Posts Tagged ‘Cameron’

Why MI5 needs MPs to back Cameron demand to bomb IS

September 17, 2015

christopher_lee180-11

17 September 2015. London

Andrew Parker, Director General of the UK Security Service says a terrorist attack on the British Isles from IS is “highly likely”.

Considering the the security state in the UK was SEVERE in January 2015, that suggests nothing has changed.  That threat status comes from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre.  In recent times, it has got more right than not.  In these times that is a considerable achievement.

An even greater success is the fact that MI5 has foiled six recent attempts by terrorists to cause tragedy in the UK.  The threat is up about 35% during the past five years. The spread of counter terrorism action is up twice that amount.

It would seem on paper that the UK is holding its own against the terrorist threat. That is an easily corrupted illusion.

Each year a planned major attack is discovered. The rate of planned attacks is increasing. But the resources of MI5, the lead counter terrorism agency in the UK are weaker in practical terms.  Throwing money into the Security Service Budget is all very well but (a) resources really mean trained manpower and a vastly important catch-up programme of intercepting terrorist communications internationally by inner and dark webs to unknown electronics to street level Elint, for example, pay-as-you-go mobiles. Use once and bin is an almost perfectly secure street communicator where the only real hope is to find the contact being called rather than the caller.

Most of all, resources are not instant action solutions. Manpower is an example.  A raw probationary intelligence officer without any Service background can take two years to train to any higher standard than monitoring.  A Service of about 2000 trying to track and monitor say 2700 known radicals is an obvious unbalanced force.

Technically and using all other agencies (the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ plus police) the find-track-monitor rate is almost inevitably always a most demanding and often exhausting task. MI5 may never have had a harder role especially as it cannot easily get to the source of the threat, IS in Syria.

The intervention of Andrew Parker (who headed the investigation in the July 2007 London bombings) at this stage suggests an important link to PM David Cameron’s expected Commons Motion asking for Parliamentary support for the UK to join the coalition bombing campaign over Syria.  MI5 want the SI command and planning targets in Syria. That is where the direction for a UK will have full authority.  He would like the UK to go after that specific target rather than using resources to attack Assad troops.

So we can see Parker saying today that Parliament should vote Yes to Syria bombing.

Meanwhile there is a sub-clause to what he had to say: there is a Treasury move to wrap the Intelligence budget in with the Defence Ministry.  Parker wants to make it clear that this is nothing more than paper accounting.  He needs hands on always for his own budget and he needs a much bigger one and especially a technical development budget with GCHQ.

There is a ready source of increased budget for them both: delay Trident update for six years.  Give the money and the resources to the Intelligence people. They need it more than Trident Replacement. MI5 is in excellent hands but this its need to be guaranteed even more trained and technical resources than now they have.  Maybe Mr Corbyn at next PMQs could get Chrissie from Sussex to ask the PM why this should be made so.

Putin Moves Into Syria – The War Just Got Worse

September 6, 2015

christopher_lee180-11

6 September 2015. London.

Russian advisers and equipment are moving into Syria on an increased scale.  Intelligence agencies in Washington, London and Paris suggest the evidence of this move is now documented.

British Prime Minister David Cameron wants his UK air force to join in on bombing raids against President Bashar al-Assad ground forces, airfields and communications centres.

American air forces have been active for some time.

Has any one in London or Washington worked out the consequences of an UK or American guided system knocking out a Russian unit?  Sorry may not be enough.

We cannot write off such an incident as miscalculation especially with President Putin in his usual Make My Day mood.

Miscalculations start proper wars. The 4 year old Syrian conflict is a brush fire compared with what could follow the knocking out of Russian hardware & operational forces.

Russian intervention in Syria is not new. Russia along with Iran for different reasons has supported President Assad since the war against rebels began.  But the latest intervention is different.  Electronic, photographic and Human Intelligence sources now combine to show that Russian force protection units have been sent to a Syrian airfield.

