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Where was William?

Nick Robinson | 13:23 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The prime minister described him as "excellent". He took "full responsibility" for what had gone wrong with the special forces' mission to Libya. He even used questions about the foreign secretary's alleged incompetence to deliver a wounding blow to Ed Miliband - pointing out that there was only one person, the Labour leader himself, who'd recently knifed a foreign secretary. But where was William Hague - the man whose downbeat performances have fuelled endless chatter in the Westminster village about why he's lost his mojo?


William Hague (Reuters)

The answer is that he was somewhere even more important - briefing Her Majesty the Queen on Libya.

Having seen dozens of foreign secretaries over the course of her reign it would be fascinating to know what she said to him - whether she offered words of comfort. I have a hunch that he will have told her that Britain faces being damned if we do intervene - for not learning the lessons of Iraq, for putting more British soldiers lives at risk, for stretching the armed forces even more than they are already ...etc - and damned if we don't - how can we standby whilst Gaddafi slaughters his people, won't other dictators learn that they can do what they like without fear of international reprisal, are we diminished on the world stage.

Perhaps that's why the foreign secretary doesn't look like he's having fun.

PS A brief note by way of a mea culpa to the policeman who stopped me on the way into the Commons today, and to some of his colleagues who've been in touch. London Met police STAFF not, as I said on the Six O' Clock News last night, London Met police OFFICERS qualify for double time rates for Sunday working. The perils of live reporting - it's a fair cop...

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    "He even used questions about the foreign secretary's alleged incompetence to deliver a wounding blow to Ed Miliband "

    It wasn't a wounding blow, it was a disgraceful, juvenile and thoroughly disrepectful comment not becoming of a prime minister.

  • Comment number 2.

    Never mind William losing his mojo, Nick, where's yours?

    Not much of a blog, this one is it?

    "Where's William Hague? Oh, he's with the Queen".

  • Comment number 3.

    Talking of public figures, I was shocked to see the headline:

    "Prince Andrew must treat pubic lice seriously"

    On second glance, it actually said "public life"

  • Comment number 4.

    If you really think that was a 'wounding blow', Nick, you need to get out more. Cameron may affect to believe that David M was entitled to the leadership because he's the elder brother, but do you really share this view?

  • Comment number 5.

    Well done on the mea culpa for "mis-speaking" on the 6pm news yesterday. Repeat your correction on tonight's programme so the same audience aren't still being mislead and I'll be even more impressed.

  • Comment number 6.

    The perils of live reporting - it's a fair cop...

    You're Nicked...lol! geddit?


  • Comment number 7.

    Much as I wish politicans would work together for the good of the country, while we continue to have these political set-pieces like PM's Questions, Cameron is surely entitled to make a point about something that many in the Labour Party feel strongly about. The Coalition may be sailing through some stormy waters at the moment (some of them of their own making), but I don't sense any enthusiasm for Ed Milliband or the Labour party to replace them. Sure, they'll win back some seats they lost last year in by-elections & may pick up some LibDem seats because of the growing gap between LibDem supporters & what the LibDems are doing in Government. But the image of the last Labour Government (whether justified or not) will take time to erase from people's memories (compare the last Conservative Government It will require a more thoughtful, weighty & dynamic leader than Ed Milliband to propel Labour into power any time before 2020 - though the Coalition seems to be doing its best to make Labour look electable, purely because comparatively it couldn't be worse.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    what has happened to the convention that at times of crisis, the opposition will give a united front with the government and criticise in private? (Northern Ireland, for example). Douglas Alexander is appearing to make political capital out of Hague. Is this right, especially when we need a united front with respect to the various things going on of which Libya is the noisiest, but what of Yemen, North Korea, Pakistan
    China, tunisia, Niger etc?

  • Comment number 10.

    So you've answered your own question... he'd gone to see the Queen.

    Slightly more importantly than listening to the chirrupings of Miliband junior who is being upstaged on an almost daily basis by the briefings against him.

    The second, no third choice of shadow chancellor in Ed Balls. His brother's candid admission of the facts about the disintegration of the social democratic consensus across Europe. The repeated knifings and reprintings of Mandleson memoirs. The absence of an economic strategy for the next two years. The leaking of his support pre-election for an increase in VAT. His own inability to formulate a strategy for what to cut from his own previous adminsitration's bloated public sector spending bill. His rabid opposition to reform of the public sector after his own party promised it but failed to deliver.

    It's grim up north London... (where the sans culottes have deserted the social democratic consensus)

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't agree that David Cameron made a "wounding blow" with his comment about knifing David Miliband. I have no enthusiasm for Ed Miliband, but I find David Cameron's sneering and snide comments at PMQs to be rather unstatesmanlike.
    Whatever the provocation, a PM should never resort to playground insults

  • Comment number 12.

    @1
    See what you mean but then Dave looked and sounded a bit tetchy.The front bench four flanking on either side of him rather stone faced to the left with some smirking to the right but all seemingly jaded by recent past experience.
    He seemed angry and rattled when answering the initial question. The question concerned the competence of the Governments handling of Libya which had been raised by many over the past week. Certainly didn't sound like a lecture which left him answering a question he hadn't been asked and not answering the question he had been asked. The impression was that he was angry that anyone should question the competence of his government.
    He recovers a little and gives some examples of his governments competence. Sadly this was about as convincing as Georges claim to have pulled us back from the brink of bankruptcy.
    And they say Gordon was given to self delusion! Perhaps it comes with the territory.

