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Tories' open talk of Afghan elections

Nick Robinson | 08:52 UK time, Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Are the Tories about to call the Afghan elections rigged and call for new ones?

That would certainly appear to be possible from a conversation we caught on camera yesterday between David Cameron and William Hague. The two men knew they were being filmed at a meeting in the "green room" before David Cameron's speech on cutting the cost of politics but they appeared to be having a "genuine" conversation rather than one staged for the cameras.

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Here's what they said:

Cameron: "The things that seem to have happened are so naked, you know, you just saw the number of votes and the number of people who actually turned up at polling stations, it just couldn't possibly be right."

Hague: "There was the, I remember, in the 1979 election in Nigeria...[there is a short gap in the recording here]... and this is the same sort of thing."

Cameron: " We should be very clear about that."

So far, the government have studiously avoided commenting on the elections saying at all times that people should wait for the verdict of the Electoral Complaints Commission or the process to end. They know how politically explosive it is to have British soldiers being seen to die not for democracy but for a corrupt government. They also know how prickly President Karzai is and that they may, like it or not, have to live with him.

It is much easier, of course, for an opposition party than a government to make these comments. It is still significant, however since David Cameron and William Hague may have responsibility for Afghan policy within a year. If there is a gulf between a future British government and the Afghan government, and if the political consensus here fractures even more that will have real consequences.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    not sure why we are supporting such a corrupt regime....UK soldiers are dying in the vain attempt to impose democracy in Afghanistan, it is doomed to failure.. Hopefully Cameron will be able to say enough is enough and bring the troops home....

  • Comment number 2.

    Perhaps they can start by telling us the real truth as to why we are there at all?

  • Comment number 3.

    War in Afghanistan against local people is a folly that arises every hundred years or so. Each time we get beaten back and many are slain on both sides. There does seem to be a point in fighting the roots of terrorism and stopping vast heroin production but is this approach the best and most assured?

    If the elections are rigged, does it matter? It is still a preferable buffer to the Taliban who are an openly corrupt vicious cartel.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Not really sure why the Cameroons are making the running on this issue

    What are the government doing? Nothing? Par for the course

    The waste of human life on a botched political mission with little coherence, badly funded, annoying our allies, could of course be the nail that seals the coffin of NuLiebour

    Lets hope it happens before the military covenant is irreparably damaged

  • Comment number 7.

    About time, at least one political party has decided to question this.

    You would have expected our upright and open government to start the questions, but then I suppose they are still too busy trying to get those dark stains off their hands.

  • Comment number 8.

    What should be expected? Democracy cannot be imposed especially onto such a disparate society even without the systematic corruption being taken into account.
    There is less chance of having a democracy in Afganistan than there is even in this country.....and that's saying something.
    I fear the elections only merit is to demonstrate that some form of progress is being made by the coalition - nah, I don't believe that either.

  • Comment number 9.

    Never mind all these confidential discussions within the opposition and tight-lipped optimism from the likes of Gordon Brown and Bob Ainsworth. British lads are getting killed out there for no reason. All this talk about "preventing terrorism at home" has been show to be nonsense, with 7/7 and now the airlines plot. Politicians of all parties have to admit Afghanistan is not worth supporting and get our troops out NOW. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 10.

    Nick Robinson:

    Are the Tories about to call the Afghan elections rigged and call for new ones?

    I think that in my own opinion that the Tories will be calling for New Afghan Elections in the Nearby future....

    [I am not a political operative in the United Kingdom and/or affiliated with this political party]...

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 11.

    There was an interesting piece in last weeek's Sunday Times about how a blatantly rigged South Vietnamese election in 1967 turned most of the population against an incompetent and deeply corrupt government and their American backers. This enabled the Viet Cong to prepare for the Tet Offensive of January 1968 which caused most Americans to begin questioning the war.

    I'm afraid that history may be about to repeat itself. Yes these things do happen in many parts of the world, but the difference here is that our soldiers are dying for Karzai. It's often said that without NATO the Taliban would be in Kabul in a week, well lets call his bluff. Threaten to pull out by the end of next year if he doesn't agree to fresh elections and then watch him squirm!

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    The onus is on the government to sort this mess out, they got us into it in the first place.

    Labour followed Bush in, the Tories will probably follow Obama out.

  • Comment number 14.

    Disgusting, eh? A UK political party says it how it is.

    Oh, what has it come to.

  • Comment number 15.

    "...but they appeared to be having a "genuine" conversation rather than one staged for the cameras. "

    yeh right! It looks to me to be staged. An obvious ploy. Perhaps instead of sycophantically following Cameron like Nicholas Witchell or jenny bond follows royalty. You could challenge them and not fall for the little pieces of 'Look at me being prime minister' acting. Sorry Blame game! at least I didn't mention Thatcher!