The purpose of the units is to protect Russian armoured assets and a full air traffic control operation. This is not an in-out Russian operation.  Satellite monitoring shows that accommodation blocks including a medical unit have also been airlifted in.

The general operational conclusion is that the Russians have taken command of the airbase to begin further weapon deployments and even strike aircraft.

If you want to really get scared about Russian involvement then listen to what President Putin had to say on 4 September. It is “premature” to talk about Moscow getting involved in direct fighting.  That was not Putin saying the reports were rubbish.  That was Putin saying watch this space.

Unless Putin is about to change sides, then Prime Minister Cameron will have to answer this simple question when he goes to the Commons for permission to bomb Syria: “Does he want permission to bomb ALL pro-Assad forces? US Secretary of State John Kerry knows this.  That’s why he’s spending time this weekend talking to Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Cameron who has displayed little tactical or strategic understanding of the use of force and the long term consequence has a problem

One of his Brimstone missiles into the wrong armoured personnel carrier in Syria could start the rollout of an even harsher conflict in Northern Europe. According to some of his former military advisers, Cameron’s past view is that the military job is to go fight when he tells them to. Best listen very closely Mr Cameron.

And perhaps the House should listen if the British chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Crispin Blunt (who does understand these things)  asks his PM for a target list when legislators debate airstrikes in the coming weeks.

Christopher Lee

September 6, 2013

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Kremlin says the Brits no longer matter. Know any one who buys roubles?

6 September 2013

The Russians say the British rate no higher than a small Pacific Island about whom none has heard. The Kremlin take on the British is that the world does not care a toss what Cameron says on Syria or anything else.  

According to Moscow, the UK is an insignificant off-shore island run by ex-pat Russian oligarchs. A sort of Cayman set-up with lousy weather nine months of the year.

Forget that a whole bunch of Russian fat cats prefer to purr in London rather than Moscow and just accept that this a good diplomatic fanging. Syria has brought out the wonderfully worst in dip-speak.  The Americans are telling Putin’s lot to get real. Putin is telling the American’s to stick to the UN Security Council rules.

But why get grumps with the Brits? The answer’s a long and messy story that starts with the fact that the later Mrs Thatcher could do business with Mr Gorbachev, that modern Downing Street keeps demanding an admission from Putin that his agents murdered the former KGB officer of Alexander Litvinenko in London and that the apparently insignificant British Foreign Office refuses to stop accusing the Russians of aiding and abetting murder and mayhem in Syria.

There’s another line to follow that should not be dismissed: the British government doesn’t admire Putin.  They see him as gauche, a parvenu. a man uneasy in relatively sophisticated world-wise company who is giving to stripping to his middle-aged waist as a photo-op.  As our Great Aunt Betts would have said: “Our mother would never have had tea with his mother.”  Not one of us.

All that’s the daft side and what Russia says about the Britain of David Cameron and what Britain says about the Russia of Mr Putin, does not in the short term matter very much. Both leaders and both nations know what they think.

If there’s any pudding to be scoffed in diplomatic influence it has to be tasted in a terrible truth that is the world wide away from just the Syrian civil war.  The global economic position, the fragility of the whole Middle East s a result of Syria, the prospect of civil war in Lebanon, the unlikelihood of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement worth the paper that it’s not yet written on, the largely Sunni versus Shia war in Iraq that is killing sometimes 1000 people each month, the fragility of the leadership in so many Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, the uncertain future of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the unfinished and maybe unfinishable business of the Arab Spring, of African poverty, climate change and the impending disaster of mass migration as a result of all these things.

Russia has an insignificant role in balancing world government, democracy, economy and social order in any of these deeply concern issues. But the question is not Russia’s role in the world. More interesting is Britain’s role.  A busted flush rolled out and unrecognizable from the colonial great power?

In spite of the view from the Kremlin wall and, a part of the UK media, the British have enormous influences over the global spectrum of variously shaded difficulties.

