Mali ghosts


              The public seems to have a greater sense of public spending crisis than the government. Many voters are apprehensive about the rapid build up of debts, and understand that we  and our children will have to repay them in due course. This makes it more difficult to gain and hold support for expensive policies.

               The public would like the UK to do less by way of military intervention abroad for a bit, whilst we are sorting out our finances. It would be a popular move to accelerate our departure from Afghanistan. There is no great appetite to get dragged into another war , this time in Mali.  There is also a fear of more members of our armed services losing their lives in difficult places, where their own actions have to be curtailed or constrained to avoid harming the local civilian population.

                It is good news that the government has ruled out sending in troops to fight, but there are worries about mission creep and questions about how much spare money and military resource we have to commit to yet another difficult civil war so far away from home.

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  1. colliemum
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Well, the public may have a greater sense of public spending rises than the government, but it doesn’t look as if the government is giving a d*mn, is it.

    What government, Mandarins and the whole cosy Westminster Bubble don’t seem to realise is that the huge majority of people have grown up in a society where information was and is far more easily available, and where some few journalists actually did report on government misdeeds. We’re thus far more cynical, and don’t think that using a little war for shoring up the credit of government is the right thing to do.
    Above all, we have seen where the lies in regard to the Arab spring have led: more bloodshed, more suppressions, and the institution of theocracies in Northern Africa.
    That is why we see this as something unnecessary, at a time when deficit rises, and ‘austerity’ is just a scare word bandied about, while the amount of money we have to give the government keeps on growing.

    • zorro
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      But you have to remember the French have very large interests there…, uranium deposits for 70% of their nuclear reactors….oh and don’t forget that they are our greatest ally…. 😉

      I would think that Cast Elastic is giving evidence of his newly found euro scepticism in his own inimitable way…..


      • zorro
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        Sorry, I forgot….No, we are combating international terrorism, yes that’s right – and protecting our country and our children’s future…..these are the same type of terrorists who we are happily supporting in Syria.


        • Disaffected
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          Today direct entry in the police is being launched. I presume this is social engineering by another name as Vince cable writes to businesses to say more woman should be in the board room. How about meritocracy? That seems to be a “fair” method. Why not write to primary schools saying more male teachers should be in classes, or to hospitals saying more male nurses are required? Social engineering has gone far enough along with the green drivel and EU. It costs us all a fortune with no tangible benefit.

          Better still it would pay Lib Dems to write an apology for their hypocrisy on the AV vote for boundary review, providing and awarding EU students free university tuition when English students are given a life time of debt. How stupid can it be that the UK is providing free university education to our EU competitors- and the such degrees are awarded by a Lib Dem MP like Mr Campbell MP former Lib Dem leader.

          • uanime5
            Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink


            What about Conservative hypocrisy on the House of Lord’s reform? After all that’s why the Lib Dems refused to support boundary reforms.

        • Timaction
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          ………………..whilst we reduce the budgets to protect our borders to reduce immigration and protect us from unwanted types who are arriving and a real threat to us!
          Whilst we’re at it lets reduce the military budget whilst increasing foreign aid to record levels.

        • Rebecca Hanson
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          I found it relatively easy to find an iaea report on the exploration of mineral reserves in Mali from 2009 which was interesting in this context.

          Search for iaea uranium Mali namibia

          • zorro
            Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

            Indeed it is…..


      • Disaffected
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        The UK went beyond the UN security order in Libya by effecting regime change. It is difficult to believe the UK did not contribute in some way to help the rebels’ illegal assassination of Gaddifi. Now look at the state of unrest in Libya, once more, no forward planning after the removal of a leader. Did the UK not learn from Iraq? It should not be a surprise that the Chinese and Russians will not trust UK mission creep for Syria and the public will not rust mission creep will not happen in Mali where there is no British interest where the motive appears to be to support an EU defence force.

        Last week Cameron claimed he might provide an EU referendum without taking any action to prevent further subordination of the EU over this country until 2017. Should he not cancel the agreement with France over the use of the aircraft carriers? France may be part of an EU superstate by the time they are built and the people of the UK might vote to stay out of the EU. It does not make sense to be part of an EU defence force if his claim last week was genuine. NATO might have a role if Mali needs help. Events in Mali is none of our country’s business.

        Reply There is no evidence that the Uk was involved in the death of the leader in Lbya. Assassination of leaders is not UK policy.

        • zorro
          Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply – It depends what you mean by involvement in his death. How about accessory to the fact or not preventing it?


