for success is quite simple, and one which we saw being rolled out by New Labour in the dying days of the Major government. It can be summed up in one word: attack.

Thus does Sir Edward enjoin the Party (and by inference the MPs) to “attack defence ministers for the lack of adequate equipment, the massacre of the Royal Navy, and so on.” National defence, he writes, always is low priority for Labour.

That was precisely the point we were trying to make in this piece here and the lacklustre performance of the current defence team must be considered to have contributed to the lack of popularity of the Party.

However, things are not as simple as that. Some of the woes of the Armed Forces stem from the profligate spending on European projects, some of which - like the Eurofighter – stem from decisions made during previous Conservatives governments.

Other woes stem from decisions yet to be made, such as the decision to go ahead with the £14 billion FRES project, which is essential if Britain is to play a leading part in the European Rapid Reaction Force – something which the Conservative Party does not oppose in principle (or at all, if the it is to be judged by its lack of comment on the subject).

Therefore, any really serious attack on the government would invite the riposte that the Conservatives are largely responsible for many of the problems and that, in future, things would be very little different under a Conservative government.

As long as the Party in thrall to its European past and future, it will struggle to be a free agent and will always have problems with the attack mode. As always, the EU casts a long shadow.


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