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

    3#

    Given some of the places he's been your first interpretation probably wasnt that far off the mark.

  • Comment number 16.

    Starting to become quite important who wins in libya.

    If the rebels win then the boy Hague will be in good shape - his rich mates will be able to get their noses in the trough for the oil and military contracts.

    If gadaffi wins then it is pretty clear he will remember who tried to get betray him, and the contracts will go elsewhere - probably china.

    I see the more experienced big boys from china have the sense to play their cards close to their chest. Don't back anyone until they see who wins.

    If only hague had that level of maturity.

    Has he already sacked everyone in the foreign office who might have put him straight? Or is his tory arogance about anyone in the public sector causing him to disregard them?

  • Comment number 17.

    13#

    Oh, come on for Gods sake, that is just plain blasted ridiculous. Stop being so damned tetchy!

  • Comment number 18.

    Poor William, having such a hard time lately, it makes you almost feel sorry for him.

  • Comment number 19.

    Don suppose you'd take any interest in this would you Nick?


    http://davidhencke.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/could-seven-millionaire-donors-bankrupt-labour/

  • Comment number 20.

    #14 Yes, another poor performance from Miliband but no excuse for someone who's supposed to be leading the country to make such a comment. A nasty thing to say - not a character trait many people want from a PM.

    I don't think Ed has the wherewithal to make such a comment even if he wanted.

  • Comment number 21.


    The Queen is a great admirer of our F S


  • Comment number 22.

    Still waiting!!!!!

    Criticism of 'our' Nick must be a touchy subject!


    8. At 2:46pm on 09 Mar 2011, you wrote:
    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • Comment number 23.

    Dave's public school training gives him that ability to brazen it out even when its all falling apart. Poor old William might be wondering if he will be the second foreign secretary to be 'stabbed in the back'

    The government is not accident prone, it is accident infested. Carry on diplomacy!

  • Comment number 24.

    17 Fubar

    "Oh, come on for Gods sake, that is just plain blasted ridiculous. Stop being so damned tetchy!"

    Really? Well we know that WH went to see the Queen and I thought the Queens conversations were always private.


  • Comment number 25.

    Fubar

    Highly ironic that the owner of the Priory was a labour party donor. It's where they should send Tony Blair for his addiction to blood letting, Gordon Brown for his addiction to debt and public spending and Mandy for his inability to keep out of the public eye when he's no longer wanted.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 26.

    It was hardly a wounding blow, just yet another cheap snide nasty comment that really shows you the horrid little man the Prime Minister is.

    At least we can all thank Matt Baker for actually landing a real wounding blow on him by asking him how he can sleep at night on The One Show.

    Bravo Matt Baker, it takes a TV presenter to do proper journalism it seems!

  • Comment number 27.

    21. At 3:40pm on 09 Mar 2011, jgintheloop wrote:

    "The Queen is a great admirer of our F S"

    Fuber Saunders is all ready full of his own self importance. No need for any of us to fuel it.



  • Comment number 28.

    Are the labour party apologists in shock this afternoon having seen the article of David Miliband reading the last rites of the social democratic consensus across Europe?

    Lest we forget...

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/mar/08/european-left-fragmenting-david-miliband

    He talks a lot of sense, but he fails to admit the malfunction at the heart of the social democratic consensus - that we can't afford it.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 29.

    22/24#

    The Return of Modzilla, I'm afraid.

    The type who will jump on the slightest posting that isnt favouring the left or isnt being "right on". Either that or Lefty11 has got a job at the BBC. With moderators like this you'll soon not be able to say anything about anyone or anything to anybody.

    Its petty, tiny minded, politically correct, censorial, overbearing, hair-triggered garbage.

    Considering how much things have flowed around here over the last few months during modzillas absence one can only assume that whoever it is has had a six month internship with Harriet.

    Just as well its time to go home. TTFN....

  • Comment number 30.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 31.

    Matt Baker ought to wind his neck in and just stick to what he's good at, namely Strictly. The One show has already overstepped the mark several times when it comes to politics, last year and was the subject of quite a lot of complaints.

    I bet Paxo's trembling in his brogues...... Not. It'd be interesting to see how well Matt sleeps at night considering how little talent it takes beyond doing backflips on a dance floor to trouser the amount of public money he does.

  • Comment number 32.

    It is reported that he was seen in Rotherham prior to an interview with a local brewery. They are looking for draymen.
    We all remember his boast about downing 14 pints a day.
    In view of his recent performance he is clearly more suited to delivering kegs.
    I am beginning to understand why Tony trounced him when he was leader of the nasty party. Another Tory Boy joke.

  • Comment number 33.

    Nick I remember when you gave the 3 B's (Bush, Blair and Brown) a hard time, so why not 'Just' William, after all he has just dropped me in it.....again

  • Comment number 34.

    Good to see RockingRobin back on form after his success in masterminding the Coalition campaign at Barnsley. Little Willie (baseball cap) Hague was brought up not far from there. Did he help out in the campaign?

  • Comment number 35.