        • zorro
          Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          The ‘there is no evidence that’ argument may well wear thin soon particularly with regards to (possible crimes-ed) in the elite political classes….In fact, it’s wearing thin already.


      • uanime5
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget that until 1962 Algeria was part of France, which is why the French have such an interest in it.

        • zorro
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          Don’t forget that Mail was part of French Sudan too in the late 19th century……I see that Cameron has now signed a deal on the sharing of intelligence with Algeria. Isn’t that what they did with Gadaffi?…….What happened to him?……If I was the Algerians, I would be watching my back in case I was suddenly having to deal with a renascent ‘Islamic terrorist organisation’…..The saying ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts might be appropriate….’


          • uanime5
            Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            Mali was a French colony while Algeria was considered as French as Orléans or Dijon.

      • Mark
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
        • zorro
          Posted January 31, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          ‘It is a huge stretch to believe that any country, especially one as large and as wealthy as France would decide to go to war over a speculative resource that would be worth that tiny amount of money (in the big scheme of things) even if it was able to be fully extracted.’….

          Perhaps the author might need to question his own assumptions in several areas (potential extractable uranium available, and whether France is wealthy anymore) in the light of the above comment…..The author is not considering the geo-political aspects of western interests in Africa (AFRICOM) or the positioning with regards to Chinese influence in Africa.


  2. lifelogic
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Indeed mission creep the a real risk. The last think the country needs is more expensive and difficult civil wars in far flung places and more troops at real risk.

    I heard a spokesman (I did not catch his name) on the 4000%+ payday loans. He suggested that the government will do little about them – yesterday on radio 4. He said there was a place for these loans and made the childish comparison with a hotel room for a night and it being expensive for the year. Perhaps he has stayed in hotels where they lock you in for a year if you cannot pay on the nail – and double the price of the room every week, I never have.

    He even suggested the APRs are misleading, they are not, they are just the interest rates being charged. A sensible cap on the rates is surely needed in some circumstances. These companies are just creating misery for the foolish, desperate and vulnerable. Why is the government so in favour of these companies? Is there some pressure , party funding or “consultancy fees”? Cameron is not usually in favour of free unregulated trade and here intervention is actually justified.

    Clearly nearly everyone is far better off without any loans at all at these 4000% APR rates.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      I suggest you compare the cost of short term pay day loans with say a government owned banks charges over the same period for an overdraft. I think you may be a tad surprised

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Well I never pay any more that about base + 4% on an overdraft circa 4.5%APR is hardly 4000%APR.

        They can rip you off on unauthorised but not 4000% APR surely. A cap is needed say 30% APR.

  3. Alison
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Most (sadly, not all) members of the public understand the situation we are in because they have to live within their means. They don’t enjoy the privilege of being able to call upon other people’s money when required.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately the BBC types endlessly push the fairy storey of “The Magic Government Money Tree” and very many people are taken in by it.

      Even half the Tory party.

      • APL
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        lifelogic: “Even half the Tory party.”

        If they were honest, half the Tory party would be in the Liberal party.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    I seem to recall we went into Afghanistan hoping a shot would not be fired.

    With the best will in the World mission creep is normal as a situation unfolds.

  5. MickC
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Anyone who thinks that British troops won’t be fighting in Mali must be barking mad.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    A hundred years ago, Britain ruled the waves. Almost everywhere was part of our Empire upon which the sun never set.
    Now we have given away the lot. We had to, of course, for various reasons.
    So let’s stop pretending, shall we?
    The next thing, of course, under President Obama, is that America is going to face a Suez type crisis with China, who will pull the economic rug from under their feet.
    Without any real military muscle, we will be completely irrelevant – as will the rest of Europe.

    We can feel real pride, however, in that our values – that people (including women and children) matter – that everyone should speak English – that governments ought to be accountable and uncorrupt – have still got a little traction in the world.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Off topic

    I see Mr Camerons negotiating skills/plans have let him down again, given his defeat on Boundary changes last night.

    First he gives the LibDems a vote on AV, then discusses House of Lords reform, before asking them for support on Boundary changes.

    The Public rejected AV, House of Lords reform is still in a mess, but the Lib Dems decided they would not play ball when it was their turn.

    Dave made the classical negotiating error in giving way first, before getting something in exchange.
    Boundary changes should have been First, not last !

    Not a hope in hell of us getting powers being returned from the EU, if this is the quality of his negotiations !

