Strange Adventure 92


Well, here we are on the first morning of a new government. I continue to wait to see what the government actually does. What we know for certain is that we have got rid of a government of war criminal torturers who attacked our civil liberties. Some commenters were indignant yesterday that I refuse to presume this government will be worse. It hardly can be worse – but we shall see.

In terms of cabinet posts, the Lib Dems do not appear to have got that much. Nick Clegg is to be Deputy Prime Minister. That post has to date been famously powerless, even when it was “beefed up” nominally to put Prescott in charge of everything you could name. More to the point, we are going to have the odious George Osborne as Chancellor. Spending cuts are required, but are not made more acceptable by being delivered with a patrician sneer. The Tories seem like they are going to have all the “Great offices of state” – PM, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary. That will dominate the government agenda. The Lib Dems appear to have sold their soul for scraps.

Danny Alexander has been given the most thankless task of representing a Tory government in Scotland. I still believe this coalition will be an electoral disaster for the Lib Dems – and their being wiped out in next year’s Holyrood elections will be the start of it, which is a shame as I like Tavish Scottt.

Danny Alexander will be pitted against Alex Salmond. Alex is the most charismatic and talented politician in the UK – and gives the lie to the idea that a modern leader has to be “telegenic” to be popular. Scotland has a more collectivist view of society and will hate the spending cuts – which if Scotland could access its own hydrocarbons would not be necessary. The growing political distance between Scotland and the UK will in retrospect be the most important narrative of the next five years, with a hapless Danny Alexander able to do nothing about it.

It would seem to be too much for the Lib Dems to be given the other graveyard of political ambition, Northern Ireland, but don’t rule it out. Vince Cable’s precise role is unclear just yet, but plainly it will be subservient to George Osborne. The Lib Dems will also get given schools and something like paperclips. There will be a plethora of junior ministerial posts, but junior ministers have no influence at all on their Cabinet minister bosses.


92 thoughts on “Strange Adventure

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  • Terry

    Liam Fox gets Defence.

    Watch out Iran.

    “Liam Fox says military force must remain an option in 2010’s confrontation with Iran

    In an interview with today’s Sunday Telegraph, Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox warns that 2010 is the year in which Iran’s nuclear ambitions must be confronted. Unlike the Government which rules out force, Dr Fox says that the military option must remain on the table.”

    “Dr Fox said Iran is the “biggest single emerging threat that we face” but claimed not enough is being done to prevent it becoming a nuclear weapons state.

    He warned that it was essential to thwart Iran’s attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons or risk Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey following suit.

    He attacked those who claim that renewing Trident, the British nuclear deterrent system, will be too expensive.”

  • angrysoba

    Suhayl: “I told you that the Tories would eat the Lib Dems for breakfast. They will eat the country for lunch. Then they will kill a few foxes and eat those for dinner.”

    It would be okay if they actually ate the foxes. It would be no worse then than pheasant shooting or whaling, or perhaps bullfighting.

    Brian: “Fuck me, remind not to invite you lot to a party.”

    If you’re serving fox on toast then remind me not to come.

    Tony: “The simple truth is that PR for the HoL doesn’t matter a fig in the grand scheme of things.”

    PR for the HoL would be fine if it actually had any power. Even its ability to send bills back for a year or two for review would be okay but I take it they don’t even have that power any more.

  • Reality check

    The Labour party have the biggest role of all to play for the tories in the coming years, they will not be found wanting. This was truly a three-way coalition.

  • brian

    angrysoba, vegetarian I’m afraid, but if you’re all gonna stand around moaning that your glass is half empty then please don’t bother.

    Libs in coalition, PR in the HoL, sane heads around the cabinet table – Liberal ideas are on the rise. I’ve only been wasting oxygen for forty years, but never has our country been more under the influence of Liberal philosophy than it is this morning, but it sounds on here that most people can barely restrain the razor blade over their wrist.

  • ScouseBilly

    Vince Cable on Sky News saying they (Lib-Dems) are getting their way on tax reform – well, that’s a good start.

    Jeez, let’s wait and see how this pans out.

  • John D. Monkey

    What a lot of Jonahs! How does it feel living in the belly of a whale?

    I really despair of the British obsession with seeing the worst of everything. How about giving this a chance – by their deeds ye shall know them, and all that?

    BTW Craig,

    Unless and until Scotland leaves the UK it’s not Scotland’s oil, it’s the UK’s oil. You of all people ought to know that – weren’t you involved in drawing up the maps, in an earlier incarnation?

    Different parts of the UK can’t grab bits of the national income when it suits them, but demand equal shares of the rest, it doesn’t work like that.

    And even if Scotland were to become independent (which I will wager a small sum they would never vote for once the true figures were put to them) they wouldn’t get anything like all the hydrocarbon reserves – something about the trend line of the border?