    Doh!

  • Comment number 16.

    12#

    What, you mean like these Hedge Fund Managers, Saga? I can find more if you like.

    "Paul Myners was a director of the hedge fund manager GLG, which with $25 billion under management was one of europe's biggest hedge fund managers. It was until recently 10% owned by Lehmans. Paul Myners gave money to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign and he also gave money to Gordon Brown's think-tank the Smith Institute. Gordon rewarded him with appointments to the Treasury's pension review and then a peerage.

    Derek Tullet has also given huge amounts of money to the Labour Party. Tullet's broking firm specialises in servicing hedge funds who want to go short stocks and derivatives.

    Gilad Hayeem of the Lehman Brothers backed $2 billion hedge fund, Marble Bar Asset Management (Cayman), contributed to Hilary Benn's deputy leadership campaign."

    You're perpetuating a myth while at the same time holding up the very people who Labour has been taking both tax and donations from, as well as providing them with a benign tax regime whilst telling the public they're all evil money grabbing, child slaying tories and that Labour are the only bastion between the poor starving, embattled northern hardworking benefit dependants and these hideous behemoths.

    Damnit, if no-one else has got the guts to call it an outright flagrant LIE, I will.

    Put a sock in it, will you?

  • Comment number 17.

    It's pretty obvious the elections were thoroughly corrupt. The tricky bit is what they plan to do about it. If they have a sensible suggestion for that, I'd love to hear it.

  • Comment number 18.

    As a party obsessed with sucking up to the Americans in the name of the "special relationship" (see the Megrahi release), they'd be well-advised to wait for the American lead on this issue before expoliting it for short-term domestic gain. Otherwise, Mr Obama might not be pleased.

  • Comment number 19.

    Is it just me, Nick, or are you regressing to your old habit of examining every tiny facet of the Tories whilst ignoring all the incompetence of the government again?

    News is just breaking of yet another armed forces death in Afghanistan, and again the majority of questions will be directed towards those responsible for our involvement in this mess, namely our incompetent government. why aren't you holding these people to account? Why aren't you pressing them on their inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and all-round ignorance on all things Afghanistan?

    It's good to know that the Tories are already well involved in making plans for government. It's just a shame that the Labour party don't appear to have started planning at all, instead just reacting to everything they read in the press with a new "initiative" or reeling off a load of made-up figures.

    It's obvious that there are many irregularities in regards to the Afghan elections, and it's about time this was recognised more widely by those in a position to do something about it.

  • Comment number 20.

    Cameron caught off guard by a fil crew...come on - he wanted every word to be heard, even gave Lil Billy H. the time to gen up on flawed elections.

    Its just another way onto a bandwagon - British soldiers being killed for this ??? Playing party politics with issues this serious shows how out of depth Cameron will be when he gets his hand on the tiller. Stick to the PR, real government is not a place for admen.

  • Comment number 21.

    #11 - JPSLotus79 - We have been here before, should be the Fourth Afghan War?

    How do you know Nick that DC and Billie Boy 'knew' they were on camera? And who was filming it? The BBC?

    It should be mentioned that the Tet Offensive was military defeat for the North Vietnamese, but a political victory leading to the USA questioning the war, probably aided by the media reports as well.

    However, after the Liquid bombers publicity yesterday, makes it difficult for the Government not to make a u-turn there and bring the troops home after their defence of why the UK is still fighting there.

  • Comment number 22.

    'Are the Tories about to call the Afghan elections rigged and call for new ones?'


    Only if they want to appear as band-wagon jumping oppurtunistic fools.

    We all know that the afghan elections are a joke, and we know that the Kharzi regime is pretty despicable and the UK has no place helping to prop it up.

    But theres no point in calling for new elections unless the tories can can suggest a cast iron way to avoid the corruption, intimidation and downright cheating that featured in the recent election.

    Which of course they can't.

    So they should just keep quiet.

  • Comment number 23.

    In this country, professional political analysts tell us that roughly 60,000 floating voters, spread across a few key marginal seats, decide the outcome of a General Election.

    Patently we should put our own house in order before lecturing others.

    To be fair, the Liberal leader, Nick Clegg, has pointed out that 'safe' seats are a travesty in a democracy but I do not expect any radical changes any time soon - do you?

  • Comment number 24.

    fs @ 16

    You're perpetuating a myth

    yes, I'm perpetuating the myth that the Tories tend to look after the upper echelons and care very little for anyone else - it's a myth in the same way the existence of Blackburn is a myth

  • Comment number 25.