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      So he gave the Libdems their absurd (and very expensive) AV vote for nothing it seems. If only he had not thrown away the last sitting duck election, with his pro EU, fake green and ever bigger state socialism.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      You don’t seriously expect Cameron to get any powers back from the EU do you? I am sure he doesn’t, but he will tell us that he has done the best for the country and it is in our interests to stay in. His referendum “promise” is just a cynical ploy for party political advantage, copying exactly what Wilson did in the 70s.

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink


      • alan jutson
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink


        I agree with your comments entirely

    • uanime5
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      The House of Lords reform was supported by a majority of over 300 MPs but was withdrawn by Cameron because 91 Conservative MPs objected to it. Is it any wonder that the Lib Dems rejected boundary changes when the Conservatives were blocking the Lord’s reform. You reap what you sow.

      Campaigning against the AV vote in the way the Conservatives did also didn’t help.

      Reply The Coalition Agreement said Av referendum in return for boundary changes. It was always understood we would campaign for a No in the referendum. It said try to find a concensus on Lords – mr Clegg did try but failed.

      • sjb
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        Mark Harper, the (Tory) Minister for Constitutional Reform, said: “the Coalition Agreement does no more than ask both the coalition parties to deliver what was in both of our manifestos […] both coalition negotiating teams that signed the Coalition Agreement were very clear that what they were committing both coalition parties to do was to actually deliver on House of Lords reform, to deliver nothing more than was in both of our election manifestos and on which we went to the country. “[1]


      • uanime5
        Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        John it’s hardly fair to blame Clegg for the Lord’s reform being cancelled when Cameron withdrew it from parliament. Also why do you keep saying there was no consensus when the bill was supported by a majority of over 300 MPs.

        Reply: Because the Lords was about to vote it down.

    • cosmic
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I don’t believe he’s serious about getting powers back from the EU, and I can’t see how it’s possible anyway given the Aquis Communautaire and the political objectives of the European Project, which are quite fundamental. I don’t get the impression he knows much about it and as for the negotiating stance of announcing he’s against leaving, it’s just ridiculous.

      It looks like more walking the Tory tightrope of being pro-EU but pretending to be anti-EU to keep the euroscptics quiet.

      • zorro
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Of course, the EU don’t have to give up anything, would you if you had Cameron facing you at the negotiating table?


        • cosmic
          Posted January 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          I wouldn’t give him any real meat, because I couldn’t. I might give him a 10 for a quid economy beefburger to big up for the suckers at home, but only if he was polite. This is pretty much what happened with Wilson’s renegotiation.

          Back then the EU was less formally structured and smaller. It was decided by meetings of representatives from the member states and the Commission and EP had far less influence. Even then there was no question of fundamental treaty change for the UK alone.

          I can’t see that the flexibility exists anymore to throw Cameron a bone, even if they wanted to, and even if he’s in a position to ask for it.

          It all looks very thin, Cameron’s renegotiation gambit.

  8. Edward.
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    It would help greatly, if we had a pragmatic, or, at least a realistic PM who could sort out the things that are possible.

    However, all the evidence points to the fact that, we are saddled with a internationalist PM – who seems hell bent on ‘solving’ the impossible.
    Whether it be climate change global warming, poverty in the ‘third’ world, or fighting the invisible enemy in the Sahel.
    When, all the time – he should be looking to providing security on the streets of London, Dewsbury and Bradford first and saving and boosting the finances of the precariously bad state of the economy of his own nation.

    • oldtimer
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      If you dig a little deeper you will discover that the language of “climate change” has now moved beyond “global warming” to “climate disruption” and “extreme weather events”.

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Indeed perhaps it will move on again soon to be blamed for leaves falling of trees in the autumn and bulbs flowering in the spring.

        • bigneil
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          come on – -bulbs flowering in the spring??? – -dont let the bulgarians and romanians know that happens – -they’ll be over here in a shot just for that alone.

      • uanime5
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink


        Global warming is causing climate change (a location’s climate is dependant on the temperature) and the climate is going to change in a way that results in more extreme weather events.

        Clear enough for you.

        • lifelogic
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink


        • Max Dunbar
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          Should we be stocking up on woolies, shorts or chest-high waders?

          • uanime5
            Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

            Depends on the time of year and where you live. The further north you are the more you’ll need woolies, the further south you are the more you’ll need shorts, and during the winter thaw and rain season you’ll need waders.

