Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
It’s coming home! And I don’t mean the World Cup. That may yet come back, and if it does it will be the only upward blip in the dreary decline of Britain. What is coming home is the reality that the UK has a much-diminished position in the world. If you don’t believe me, look no further than that other supposed Russian event … Novichok on Britain’s streets.
Assuming the Russians are responsible for Salisbury, the UK response is one of impotence. All the Home Secretary could offer was “We will consult our allies”. These are the same allies we are busy trying to push out the door over Brexit. That’s another story. That Sajid Javid can’t offer more than those weak platitudes illustrates a point. That Great Britain no longer has the clout nor the gumption to stand up to Russia.
Of course, the weak response may rest on a lack of evidence to substantiate the claim that Russia was responsible. Indeed, we’ve heard nothing other than statements from UK officials. Thus, it would be wise to be sceptical.
Meanwhile, one person is dead, and another is fighting for his life. This suggests many things. The authorities don’t know how and when the Novachok was delivered. Also, their ability to track residues and eliminate them from the environment is far from foolproof. Granted its an extremely complicated task, and some leeway must be given. Yet, it’s not helpful for the government to keep repeating that the risk to the public is minimal. A woman is dead, that’s not a minimal risk.
This week could prove the perfect storm of issues that brings many things. Brexit is unravelling before our eyes. Prime Minister May is on the ropes. David Davies and Boris Johnson are gone. Whether she will survive the next few weeks is debatable. Indeed, the Tories don’t want a change in leadership, but events are freewheeling at the moment with control primarily gone.
The complexities of Brexit remain unresolved. Many are now asking is it all worth it. In Brussels, there is mild amusement. That the British can’t even agree amongst themselves a negotiating position is raising weary eyebrows. It’s all a bit ‘People’s Front of Judea’ versus ‘Popular Front of Judea’.
On Thursday, President Trump rolls into town. He can expect a large reception party. Things could get difficult for the police, who are already scrambling to draw manpower from across the country. At least this will be a change from them policing people’s words and thoughts. With fewer than 5% of robberies and burglaries detected in England, their absence from crime-fighting won’t be noticed.
One of the issues he’s taken to heart is NATO. Again, Britain is not looking armed and ready. Since 1990 the navy has shrunk by 60%, and some ships can’t leave Portsmouth. The military lacks depth, reserves or a posture that meets modern threats. Military leaders have pulled the wool over the politician's eyes to buy carriers and fancy fighter planes. What's needed is manpower, rapid response and asymmetric capabilities. You don’t get that with a lumbering carrier. The only saving grace is that the special forces remain at the top of their game.
So it's all coming home. The truth about Brexit, the truth about a diminished Britain, Trump and hopefully the World Cup. What a week.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.