Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Column, August 15, 2006

TRUST is like money in the bank.
When you’ve got a lot of it – for instance, if you’re a new government, elected to replace a clapped-out, sleaze-encrusted, snouts-in-the-trough bunch of Tories – there might be a temptation to get a bit cocky.
You’re like a wide-boy bond trader in the City, flashing his cash and spend, spend, spending. Of course, governments don’t spend trust by buying a new Porsche, no, they go to the Bank of Trust, enter their PIN and take out enough to take us to war – two, three, or even four times.
And all the time the bank manager is watching your account diminish gradually. You might make a deposit now and again, throw the electorate the odd bone by fulfilling an election promise or too, albeit half-heartedly and not quite how you said you would do it.
But slowly, steadily, you sink into the red, and when you tell the public something, they give you that look that people gave Pinocchio when he started telling porkies.
And you have to say that this government has got form for being economical with the truth. How long have we been in Iraq now? And how many British soldiers have died there? And why did we go there? And just how many weapons of mass destruction have we found?
The answers to those posers, as you won’t get them from a fork-tongued government minister are as follows: Three years; 115; Who knows, but if you believe the official version it was because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction; none, zip, nada, not a sausage, a big fat zero on the WMD count.
So when you wake up to BBC Breakfast to find ‘Dr’ John Reid, home secretary, looking at you grim-faced and telling you that it was about to start raining planes but for the prompt action of our police and security services – your first reaction is to check the length of his nose.
And for a moment I thought it was bring your son to work day, when Dr John made his statement, but no, it was no fresh-faced schoolboy sitting next to him, it was little Dougie Alexander doing his best to look stern or it would be lines for him after school.
Then we had the ridiculous, gurning performance of John Prescott trying to look statesmanlike, and failing, when he said his piece later on. John was apparently ‘incandescent’ at the suggestion he had been sidelined in all of this.
It shows just how bankrupt this government are of our trust when I was rather hoping Blair would come back from his hols because I would rather have him in charge than a bunch of bickering schoolboys vying for position after his departure.
You see the Great British Public (© John Prescott when he’s belatedly sucking up to us having had his thunder stolen by so-called Cabinet colleagues) does not like being taken for a ride.
It will be very interesting to see, if an when this plot comes to trial, just how far advanced it was and whether the alleged plotters had anything with which they could bring down a plane. Or was it still in the realms of a theological discussion debated alongside just how many virgins awaited them in the hereafter (and while we’re at it, if the number of female virgins in Heaven outnumbered the men by 72 to 1, wouldn't the human race have died out somewhere in the Dark Ages? Just a thought…carry on)
As I travelled by train on the day of the police raids, the talk in the carriage was not of the arrests and the possibility that 10 planes may have been blown out of the sky, but whether this was another government ruse to scare the willies up the Great British Public (© Prezza).
And they don’t help their case when, not 24 hours later, their minions start briefing the media about how this proves we need ID cards and 90-day detention for terror suspects. They truly take us all for a bunch of mugs.
The problem this government has is that it has made a miscalculation about just how bellicose the British are. I disagree completely with these wet liberals who claim we are a peace-loving nation. History is littered with the corpses of people who underestimated just how much we liked scrapping.
And when I say we, I mean we, because the British Empire was won by sending large numbers of Welsh and Scots abroad to win it.
But we like to have a good reason for the aforesaid scrapping and most of all we like to win. Committing us to open-ended foul-ups like Iraq where our troops are Aunt Sallies for every insurgent who can lay his hand on a rocket-propelled-grenade is not good tactics.
Sending our troops in with rifles that don’t work, boots that melt, not enough armour and too few helicopters is, in a word, indefensible.
But worst of all is lying to us about why we were going there in the first place. Then, when a real threat emerges, possibly such as the one which happened last week, rather than trusting our government to serve our best interests, we wonder whether to believe them or not.

FOR a group that have a reputation as the hard men, and women, of the road, bikers are a touchy bunch. Suggest, as I did, that they don’t all meekly stick to the speed limit and instead overtake on blind bends as if North Wales was an extension of the Isle of Man TT and they’ll fill your e-mail inbox with their electronic whinging.
North Wales deputy chief constable Clive Wolfendale had the temerity to suggest on his North Wales Police weblog that a peaceful holiday in the Lakes had been somewhat marred by the high-pitched whine of motorbikes. An issue which he said the Lakes shared with Snowdonia.
The British Motorcycle Federation said that this was somehow against the rules, that he was using official police resources – the blog – to promote personal opinion.
So, instead of engaging in a debate about the merits or otherwise of motorcycle noise, the BMF’s attitude is simply to say Clive Wolfendale shouldn’t have said what he said, on a North Wales Police blog.
So they’re not even shooting the messenger, they’re shooting the means by which the messenger delivered the message. Like I said, they’re a rum bunch. Perhaps it’s the high-pitched whine of their engines – gets to you after a while.

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