    "dhwilkinson wrote:
    "...but they appeared to be having a "genuine" conversation rather than one staged for the cameras. "

    yeh right! It looks to me to be staged."

    I have to agree that it seems rather staged, and it allows them to discuss something that they obviously want to bring attention to without actually raising it.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    18#

    "a party obsessed with sucking up to the Americans....."


    Sorry, are you referring to New Labour there? The same "party obsessed with sucking up to the US" who followed the most gungho, draft-dodging President in US history into two wars, one illegal, the other completely unneccessary?

    Sheeeesh.

    Its enough to make a dog laugh!

  • Comment number 28.

    The Times says "the Electoral Complaints Commission, a UN-backed body handling allegations of fraud, ordered a recount of votes, saying that it had evidence of serious violations".

    I'd expect Miliband Major to be demanding access to evidence of electoral violations and, if appropriate, get his boss to support the UN backed body and put pressure on Karzai. I bet Obama will do the same.

    I'd have thought Nick's question should have been "Will Brown call the elections rigged and call for new ones?"

    He's always a bit slow to come to a decision, but he is still PM. So his government resources should be dealing with this international matter.

    If Cameron has access to the UN evidence, I'd find it surprising if he didn't comment.

  • Comment number 29.

    If one of the main reasons given for our presence in Afghanistan is the prevention of terrorism in the UK, then why on earth are we not also in Pakistan. Reading about various terror plots - actual or planned - shows that the vast majority refer to training camps and other connections involving Pakistan.
    The Government really does need to come clean regarding our continued involvement in military action in Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 30.

    It seems to me the Tories are more concerned about fair and balanced representation of the people in Afghanistan than they are in the UK.

    Here they are quite happy to see the largest minority ( currently Labour with 36% of the votes cast and 64% who didn't want them) given effectively total power over the majority who voted for something else.

    If Mr Cameron thinks its alright to have an institutionally rigged electoral system in the UK why is he so exercised about other forms of rigging used elsewhere? Ours is just a slightly more covert ( but enduring) way of denying the populace the representation they actually voted for.

    Another political wannabee more interested in power than consensual representative governance.

  • Comment number 31.

    The Tories will win the election by an even greater margin if they campaign to end this war in Afghanistan. The Taliban are not a conventional army that will sign a peace treaty, but disperate militant islamic groups unified mainly in their hatred of the West. And with the Western armies killing their co-religionists in Afghanistan, we strengthen their will to fight. The view that if NATO forces defeat various armed groups in Helmand Province the cities of the West are safe from terrorist attack is utter nonsense. British (and other) lives are being lost, huge amounts of money spent for a war we shouldn't be fighting.

  • Comment number 32.

    A more perceptive observation would be that Both Cameron & Haigh knew very well that you were filming when they staged their apparently off-the-record conversation. That way, media would have to ask whether they still supported UK policy in Afghanistan?
    Which media question could open the door to a change of Tory 'doubt' that doesn't appear disloyal to "our troops under fire". Such a controversy would be a further way of hitting out at the Labour government at a time when the economic issues seem to be turning against them.
    Cynical? Certainly. That's what media management is about isn't it?

  • Comment number 33.

    "sagamix wrote:
    fs @ 16

    You're perpetuating a myth

    yes, I'm perpetuating the myth that the Tories tend to look after the upper echelons and care very little for anyone else - it's a myth in the same way the existence of Blackburn is a myth"

    I think that Blackburn does actually exist so it isn't a myth, I know it sounds like a made up place but it isn't.

    If you are searching for another existance of a myth you need only look at your own claim to be a floating voter!

  • Comment number 34.

    Should the BBC be helping the Conservatives appeal to the Reality TV Generation by making a little Reality TV show for Cameron to star in? They could be on to a good thing their as more people vote in reality shows than vote for politicians but maybe the BBC shouldn't help them? Maybe politics has become so pointless that we are effectively voting between 3+ Big Brother contestants?



  • Comment number 35.

    How disappointing to see you fronting a party political broadcast for David Cameron in the middle of the bbc news yesterday. I always thought you were an impartial political commentator!

  • Comment number 36.

    15. dhwilkinson wrote:

    Sorry Blame game! at least I didn't mention Thatcher!

    =

    Hi dh. Yes very disappointing that.

    Have to agree with you (also disappointing!) about the staged bit... they knew what they were doing.

    The odd thing is Nick now appears to be stalking Cameron.

  • Comment number 37.

    If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck .. then its a duck

    Our troops are dying to support a corrupt regime that had limited support in its own country, does not really want us there and quite frankly has moral and social codes that are diamtetrically opposed to what I think is right..