For examples: other governments than Mr Putin’s recognize that the UK influence on EU reforms are considerable.  Who says so? The Germans. The UK concepts of middle management training – military and civilian – in an all but abandoned Afghanistan, will be crucial to that nation’s statehood and so will the British influences and help with the two major influences in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.

Britain’s aid programmes and the speeds at which they get into needy areas have long term marks on bi-lateral as well as regional relationships. The influx of overseas students to UK colleges and universities (Moscow is not a natural academic centre for global students) has long-term influence on peoples and governments they may eventually shape. Language, the BBC World Service, colonial heritage and thus the Commonwealth of a quarter of the world’s nations, the seat on the permanent membership of the UN Security Council, a leading role in NATO and above all one of the major centres of banking and finance make the UK soft-power influence considerable.

There’s something else for Mr Putin to consider. If Cameron had got through his Syria vote in the British Parliament two weeks back, then Mr Obama would not have had such a hard job with the Congress. He’s still have had a tough time, but it would have been easier with British support. That by itself shows that the British still have a remarkable and durable influence in the decision making capitals of the globe.

 

 

Christopher Lee

July 16, 2013

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Why Oh Why does UK back rebels? Because PM’s wife tells him to do so

16th July 2013

The UK is sending anti-chemical warfare kit to the Syrian rebels.  That’s very good.  It means that the rebels can protect themselves while they use the crude version of CW.

If we’re to believe the nudge-nudge coming from Whitehall, one person influencing PM Cameron’s decision to arm-up rebels is his wife, Mrs Cameron.  She’s been to refugee camps and amazingly thinks the way to help the refugees and future refugees is to arm the rebels.  These are the same rebels who met a few days ago and when there was disagreement, one lot (the Islamists) killed the leader of the other lot.  Mrs Cameron stay out of this.  You’re a smashing well meaning lady but this is not something you understand.  You’ve been sold a line in Jordan and you’ve met with tragedy.  The decision about army rebels has to be taken by someone who can stop back from that.

Now Mrs Cameron and the increasingly neo-con William Hague believe its just fine to send CW protection.  That they say is a gift from the people of the UK. Rot. Every poll, every bit of anecdotal evidence, every bit of advice to Downing Street from the chiefs of staff is simple: it’s too late Mr Cameron. Do not arm the rebels. No one can any longer control who gets the weapons.

Hague tells the Commons today the the “gift from the UK” as he calls it consists of 5,000 escape hoods and nerve-gas pre-treatment tablets – just what a rebel needs for protection when preparing to use CW.  The UN thinks rebels are using CW. Cameron and Co don’t both to mention this.  Publicly, as Mr Hague says, the UK is sending this stuff to the “Supreme Military Council of the Syrian National Coalition which the UK recognizes as the sole legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.” Wonder how he explain the Islamist hold, especially in parts of eastern Syria on the energy, water, food supplies and medical treatment that the Syrians find so welcome.

British aid to the rebels so far comes to about £350 million. It helps keep the war going.  The war is not going Mrs Cameron’s way.  President Assad’s lot seem to be doing better. Best send a few more weapons next month plus a bunch of special forces who can tell them how to use them.

It is an absolute puzzle how Cameron & Hague are the only people in the UK who think it’s a good idea to arm the rebels.  Perhaps Mrs Cameron should explain.

Christopher Lee

May 20, 2013

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A Letter From The Queen To Her Most Loyal Subject

20 May 2013

Apparently Mr Cameron’s people think that one is a swivel-eyed loon – or that this one is. The Chamberlain, such a trustworthy courtier, says that someone in Downing Street told The Press that members of The Party are forcing MPs to vote against Gay Marriage and the European Union.

One hopes that our very agreeable, although not very bright, Lord Feldman did not call voters swivel-eyed loons. Especially as the Commoners in their little homes may have a sensible instinct about Europe and odd weddings.

At Windsor we are not very taken with the EU and would rather we were not members and that we could then simply be with nice people in one’s Commonwealth.