        • oldtimer
          Posted January 31, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

          Except that the extreme weather events reported in the past year are not out of the ordinary as analyses have revealed, just as reported global temperatures are flatlining.

          I think you will also find that a local climate and temperatures are more likely a function of whether it next to or in the middle of the sea or in the middle of a continent, or whether it is at altitude or at sea level.

          • uanime5
            Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            Firstly all the scientific evidence shows that global temperatures are still rising. Only the deniers are claiming that there’s no rise in temperature, even though they have no evidence to back this up.

            Secondly higher temperatures can make weather conditions more extreme because it results in warmer seas, which make hurricanes more powerful and increases water evaporation.

        • Richard1
          Posted January 31, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          There is no evidence for this whatever, though it is often asserted. There is no evidence that weather events such as Superstorm Sandy are caused by man made activity and no evidence that there is an increase in the incidence or severity of such events. Unfortunately such glib assertions are informing public policy, but I doubt it will long continue. You also duck Oldtimer’s point, which is that the phrase ‘climate change’ is now in common use by environmentalists as global warming appears to have halted and it is clear that the IPCC’s 1990 projections, upon which environmental legislation in the UK and elsewhere is based, are exaggerated.

          • uanime5
            Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

            There is evidence you’re just ignoring it because you don’t like it.

            I didn’t duck Oldtimer’s point as I clearly explained how the two terms were related.

        • Edward
          Posted January 31, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          Sadly for you, there is no proof of more extreme weather events.
          The central argument is what actually causes change in the climate, you believe its all man’s CO2 output and many do not.

          Why don’t you watch Al Gores old propaganda film again and read the original IPPC report and then you would notice their dire predictions have already not come true.
          Is this clear enough for you?

          • uanime5
            Posted January 31, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            Edward do you seriously believe that humans can continue to produce more and more CO2 for centuries without it having any effect on the planet.

            All the evidence shows that the “dire” predictions are coming true, especially in countries closest to the equator where slight temperature rises make the difference between survival and famine.

  9. Alan
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I wonder what role Mr Redwood sees for the UK in this situation.

    Does he think we should just ignore it? Would that be compatible with our view of ourselves as an influential nation in world affairs? Is it compatible with being a member of the UN Security Council?

    Should we provide vocal support for the French and the rest of the EU, but no material support? That is more than ignoring it, but still doing nothing.

    Do people care whether we should try to shape the world in the way we think it ought to be run? Would most people prefer us to be an obscure country which does not trouble to form a view or take any action in the world’s affairs? Our history has been one of intervention: have we become tired of this and long for peace and quiet?

    Reply We should intervene where the advantages of doing so are clear and where we have the forces necessary to make it a success. In this case of an African country their neighbours have substantial forces on the ground much nearer to them than our forces.

    • forthurst
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Alternatively, should we stop using the ‘we’word, especially when it is not at all clear which particular constituency ‘I’ belongs to? Speaking purely as a a native Englishman, I do not see my interests being advanced by putting my country’s troops in harm’s way where there is no threat to us, but where such threat that does exist is grave, entirely internal and is intent on turning my homeland into a (different place -ed).

      • zorro
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Of course, that is what any logical government would do if faced with such an existential threat. I am sure that you know this is not the case, and who is really supporting these ‘Islamic terrorists’….Cui bono?


  10. ralphmalph
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I do not understand why the Govt does not use the International Aid budget for these operations. To me it seems that the public are not very happy about the increase in the aid budget and especially as there seems to be more money there than good causes. The public understands paying to vaccinae children (whith UK made drugs hopefully) but can not understand why Rwanda gets 60 million after the visit from a previous Minister.

    If the Aid department paid the Army for Peace keeping roles ad Afganistan, and to moitor and keep vacination programs safe, etc.

    This means that the public would be on side, the money would primarily be spent in the UK (soldiers have rent and mortgages in the UK), he benefits bill would be smaller.

    Even in times of no trouble the Aid budget could still pay the Army to keep a rapid reaction force for when situations arise.

  11. Andyvan
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    It is truly incredible that we are now involving ourselves in yet another war that we were instrumental is causing via the Libyan fiasco. Britain and France and of course arch imperialist America range across the globe interfering, destabilizing, starting wars and all to further some ridiculous fantasy about world domination. Is it really worth slaughtering more people that do not threaten us simply to grab more resources from their land and increase war corporations profits? If I were religious I would pray that those that start wars have a special place in hell awaiting them.