    What sort of idiot thinks he should look like he has having fun? Get a grip, and try and concentrate on substantive issues.

  • Comment number 36.

    Idont Believeit 12

    You must admit though Believeit, it is getting very tedious. If I were Cameron, I would begin to get slightly irritated, if I am honest. Ed Miliband is such an easy target. He has very little charisma, his slow manner is not appealing, lacks passion and is not really up to the job of being leader. I mean, I disliked Blair, but I always found him watchable. Here we all are waiting for some positive moves by Miliband, as to what he would do to repair the economy, and all he does is latch onto anything that he thinks will annoy Cameron instead. The problem is he always loses when he does this.

    I just don't feel as though Miliband is leading the Labour Party anywhere. More and more you feel the weakness of Miliband's arguments, he does not seem to have any hand to play with. Competence in Government, is not a good one to play for a start, it just reminds people of how incompetent Labour actually were in Government. When did we last see a positive story about any new initiative from Labour.

    Hague, if he stays in Government, will prove in time, to be a careful steady hand on foreign policy, I think, if left to deal with issues his way. Miliband really is going nowhere with his attacks on him. After all Douglas Alexander is a very weak link for Labour, so he would be wise to leave this alone. Unless Miliband gets a vision soon, I think everything he says will just start to ring hollow. Even I am getting bored and I love politics.

  • Comment number 37.

    And on the Libya issue I am reminded a well know saying............UN fiddled while Libya burned. Very sad.

  • Comment number 38.

    16. jon112dk

    "Starting to become quite important who wins in libya."

    (I think you'll find it always was, jon.)

    "If the rebels win then the boy Hague will be in good shape - his rich mates will be able to get their noses in the trough for the oil and military contracts.
    If gadaffi wins then it is pretty clear he will remember who tried to get betray him, and the contracts will go elsewhere - probably china.
    I see the more experienced big boys from china have the sense to play their cards close to their chest. Don't back anyone until they see who wins."
    "If only hague had that level of maturity."

    Has the US now dropped out of your 'leave it to the big boys list' jon?
    They seem to be making the same noises as Cameron and Haig. Have they dropped down a few 'levels of maturity'?

    You should be backing them, nothing like a good invasion to help regime change. Not so?

  • Comment number 39.

    My goodness me! More than two hours in moderation! ....

    8. At 2:46pm on 09 Mar 2011, you wrote:
    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

    Must be really trying hard to find a reason not to display it.

    Was it because I hinted that I was unhappy at having to help pay for Nick's work today?

  • Comment number 40.

    for not learning the lessons of Iraq, for putting more British soldiers lives at risk, for stretching the armed forces even more than they are already ...etc - and damned if we don't - how can we standby whilst Gaddafi slaughters his people, won't other dictators learn that they can do what they like without fear of international reprisal, are we diminished on the world stage.

    Perhaps that's why the foreign secretary doesn't look like he's having fun.
    ..............

    Well said Mr Robinson ...Yeah ... I agree with your unavoidable inference that WH, unlike the previous foreign seceratry, is a decent, honest, human being with real integrity and is feeling the gravity of the situation and is not walking around with a stupid chimp like grin while holding a banana (Well, not yet, anyway)

  • Comment number 41.

    IPGABP1

    Is it any wonder the social democratic consensus is getting nowhere across Eruope whne it comes out with remarks like that?

    'Labour holds Barnsley' about as scary as 'Tory spotted in Chelsea'.

    You'll have to do better than that; you're own people are deserting you, the party is bankrupt both financially and of policy and you can't move the opinion polls when the tories are supposed to ripping the heart out of public services. 'Just wait' will come your answer. 'I'm still waiting' is mine.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 42.

    Fairly inconsequential blog apart from the Mea Culpa, unless you are interested in the "endless chatter in the Westminster village".

    Well some good news at last, Phil Collins is retiring from music, 30 years too late for me but better late than never.


  • Comment number 43.

    36. At 4:40pm on 09 Mar 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:

    "Hague, if he stays in Government"

    I can see you're having doubts there Susan. The question is will David Laws accept the job. Hope he lasts longer in this job than he did the first one.

  • Comment number 44.

    #36. As this is the first PMQs since Hague's debacle I think it right that Miliband question his handling of the affair. However, I agree with your views on the opposition leader (or, maybe, this is the result of demands for a non-PR slicked politician?)

    Labour seem to be biding their time in developing new initiatives or policies. I believe that they are taking the time to produce truly well thought out ideas, gathering the views of the public and professionals along the way, rather than reacting with hastily assembled policies. Not great for an effective opposition right now, but in a year (or hopefully less) they'll have credible plans on how to take the country forward.

  • Comment number 45.

    '26. At 3:52pm on 09 Mar 2011, peejkerton wrote:
    Bravo Matt Baker, it takes a TV presenter to do proper journalism it seems!


    Heck of a precedent, too. Were others allowed to articulate their personal views in a professional capacity.

    One is sure that, just like Messrs NaughtieMarr, it was merely what sprang to mind first being immersed in such an impartial setting all day long.

  • Comment number 46.

    38. At 4:59pm on 09 Mar 2011, TheBlameGame wrote:

    "They seem to be making the same noises as Cameron and Haig."