    So why are we attempting to impose democratic government on a society that does not want it ?

    If Cameron is at odds with the Afghan government - so what ? I am as well and think we should not be there now

  • Comment number 38.

    We need to call time on the Afghan election. Even if some authority passes it as legitimate, it is too late. First the aid money finds its way to Swiss bank accounts, now there is such widespread voting fraud that whatever the outcome, this elction lacks integrity. Our young people are dying daily for this. The whole war strategy has left the rails and it will not be possible to repair it. Cameron and Haig may have to take a lead.

  • Comment number 39.

    "Here they are quite happy to see the largest minority ( currently Labour with 36% of the votes cast and 64% who didn't want them) given effectively total power over the majority who voted for something else."

    Yes some form of PR would be great. Then maybe the 'Can't be bothered' 'whats the use' 'they're all rubbish' alliance wouldnt keep winning elections.

  • Comment number 40.

    I do understand people's concerns about the troops in Afghanistan being killed - it is sad when it happens for all concernes. However, these are professional soldiers who sign-up in the full knowledge that this may happen to them.

    Surely the point is that we do need to be there to take on the millitants and take the heat off the real issue - Pakistan.

    If US/UK/NATO leave with with our tail between our legs a huge area of Central Asia would fall to extremists. If they are to get hold of the nuclear buttons in Pakistan then we really are all in the doo-doo. Are we just going to leave the Americans to get on with this alone or are we going to stand with them?

    What needs to happen in my eye is that some of our 'allies' in NATO; the French, Germans, Italians need to grow a pair and get their sleeves rolled up.

    And if the Tories believe the election was rigged, fair play to them for speaking up - kind of...

  • Comment number 41.

    yewlodge @ 30

    You say that our {'democratic' system} is just a slightly more covert (but enduring) way of denying the populace the representation they actually voted for.

    I wish I had said that but anyway, that is the primary reason why I do not trust either Labour or the Tories.

    Neither of these parties is proposing to do anything about this as it is not in their narrow party interests.

    In my opinion, for us politically apathetic English, our only hope of radically changing the system is via the native Scots and their referendum in November 2010.

  • Comment number 42.

    24#

    So you openly admit that the post in question was painting a false picture, lying, smearing? Slanderous?

  • Comment number 43.

    It could be they are discussing the Glenrothes by-election. Remember? Labour won unexpectedly, there was an unusual number of postal votes, and the electoral register of votes cast has gone missing...

  • Comment number 44.

    I don't think the west should be tied to Karzai - every book I have read by people (diplomats, reporters, military) who have been on the ground in Afghanistan portrays him as part of the problem not the solution.

    I think US/UK should not be involved in the decision on if the election is fatally flawed. The election is a matter for the Afghans. The decision on if it is corrupt should come from an independent group such as the UN. US/UK should not be deciding who the Afghans have as leader.

    On this issue I think the tories should keep out of it.

    But if independent persons decide the election is corrupt then US/UK should be at the forefront of forcing a fair (as possible) re-run.

  • Comment number 45.

    JPSLotus79 wrote:

    "There was an interesting piece in last weeek's Sunday Times about how a blatantly rigged South Vietnamese election in 1967 turned most of the population against an incompetent and deeply corrupt government and their American backers. This enabled the Viet Cong to prepare for the Tet Offensive of January 1968 which caused most Americans to begin questioning the war."

    A very interesting comparision. However everyone chooses to forget the aftermath of Tet: mass executions of anyone in South Vietnam capable of oppossing the communists. There were mass graves in Hue of Vietnamese teachers, policemen, doctors ect executed by the VC. Which should have proven to anyone that the South Vietnamese republic was bad but the alternative was far worse. Tet cost the North Vietnamese army 40,000 dead soldiers, effectively obliterated the VC as a fighting force and all for 550 US dead. It was one of the greatest US military victories ever on paper but the media reported it as a terrible failure.

    I'd suggest exactly the same is happening in Afghanistan. We're gutting Al Qu'eda and the Taliban, have some sort of democratic govt for the first time ever in the country (and compared to our elections in the early 1800's its no more corrupt) and have lost less men and women in 7 years than in a few weeks in the Falklands or a few seconds in WW1. Despite this the media are portraying us as losing badly.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi Nick

    Apparently the UN is asking for a recount. They had better hurry up before the polling register gets lost.

    #33 Mark_WE

    Floating voter my elbow:

    Never underestimate the clear thinking progressiveness of a Left Wing Extremist!.

  • Comment number 47.

