Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our troops are needed here

There is a very natural personal tension – which possibly reflects in this blog – between our support for the British (and international) intervention in Afghanistan, where we are seeking to improve the standard of governance in that country, and our view of affairs here back home, where we see the progressive decline in our democracy and the unremitting decay in the standard of government.

In many respects, though, what is happening in Afghanistan – and our management of the "war" in the portals of the MoD main building and No 10 - is a reflection of the greater malaise. For, although it is fashionable to laud the bravery of "Our Boys", the MoD as a parent organisation and the respective Services are as disorganised, dysfunctional and down-right inefficient as all or any of the public-sector organisations.

Nevertheless, it is hard for many people to take on board that the service chiefs, parading in their uniforms, are bureaucrats just like any other public sector bosses – with a strong political edge which makes them politicians in uniform, fighting their corners for their own sectional interests which may (and often do) have nothing in common with the national interest or even the broader interests of the armed forces. The idea that, for instance, General Dannatt is merely a gallant soldier, "above politics" is risible, straight out of the bumper book of fairy tales.

The conduct of the "war" in that far away place called Afghanistan, therefore, has a great deal in common with events here. Both policy development and management here and abroad are being conducted with probably the same degree of incompetence, compounded by serial stupidity, blind dogma and ignorance.

The only thing that is really different is that, in Afghanistan, British service personnel die very visibly (the rest are largely ignored). Their names are posted on the official MoD website and are read out in Parliament. By contrast, the bulk of those who die a miserable, undignified death from avoidable infection in an NHS hospital may be victims of the same brand of official incompetence, but perpetrated by a different band of actors in different circumstances - and they die without official recognition.

Another area of policy which is equally dysfunctional is energy, which combines with that insidious decay in democracy as we see that congenital moron Ed Miliband – whose best friends even despair about his brain cell count – announce that planning rules would be changed to make it easier for 6,000 onshore wind turbines to be built.

Britain's "default position" will now be to accept new onshore turbines, which means the building of "many thousands" of wind turbines will be imposed on country residents "as part of a new green energy strategy" – whether they like it or not.

As it happens, most of them do not. Last September, we reported on the valiant efforts of Owen Paterson MP and Bill Cash in supporting constituents in the charming rural area of Shropshire, called Bearstone near Market Drayton, objecting to the energy firm Nuon building a giant subsidy machine on their patch – worth £43 million, charged to consumers through the Renewables Obligation.

With some pleasure, I was told last night that an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, robustly mounted at which Owen Paterson gave evidence, had succeeded. Local people had formed the pressure group Vortex and raised a large amount of money to do serious research, producing well worked through evidence which prevailed on the day.

Under Ed Miliband's newly announced regime, that appeal would not have succeeded. Thus we see the destruction of one of the most fundamental systems of government, where residents have some control over their own environments.

Yet all this is predicated on the fatuous and increasingly discredited notion that the recent cyclical bout of increased temperatures has somehow been triggered by human activity, on the basis of badly constructed and pathetically limited computer models, driven by self-interested activists who have gulled politicians throughout the world into believing their dire creed.

That the myth of man-made global warming not only survives but has become a primary driver of government policy, to the enormous cost and discomfort of us all, is a classic example of the dysfunction of our government – and of the opposition which has equally bought into the myth. That it is now driving the destruction of our democracy, as the Mad Miliband hands down his edicts, should therefore be of great concern.

Thus, returning to the theme with which we started, one of the best arguments I have heard for withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan is not based on the intrinsic merits – or not – of our being there. Rather, it is the incongruity of our current position where we are seeking to impose good governance and foster democracy in a foreign country when we cannot achieve either at home and are witnessing the destruction of both.

If our troops are needed, they are needed at home, to storm the bastions of Whitehall and Westminster, to shoot the denizens so that we can start over. We need a New Model Army, because our masters are no longer listening.