    Or does Scotland get to “access its own hydrocarbons” but still get the English taxpayers’ money? According to the Wikipedia entry (not always 100% reliable, I know), identifable country-based spending per head in the nations of the UK in 2006/7 was:

    England £7,121

    Scotland £8,623

    Wales £8,139

    Northern Ireland £9,385

  • Craig

    John D Monkey

    Yes, I was heavily involved in negotiating up the UK’s continental shelf boundaries. I look forward to doing the same for Scotland eventually.

    The higher public spending per head in Scotland comes nowhere near the revenue the UK gets from Scotland’s hydrocarbons.

  • Terry

    Nick Clegg was a protege of Leon Brittain former Home Sec in the Thatcher admin.

    Apparently young Nick wanted to be a Tory MP.

    Well he’s achieved something rather similar, eh.

    This according to the much missed Tony Howard who knows all their little secrets.

  • Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    “What a lot of Jonahs! How does it feel living in the belly of a whale?”

    Unfortunately, all too often, it turns out that ‘pessimist’ is a synonym for ‘prophet’.

  • Craig

    Terry,

    Nick worked for the EU commission and at one stage Leon Brittain was his Commissioner. In the same sense I worked for Geoffrey Howe, Malcolm Rifkind and John Major when I was at the FCO. That is not a snippet, it is bollocks.

    Clegg was a Tory in his youth and is on the right of the Lib Dems. That is no secret. But at least he’s not a war criminal like the scum we just got rid of. Let’s see what he does in government.

  • brian

    A friend of mine for nearly 20 years now would agree with you. When I first knew him he could be a laugh, especially after a couple of drinks, but after 20 years of moaning that life is a miserable pile of shit I think it’s fair to say he’s been proved correct, at least in his own case.

    I might drop him a line and point him to this blog, I’ve got a feeling he would be amongst friends. Not that he’d look at it that way though.

  • PeterL

    Craig,

    this may be nit-picking, but isn’t there a difference between being a member of a EU Commissioner’s cabinet, and a FCO official? Are the former not specifically appointed by the Commissioner (Brittan in this case) much like political appointees? Ready to stand corrected.

    On the wider issue of what to expect from this government, on liberal reforms a wait-and-see approach is a fair stance. Can’t see that Hague’s “British foreign policy”, in contrast to Cook’s aim of “moral foreign policy” can lead to any improvement however. Plenty of scope for Labour to re-group in opposition and eventually renege on much of their more pernicious work in government…

  • Craig

    PeterL,

    Clegg was not appointed to the commission by Brittain – he was there already.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Face up to it folks it’s a slam dunk formula for Middle East peace talks going nowhere as a precursor to war with Iran. The uniformed British public have been duped into more ‘war of terror’ by the main media. Murdoch needs sensationalism to drive his newsreels and that means conflict.

    In the planning stage already is another ‘heads up’ terror incident to galvanise the new coalition into preventing any change to control orders as Brian’s insight suggests, and weaken the case for scrapping ID cards. Friends of Israel will underwrite the score to keep us in our bunkers.

    The Lib Dems are now enslaved and powerless; Trident, war, terror and ‘Big Brother’ politics are ‘de rigeur’ – Thanks people – now bury your heads in the sand for five years.

  • Terry

    Craig

    I know that Clegg joined the Tory party whilst at university. The problem is that he has denied it.

    On the other matter of Leon Brittain, what Tony Howard said is that Clegg wanted to become a Tory MP. He said that very specifically on TV at about 10.52 am this morning. he also said that he was a protege of Leon Brittain.

    You’re not suggesting that you were a protege of your Conservative political masters at the FCO, are you? Nor are you suggesting that you wanted to become a Tory MP, are you?

    Sometimes people just join the party that offers the easiest ride to the top. It’s quite common. Not everyone adheres closely to Scottish principle, and certainly not the European Catholic aristocracy.

  • Sam

    I want to be hopeful, but when I look at the cabinet line-up, I can’t help but be pessimistic. Craig, I would be genuienly interested to hear your views on Liam Fox as Defense Secretary.

  • Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    There is a range of attitudes expressed here, |Brian, but personally speaking, just because I expect New “Labour” to continure in it’s wicked ways under a Cameron-clone Millipede brother, doesn’t mean I’m depressed. Perhaps you’re projecting your own feelings? Politicians and bankers tend to make me angry rather than depressed, and anyway, I happen to think the LibDem-Con coalition is a better prospect than the ironicaly titled “Progressive” alternative which would have perpetuated a government of corrupt authoritarian war criminals that was way past its ‘sell by’ date.

  • Steelback

    With Fox at “Defence” and Hague at the FO-WW3 becomes all the more likely.

    Hague recently expressed alarm that Hezbollah were reportedly moving into the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.This grave development was deemed one for which Iran,according to Hague,would face serious consequences.

    Anyone with a semblance of knowledge re-the Middle East,or merely familiar with the work of Robert Fisk who’s based in Lebenon,knows Hezbollah have been in the Bekaa Valley since at least the late-1970s!