    Alan Duncan demoted, George Young promoted, will the Tories spell out their spending plans, are the Tories about to call the Afghan elections rigged.

    My, my. You'd think the political party that are actually governing the country had stopped doing anything as apparently there is nothing to discuss with their goings on.

    How about - Does Brown have the bottle to take on dissenters in his own party, does Brown have the courage to reveal his spending plans, does Brown have the nerve to look critically at the Afghan elections?

    Or isn't this that sort of a blog?

  • Comment number 48.

    #12

    Really pathetic.

    The only person to have been involved with a 10p tax rate recently is a certain Mr G Brown. He abolished it, apparently unable to work out that if you were on a low income then an increase in the tax rate from 10% to 20% would leave you worse off.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    I believe our (Nato) presence in Afghanistan has more to do with Pakistan than Afghanistan. The West can't invite themselves into Pakistan, from where most of the problems appear to originate, including the nuclear one) so they do the next best thing and move in next door. Easier to react and influence from there.
    So whether it's Khazi or A.N. Other as President is immaterial, so long as they're kept sweet. And as I'm restricting my conspiracy theories down to one per post I will not mention pipelines or natural gas reserves.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    "We're gutting Al Qu'eda and the Taliban" Peter Sym

    I'd like to think so but I do wonder at the oft quoted "we're getting 100 of them for every one of us". That would imply 20,000 Taliban killed by British troops and 82,000 by US troops and yet the Taliban still seem to be going strong.

    And if their numbers really are that large, they can hardly be dismissed as a minority element with no popular support.

  • Comment number 54.

    45#

    Its not the numbers Peter, its the manner and the way in which they keep on being lost, despite the cause being known and a solution being requested, time and time again. The solutions range from replacements for Snatch Land Rovers, to helicopters, to something as simple as ladders. Things that should not be beyond the means of a supposedly first world 21st century central government.

    Thats the galling bit, that gives people the impression that lives are being wasted.

  • Comment number 55.

    I don't find this story interesting in the slightest.

    In fact politics is really, really, really dull at the moment.

    The problem is that we are all just waiting for the inevitable, but slow demise of the idiot in Number 10 and for the expulsion of Labour.

    ZZZzzzzZZzzzzZzzzzz please - someone come along and make things interesting again - maybe a Labour leadership challenge would be fun? Or a even the old favourite - a Mandelson scandal / resignation routine? Even a Gordon YouTube video would break the monotony for a short while............

  • Comment number 56.

    As we already know that Obama has been told that the strategy in Afghanistan is not working we are going to have to wait for a strategy that does.

    It will have to be sooner rather than later for public opinion both here and in the US is increasingly unfavourable and elections both here and for Obama next year are not so far away.

    If wars are for the right reasons the people will go with them as long as they are short and successful in their aims.

    Obama has had to take on the legacy of Bush and Blairs wars which have been neither. Some new thinking is urgently required.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    52. At 12:37pm on 09 Sep 2009, get-real wrote:
    The amount of coverage the BBC gave to the supposedly rigged Iranian elections, for which not one shred of evidence was produced, seems disproportionate to that given to the nakedly corrupt elections of a regime that UK taxpayers are directly supporting.


    ----------------------------

    Not one shred of evidence - did you follow the story at all?

    The Iranian government, for reasons best known to themselves, admiited that significantly more votes had been cast in some areas than there were people registered to vote.

    That was an official Iranian government statement - how much evidence do you want?

  • Comment number 60.

    #45 Yes indeed it was a clear military victory but the success of the VC in managing to storm and sieze control of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon was a hugely symbolic blow to U.S. pride. That one single act probably did more to shift American opinion against the war than anything else, also Walter Cronkite's famous opinion piece in the aftermath of Tet left many people asking the question "What are we fighting for?" and LBJ couldn't give a clear answer.

  • Comment number 61.

    Just looks like window dressing to justify our exit (again).

    What did we honestly expect of these elections. It's a conflict zone, with it's own established and traditional political system dominating the country, apart of Kabul, the presidential palace and our sponsored incumbent.

  • Comment number 62.

    Peter_Sym @ 45

    I agree with you that the media are generally presenting an unbalanced and slightly hysterical view of the 'score' in the AfPak region.

    It is asymmetrical warfare, not just in terms of tactics but also bodycount.

    We read that it is roughly 100 Taleban/Al Quaeda for every 1 of 'ours', which is an acceptable attrition rate for the military statisticians.

    Furthermore, the arc of history shows that Vietnam turned out to be a proverbial line-in-the-sand and the exact point where the Communist domino theory failed i.e. countries go Communist but none go back.