  12. Steve Cox
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Maybe Mr. Cameron feels beholden to offer to help the French as we are now so reliant on them for our own defence? Apart from the obvious example of our current aircraft carrier capability (aka HMS Charles De Gaulle), the Navy’s offensive capability has been cut so drastically that we are having to rely on our Gallic neighbours to provide berths on their warships off Somalia for our naval personnel to combat piracy in the area, as we simply cannot provide the ships ourselves. Hence our sailors are having to take crash courses in French, as (unsurprisingly) life on board is carried out in, and all orders are given in, French. I wonder what Nelson would have made of that? Yet still Mr Cameron thinks that he has untold billions to squander on foreign aid, which often does more harm than good, both to the donor and the recipient. It’s yet another example of gross and inefficient capital misallocation by this government, which is at the root of our current economic malaise.

  13. Old Albion
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    A week ago ‘ we won’t be sending British forces to Mali’ This week we send British forces to Mali.
    Dave truly is the ‘heir to Blair’

    • Bob
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      “Dave truly is the ‘heir to Blair’”

      And who is the heir to Brown?

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink


    • Bob
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      “A week ago ‘ we won’t be sending British forces to Mali’ This week we send British forces to Mali.”

      He’s just following orders.

  14. Roger Farmer
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Ironic, he can commit us to war without reference to Parliament but when it comes to a referendum on the EU he falls back on the excuse that he does not have a parliamentry majority to permit it. This man Cameron will lie, twist, and squirm his way through this parliament to avoid any decision on the EU.

  15. Nick
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Many voters are apprehensive about the rapid build up of debts, and understand that we and our children will have to repay them in due course.


    I believe in the common parlance, you are having a giraffe.

    Why will they have to? The problem is that the debts are so large they can’t repay.

    e.g. The 5,300 billion pension debt that’s been hidden off the books along with the other debts. 7,000 bn debt, linked to inflation, on taxes of 550, and spending of 700 billion cannot be repaid.

    So just as you’ve started with the state pension and civil service, you’ve been defaulting. CPI instead of RPI is a clear example. Raising the retirement age another.

    The real problem is that you’ve stuck your head where the sun doesn’t shine over this when it comes to telling people about what’s happening. You’re in denial over the debts. Hence your comments about “its not the way it works”

    Next, there is the move to increase the payments in. Voluntary contributions to get more money flowing in, knowing that it won’t be paid.

    The worrying thing is that the approach taken is an offence under section 2 of the 2006 fraud act. Exposing people to risk of loss + false accounting.

  16. John Wood
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Well if they would like the army to do fewer interventions in the world for a bit why are they complaining when the Government announces a reduction in troop numbers?

  17. Richard1
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    There needs to be a debate in Parliament on the subject of when the armed services can be deployed. It needs to be established that Britain’s armed services will only be deployed when there is a direct threat to this country or to our allies which only military force can abate. Iraq was a disaster and it is clear that, despite the professionalism & courage of the armed forces, our presence in Afghanistan is achieving nothing, though costing a lot. Blair & Brown are chiefly to blame, for participating in Iraq in the first place and for the absurd mission creep in Afghanistan. It is incredible to think that no-one – not a politician, not an intelligence officer, not a civil servant – has been publicly disgraced after the Iraq debacle, the greatest British foreign policy error since Munich.

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Cameron and Hague can barely contain themselves in their enthusiasm to get our military involved in any overseas trouble zone. In most cases the resulting situation may be different but is often no better and in some cases worse. I suppose if you haven’t a clue how to sort out the economy then the distraction of overseas adventures is thought to make you look serious and statesman-like. As part of this, I note that today Cameron is to make a cameo appearance in Algeria to warn us of the dangers of al-Queda.

    • zorro
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      Algeria needs to watch its back…..especially when offered ‘intelligence cooperation’by the West. Ask Gaddafi…..or maybe not.


  19. Iain Gill
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    out military leadership is just as bad as our politcial leadership.

    Anyone who has seen the army close up recently would be appalled by this crazy idea to allow army officers to be parachuted into senior levels of the police. The current fast track promotion system of the police already has a track record of producing useless senior ranks, more of the same is hardly a good idea.

    Really if this is the best the political class can do this country is in big trouble.

    • Bob
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      @Iain Gill
      ” if this is the best the political class can do this country is in big trouble.

      Have you only just noticed?

    • zorro
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      The same has happened in Customs and Border Control. People with no outside knowledge parachuted in and presiding over chaotic change….


