Thursday, October 08, 2009

Lord Dannatt? The appointment of all peers is now a ‘political gimmick’

When the Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling was told by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis that former Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, was joining the Conservatives in the Lords, he expressed the hope that it was not a ‘political gimmick’. He added: “We’ve seen too many appointments in this government of external people where it’s all been about Gordon Brown’s PR. General Dannatt’s an experienced figure and should rightly be working alongside government. I’m always suspicious of government’s motives when it does things like this.”

And so he ought to be.

And equally suspicious ought one to be of the motives of the Opposition ‘when it does things like this’.

Mr Grayling was neither ‘in the loop’, nor attentive to what Ms Maitlis was telling him. She specifically said that the General was to join the Tories, while he continued under the mistaken impression that it was Gordon Brown, and not his own leader, who was offering the General a job.

And so Mr Grayling went on to berate the Government for a ‘political gimmick’.

Rather like former bishops or speakers, it is rare for former service chiefs to align themselves openly with any political party. Most former defence chiefs raised to the peerage sit as cross-benchers, above the unedifying fray of partisan politics.

There are some who are questioning David Cameron’s judgement over this appointment, suggesting that he has potentially politicised the armed forces as the motives of each retiring senior military figure will now be questioned and ‘tainted’.

This is not a problem for Mr Cameron. But it is certainly one for General Dannatt.

It was his lack of judgement which leaked this story on a Radio Five interview yesterday. Today, that poor grasp of politics has wiped the reporting of every other Conference speech off the front pages. He alone is responsible for this.

It transpires that he has been advising the Conservative Party ‘for months’, which is a manifest assertion of political allegiance and a breach of the convention that the military are politically neutral.

While the whole country has heard Sir Richard openly criticise the Government for not providing enough support and equipment for troops in the frontline in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was believed that he was speaking up nobly for the armed forces. When he said he believed that the Army is fighting the Taliban with ‘at least part of one arm’ tied behind its back, we believed that the General was speaking with honourable motives.

Now there is more than a whiff of playing politics.

That Sir Richard is to be made a peer will now come as no surprise. That he will be a minister in the next Conservative government is now foregone.

But the reality is that there is no real difference between Labour and the Conservatives when it comes to appointments to the House of Lords. All peers are now ‘gimmicks’, for the second chamber is itself now nothing but a gimmick – a political football for either party to fill with its placemen and cronies in order to gain partisan advantage in the legislating process. Lord Dannatt may bring more to the Upper House than Lord Sugar, but as a Conservative what he brings will be much diminished.

And what will David Cameron do when the next wing commander, general or admiral steps out of the chain of command and starts to criticise publicly his Conservative government for not ring-fencing the defence budget, or for failing to provide the necessary ships, helicopters or body armour to allow them to do what they have been sent into a theatre of war to do?

And when he does nothing, will he object if they start to advise Labour?


Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 October 2009 at 09:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

Cameron has indeed taken the first step to politicising our military. However, we live in extraordinary times. If my recall of history serves me right – politicising of the military last happened under England’s greatest general: Lord Oliver Cromwell.

I also recall from my school history books that Major Denis Healy once said, ‘Give us reform, or we’ll give you revolution.’ The then socialist government opted for reform.

It is likely that at midnight on the 31 December we will be under a dictatorship as the Lisbon Treaty is self-amending: the people are superfluous to requirements.

What difference is that dictatorship compared to the dictatorship of Charles I?

8 October 2009 at 09:51  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I yelled, "PR stunt!" at the screen yesterday when I heard the news. And later laughed when Grayling gave what I believe to be a cynical and honest opinion of an enobled Dannatt advising a Tory government on matters military. Typically, he spinelessly retracted it later on. Not enough courage to stand by his off the cuff and honest conviction. Tribal to the rotten core.

Says it all really.

8 October 2009 at 09:53  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 October 2009 at 10:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

May I add that like Lord Oliver Cromwell, General Sir Richard Dannat is a practising Christian.