    This war against 'Islamo-Fascists' will also, over time, clearly identify a point where it tilted significantly one way or the other.

  • Comment number 63.

    Did either of them actually mention the Afghan Election?

    Perhaps they were discussing what's happened to postal voting since Labour came to power.

  • Comment number 64.

    Whether the Cameron/Hague conversation was staged or not, I hope it leads to a more open, truthful discussion from all sides as to what our mission in Afghanistan might be.
    At the moment I, like many others, am completely in the dark as to what is expected of our troops. Gordon's plea that it is necessary to stop terrorism in the UK doesn't ring true and neither - as the results seem to suggest - was it to allow 'free and fair' elections.
    At the moment a lot of the public - including me - believe our involvement should cease and our troops be brought home. This belief will prevail until such time as the truth emerges.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    I hope that they do. At the very minimum there are serious questions about the legitimacy and honesty of this election. It needs to be challenged.

    What exactly are our government doing? Bob Ainsworth and Gordon Brown should be dealing with this as a priority but they appear to be doing very little unlike our poor soldiers...

  • Comment number 67.

    Why all the hype over this one off engagement of two Tory candidates discussing possible actions over seas? when the same said party are not even in office yet?Surly the time to start spouting is when they are in situ and can then do something positive as and when the problems arise.Their main concern should be how are we going to tackle the mess the country's in, Plus placing a vote of no confidence in the lab our administration therefore trying to force their hand. into taking the country into a general election. If necessary with a megaphone across the lawn at buck palace or the lobby at Westminster to remove the said incompitance as soon as possible, to avoid any further ed balls ups.

  • Comment number 68.


    55. At 12:55pm on 09 Sep 2009, jonathan_cook wrote:
    I don't find this story interesting in the slightest.

    In fact politics is really, really, really dull at the moment.
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Couldn't agree more and until such time as the election is finally called I suspect it will go on being boring. The fact that Nick had to blog this story would indicate that even those with an ear to the ground can't find anything interesting.

  • Comment number 69.

    Just been paying respects, as a member of the public, outside a soldiers funeral at the cathedral opposite my place of work. Hundreds of people doing the same.

    Personally I think UK (or US) politicians, including the Tories, need to stay out of Afghan elections. The US/UK should not be deciding Afghan elections or even appearing to do so.

    If the UNITED NATIONS is formally saying the level of corruption is sufficient to make the result untenable then that is different. As the armed powers paying for Karzai's government, in money and in lives, then we should be giving Karzai no alternative but to carry out a fair(er) election.

  • Comment number 70.

    A corrupt election process in that part of the world: Who would have guessed?
    Sacres me sometimes to think that our governments appear surprised when events occur that the average person on the streets could forecast.

  • Comment number 71.

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  • Comment number 72.

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  • Comment number 73.

    #54. Most of the criticism about UK military tactics come from people with no military understanding. Helicopters are a useful tool, but the idea that we can fly about the countryside thereby making our guys immune to roadside bombs is a total fallacy. To win in Afghanistan we need to take ground from the Taliban and hold onto it. Helicopters can't do this. Going back to the US/Vietnam experience its one of the reasons the US lost- the VC or NVA would pop up in a valley, the US would fly in troops, fight the Vietnamese, almost always win, get back in the helicopters.... and by nightfall the valley would be back in communist hands. Another thing to consider is that most of the major losses of life in both the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan have been air crashes. The Russians lost nearly 140 guys in Chechnya when one giant cargo helicopter was shot down. Combat flying isn't safe.

    Likewise the snatch landrover issue: the only vehicle that can be guaranteed resistant to a roadside bomb is a main battle tank. Its simply not practical to only patrol in MBT's. I had 4 months in Croatia in '97 using Scimitar light tanks. These are some of the best recon vehicles in the world but weight 8 tons and have an inch of aluminium armour. One of my regts vehicles went over a mine intended for a 60 ton main battle tank and was blown apart killing all three crew. If an 8 ton tank isn't guaranteed safe then no wheeled vehicle can be.

    On a totally different issue I've NEVER heard the BBC properly assess Taliban casualties or ever explain how much land the British troops are taking back. The success of the Pakistani army in Swat gets better coverage than our own battles. No wonder people think we're losing if we're never told any successes.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

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  • Comment number 77.

    How is it spontaneous if you change camera angles using one camera and edit it together? Or where you wasting BBC resources by using 2 for this coverage of his Smugness's HS David Cameron and HS William Hague. I think most of us would prefer substance rather than a political version of Nicholas Witchell and Jenny Bond.

  • Comment number 78.