    Haig, Blame? Not sure he is still around but I'll go away and check with Kitchener. I thought our proofreader had found a secondary occupation as Hagues policy advisor
    but I see he's back.

  • Comment number 47.

    44. At 5:15pm on 09 Mar 2011, RedandYellowandGreennotBlue wrote:

    "Labour seem to be biding their time in developing new initiatives or policies."

    I recall that the same charges were laid at the Tories door right up to the last election and then bang! Out of the blue came the Big Society.

    Hope labour are more careful when selecting inititives or policies, could cost them an overall victory at the next GE.

  • Comment number 48.

    Why don't you just stick to reading your nasty little Daily Mail and leave us in peace.......

    Taxi for Hague!

    41. At 5:06pm on 09 Mar 2011, rockRobin7 wrote:
    'Labour holds Barnsley' about as scary as 'Tory spotted in Chelsea'.

    You'll have to do better than that; you're own people are deserting you, the party is bankrupt both financially and of policy and you can't move the opinion polls when the tories are supposed to ripping the heart out of public services. 'Just wait' will come your answer. 'I'm still waiting' is mine.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 49.

    Just musing a bit ,Susan, like our host. David Cameron has the look of someone who really didn't fully realise how hard it could be. He'll have watch that tetchiness thing. It detracts from the image I'm sure he'd like to project.
    Ed Miliband? Not my fist choice for the job, not that I've ever had a vote on the matter, but isn't the disaster many imagined. His somewhat uncanny association with Wallace hasn't seemed to harm him. Well Wallace is a popular character. Could have problems finding his true Gromit though. Not brilliant at PMQs but seems more at ease, calmer than his opponents. Straightforward and to the point will do nicely.
    I know it's very frustrating for some who would like him to nail his colours to the mast, but it wouldn't be wise for the time being.
    Who knows perhaps he'll make it to the next election and to higher things. If Dave could, just about, pull it off, he's got to have a chance.

  • Comment number 50.

    RedandYellow 44

    The problem is though, if this is the truth and Labour are biding their time, though I have my doubts about that, by then, the public will have stopped listening. Miliband will have achieved the name of having no policy to offer. The crisis is now, not a couple of years down the line, thats ok, sort of opposition, when Britain does not have serious fiscal problems. In these situations the public want strong leadership and serious opposition. In other words Miliband would have missed the boat.

    Miliband has very few qualities to bring to being a leader of the Labour Party, in my opinion, therefore, he needs some seriously good policies to offer istead. At the moment Cameron is running rings round him, and Cameron feels the level of irritation with him, equal to that of a small dog snapping at his heels.

  • Comment number 51.

    26. At 3:52pm on 09 Mar 2011, peejkerton wrote:

    "It was hardly a wounding blow, just yet another cheap snide nasty comment that really shows you the horrid little man the Prime Minister is."


    I wonder if 'David' Miliband sees it that way?

    And, as for cheap, snide (lets add opportunistic and hypocritical) comments - that's all that appears to be on Ed’s 'blank' sheet of paper! - Certainly nothing resembling constructive - or policies??






  • Comment number 52.

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

  • Comment number 53.

    William Hague is an intelligent man with a good and mature sense of proportion. He showed both talents off to lucrative effect when he and Tony Benn were performing their debating double act around the country a year or so back.
    Hague declared in Geneva only last month that Britain wholeheartedly supports the European Convention for Human Rights - part of which makes his boss (Lord Snotty) - feel 'physically sick'. Most of us could think of many other things more important to feel ill about. Like the losses of our brave soldiers in Afghanistan, or mass unemployment as examples.
    It's Private Eye that correctly lampoons Cameron as Lord Snooty, so I imagine William Hague would be another character from the Beano. Most likely Hairpin Huggins, a member of the Trash Can Alley gang. Kind of fits don't you think?

  • Comment number 54.

    46. Mr N wrote:

    'Haig, Blame? Not sure he is still around but I'll go away and check with Kitchener. I thought our proofreader had found a secondary occupation as Hagues policy advisor but I see he's back.'


    The curse of the proofreader.

    btw bad luck last night. One gone, two to go.

  • Comment number 55.

    try again eh Ed?
    william Hague embarressed himself and his office last year in a reported incident published in national newspapers that he responded to in national newspapers.
    since then he has been a figure of derision and his recent attempts at foreign affairs (can't find planes, gaddafi is off to venezuala, here have a helicopter and half a dozen crack troops) have added to that.
    his private life is his concern alone until it becomes public and the subject of derision. time to go Will

  • Comment number 56.

    Haig and Cameron, (like Blair) just don't seem to understand how vital it is to work closely with our allies and be sure about the "art of the possible" before shooting their mouths off about actions like no-fly zones that put service personnel in harm's way, or exposing our national interests to retaliation for no gain to anyone other than our enemies.

    "Diplomacy is war by other means" - and war in all its incarnations is an artform, where the best possible outcome is to produce the change you desire without using military force at all. In Afghanistan the ridiculous idea that "my enemy's enemy is my friend" led to the creation of the Taliban by the USA arming islamic fundamentalists, so the fact that there is now a huge surge in the islamic world against the tyrants the West has supported for decades does not mean that the final outcome, even if the rebellions achieve revolutionary change in government, is going to result in a better world from our point of view - what about the theocracy in Iran, for example?