  20. Roger Farmer
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    So what have you done with my comment.

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    How things change; I remember my mother saying that it was like going to Timbuktu and back when she had to visit the larger Co-op shop in another town.

    • Glenn Vaughan
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Lovely memory Denis.

      I recall that as an infant I actually believed Timbuktu was another planet!

  22. peter davies
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    From the military perspective, a normal fighting regiment normally takes around 10 years to get over the scars of a long and difficult campaign so the last thing they need right now is to get dragged into something else.

    They need a long period of stability to settle into day to day business but in this unstable world and our tendency to jump in and get involved makes this unlikely.

    Public finances are a big worry with the EZ disaster on our doorstep – it really is time to batten down the hatches and try to get our own finances in order and mortgages paid off.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you about battening down the hatches financially but 10 years for a regiment to recover from combat action? Substitute years for weeks or months at a push – if they can be afforded that luxury.

  23. MajorFrustration
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Given that in one way or another our troops have been in the thick of it for over ten years- and even longer if you include NI surely the time has come for them to have the opportunity to refesh rekit and retrain. But no – off we go again.
    The PM said recently that “we” had an interest in Mali – well so have many other countries but I dont see them dashing to provide support especially African states.
    As for helping France – is this the France that was selling exocets to Argentina about twenty years ago!! Is this the France that we had to bail out in two world wars. No, let them take the heat for a change – its not as though we can afford it.
    And the exit stratergy is……..

  24. oldtimer
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    This displays all the characteristics of Prime Ministerial displacement activity. No one is fooled.

  25. Winston Smith
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Where did the Mail Islamists get there arms? Libya; after the anarchy created by the bombing of Gadaffi’s regime. You really could not make it up.

    Why do you keep voting for LibLabCon?

    • Old Albion
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I don’t

    • cosmic
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      It certainly gives the impression that the likes of Cameron, Hague, Blair and Brown either plain don’t know what they doing, or are motivated by vanity and justify it with lies or ludicrous soundbites about denocracy. They give the impression of being completely irresponsible.

      One intervention creates complications which require further interventions so this aspect of foreign policy towards the Islamic world shows muddle and mission creep where the solution to failed meddling is more meddling.

    • John Wood
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Suggest you remember why France and Britain intervened in Libya in the first place.

      • zorro
        Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        Secure oil supplies…..


        • zorro
          Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

          Securing gold and uranium supplies in Mali….


  26. Neil Craig
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Cameron’s speech, on how we face a brand new global threat from a few Taurgs in the middle of the Sahara, was disgraceful. it simply demonstrated that “the practical purpose of politics is to keep the populace scared and eager to be led to safety by threatening them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”(Mencken).

    Our wars against Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Mali are entirely aimed at frightening the British people into obedience. The deaths of locals & destruction of their societies is ancillary, rather than the prime objective, but no less obscene for that.

    • zorro
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      Neil, you are forgetting that those Tuaregs will be plotting international terror and loosing fiendish weapons within 45 minutes towards the UK all from their covert sand dunes fitted out with high tech computer equipment just like OBL had in his ‘ultra modern cave complex’ in Tora Bora…..I think


  27. David Jarman
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    When the people in the shadows lean over and whisper in Dave’s ear they are ignored at his peril. If they say war, war it is. That’s why puppets make it to the top and you didn’t John.

  28. English Pensioner
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    In broad terms I support our actions with regards to Mali; there would seem far more justification for action in this region than in Afghanistan. Assisting in the training of troops for Ghana and Nigeria is clearly a good idea, but we need to be very careful that we don’t have the trainees shooting the trainers as in Afghanistan. How much assistance will Nigeria themselves be able to provide bearing in mind that they have similar problems to Mali in the more distant parts of their country and are likely to have to put more effort into solving their own problems?
    But if we are going to get involved, how can we do so and at the same time cut back our military? If our likely future conflicts will be of this nature rather than against nation states, why are we spending huge sums of money on high-tech fighter aircraft rather than on forces and equipment suitable for anti-insurgency actions? Why are we “developing” our own drones rather than buying from the US at a fraction of the cost?
    There are a lot of questions to be answered before we take on any long term commitments in North and West Africa, but Cameron is probably correct in his recent claim that this is likely to be necessary.
    At the same time we also need to clarify what sort of assistance the French will provide to the UK if push becomes shove over the Falklands.

  29. David John Wilson
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The general public opinion is that in the current economic situation we should not be sending any troops to Mali. The only circumstances under which we should even consider this if the French or some other body was paying for them and our balance of payments would be showing a profit. As nothing has been said we can only assume that yet again the UK tax payer will be paying for these troops in Mali.