    73#

    I fully accept what you say in this post Peter. Whilst the risk will never be completely negated though, it can be attenuated. All three of the things that I mentioned are things that have been brought up by either commanders on the ground or by those who have been there. What you say about not holding the ground is absolutely correct, I accept that. The only way you're going to achieve that is significantly more boots on the ground, which we as a contributing nation simply have not got. I can accept that its a dangerous business and that as servicemen we have all accepted that the possibility of losing your life in combat is an occupational hazard, but that is no excuse for life to be cheapened any more than what it is already and for the lack of a joined up solution between clearing out the Talebs and reconstruction and development.

    Read Stuart Tootal's book for examples of what happened back in 2006-7 where the solution would have been patently simple, but didnt happen.

  • Comment number 79.

    #62, JohnConstable wrote:
    Peter_Sym @ 45

    I agree with you that the media are generally presenting an unbalanced and slightly hysterical view of the 'score' in the AfPak region.
    It is asymmetrical warfare, not just in terms of tactics but also bodycount.
    We read that it is roughly 100 Taleban/Al Quaeda for every 1 of 'ours', which is an acceptable attrition rate for the military statisticians.
    Furthermore, the arc of history shows that Vietnam turned out to be a proverbial line-in-the-sand and the exact point where the Communist domino theory failed i.e. countries go Communist but none go back."

    JC,

    I couldn't work out the logic of your last sentence.
    S. Vietnam wasn't - hadn't been - a communist state, as far as I recall.

    There have been plenty of former Communist states who shrugged off that legacy. Not many who return to that philosophy. And many who affirm communism, but tolerate explosive internal capitalism (e.g. China).

    The Domino Theory was based on an assumption that if Communism came to one state, it could - maybe would - flow across the borders into contiguous neighbours.

    In a way it's odd that it didn't happen across Western Europe. There were really big Commie parties in Italy and France (for example).

    Afghanistan is quite peculiar. There isn't really much there in terms of natural resource - but its people have always fought like tigers to be independent. I'm not keen to see a corrupt regime shoe-horned in by "The West" (meant as a mind-set, rather than geographical thing). Any more than I'm keen to see an intolerant religious-dominated government.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of Mid-East states with rather extreme views about political structures (that's an opinion) who are considered indispensible to the interests of the West.



  • Comment number 80.

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  • Comment number 81.

    76

    Not that I wish to be argumentative (perish the thought) but would you like to give an example of when Cameron has NOT been very clear. Or are you just trying to smear him with any old brush you can find?

  • Comment number 82.

    Nick you write "They know how politically explosive it is to have British soldiers being seen to die not for democracy but for a corrupt government. "

    Our troops were not sent there to bring about democracy.

    Whilst it would be good to have some form of stable government, it is unlikely to be achieved quickly as the country has been under the control of regional warlords for some time.

    The original mission was to hunt down al Qaeda following 9/11. The danger of al Qaeda is still very real today (as we were reminded yesterday)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8221375.stm

    Unfortunately, we know the Taliban, al Qaeda's 'brothers in arms', also operate from within Pakistan and threaten to destabilise that country too. (The additional danger being Pakistan has nuclear weapons).

    Obviously, sitting in our armchairs back home, we don't know if the strategy is working, or how much worse things would be if western troops were not there. But the danger posed by al Qaeda remains and is real.

  • Comment number 83.

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  • Comment number 84.

    79

    "In a way it's odd that it didn't happen across Western Europe. There were really big Commie parties in Italy and France (for example)."

    Not to mention Germany. As I recall we were as a country were in support of the Nazi party and Adolf for a long time, in an "anything but the communists" type way.

  • Comment number 85.

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  • Comment number 86.

    Sounds like Cameron and Hague will handle the Afghanisatan issue a bit more intelligently and openly that the current administration.

  • Comment number 87.

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  • Comment number 88.

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  • Comment number 89.

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  • Comment number 90.

    The conversation was obviously as rigged as the election ...and... what sort of election did they expect, for heaven's sake?

    I want to be absolutely clear about that.

  • Comment number 91.

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  • Comment number 92.

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  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

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  • Comment number 95.

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  • Comment number 96.

    Roll On @ 46

    thanks for the link - quite interesting to see how some people change and some stay the same - food for thought (for me, especially)

    so anyway, what are you looking for (from the Tories) on Afghanistan? ... a different policy to the current one?

  • Comment number 97.

    This is a typical Cameron intervention. Not bad on analysis. Very good on catching the public mood. But rather limited on what he would actually do.