Here is a brief entry from an Internet encyclopedia:

An evangelical Anglican Gen. Dannatt called for a return to traditional Judeo-Christian values in order to counter "the Islamist threat" within British society. In the same Daily Mail interview, he said: "When I see the Islamist threat in this country I hope it doesn't make undue progress because there is a moral and spiritual vacuum in this country." British society, he said, "has always been embedded in Christian values; once you have pulled the anchor up there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind." In his view, "There is an element of the moral compass spinning. I think it is up to society to realise that is the situation we are in." He identified aspects of radical Islam as the heart of the matter: "We can't wish the Islamist challenge to our society away and I believe that the army both in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably wherever we go next, is fighting the foreign dimension of the challenge to our accepted way of life." It is important, he added, "to face up to the Islamist threat, to those who act in the name of Islam and in a perverted way try to impose Islam by force on societies that do not wish it." He concluded: "It is said that we live in a post Christian society. I think that is a great shame. The broader Judeo-Christian tradition has underpinned British society. It underpins the British Army."

8 October 2009 at 10:36  
Blogger Theo said...

D. Singh
I'm sorry to have to be the one to break the news to you but Cromwell was not a great general, he was a common (or uncommon) terrorist. It is only because he won his war that historians have been kind to him; unless of course you have elevated "democracy" to being a religion.

8 October 2009 at 10:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“During a great part of the eighteenth century most Tories hated him because he overthrew the monarchy, most Whigs because he overthrew Parliament. Since Carlyle wrote, all liberals have seen in him their champion, and all revolutionists have apotheosized the first great representatives of their school; while, on the other side, their opponents have hailed the dictator who put down anarchy. Unless the socialists or the anarchists finally prevail- and perhaps even then - his fame seems as secure as human reputation is likely to be in a changing world.”

W.C Abbott

Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell.

8 October 2009 at 10:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“We study the glory of God, and the honour and liberty of parliament, for which we unanimously fight, without seeking our own interests....I profess I could never satisfy myself on the justness of this war, but from the authority of the parliament to maintain itself in its rights; and in this cause I hope to prove myself an honest man and single-hearted.”

Oliver Cromwell to Colonel Valentine Walton.

5 or 6 September 1644.

8 October 2009 at 10:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Get it out of your system:


8 October 2009 at 11:00  
Anonymous Dick the Prick said...

Your Grace

Whilst I fully accept your premise that to politicize the senior ranks of the armed forces is dangerous & moreover, stupid. I think in this case we can use pragmatism as our guide - we have been fighting 2 wars, 1 of which was unjust, the other poorly planned. It is questionable as to what evidence the government used in determining our activities and some poor git has to get us out. I'm not sure i'd care if he had alligned himself to the Green party just as long as his voice is heard.

With respects


8 October 2009 at 11:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

think you're wrong on this one cranmer - for once. He's a standup chap - and advising people doesn't equate to supporting them, even though he probably does - he should be a Lord, but also if he is and has been a conservative voter/member for years, why should her suddenly have to be a cross bencher now?

8 October 2009 at 11:04  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

Your Grace,

The General's political appointment will provide Labour with ammunition to dismiss all his past complaints about under resourcing as politically motivated and make it more difficult for him to turn his fire on the Tories if they fail the armed forces when in Government.

On the face of it there appears to be an unwelcome drift towards politicisation of public servants who were hitherto impartial in order to give unbiased advice to the government of the day, however, D Singh has a valid point about extrordinary times. We may need someone of the stature of Cromwell before too long. Yes he was dictatorial but he was our dictator, not a Napoleon or a Mahdi.

8 October 2009 at 11:13  
Blogger Preacher said...

Cromwell was a man who stepped up to the plate when needed. He fought against what he considered a monarchy that was about to sell out to Rome, and eventually dispelled a corrupt government who refused to pay the army & threatened to plunge the country back into civil unrest because of its greed & ambition. Cometh the hour ,cometh the man, Oh for another Cromwell. Perhaps Donat is the man for the hour!