    Getting Gadaffi away from terrorism and ending his programme for the development of mass destruction weapons was a good thing and Blair was right to do it - but those that expect everything to smell of roses are naive to think there was any other option possible - yes some manure has stuck to us over this, but that's a lot better than PIRA Semtex bombs in UK shopping centres.

    The SAS/FCO helio insert was a serious error of judgement - yes by all means protect the mission, but why on earth turn into into a special forces insertion when there is a perfectly good warship in port or the airport to use?

    Yes it may come to a no-fly zone, but why go off half-cocked before our vital coalition allies have been talked to behind the scenes and a concensus has emerged? All Cameron has done is to expose the overstretched nature of our armed forces now, the cuts being made to their capability and resources and to open up gaps amongst the NATO members that regimes like the Libyan one can then seek to exploit to create political stalemate in NATO on intervention, whilst they slaughter their own people?

    Personally I'd favour a direct coalition amphibious special forces strike on Tripoli to depose Gadaffi followed by a rapid withdrawal to leave the Arab League to sort out a new government which would leave NATO as heroes with the street arabs, but that idiot Donald Rumsfeld's idea that airpower is capable of resolving these types of issues still seems to hold sway. Even if we did a no-fly zone, that still means that all the ground assets from tanks to artillery are still available to use against the population - as we found in Bosnia, it's only really boots on the ground that can resolve the situation one way or the other.

    There is also a massive double standard going on here - the House of Saudi being the elephant in the "Democracy For All" Room, not to mention the serrried ranks of Emirate sultans, princes and perpetrators of other repressive regimes that Mr Cameron is still trying to sell weapons to...

    Haig & Cameron look like the little Englanders they are - a bunch of public school boys who see themselves "batting for their School" on the international stage: they look naive, arrogant, incompetent with the morality of what tennage boys can get away with behind the bike shed when no one's looking.

    I'll give Ming Campbell the benefit of the doubt on what he said - and I think Labour did a credible and justified job of taking Haig to the cleaners - but I suspect he's only the fall guy for Cameron's delusions of grandeur, riding roughshod over advice and commonsense.

    Yes find the leaders of the rebls - yes if they're reasonable people explore ways to support them and assist them to bring together other progressive elements into a viable alternative government, but recognise the limitations of the UK's position to act on our own.

  • Comment number 57.

    Mr. N 43

    I was thinking along the lines that Hague may have only signed up for a couple of years, to be honest. After all his popularity did increase out of Government, more than in. He is a pretty good writer as well, as I am a history person, I read them.

    I don't particularly want David Laws to come back to be frank. One, because I am not awfully keen on the Lib/Dems being in such an important role. Two, because I believe once someone has left Government under such circumstances, it is wise not to have them back. Mandelson being a good example. I reckon he has done Labour a fair amount of damage over time.

  • Comment number 58.

    49. At 5:37pm on 09 Mar 2011, Idont Believeit wrote:

    "Ed Miliband? Not my fist choice for the job, not that I've ever had a vote on the matter, but isn't the disaster many imagined."


    He wasn't really Labour's first choice for that matter. And, that may come back to haunt him?
    But lets face it; it was never going to be too difficult at first was it?
    Just sitting there, whining about how unfair everything is. Fooling people who want to be fooled, about why Labour isn't to blame for anything at all. That there isn't really a problem anyway and its just the nasty (upper class) Tories who are attacking the poor....etc

    All very easy stuff that!

    When he comes up with his own (I means Balls') policies and has to sell / defend them, then we'll see whether he's a disaster or not!

  • Comment number 59.

    And, as for cheap, snide (lets add opportunistic and hypocritical) comments - that's all that appears to be on Ed’s 'blank' sheet of paper! - Certainly nothing resembling constructive - or policies??
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    But that's just the problem in politics, John. The opposition are forever stealing your best ideas. Or do I mean no idea?

  • Comment number 60.

    Well it would be nice to get rid of a dictator wouldn't it? Espeically one killing his own citizens.

    I remember a recent prime misnter who did just that, he talked often about our moral responsibility to get rid of him, who was that? ooo let me me think.... OH YES! It was Blair! The man berrated by all and sundry for it, especially the media! That includes you Nick!

    So what else could be done? Can he be talked down? Well to talk somone down they have to have somewhere to go don't they? So why not lets look at what happened to the Presidents of nearbye countries who left "of their own choice" and "peacefully", oh yes what happened? One is being investigated by his own country and the other one is likely to face an international court!

    So Gadaffis choice is stay and fight or spend the rest of his life in jail.

    Unfair as it seems for the principles of "justice" but finding a country that would take him and promising not to prosecute would save a lot of peoples lives.

    The media wouldn't stand for that either.

    So back to what William was talking to the Queen about.

    Probably this

    "Dammed by the MEDIA if I do, and dammed by the MEDIA if I don't"

    Gadaffi has been backed into a corner and like any wounded animal will fight, one of the main reasons for that is politicans who won't make the hard choices because they don't want to face the "righteous indignation" of people like you Nick.

    Thanks a bunch.

  • Comment number 61.

    54. At 6:12pm on 09 Mar 2011, TheBlameGame wrote:

    "One gone, two to go."

    I think you'll find it two gone Blame but confident we'll bag the other two lol.