    At the moment I want an unstable and weak Afghan government. I do not worry too much about the dire warnings from so called security experts, because I think they are missing the main problem. It is not an unstable Afghanistan that should worry us, but an unstable Pakistan should be a greater concern. The whole action has been like lancing a boil. The poison has spread everywhere. By allowing Afghanistan to become more hospitible to the terrorists some of them might just move back and Pakistan might become more stable again. Now whether I am right or wrong at least I am coming up with an alternative strategy, which is more than Cameron's hand wringing has done. Just to say things are bad or things are wrong is hardly a demonstartion of leadership. All I can say in his support is that he has actually passed comment, but that is easy in opposition and less easy in government.

  • Comment number 98.

    #93 - Luiberg - I asked how they knew they were on camera and why was it being filmed (21.) and wasn't moderated (yet?).

    It is the second time recently, this has happened e.g. Alan Duncan. Perhaps we can have a guess at the next time this will happen?

    On the other hand, the Tories have done as the Labour opposition did before the 1997 election and not told us what would be in the manifesto, until a few months before the general election. So is this a game of chicken, where each side will talk around the problem, until Election day?



  • Comment number 99.

    How about getting democratic elections in the UK, first?

    Elections here are rigged so that one of two rotten parties is always in power. Then there's the House of Lords....

    Typical of the US and UK to blame a few hill tribesmen in Afghanistan for the world's ills... the truth is the ills exist and emanate from Washington and London.

    We have no business in Afghanistan, where US and UK forces are killing thousands of innocent civilians, whose deaths for the most part pass unnoticed in our hypocritical media.

    Physician heal thyself.

  • Comment number 100.

    #84, greatHayemaker wrote:
    "79

    "In a way it's odd that it didn't happen across Western Europe. There were really big Commie parties in Italy and France (for example)."

    Not to mention Germany. As I recall we were as a country were in support of the Nazi party and Adolf for a long time, in an "anything but the communists" type way.

    Great Haye,

    Guess you're right. Bit before my time, but it did seem to be the case that the UK struggled to rebuild after WWI.
    (An epoque during which sagamix would have revelled - the dying remnants of most old, privileged families seemed to waste most of their time and energy!

    And with the Reds having "taken out" the old hierarchy wherever they had power, I guess there was a "class" of people rather anxiously feeling their collars... It's funny, in a way. The French used the old cervical vertebrae separator to great effect, but there as still lots who use the old titles and look down on the titles offered by Napoleon after "The Terror".)

    I suppose I'm fairly capitalist at heart. I like the idea that someone can come up with a new idea, scrape together a bit of money and market it. Seems to have been the way that most things we now assume as part of a "civilised" society came about. At least I expect some people to become obscenely wealthy under such a regime. I find it less tolerable when, under a Communist or highly left-leaning system, the people in charge somehow seem to be much better protected, privileged and wealthy than their "equals".

    Wasn't that the point of "1984"?

    I don't like theocracies. It took the Christian persuasion centuries to more or less stop fighting each other over points of interpretation. Islam started 600 years later. But the schisms have been around almost since it started (bit like in Christianity, really). Sunni - Shia stuff isn't a recent invention.

    Extremes, whether of religion, politics (or even science), leave me rather cool. I'd rather like a bit of bland public life, with people free to do whatever the heck they like in private, as long as it is legal, non-violent and doesn't offend others too much.

    Afghanistan is a state that does things in a very different way. Question does seem to be whether the Afghans have a right to do their own thing - even if we don't like it - as long as it doesn't get exported via extremists.

    (BTW, as a matter of fact, I don't like some of the Human Rights stuff we have on the statute book. I don't want people living here who were convicted of really nasty things in their home countries, but can't be sent back in case they are badly treated (i.e. not have cells with TV, all mod cons, etc that we don't even provide for our older pensioners). Maybe it's that too late after lunch, not quite ready for dinner, time. But I really don't like people convicted in states we say are welcome in the UN - and do business with - who can't be sent back to their local justice systems. How does that help the people here who they harm?)

    However, from the BBC:
    "It seems a natural occasion to call for an international conference on Afghanistan before the end of this year right after the inauguration of the new Afghan government," the three leaders wrote."

    Does that mean that Brown considers the rather farcical election represents anything resembling a democratic reflection of a people's desire?

    Was the joint letter actually written before the UN-backed election scrutiny body said that the election was deeply flawed?

    I'm not that keen on supporting a commercially doubtful new regime in Afghanistan any more than I am in favour of a financially incontinent regime here in the UK.

    At least I had some choice in the latter. Got it wrong once. It wasn't what it said on the package. That doesn't matter. If all the world knows you got it wrong, it should be quite easy to work it out and offer some correctives. Hasn't happened yet. Time's ticking.

 

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