  30. Leslie Singleton
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that there are two obvious points here that are not being made, viz

    1) Mali is a lot closer than Afghanistan which is literally the other side of the World, and
    2) The Americans were involved big time in Afghanistan, much less so if at all in Mali.

  31. Graham
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I have this real suspicion that having proposed a referendum in the future Cameron will now actively work to further entwine us with Europe during that period with the result that the cry of ‘its impossible to pull out’ will ring loud and strong.

    I see this war along with more Human Rights, Gay Marriages (coincidentally being enacted across the continent equally undemocratically). HR1/2, and more immigration as part of the glue to keep us stuck.

    I would even surmise that this is being done in conjunction with other EU leaders to give us phoney democracy.

  32. Winston Smith
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Off topic, I am afraid, but an important issue: pensions. City Am reports that only 30% of private sector workers are paying into a pension and just over a third of those with a pension are making sufficient contributions. This is an impending disaster and is evidence of a) the poor returns from private pensions, b) the excessive fees deducted by pension funds, and c) the squeeze on real incomes by State policies. From my own company, around 10% are paying into a pension; all are senior employees.

    Can someone tell me the corresponding figures for the public sector, i.e. % of workers with a pension.

    • A different Simon
      Posted January 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I can’t Winston but the private sector pensions crisis dwarfs the public sector one .

      Private sector workers will never have access to decent pensions while the Govt affords it’s workers with a special scheme which is not open to the riff -raff .

      You can bet that if civil servants were tasked with reforming state pension and providing a vocational pension which they would have to use themselves but which would also be open to private sector workers that a brilliant scheme would emerge .

      8 out of 10 private sector workers are retiring with a pension pot of £30,000 or less which will barely pay out £100/month on an inflation linked annuity .

      Private pensions have been an absolute disaster and I hope the Govt is prosecuted for mis-selling NEST .

      It costs the same for someone to subsist regardless of whether the money is paid in the form of a state pension or benefits .

      Thus raising state pension from £7,000 to £14,000 would be cost neutral .

      The other side of the coin is that more has to be done to reduce the cost of living so people have a surplus to save and don’t need to save as much .

  33. Martin Ryder
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    The country is being led by a child, who has sudden enthusiasms for bright shiny things and then drops them when he gets bored.

  34. Max Dunbar
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Do these Mali Islamists have connections in Britain and if so where do our most pressing priorities lie, abroad or at “home”? What is to be gained from this intervention? The standard justification is that it will be necessary in order to make Britain a safer place. Possibly the real reason is that we and the French are concerned that the Chinese and possibly the Russians will exploit the situation there before we have a chance to plant feet on the ground in this region of Africa.

  35. cosmic
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Is there any clear idea of:

    Which British interests are at stake?

    What military success would look like?

    What military failure would look like?

    What the exit strategy is?

    Which military and financial resources do we have to direct to this? If they are insufficient, it’s better not to start.

    Any clear understanding of the politics and history of the region – something notably forgotten in Afghanistan.

    Where does British responsibility begin and end?

    In other words, why are we doing this, what do we hope to get out of it, what do we risk, how do we extract ourselves? All basic questions.

    Without clear answers this has a ring of sleepwalking deeper and deeper into another tar pit.

  36. Muddyman
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Lies,Lies and evermore Lies – when will the MP’s who retain some semblance of intelligence Stand UP and be counted. The people are being led to a position where the only opposition left will be by direct action – do you really want a form of civil war to break out?.

  37. Pleb
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Freedom is contagious

    Petition for a referendum on the EU 28 January 2013
    Presseurop NRC Handelsblad, De Volkskrant
    Only a few days after the British Prime Minister announced a referendum in 2017 on the UK’s place in the EU, nine Dutch Eurosceptic academics have launched a citizens’ initiative to do the same thing in the Netherlands. If their proposal gathers 40,000 signatures, the Second Chamber must deal with their demand. In an article published by NRC Handelsblad the signatories, which include historian Thierry Baudet, jurist Paul Cliteur and economist Ewald Engelen, write that —
    We are being forced unavoidably into a political union. We believe that the federal path indicated by [José Manuel] Barroso and [Herman] Van Rompuy is unwanted, that it cannot work, and that it is even dangerous. It should not be pushed through before a consultation with Dutch citizens. Do they want gradually to lose their democratic capabilities and to be absorbed into a federal European state? Or do they want a EU reformed into a more modest organisation that leaves room for diversity among member states and merely facilitates mutual trade without any political ambitions?