8 October 2009 at 11:22  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 October 2009 at 11:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why should we cool down?

Our church is broken down by liberal theologians; our country’s history rewritten by the Left-liberals so that our country’s youth is ashamed and has nothing but plastic chairs and broken bottles to throw in Madrid; our laws, Magna Carta, that have stood for a thousand years are repealed; Christians for being Christians are hauled up before the magistrate and the Employment Tribunal; our country’s constitution is smashed because the socialists wanted to call its bluff; our prime minister has sold our sacred treasure, sovereignty, in exchange for the Lisbon Treaty; our rights and ancient liberties are swept away – and you – you – want us to cool down?

8 October 2009 at 11:50  
Blogger Owl said...

Here are the words of Winston Churchill as he described the impact of Cromwell on Anglo-Irish relations:

"...upon all of these Cromwell's record was a lasting bane. By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds. 'Hell or Connaught' were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred 'The Curse of Cromwell on you.' ... Upon all of us there still lies 'the curse of Cromwell'."

If Cromwell can be described as the greatest English General then I hate to think what the worst must have been like and it raises the issue of objectitivity.

8 October 2009 at 12:06  
Blogger ukipwebmaster said...

Yesterday in Strasbourg:

8 October 2009 at 12:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Protestant can reply by citing the massacres carried out by Catholics.

What really upsets the Irish Catholics is: Drogheda. That is fed by lies, myths and exaggerations.

8 October 2009 at 12:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before you reply; you would do well to study military law of the period.

8 October 2009 at 12:27  
Blogger Preacher said...

Cromwell was a product of his time & situation, like many others who have had to stand & fight for their beliefs. Without doubt he would have been happier not to have risked life & limb in warfare, but knew that it was either fight or surrender.
Churchill himself had to make awful decisions that meant the death of many innocents i.e the destruction of Dresden.
The present situation is much more serious than the one that faced either Cromwell or Churchill so it's more than just a question of who was the best general, it's more a cry of desperation for a man of integrity & courage to stop the rot. Yes it will be costly, but the men who have sold us into EU slavery are the ones that have created the current situation & are therefore guilty of the resultant struggle to regain our independance freedom & pride.

8 October 2009 at 12:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Owl

I apologise. Quarter had been offered. It was rejected. Both commanders knew the consequences.

It was accepted in those days that to prolong a siege would mean disease and death for both armies.

Battlefield aid did not improve until after World War I.

8 October 2009 at 12:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

It is abundantly clear that people are deeply upset by what this government have done. The majority disagrees and rejects the Lisbon Treaty. New Labour in its 2005 Manifesto said that we, the people, would have a referendum on this hotly contested issue concerning our liberty, security and freedom.

We, the people, have been dismissed by this government.

The chief question now is, in the context of a broken constitution (smashed by the socialists), is this:

Where does sovereignty lie?

Is it in parliament as the constitutional lawyer A.V. Dicey taught in his The Law of the Constitution (1888); or does it lie within the people?

If it lies within the people, then the people must have a revolutionary right to dismiss their government. That must be a legitimate response amongst the range of democratic responses available to the people.

It was so in 1215 at Runnymede and it was so during the 17th Century –confirmed by one of our greatest lawyers: Lord Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke who said that ‘Magna Carta is such a fellow that he has no brother…’ and that must include the State.

8 October 2009 at 14:03  
Anonymous Anabaptist said...

Anybody with doubts about the quality of Cromwell's generalship should read Buchan's biography of him. The battle strategies, extremely well described by Buchan, were brilliant and effective; his ability to deploy, move and motivate troops, unequalled. Cromwell more or less invented our standing army. He was a great master of tactics and strategy.

It is, of course, possible to differ about Cromwell's political achievements, but to question his abilities as a general merely demonstrates ignorance.