As for Gay Marriage!  What a silly thing to get excited about. One knows lots of rather smart people who are homosexuals and very happily married.  Dear Lord Punstable is quite the other way (very very soft hands don’t you know?)  and has been since he was a chorister. But everyone knows that he has men friends (so many of them in Whites) and he is perfectly happy with his wife, dearest Veronica (Walkington-Scott-Sharpe that was).  She of course has many friends who are not homosexuals. But for My Government to spend so much time on same sex marriages is rather feeble – or so one thinks.

One is sad to say that Mr Cameron has been a disappointment. He was so full of promise: a good family and went to a very good local school.  Oxford seems to have made him rather fleshy although he married well. What a pity he had to form My Government with that rather wishy-washy Clegg.  Philip says he would not buy a time share from him.  We are not certain what a time share is, but it sounds rather dubious.

And now they are all worried about Mr  Farage and his YouKippers as Philip calls them.  (He is so very very funny at breakfast – Philip, not Mr Farage).  

Mr Farage appears to drink quite a lot of beer.  The Chamberlain thinks it is English beer and not the filthy black Belgian beer. One supposes that is all right then.  But I do wish he did not smoke so. Really no need and quite unnecessary.  

The Chamberlain had to sit next to him and Mr Farage smelled of tobacco. The Chamberlain is very sensitive.  Philip says the Chamberlain’s nanny was quite strict about the prospects of bad habits such as smoking and so made his mother (Cordellia Caste-Roman that was) breastfeed  the poor mite through a straw. Prince Harry thought that exceptionally funny and threw himself about in such laughter and was rather obscure when he said that his set use straws for quite different purposes.  Such fun being in one’s army.

The Chamberlain has it that we are going to make an official visit to Rome. The new Archbishop, Welby who used to be on the pumps at the local service station in his youth (Philip’s story again) is not over-keen on this we are told. Philip thinks the archbishop is concerned that at our age we might be swayed by the new Pope.  

Nonsense of course after all, one is Supreme Governor of one’s own Church of England. We assured the archbishop at an audience only last week that we have never been over-fond of Brazilians since their footballer Maradona cheated us out of the World Cup.  The archbishop said he played for Argentina not Brazil.  Philip says he had no idea that Mr Welby ever played soccer for any one, never mind Argentina.

One suspects one will have to watch the archbishop. Not quite reliable. One noticed that he had to read from a book to give the Blessing at Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.  One would have imagined that by the time he became archbishop, he would have know the words off by heart.

There is something else quite worrying about him. One reads in One’s Paper that he is already writing a new Coronation Service. One is not quite ready to meet One’s Maker.  A little presuming.  But One’s Paper has it that he intends to bring other religious leaders into the service.  How very odd.  One suspects that the Prince of Wales is behind this. Now there is a swivel-eyed loon if ever one saw one.  Jolly good.  Must tell Philip that one.

Christopher Lee

February 5, 2013

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Cameron Goes Walk-About – so will his electorate

5th February 2013

There’s something rotten in the state of British politics. The Tories are voting themselves out of government – two and a half years before the scheduled General Election.

David Cameron the British Prime Minister appears to have lost all interest in domestic politics.  he has, like so many British Prime Ministers before him, become mesmerized by alarums and excursions in foreign fields. He has instinctively settled at a much higher plane than the boredom of the domestic politics of health care, crime prevention, schools and even the puzzling economy.

Instead, he is treading international stages with all the stature of someone playing the 21st century version of the Great Game. The past few days have seen Cameron in Algiers, Liberia and Libya.  This week his big photo-op was not with his discredited Chancellor George Osborne or his blissfully irrelevant Foreign Secretary William Hague nor even with his stand-in time share salesman of Whitehall aka Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but with a three-way handshake between himself, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari.  If ever a trio looked liked successful lottery team, this was it.