    Much is being made about Labours lack of policies on here, Blame. I know precisely the Lib/Dems policy for dealing with things like Lybia, growth in the economy, the rising price of fuel and of course the deficit. I'm sure given the time you could tell me precisely what the green party policies are for each of these issues. However, not sure where the Tory Party stand regarding these issues perhaps whilst you're around you could help out?



  • Comment number 62.

    44. At 5:15pm on 09 Mar 2011, RedandYellowandGreennotBlue wrote:

    "Labour seem to be biding their time in developing new initiatives or policies. I believe that they are taking the time to produce truly well thought out ideas, gathering the views of the public and professionals along the way, rather than reacting with hastily assembled policies. Not great for an effective opposition right now, but in a year (or hopefully less) they'll have credible plans on how to take the country forward."


    Well, I sincerely hope that they're better than NuLabour's 'truly well thought out ideas'. Ideas like, Spending and spending and spending - followed by borrowing and spending, then more borrowing and spending - followed by crashing and blaming – followed by loosing and whining...

  • Comment number 63.

    57. At 6:16pm on 09 Mar 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:

    "I don't particularly want David Laws to come back to be frank. One, because I am not awfully keen on the Lib/Dems being in such an important role."

    Susan, not sure you've entirely got hold of the concept of a coalition government. You know a government of all the talents.

    With Hague under so much pressure i thought it would be a perfect tiem for a mini reshuffle.

    Clegg PM
    Vince Chancellor
    David Laws Foreign Secretary

    To be 'frank' probably best you keep your initial thoughts to yourself on this one but I can tell you can already see the benefits.

  • Comment number 64.

    oh! how the unmighty have risen. when,cameron was shadow pm,tony blair
    could wipe the floor with him at PM qs,it was cringeble,now he has more elbow room he has the deputy,pm and shadow pm both cringing the tories
    must be proud.

  • Comment number 65.

    43 Mr N.

    David Laws? He would make a great replacement for Hague, they have one
    thing in common, but it's nothing to do with affairs, foreign ones
    anyway.

  • Comment number 66.

    59. At 6:27pm on 09 Mar 2011, Idont Believeit wrote:
    And, as for cheap, snide (lets add opportunistic and hypocritical) comments - that's all that appears to be on Ed’s 'blank' sheet of paper! - Certainly nothing resembling constructive - or policies??
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    But that's just the problem in politics, John. The opposition are forever stealing your best ideas. Or do I mean no idea?

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

    Beneath you that IDB - No points there - just simplistic opportunism!

    Labour haven't had any new ideas since tuition fees - which they now believe is a terrible idea anyway (mainly because it suits)

    Even, (the more convincing) Miliband is now saying that the left have a ‘deficit of ideas’. It seems like deficits are all you get from the ‘left’?

  • Comment number 67.

    I dont envy Hague or even Cameron on the Libya situation, although Cameron needs to tread a bit more carefully on the political capital jibes, given he has been merrily bringing up past Labour actions in the last week. Crumbs, even John Major defended Tony Blair a little in terms of the quagmire that foreign policy/diplomacy/intervention can be. Labour should challenge the government on its actions as a responsible opposition but steer well clear of going after individuals unless absolutely clear evidence of incompetence. Not a charge to be laid at Hague's door for now.

    Similarly for Miliband, who is never going to be a TV star, but will almost certainly get good council results in May, even with a blank sheet on policy. Such is the joys of opposition - Cameron enjoyed it for a few years as the Tories started to win elections from 2007 onwards, with no policies radically different from Labour. A far bigger challenge for Labour is how to beat the SNP in Scotland. Comparing the SNP front bench to Scottish Labour wont make good reading for Miliband. I think that its looking like good council results for Labour in May are going to have to be stacked up against another 4 years of Alex Salmond as First Minister.

    For the poor LibDems it looks like lose/lose.

  • Comment number 68.

    John-B @58
    Got it in one there, John. No flies on you (no reference to Libya intended?).
    Summed up the art of opposition nicely. I bet Dave longs for those halcyon days.
    And @66
    You'd be surprised by what you might find beneath me. You seem to be mis-reading my posts or I'm not being clear enough. My intimation is that Ed has learnt a thing or two from Dave's success. Copy anything that looks successful with the public and never clearly state what you will do until the last possible moment. Preferably after you've been elected by the Libdems. Could happen.

  • Comment number 69.

    Of the many contradictions at the heart of British foreign policy,try this one:-

    The government is urging a no-fly zone over Libya on humanitarian grounds.Who could object to that, even if it constitutes an act of war.

    The proposal is now supported by the Gulf States,it no longer looks like unilateral western action against Arabs.

    What would our response be if the Arab Street turned its fire on Kuwait,Bahrain and Saudi Arabia? Perhaps their putative support of a no fly zone depends on an implicit assumption of British help in that eventuality.

    But we have sided with the revolution,want to support it militarily.What do we say when the Sauds and other dynasties turn their guns on their own people?

  • Comment number 70.

    Idont Believeit @68

    I understand what you wrote IDB, you don't need to explain.

    I was just pointing out that I don't think that he has anything to offer! He has a blank sheet of paper because he has no idea what to put on it. (Ref - DM) Lets face it; austerity and Labour are not natural bedfellows are they?