    Looks like the Wall Street/Bank of Rothschild will get their new war.It’s a trick they pulled on the back of the long depressions they created in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    Shamefully the public still remain oblivious to the role played by international finance in revolution and war over centuries past.

    Look out for the next false-flag mega-event-coming soon to a state near you!

  • Anonymous

    Craig

    “The higher public spending per head in Scotland comes nowhere near the revenue the UK gets from Scotland’s hydrocarbons”

    I think you’ll find that the amount of revenue from oil fluctuates quite wildly (in line with world oil prices).

    Sometimes it does go way above the identifiable spending amount, at other times it has gone below (see HMRC website). Because of that it would probably be unwise to plan anything on the basis of what you may get from oil, you’d probably end up way out (in either direction).

    As a PS, there is no guarantee that oil prices will remain high, both Con/LD are wanting green policies/technology, if there is big progress in these areas (esp globally) the price of oil may fall through the floor.

  • Reality check

    ‘now bury your heads in the sand for five years.’

    In the next five years this three-way coalition are going to be doing more then just ‘bury’ ‘heads’ they are going to ‘bury’ untold numbers of bodies, six feet under.

  • John D. Monkey

    Craig,

    It will be interesting to see how the new coalition Government plays out in Scotland, where neither party is strong.

    As regards the oil, I wasn’t necessarily saying one was equal to the other, I don’t know the figures, more pointing out the fear many of us have that Scotland wants to eat its cake and still have it (as the original quote goes).

    Surely what I said is correct, that it’s not “Scotland’s oil” unless and until Scotland is an independent country? And almost none of the oil is actually under the land of Scotland or accesssed directly from that land – so its ownership depends on international treaties and agreements as to who owns the sea bed and what lies under it. Wouldn’t Scotland want a fair share of the money if it were all off the coast of some other part of the UK?

    That said, I’d be interested in knowing what the net figures for an independent Scotland are likely to be. Scotland keeping its fair share of the hydrocarbons and own taxes, but getting nothing from the rest of the UK, etc. – I’ve never seen an independent calculation of these.

    Presumably an independent Scotland would want to have some joint arrangements with the UK for areas where it was not cost-effective or logical to duplicate function. Defence (but not Trident)? Air traffic? Met Office? etc.

    And what proportion of the remaining hydrocarbons would Scotland get if it were to decide to leave the UK? Am I right in thinking that a lot of the gas is in the English sector? And what if Orkney and Shetland decided to remain in the UK – or wouldn’t they get a say?

  • Craig

    11.16am

    Oil prices are going up. In the medium to long term, supply is dwindling and demand is rising inexorably – due to China, India Brazil etc. Our wind turbines are insignificant.

    Spending in Scotland has never exceeded Scotland’s hydrocarbon revenues.

  • angrysoba

    “In the planning stage already is another ‘heads up’ terror incident to galvanise the new coalition into preventing any change to control orders”

    Mark, how do you know about this? Who told you?

    If you have any information on this terror incident about to happen aren’t there people you should be notifying?

  • mike cobley

    Well, it would appear that we are comprehensively phuqqed. My party, the Libdems, acquired an extra 800,000 votes this time; I wonder how many were former Labour voters, and I also wonder how betrayed and angry they feel? My partner is a lifelong Labour supporter who switched to LD, and this morning she’s furious to realise that her vote played a part in putting Cameron into office.

    I’m not quite ready to tear up my membership card, but I won’t be making donations or offering to work on campaigns. I do, however, intend to misbehave.

  • Craig

    John D Monkey,

    England has some gas but 90% of the hydrocarbons are Scottish. There will need however to be a formal maritime boundary negotiation – which I hope I will be ble to be part of.

    Having got rid of a government of proven warmongers, why so many people are urgent to presume this lot will also go to war is beyond me. I am willing to wager that this government will not start any new wars. The Lib Dems will be against it and most of the Tories – unlike New Labour – are not neo-cons.

  • brian

    mike – same question I asked earlier, if you’re only happy to go in to coalition with Labour aren’t you playing for the wrong team?

  • angrysoba

    “Shamefully the public still remain oblivious to the role played by international finance in revolution and war over centuries past.

    Look out for the next false-flag mega-event-coming soon to a state near you!”

    This isn’t analysis. This is just utterly boring old toss drivel that boring old supercilious idiots like you spout off about whenever you want to look clever.

    “I prophesy a bomb will go off somewhere and only smarty pants me will know that the real culprit is an all-powerful omnipotent mysterious power that only smarty pants me knows about.”

  • Duncan McFarlane

    I wondered a few times while New Labour were in government whether the Tories could be any worse. They showed during the election campaign that they can.

    It’s like Clinton or Obama vs the Bush administration. The foriegn policies of Obama and Clinton involved bombing thousands of civilians and starving millions. The Bush administration’s added in the Iraq war and greatly expanded torture programmes.

    No matter how bad the main left/liberal party is the main right/conservative party always manages to be worse.

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