The lottery theme is not irrelevant.  For Cameron (can we really believe anyone has ever called him Dave?) seems to be putting the currency of his leadership on some very odd numbers indeed.  For example, why would he truly believe that gay marriage is a big issue?  Does he believe that homosexuals and lesbians could turn the results of the next General Election? Or has he been told that it does not matter that his biggest Tory faith group, the Church of England is utterly opposed to gay marriage. Indeed the new Archbishop of Canterbury – leader of 77 million Anglicans – said only tis week that he’s against it.

The other two faith groups that count in the UK, The Catholics and the Muslims, are also against gay marriage.  How many voters has the Pope – as Stalin didn’t quite say – is not the point.  The point is that with the disaster of education policy and hospitals and care homes high in the public mind, Cameron has run out of ideas other than headline stuff.  So he has run off to foreign parts because domestic politics are far too difficult.

This was inevitable. Prime Ministers come into power and they go through the things that the voters care about – the economy stupid. Then in their first week they go to Washington to press presidential flesh.  The second week, they go to Brussels to nose-to-nose the EU.  The third week they go to Berlin for one-to-one with a real political leader and then to Paris for a swift handshake and very good A Level French jokes. It takes no more than a year for PMs to realize that the people back in the UK are boring.  Their issues are boring.  Worse, no one knows how to fix hospital problems, policemen not solving crimes, dementia treatment for nuisance mums and dads and of course the economy.  Three years in power and three years of decline.  Who needs it.

Whereas, Washington, Brussels, Algiers, Tripoli and even four hour drop in to our brave boys and gals in Camp Bastion give the prime ministerial personality a sense of something they want above all things: a power makeover.

Politicians do power.  Great stuff.  That’s why the common herd vote for them. But sitting at a Cabinet table lined with second rate people doing top rated jobs like Interior Minister, Health Secretary, Business Secretary and the rest make a PM realize that mostly he or she is power;less and days are always numbered.

So out come the focus group reports in spite of the fact that they are mostly bogus and out go the headline grabbing issues. Cameron goes foreign and feels a powerful man.  He gets respect even if the EU has relegated him to right hand side back row in the group photographs (could you imagine that happening to Thatcher or her protege Blair?

In a couple of years time, the result of all tis will be clear to the most important focus group of all – the general electorate.  They will see that the Tories have no original ideas, that they the people are worse off than before the Coalition of Incompetents and that the Prime Minister is hiding abroad.  The consequence? Bye Bye Tories. And the next lot will be as bad.

Christopher Lee

January 12, 2013

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Heseltine Roars – Cameron Would Do Well To Hear The Last Of the Big Beasts

12th January 2013
Michael Heseltine has publicly told Prime Minister David Cameron that he would be wrong to go for what would effectively be an In-Or-Out? referendum on Europe.  

Heseltine has done so for two reasons: firstly he believes it to be a foolish political decision by the leader of the party of which he remains a passionate member and secondly, because he can say it and will be listened to.  The last point is the most important because Heseltine is a Big Tory Beast.  A veritable lion of Toryism.

And here’s the rub.  The Tory Party has few proper beasts.  It has few who command to be heard when they roar.  For the Party is dull, just as the LibDems are dull and so too Labour. This was never the case.  Now the Cages of Political Beast are left unlocked because that rare species has gone. Yet there are huge issues that demand Big Beasts to say things, be heard, to be sent to sort Great Troubles.  This is also what the public thinks.  A few examples:

A major city of the United Kingdom is in flames.  For 40 days and 40 nights, Belfast has burned.  Shots have been fired. The sham of the Blair Settlement is as charred as the building blocks of what should have been his greatest achievement (his biggest was to XXXX-Up the UK).  And yet where is the Big Statement from David Cameron, the man who passes himself off as Prime Minister?  Where is the high profile Cameron visit to Belfast to demand these are terrible events up with he will no longer put? Nowhere, that’s where they are.

And where are the forehead smacking and feet shuddering statements and initiatives from Theresa Villiers.  Who?