    He's making life as difficult for Cameron as possible (which is his job, I agree) but in the end his only alternative is 'Ballsonomics', and I think that we've had quite enough of that already!

  • Comment number 71.

    Ginger, you could almost be my alter ego in Scotland re many of my views. Know what you mean about Labour in Scotland. Are you an SNP supporter? Do you think their success is due to their offering a way out of the Labour/Libdem/Tory, who will do the least damage quandry many of us feel south of the border?

  • Comment number 72.

    Mr.Hague`s caution is justified.We shouldn`t take sides because we don`t know the outcome of the Arab revolt.If the revolution succeeds it could bring some radically anti western governments to power, who will use oil as a political weapon,for instance favouring the Indian and Chinese markets.

    Mr Cameron may judge that a no fly zone will give us some credit with the Arabs.If it isn`t delivered it will look like an empty promise,if it is delivered they will say we are opening a third front against Muslims,
    finally,it will prevent us from intervening on behalf of friendly governments in the Gulf if our oil supplies are threatened.

    I am told that Mr.Hague is being undermined by an alliance of Mr.Osborne and Mr.Gove,while the prime minister`s policy supports his opponents..This,and some unfortunate policy mistakes may explain his douleurs.

  • Comment number 73.

    Hello JohnB@70, trust you are well.

    Ballsonomics (or more accurately Brownomics and Darlingomics) seemed to be OK up to 2007-08, deficit in line with Clarkonomics and much much better performance on build up of debt (actually dont look at the Clarke deficits in the 90s - well nasty given lack of any form of global economic meltdown, but then he is an old leftie). Additionally we kind of know from successive Tory manifestos that Ballsonomics was all the rage right up until 2008.

    Proof that the 2008 global meltdown left UK in a bit of unavoidable deficit land is that the Tories are borrowing £150bn this year and £100bn next year, compared to Labour £95bn in 2008-09 and £155bn 2009-10. If it was as simple as reversing a bit of Labour mismanagement why cant they do it? Because its not that simple thats why. Catastrophic falls in tax revenues are devilishly difficult to sort.

    The Tories did half a job at last election - by correctly focusing on the "economy stupid" they forced Labour out of power. The problem was that they didnt have enough decent ideas down on paper to attract enough votes to do the full job - Miliband take note (whichever one!).

    Now we both know that the current UK woes are down to much more than just the global crisis. Government policy over the last 30 years has taken us down the route of a badly imbalanced economy. That left us open to the tax dropoff we saw when the proverbial hit the fan.

  • Comment number 74.

    J_B @70
    Gotcha JB, comming in loud and clear. You think Ed should should promise cuts as big as if not bigger than Dave's and then if it doesn't look like it's working say 18 months to two years before the next election, he should completely change his mind in an opportunist way and blame the failure on 5 years of Coalition 'mess'. Been known to work in the past. Add a financial collapse and a recession and it's perfect.

  • Comment number 75.

    Idont Believeit @ 71 (always makes me think of Victor Meldrew and makes me laugh).

    I am a Centre Left supporter - whatever that might mean (and whatever scorn it might attract from some other fellow bloggers). I have voted SNP/Labour/LibDem/Green in my time, mostly on policies but sometimes tactically (always wash my hands after that).

    SNP success has built up through dogged opposition in the first 2 terms of Jock Parliament and then through sensible minority government over the last 4 years. Behind the independence issue there are a set of experienced and clever politicians who stand up for Scotland - Alex Salmond is a great figurehead (arguably top UK politician) and John Swinney an intelligent a pragmatic finance secretary.

    There'll be a dogfight for both Labour and SNP to pick up disaffected LibDems and try and snatch the odd seat from each other. Seat count was 48 v 47 at last election - I reckon it'll be close again but a wee gut feeling that SNP will win by a couple more. As to my votes (constituency and list) - still to decide although Greens a firm favourite for the list vote.

  • Comment number 76.

    72. At 8:06pm on 09 Mar 2011, bryhers wrote:

    "I am told that Mr.Hague is being undermined by an alliance of Mr.Osborne and Mr.Gove,"

    Presumably, Bryers Osbourne is worried that any action would incur costs which would undermine his rhetoric that the Country's bust. Yes can see Osbournes difficuly here but Goves?

    Again, is it only me that understands the Lib/Dems policy regards to Lybia?

  • Comment number 77.

    Everyone is agreed that the unrest in Libya and potentially other states in that region is a difficult issue with which to deal.

    But Britain is not on its own so I am not sure why the PM or William Hague are any more or any less concerned that other nations. It would be equally interesting to know what the mood is down in Beijing.

    I can see that Nick is keen to see a foreign secretary in difficulties but there are plenty of other issues about which to write.

  • Comment number 78.

    73. At 8:09pm on 09 Mar 2011, TheGingerF wrote:

    Hello Ginger!

    Firstly, I’ll stick with Ballsonomics. There is no doubt that he was the 'mastermind' in the background for most of the time.

    On deficit, you're comparing different parts of the economic cycle in order to make a misleading comparison. Clarke's deficit was necessitated by the recession in the early 1990's (that’s when you should have deficits) and he handed over spending plans that were on a natural trajectory towards surplus. And, given that there were no recessions between 1997 and 2008, that's exactly where the budget should have remained (because that’s when you shouldn’t have deficits). We both know that!

