Bristling Brock speaks out...
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Once again we see government in a flux of bureaucratic red-tape that they seem incapable of - even unwilling - to extricate themselves from. In this context 'government' embraces that leviathan called the civil service, that anonymous force behind the political face of governance - commonly called in recent parlance, 'The Blob'.
'The Blob' is an amoeba like institution, veiled and invisible, always ready with bland denials of just about everything under the safety curtain protective identity of 'an official spokesman for....said...' They are experts at reconfiguring themselves with new departments and NGO's and shifting its senior mandarins around to avoid them ever being in danger of catching a bullet. In short, they have become a self sustaining, circulatory system that has spun such a complexity of rules, regulations and neutral, ambiguous messaging that not only do the public become exasperated with but also that fickle bunch whom we elected to lead the country.
Now there's much bouncing around out there in business as well as government about what good leadership should look like. 'Experts' have proliferated and what BB will describe as a non-industry has amazingly sprung up. All of a sudden we have 'experts' telling everyone with nattily crafted sound bites what leadership is all about and being drawn in by floundering governments to explain to them what they are doing wrong. We are spending millions on consultants (of leadership and most other unanswerable challenges as well) pushing their sage advice to government via individuals wielding algorithms who have next to no experience of the subject matters in hand. And the result - government chaos. And we see it everywhere today !
Let's look at the key examples. Next month we British look likely to see significant tax rises even when 50%+ of the government themselves are against them and the social economic model screams the message 'Don't do it !'; we see an energy policy/strategy that has fallen flat on its face under pressure from green lobby groups that are about as worldly and realistic as Mary Poppins, we see the dithering about opening up North Sea oil and gas again, we see dithering over fracking, we see dithering over electrification of the millions of vehicles on British roads; we cannot agree on mini-nuclear installations, we persist with ridiculous projects like HS2 (already out of date); we have a healthcare system that doesn't offer healthcare for the 21st century whilst swallowing prodigious amounts of taxpayers money to no avail; we make putting a Ukrainian refugee up so absurdly bureaucratic that nothing happens; we run around like headless chickens with the realisation that we've screwed our national defence so much that were just about 'bugg..ed'; we faff around amidst the NATO blob knowing full well that Russia is a wholly disingenuous party who will take advantage of Western niceties when we should be hitting them hard (because they will have no scruples whatever about hitting us hard)...and so the list could go on and on. And who do you think is the party that provides this vast array of conflicting leadership and information - none other than the Westminster Blob, wizards of obfuscation, dead-ending, prevarication and 'let's set up an enquiry to look into that !'
We need not only a 21st century elected government but a civil service that actually understands its true role and delivers well considered and weighed advice to formulate workable strategies at the same time initiating the sacking of cohorts of consultants who line their own pockets with very dubious, ill considered suggestions. Can you see much of that ? If you can't, look harder, it's there all around us. We are going to get hammered - both literally, socially and economically - unless the powers that be in Westminster and Whitehall get a grip.
Long live Badgers !
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The Russian invasion of Ukraine is unquestionably a travesty of international law and human rights. Boris has labelled Russian actions as 'war crimes' - but we will have to see how that can be adjudicated in an international court with a slippery entity such as Russia. But the basis of this blog is pro-Ukrainian.
Russia is clearly struggling to gain a strong military position in Ukraine but the sheer weight of numbers and weaponry they can bring to bear must surely indicate a final subjugation of the state of Ukraine but not of its people. Putin cares little for both civilians and his own troop losses - and history has shown us a commonality of approach here in the tactic of steam-rollering an opponent with massive numbers of expendable manpower. Blunt instrument warfare.
The West has imposed a considerable array of sanctions which are making a quick impact upon the economics of modern warfare. If a single British NLAW anti-tank weapon costs £90,000 or so, imagine what Putin must be spending on his widely dispersed forces firing off round upon round of artillery munitions. Very soon he will run short of roubles which sanctions will prevent him from shoring up with his illegal overseas stash's. May that all come to pass very soon.