There are perhaps a handful outside Westminster who have heard of Villiers.  Yet this woman – a refugee from that other Something-Up of Blairite proportions, the Department of Transport – is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Villiers is the person appointed to fix Northern Ireland; she is the person we should be watching, hanging on her every word as kids under ten throw rocks and petrol bombs at UK policemen. We get? Nothing! (We would of course if this were happening in her Tory constituency of Chipping Barnet.)

Crisis? You would hardly know it from Ms Villiers. Hardly a soul knows her name. An, admittedly small, telephone straw poll last night from this writer’s office among reasonably informed adults and voter-age teenagers found no one who had heard of her and certainly no one who knew what she looked like.  A part of the UK burns and the profile and the words of the person in charge are unknown and unheard. There is no beast to roar good sense into the debacle that is Northern Ireland. Where else?

Abroad the really nice William Hague travels willingly to lie for his country.  On big issues he sounds insignificant.  Yet once, even as a teenager, he electrified the Tory Conference with his conscience rattling speech that the nation (and the Party) needed big ideas expounded by big ideas.  

Today Hague has said nothing outside Cabinet that is memorable.  Yet this man is there to manage in every country, in every institution from the UN to NATO to the EU the image of the British Isles.  Remember anything he has said?  Of course not.  We are reduced to remembering that he is bald – that is such a bad moment for us all.

So the Heseltine image of Beasts and Statesmen is all but gone.  But there must be some in the grim and corrupt lair that is Parliament?  Ken Clarke? He was once a great Chancellor  Hardly heard and rarely noticed.  He is now silent and obscure with no visible passion other than cask ale and jazz trombones.  The others?

Thatcher sits unknowingly in her SW1 drawing room. Carrington, wisely has gone to his estate (as Macmillan said he would) to keep his own counsel his and despair of the great upper chamber with its dropped aitches, flat vowels and time servers and none with original thinking. Howe’s voice grows weak with age and his memory becomes uncertain – yet this is the man whose valedictory Commons speech tolled the bell on Thatcher’s premiership.

And on the other side of the House? There is no one whose intervention can have the Press Gallery scratching at their pads and frissons of holding some front page somewhere. No ghosts even. No Callaghan. Certainly no Anthony Crosland. No Roy Jenkins. No Michael Foots.

Ironically, the only beast to prowl the corridors of common sense and devastating intervention must bide his time until electorate disaster strikes (in 2015?).  Boris Johnson is the only beast of Heseltinean mane. Well south of the mythical Watford Junction line – that is the start of southern England – people wait for Boris. If they could, southerners bin Cameron and would cheer Boris into his place.  They long for the rabble rousing roars that would give the southern English the warm feeling that Beasts once more ruled the UK.. North of that line, north of Watford, Boris is detested because he stands for everything that the Midlands and much of the North detest: upper class right to rule and roar at lessers and for fags to grill their toast and anchovy paste.

There of course we have it. The United Kingdom has become a spiteful nation with no care but self-care. It is a nation split as a consequence of the the Blair divisions of 1999 Devolution of powers from Westminster to Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh. The UK is no longer a united kingdom. Thus Westminster has become a village in which there is no place for big ideas. Beasts Not Wanted on whatever voyage the British expense craving politicians think they’re taken the nations.  

Social reform, health and education may be billed as new thinking but this is nonsense.  Nothing is stretched. Nothing is grabbed and molded anew. No truly big ideas, no truly big men.  No Barbara Castles. No Harold Macmillans. No Joe Grimmonds. No Enoch Powells. No Thatchers. No Mad Monks to stir the Commons Tea Room cups of political curiosity and set normally sedate men and women trotting to their green benches to hear what was to be said.

Thus Heseltine is an endangered species and Boris’s time has not yet come and may never do so.  Best then Mr Cameron – who displays little sign of what he stands for other than power – should listen to the last of a generation that was not always admired but was, with very good reason, always heard.