  38. Sean O'Hare
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Do you really think that it makes any difference to the international jihadis whether we are combatants or merely aiding the French combatants in Mali. I fear yet another of our cards has been marked and we should expect reprisals. Will these stupid politicians never learn!

  39. P O Taxpayer
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Cameron has said that there will not be any combat troops on the ground. The Army personnel will be involved in training local forces.

    I am an old cynic and think that the French President Hollande has either asked for British assistance with the promise of aligning with Cameron on his EU negotiations or Cameron has offered help with a promise from Hollande that he will do what he can to help Cameron with his EU negotiations. I’m not aware that any other EU members are providing any military assistance and particularly not the “best friends” of France Germany. It all smacks of negotiating positions at the expense of the British taxpayer.

  40. Mark B
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    No war is good, but civil wars are the worst. At least wars between nation states have a start and an end and they do not always pit neighbor against neighbor. There is no good or bad side in a civil war, just a long list of helpless victims, usually women and children. They are also particularly vicious as the combatants are not regular troops, just armed thugs, who have no regard for the Geneva Convention.

    In summary – Best stay out of it !

    Also, I am interested to know why the EU are getting involved ? What is their mandate ?

  41. Barbara
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I, and many more are very angry we have got ourselves into another conflict, although we are told we are only their advising or training, the point is we are there. At what expense this time? The problem is we are told one thing and all the while politicians mean somehting else. False representation I think that is what it is.
    Take the girl from Pakistan, who I’m glad to hear is recovering; we were told that the Pakistani government would meet all medical costs, yet the next operation is being provided via the NHS. We were again conned into believing this government. No one can deny the girls bravery, but we are told constantly the NHS as to cut 20 billion pounds. How can we afford to treat foreigners if this is so. We all have sympathy, but we are not world benefactors and while our own citizens are often waiting for treatment, I don’t think this is quite fair or right. If Pakistan is paying for all the treatment that’s OK, but I doubt they are. When the journalist was asked this today on the news he was clearly disturbed, he had to admit the NHS. So for the public to believe we will not be drawn further into conflict, you can understand our doubts and anger.

  42. Antisthenes
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Iraq and Afghanistan I believe tells us that thought we have the ability to defeat undesirables in battle we are unable to police and consolidate effectively afterwards. My feeling is that in Mali and any other hot spot that arises around the world we should do the former but not the latter. In Mali and other places henceforth we should go in defeat and leave and if the undesirable come back go and do it again. That gives the undesirable very little in the way of exploitable propaganda or the ability to hit back. It also means that we are more able to wear them down by attrition than they are who currently are more effective at doing that than we are.

  43. Pleb
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    My comment has been deleted?

  44. Pleb
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    No Its just shown up, sorry. My machine must have been out of date.

  45. Pleb
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    But it is still in moderation.

  46. Jon
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Our involvement has to be kept at the bare minimum and protection given to the hundreds working there. Compared to other European nations we have contributed in the past far far more and we need to pull back from that now. In a few months time I can just see us committing personnel in the thousands and the use of expensive machinery and it becomes a multi billion pound annual operation with people getting targeted for bombs again.

  47. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 31, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Look at Syria for an example of what not to do.

  48. David Langley
    Posted January 31, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I am a bit torn on this Mali job, it is reported that the EU has sent French and UK troops to assist the African states with their battle with “Terrorists”. I have no idea whether they are one mans freedom fighters or another mans terrorists, but we read and see the images and words given to us so must evidently believe our ears and eyes.
    As an ex serviceman cross fertilisation keeps the troops sharp and renews the desert expertise that only deserts like the Sahara can give. Body bags coming home would of course be unacceptable to me but no problem to a politician who can offer a platitude on Wednesday Mornings and move on quickly to his meetings of the day.
    The lads and lasses are eating their heads off in barracks getting paid to prop up the local bars if one believes the latest efforts to chuck out the professionals onto the scrap heap to save some cash.
    It is also reported today that the MOD is spending cash they do not have to meet targets they have had from the cabinet. The next SDR is still some time away but we are already over tasked and overspent. I would sooner spend the foreign aid money on our defences than on other countries no doubt worthy tasks. There is a real case for punching at our weight and reducing our global commitments to say that of Switzerland for the good of our now miniscule empire.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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