8 October 2009 at 14:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Anabaptist

I suppose Buchan does not mention that at the Battle of Dunbar, Cromwell’s men, being outgunned and outnumbered by a ratio of three-to-one (beautiful odds) sang hymns and a great fear swept through the Scottish army?

8 October 2009 at 15:45  
Blogger Ginro said...

Apologies for being off topic a bit, but I thought this might be worth looking at:

Church 'noise' ban

Compare and contrast what was happening in Oxford re the muslim call to prayer.

8 October 2009 at 15:51  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 October 2009 at 15:52  
Blogger Owl said...

Mr. Singh and Preacher,
Winston was not talking from a Catholic point of view obviously. The damage done by a religious fanatic who happens to be a capable military leader is not to be underestimated. Anglo-Irish relationships still suffer today under the after effects of Crowellian barbarity. Not only Droghedra's military but their civilian population were included in the massacre and the same again in spades for Wexford. What came afterwards was the theft of the land from the native inhabitants plus other discriminatory actions which set the stage for 300 years of repression and suffering.
I merely wish to advise caution in the support of a capable military leader with strong religious feelings.
Of course, my main problem with Cromwell was his puritanical objections to the book of common prayer written by His Grace himself.

8 October 2009 at 16:54  
Blogger Surreptitious Evil said...

Getting back to Gen Sir Richard and the rights or wrongs of his actions (as opposed to Cromwell - not studied much in Scottish history lessons), what about Maj(sacked) E (for expensive) Joyce MP? Nowhere near as senior as the good general but far more overtly political when still serving?

8 October 2009 at 17:06  
Anonymous Anabaptist said...

D. Singh said...
'I suppose Buchan does not mention that at the Battle of Dunbar, Cromwell’s men, being outgunned and outnumbered by a ratio of three-to-one (beautiful odds) sang hymns and a great fear swept through the Scottish army?'

Indeed, Buchan does mention this. However, in this connection it is worth noting that the Scots might also have sung the same Psalms, showing the utter disgrace of Christians making war on Christians. How many men were killed by their brethren on that day? 'Unfeigned love of the brethren...' Yeah, right.

And one of the saddest things is the inability of both sides to see that the singing of warlike psalms might have been good for old covenant Israel, in its retrospective, exile-fuelled hatred, but ill-behoved disciples of the peaceful Jesus, who told his followers to love their enemies, let alone their brthren.

8 October 2009 at 17:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Owl

Equally Protestants suffered greatly at the hands of Catholics. I do object to you describing him as a ‘fanatic’, ‘puritanical’ and ‘barbaric’. The same could be said of what the Catholics did to Protestants.

The killing of civilians at Droghedra was in accord with European military law. Both Cromwell and the commander of Droghedra knew what would follow when Cromwell’s offer of Quarter was rejected.

No Quarter would be given.

Cromwell made military decisions which were in accord with his objective for settling Protestant colonists in Ireland. However, I think even he (according to Carlyle) seemed to accept that his actions were ‘excessive’ (his motivation being to set such terrible examples that the Irish would think twice before rising up against his regime; his army was hard pressed by the situation in England and in terms of his foreign policy).

8 October 2009 at 17:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Anabaptist

There is no evidence that the Scots sang psalms.

Utter disgrace of Christians killing Christians?

If I were a soldier I would have no qualms about bayoneting the Chrsitian Field Marshal Erwin Rommel - who I hope to converse with in Heaven.

Now let me read no more talk of this liliy livered cowardice and pacifism that you seem to suggest.

8 October 2009 at 17:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Anabaptist

Let me make one more remark.

You ever make an unqualified remark and without evidential support such as this:'might have been good for old covenant Israel, in its retrospective, exile-fuelled hatred...' again. Then I shall mark you well.

YOU - yes - YOU - fetch me a white feather.

Where are my wolf-hounds, Sabre, Boxer and Satan.

Come hither boys.

8 October 2009 at 18:28  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Is it just that we always saw them in black and white photos, or are our generals now covered in unprecedented quantities of scrambled egg?