Yet the West cannot sit-back and marvel at the wonder of electronic, economic warfare against Russia without having some misgivings about the wider impact of these actions upon the globalised world economy. As these sanctions bite into supply chains, international currency exchanges and confidence amongst the traders and bankers who pull the strings in these matters we will see a progressive weakening of global economies. Covid started the process off with limitations of supply across a breadth of commodities and goods that countries normally import. Shortage of supply equals higher prices in standard economic terms - which we now see increasingly in our own High Streets. Add to this the curtailment of energy supplies - much of which in Europe comes from Russia - and we see the same supply/demand crisis shifting the economic cross-over point much higher up the scale. To some extent, the West can blame its own misguided energy policies as being significant contributors to shortages - too optimistic expectations of renewables and green motivations and a shunning of nuclear options. All of these badly thought through policies have pushed the price expectations for Joe Public being required to pay through the roof - not just here, but throughout Europe. What it collectively highlights is the fragility of the global economic model. That model has shown itself to be wanting in the face of a crisis such as that happening in Ukraine but, more significantly, it shows a weak and uninformed position being adopted by commercial influencers and Western governments about the geo-political framework that ultimately controls commerce across the entire world.
Inflation is rising rapidly - everywhere - and as costs escalate so will labour demand more remuneration which will increase inflation further. A vicious cycle of cost pressures operates like a cyclone - once spiralling it is very difficult to control. We are, nevertheless, in no doubt that subverting the Russian economy is necessary to make Putin feel the squeeze and seek some face-saving escape that takes the pressure off Ukraine. It's not likely a quick fix so the collateral damage to Western economies will continue a while. This is the price of freedom - one that the civilised nations of the world are prepared to pay whilst they can. Some canny governance is universally required here.
But it would be a mistake to underestimate the manic madness of Putin. He is dangerous. His apparatchiks are fearful of him and under those circumstances rational and logical behaviour is absent. This crisis will last some time, perhaps long after the Ukrainian part in this is passed - and we should prepare for that.
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Today's title reflects several storylines. The obvious one is the imminent Russian invasion of the Ukraine; but there are crisis situations continuing on Westminster, Royal circles, national institutions such as the NHS and the BBC and also in the EU where pettyism (if that's a real word) continues to be the principal gameplay of Brussels.
Let's first have a think about the Ukraine. On the one hand we have a Russian despot who is paranoid about security and as po faced and inflexible a player as you're likely to get; on the other hand we have a collection of so called world influencers who are dancing around the totem pole making grand yells and protests but who will never actually lift a finger to physically engage a Russian incursion into the Ukraine. Economic sanctions is their preferred option and weapon of choice - which may be broadly effective against weaker adversaries but in the case of Russia not even likely to scratch the paintwork. Why ? Because Putin and his cohorts are so unashamedly consumed by the notion that the West is 'out to get them' that absolutely nothing is going to prevent him tightening their grip on anyone who occupies Russia's southern underbelly. Sanctions will be a small price to bear as long as they believe they've secured the sovereign realm of Russia.
Why Putin believes he is threatened is anybody's guess - for NATO, the instrument that he identifies as the creeping insurgent is not a very effective military predator at all, and, like its civil counterpart at the UN, they collectively represent a mewing mouthpiece for Western gestures of action but with no teeth whatever. Mr Putin should recognise this impotence in the West and play his cards far more judiciously than he is. War is not the answer. For the West, however, that impotence, though seldom admitted, is a fundamental weakness of the collaborative instincts of Putin's imagined adversaries. The evidence is logical, but wars are rarely dictated by logic.
The endless whistleblowing culture of Westminster continues bringing 'scandal' mania to become a spectator sport like no other. Similar antics beset the monarchy with revelation after revelation adding to the salacious appetites of tabloid Britain. Culture wars continue unchecked at universities, and within the established Church and the broadcasting institutions headed by the BBC as though their perceived notions of cancelling both individuals and history resonate with the quiet majority. That silent majority will wake up soon. The broader implications of ethnicity, race, gender and those who hover between genders have overtaken the really important political and sociological issues this country needs to contend with whilst law and order - the fundamental bedrock of the Rule of Law - is flouted and disregarded with impunity. But let's not be too fatalistic. Many of these aberrations are transient. The mob who fuel them will find new 'horrors' to excite their wrath in the fulness of time. In the meantime we need professionally behaved, well informed and well advised players in our government cabal to start earning their crust. Playing political games in Westminster and Downing Street hurts everyone but the privileged in social, economic and national contexts - so the civil service needs a substantial kick up its 'a..e' and Cabinet really needs to get proper, independently minded ministers to stop playing around with 'yes men' games. Get to it Boris ! See the danger and sort it - or else somebody else will...
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