Sunday, 10 January 2010

The Unlikely Plotter

Let's face it - Geoff Hoon was an unlikely plotter. He was a useless Defence Secretary that lacked guts, leadership and vision. He went onto to be a central figure in the MP Expense scandal and so there are also deep questions over his integrity too.

So if anyone was to plot against a useless PM then Hoon would not have been the ideal choice. That about sums up Labour's alleged 'deep divide' - on the one hand you have a clueless and bumbling PM and on the other side you have no credible alternative. David Milliband has apparently settled his score with Brown and has now publicly backed him with some kind of positive statement after dithering and equivocating - like many Cabinet Ministers - but it is clear that in the background Peter Mandelson and his cohorts have cracked the whips and the party has stepped back in line.

Then comes this morning's Times. Hoon has come out fighting(!?) - something he clearly found impossible to do when he was in Government. Besmirched, belittled and beleaguered after Wednesday's pathetic attempt at a coup, he has decided to kiss-and-tell and harry Brown with small knife attacks to his back.

This morning's revelations probably will not surprise anyone. Allegedly (supported by leaked letters to prove it) as Chancellor Brown vetoed several attempts by the MoD to buy new troop-carrying helicopters for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It all makes the recent scramble by Bob Ainsworth, another useless Defence Secretary, to cobble together some new orders look very 'previous' and far too late as the death toll in 2009 rose dramatically with commanders, troops and bereaved families singing the same tune about lack of transport and armour. It appears that 2009's problems stem back to under-investment at the time when Brown himself controlled the purse strings and denied the MoD and commanders what they needed.

But this cannot possibly damage the PM. It has already been capably proven that the British public does not have the intellect to link past events to present as no one has really twigged that it was under the lengthy Chancellorship of Brown that the current financial problems brewed and amid his hubris and arrogance that he allowed the situation to blow up in our faces and cost no less than £1.3 trillion of mop up which we will all pay for until 2032. Quite the contrary. Thanks to his theatrics once the cork was out, his desperate attempts to deal with the problem, which have had little real effect, have given him a near 'superman' status.

So I doubt very much that one angry man 'possibly' telling the truth about Afghanistan will make a difference. Careful handling of the spin and repositioning of the history will deal with the problem. You have only to look back on the whole Iraq invasion affair to understand how history, that we all experienced and lived through, has been manipulated and changed. In the build up to Blair's testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry, already we have the master at work to groom us ready to believe whatever pious rubbish he spouts. The fact remains, the public still eat out the Government's hand - we still believe everything they say and we still believe that Brown would never have vetoed new helicopters to Afghanistan even if he came out and said he did, because he would deliver some made up fact to make us all believe this was a great idea at the time and serves us well now too. Just as Blair is doing over Iraq.

The other interesting pattern is this. Brown is interviewed in the 'News of The World' (NOTW) today to say that this week's plot was a 'Bit of silliness' while Hoon chooses the Times to 'Savage the PM'. Guess what? The vast majority will read the NOTW and will believe it - the people who read the Times are not only in the minority but have already pieced together the truth. The different newspaper has been well chosen by the Party to deliver their message. Of course, you will have to look really hard to find the Brown interview amid the shock-horror story of an Eastenders' split up and the lurid affairs of Tiger Woods but somewhere it is there. Because that's the level of importance this country really puts on it all because that's how the Government wants us to perceive it - the positioning is masterful.

Until we get a modicum of intelligence, the people of this country will continue to believe only what they are told by the Government. Hoon has blown his miserable political career on an ill-conceived coup plot. Even his own constituency are looking for a 'No confidence' vote to get rid of him. And good riddance - he couldn't even get a coup right.

If he had any guts or courage he would have stood up to Gordon Brown when it really mattered - when Brown vetoed the purchase of new helicopters for Afghanistan when he was Chancellor. Rather than using this information to try and save his political and vindictive skin now, Hoon might have saved a lot of lives of killed and wounded servicemen in 2009 if he had revealed this information at the right time - we might even have thought him a better man for it than the miserable wretch we perceive of him today.

But as usual in politics, it's self-interest that takes precedence. At the critical time Hoon was more concerned with preserving his job, his nice pension and all those wonderful expenses. His conscience was clear because servicemen then, like now, did not matter.

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