For some reason, they don't look British any more, to me. Oh well -in any case - a general in the euro bureau won't be British, will he?

8 October 2009 at 20:22  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Well, Your Grace, what are your views of Admirals joining Governments - as distinct from Generals being invited to join Oppositions?

8 October 2009 at 20:52  
Blogger Owl said...

Mr. Singh,
I think Winston understood Cromwell rather better than your good self.
But as you say, as he wanted to colonise Ireland with protestants and that makes everything he did OK. Hmm, I think that was the main reason for the 1641 uprising in the first place. Maybe the Irish didn't want to be colonised with protestants, or anyone else for that matter.
I am heartened to hear that Mr. C thought that the butchery might have been "excessive". Very kind of him to be so gracious.
By the way, the "New Model Army" was the first professional army in England and it is hardly surprising that the Scots and the Irish brave but amateur armies had very little chance against them. Thankfully the Great Ejection of 1662 restored some sanity to England and the scouge of the Puritans came to an end.
This fits in rather well with our current situation. NU Lab have been the modern equivalent of the Puritans only it is now called Theosophy and the target is not a foreign shore but our own country. The Theosophists who beleive in everything and nothing have infiltrated our health services, local government, political bodies etc. and the people being screwed are the native inhabitants (sounds familiar). The English people are being robbed of their heritage and the time of the next "Great Ejection" has come. I do not have His Graces confidence in Dave C. being the one to cast out the EU deranged ones but perhaps if UKIP get enough votes to join in a coalition with the Conservatives then they might just be able to push him in the right direction.

8 October 2009 at 22:40  
Anonymous churchmouse said...

D. Singh - I seldom disagree with you, but have always understood (from school history and before) that Cromwell was less than great. Indeed, he was a very nasty and evil piece of work.
I forget the details, it's not my field or time period.

However, in informal conversation, a Milton scholar of my acquaintance recently expressed a similar impression.

8 October 2009 at 22:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I refer you to Geofferey Robertson's The Tyrannycide Brief.

Amongst many other things, Cromwell's men introduced, for the first time in a democracy legal aid for poor people.

They also executed that dictator Charles I.

9 October 2009 at 05:31  
Blogger Preacher said...

Perhaps the restoration of the Stuart monarchy has dealt over harshly with Cromwell as indeed did the Tudors with Richard III? I was taught that evolution was a sacrosanct scientific certainty in school & believed it until I studied further. If you would like to know more about Cromwell's motivation I would recommend Antonia Fraser's book 'Cromwell Our Chief of Men'.

9 October 2009 at 10:20  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

By his own admission, as reported on Today this morning, Dannatt is still an officer in the Armed Forces until 20 November. If he was a man of honour he would have at least waited until then before he became engaged in party politics. One presumes that he is not above the codes of conduct and regulations which apply to army officers.

9 October 2009 at 14:03  
Anonymous churchmouse said...

D Singh and Preacher - thanks. Please know that, in disliking Cromwell, I don't promote the Stuarts ... not pre or post. I know something of the pre-, and think they were horrible. The post- seem at least as effete, dissolute, and foreign. In fact, the period seems to run a few parallels to our own.

However, I'd need to know quite a bit more to agree that Cromwell, as cure, wasn't as bad as the disease. So it's on the back burner for me, just now. Once I've time I'll get to it - though with a strong antidote to Fraser!

On evolution - my grammar school taught the meaning of theory, and did not confuse it with fact (as present day universities do with marxism!).

On RIII ... er, well that's complicated and allows for the making of many arguments! Neither RIII nor EIV appear to have been saints... Who knows about EV; though of course, poor little HVI probably wasn't either ~~~ Then again, neither HIV nor HV sprouted wings while on earth.

I think, though, that it is all relevant to consideration of governance in relation to 'generals' and military men ... and euros. Maybe the angle could inspire someone to a book or 2 on the subject!

Best I can say is that, frankly, I'm glad not to have known any of them! :)

9 October 2009 at 23:01  

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