14 July 2009

The silly season is cancelled

Both swine flu and Afghanistan rightly dominate the headlines this morning.  The Telegraph reports that:

the swine flu crisis is escalating in Britain grew as the virus claimed the lives of a seemingly healthy six year-old girl and a family doctor.

Perhaps the most significant report about Afghanistan is that Brown went for the cheapest of the four options put to him by military chiefs:

When Gordon Brown was presented with four options on how best to boost the British campaign in Helmand, he chose the cheapest, authoritative sources disclosed yesterday.  While the service chiefs and John Hutton, then Defence Secretary, supported the option of sending an extra 2,000 troops to Afghanistan, the Prime Minister opted only to send a 700-strong battalion for a limited period.  With the approval of Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, he announced in April that the 700-strong deployment would boost numbers during the period of the presidential election, set for August 20. Mr Brown’s rejection of the more expensive options was a setback for the military establishment.

Not only that but Bob Ainsworth was the fourth choice as Defence Secretary:

Gordon Brown considered at least three other candidates before appointing Bob Ainsworth as Defence Secretary last month.  The Prime Minister came within an hour of appointing Jim Knight, then the Schools Minister, before handing the job to Mr Ainsworth to appease a faction of the Labour Party.  Doubts have grown about whether Mr Ainsworth, one of the most junior members of the Cabinet, has the authority to marshal support for the military, either within Whitehall or among the wider public.

We are uniquely placed.  We have a Defence Secretary with no authority, a Health Secretary who is not up to job and a Prime Minister who has both these attributes.

More significantly, Brown is not in control of the agenda where both swine flu and Afghanistan are concerned, neither does he have public support on his side.  All Brown can do is manage events as they occur in a reactive way.  A most dangerous position for any prime minister to be in.

There has to be a possibility that over the summer both crises will overwhelm Our Dear Leader making his position untenable.  He hardly struck a commanding figure in the Commons yesterday.

Do we now have the two unknown unknowns that could bring Brown down?  Labour MPs could will be spared the embarrassment of cocking up another coup.

Digg This

1 comment:

  1. "With the approval of Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, he announced in April that the 700-strong deployment..."

    So The Badger is running defence policy too ?