Thursday, 30 September 2010


It would have seemed reasonable to suppose that the first threat to David Cameron’s authority would have been from a Liberal Democrat (and let’s face it the only one with the balls to do that is Vince Cable).

But it appears that that challenge has come from Liam Fox whose letter to Cameron about cuts to the Armed Forces was leaked to and published by the Daily Telegraph yesterday. The public support for Fox from military commanders has angered Cameron, but he has issued a statement saying that he supports the Defence Secretary.

But for all that support Cameron and George Osborne told Fox to find even more cost-cutting measures and rejected Fox’s attempts to shield the Navy from the brunt of the cuts.

Mr Fox's letter warned of "grave consequences” if the defence budget were to be cut by 10%. But the next day the National Security Council met and ordered Fox to make even deeper cuts. It looks like Cameron has decided that the navy and naval equipment is not to be spared, which may be very bad news for shipbuilding on the Clyde.

However it seems that there is, as you would expect, massive support within the senior ranks of the military for what Fox is doing. This may be the first time for a very long time that the senior officers are behind the defence secretary, even if that puts them at loggerheads with the prime minister. Big name after big name, Dannatt, Jackson, Muxworthy, Williams have backed Fox, and of course Labour’s Ainsworth joined in to make a political point, as if he wasn’t a complete dead loss as Defence minister.

Given all the publicity, and indeed criticism of the last government for starving our soldiers of the funds to do the job in Afghanistan, it seems almost unbelievable that the prime minister will not go along with Fox’s demands.

And what a bonus we are throwing the Taliban. Now they know that the US has a timetable for withdrawal and they know that Britain is too broke to stay in the country, they must be rubbing their grubby hands with joy at the thought of getting rid of the enemy and then their corrupt, mentally unstable president, whom you will remember we helped them elect, and going back to exactly where they were in 2001!

Cameron is unmoved by all the pleading and Osborne is incandescent with rage telling ministers not to go over his head to the Prime Minister.

I make no bones about it; Liam Fox is, from everything I have ever read about him, one of the most unappealing men you could hope to meet. He is a bigot and he is a fiddler and he tried to cover who paid his expenses on trips to Sri lanka. But this time i think he is right. No matter what kind of a mess the Labour government left the country in, we are at war. It is utterly vital that the men we have sent fight in this idiotic conflict are given the very best equipment and support possible.

If not David Cameron will find himself in the same position as Gordon Brown, when troops turn their backs on him and refuse to speak to him or shake his hand.

If you and your chancellor, who have never served, insist on 10% cuts Mr Cameron, I think that the country will expect you to remove our troops from the war immediately. Nothing less will do.

Just as an afterthought. The MoD has to make savings of 10%. Cabinet ministers took a pay reduction of 5%. Is it me or is there an us and them situation going on here?

Pics: Liam Fox, Richard Dannatt


  1. Labour has been playing politics with the shipyards for years, keeping them relying on orders from the Westminster government, with the vote for independence and you will lose the yards etc.

    Any business that relies on one customer has NO future. Time for independence then we can build the yards up to compete in the world market.

  2. Cameron does seem prepared to let his Ministers minister. Can't be all bad, surely? Note the lack of criticism from Labour about "leaks". Remember Brown's tirades about them?

  3. Yes Billy, that's the ideal. Then we may be able to build ships that are not designed for killing other people.

    But in the meantime we mustn't lose the skills. Otherwise we will never have a ship building industry.

  4. No, that will be a really really good thing OR. I completely agree that Brown wanted to micro manage the minutia of every ministerial responsibility. But he was a complete nut case, and as his speech at the conference confirmed, completely delusional. If there were any loony bins left he’d be in one.

    In this particular case however, it appears that not only is Fox NOT to be allowed any freedom, it seems that his actions have cost him even more cuts... and George Osborne is said to be seething that Fox went over his head to the PM, and according to the Telegraph, Cameron is also furious.

    Now, much though Mr Fox disgusts me, I support him in this. Because, although I’m totally against this war, and every other one, I believe that if you want boys to go out there and do this unthinkable work which will damage them for life, I think that you should be as behind them financially as if it were an attack on our own soil. The boys are the same; their lives should be worth the same. If we can’t afford these ‘world power’ excursions then we shouldn’t embark on them.

    I believe that Foxy authorised the leak, because he reckoned that it would meet with approval from the public. He thought that that would make it even harder for the PM to say no to him. He played the PM against the public. Not good behaviour for a Defence Secretary. He now will almost certainly be the first one to leave government to spend more time with his family.

    What it says about the PM is debateable: that his strength of purpose is so great that he cares not about public opinion (not too dangerous 4.5 years from an election); that he doesn’t care much about the troops (highly unlikely); that he hates Liam Fox (probably); that he cannot be seen to be bounced by public opinion over something like this, otherwise every minister will leak letters and demand more money for pensioners, the poor, the appalling roads, etc. (undoubtedly).

    What it says about Mr Fox is: that he can’t stand up to the military leaders (possibly); that he misjudged the PM’s reaction (probably); that he is populist (probably, at least with the right wing); that he is a sneaky wee git (undoubtedly).

  5. I retired from the forces after a great career in them.i remember the last time the Tories cut the forces a got rid of a great wealth of experience that could never be replaced.Yes the country is in a mess and cuts will be made but surely when a Country is at war then the last thing that should be cut is the Defence budget.

  6. Absolutely agree Anon.

    If you can't afford wars that are not threatening to you, then don't have them.

    If you do have them then commit the money.

    Something else could be cut.

    Food and drink budgets in Whitehall maybe?