    I don't blame Labour for the recession, but you have to accept the GB sat back and gorged off the property price / consumer credit bubble; which he could have curtailed if he wanted to. I don't necessarily blame them for what happened, but I don't think that they can claim to be innocent little angels either. Plus, throwing ‘all’ the blame onto ‘bankers’ in order to distract the electorate from their own culpability is extremely damaging don’t you think?

  • Comment number 79.

    Mr.N 63
    "Susan, not sure you've entirely got hold of the concept of a coalition government. You know a government of all the talents."

    I wish they`s show them.Mr Cable with his flashes of brilliance before the election was trappewd by the coalition hating "Telegraph" into a display of juvenile self importance.His political capital is now nil.

    Mr.Clegg fresh from his success in burning his professor`s prize cacti and doing community service in Germany,has been tricked into betraying everything he ever thought he stood for with the promise of power.He now sits next to Mephisto smiling like a zombie.

    Mr.Laws is doing penance for errors of judgement about his expenses. If he is pardoned and returns to the front bench it will be a sign of desperation.

    As Yeats wrote on the Easter Rising: "The centre does not hold,the worst are full of passionate conviction,the best lack all intensity.






  • Comment number 80.

    76. At 8:25pm on 09 Mar 2011, you wrote:

    'Bryers'

    Sorry Bryhers, bad habit, always dropping my Hashes.

  • Comment number 81.

    76. At 8:25pm on 09 Mar 2011, Mr N wrote:
    72. At 8:06pm on 09 Mar 2011, bryhers wrote:

    "I am told that Mr.Hague is being undermined by an alliance of Mr.Osborne and Mr.Gove,"

    "Presumably, Bryers Osbourne is worried that any action would incur costs which would undermine his rhetoric that the Country's bust. Yes can see Osbournes difficuly here but Goves"

    But Mr.Hague`s policy, if I understand it correctly, is to be more cautious than Mr.Cameron in relation to a no-fly zone.His recent hesitation could be intepreted as not being comfortable with the policy he is expected to pursue.

    I suspect the motives of Mr,Gove and Mr.Osborne are more political.Mr.Hague is cleverer than Mr.Osborne and is a candidate for his job if, as is likely, he fails.Mr Gove would like to be foreign secretary on the Parkinson principle that people rise to their own level of incompetence.

  • Comment number 82.

    79 Bryhers

    Oh well, at least gives me hope that all's not lost then:)

  • Comment number 83.

    74. At 8:14pm on 09 Mar 2011, Idont Believeit wrote:
    J_B @70
    Gotcha JB, comming in loud and clear. You think Ed should should promise cuts as big as if not bigger than Dave's and then if it doesn't look like it's working say 18 months to two years before the next election, he should completely change his mind in an opportunist way and blame the failure on 5 years of Coalition 'mess'. Been known to work in the past. Add a financial collapse and a recession and it's perfect.
    -----------------------

    LOL - Very good!

    No, I don't expect him to do that, but I think that it is fair to expect that his 'policies' (LOL again) reflect the reality of our situation. Claiming (indirectly) that the policies that got us into the mess are the best ones to get us out of the mess, is total nonsense; and everyone knows that. Trying to convince the electorate that we don't need to reduce public spending is doing the country a great disservice. There are times for blatant opportunism (I accept your point about Cameron), but now is not one of them.

  • Comment number 84.

    Mr N @76
    Can see the Osborne line you mention. Two edged sword, having no money left. Gove is rumoured to have the ear of David Cameron and would, I suppose, seem like an intellectual Titan by comparison to those around him. Perhaps the emnity between Gove and Hague (hinted at recently) is long running.
    You're right, LibDems have (a generally forgotten or ignored) right to their own policies even as part of the Coalition. What is their policy on Libya? A link would do if you don't want to explain it yourself.

  • Comment number 85.

    If I was David Cameron I would want to keep a more incompetent colleague in place.

  • Comment number 86.

    I feel a little sympathy for Hague.

    The UK does not own any commercial airline it can instruct to divert aircraft from civilian to government use. It is rediculous to assume that an aircraft can simply be chartered to operate into a potential war-zone on a whim. Our government cannot instruct civilian pilots to fly into known danger zones.

    The UK does have an Air Force - though much reduced these days. I have no idea about the diplomatic niceties of any government allowing military aircraft to be designated for "civilian use" during times of conflict. But the government can instruct RAF pilots to operate in dangerous places...

    So the initial problem was almost foreseeable. The UK has to sustain a level of Defence capability to reflect potential threats (even if that means taking UK citizens out of harm's way in odd places).

    The remarks from Hague about Gaddafi being believed to be on his way to Venezuela were either the sign of a bloke making up stuff on the hoof (which I doubt) or some whispered "intelligence" about what was happening.
    I would have thought that, after the totally inept performance of UK Intelligence over the Iraqi WMD issue, any minister would at least call for two or three people to provide some written evidence as justification for their comments - with a proviso that bad evidence would be treated as a sackable offence.

    Goodness knows how the French have apparently been able to get people in in a straight-forward way to take soundings from the Eastern Libyan rebels, while the FO decided that a high-risk covert operation would be best for us. I rather doubt that Hague wanted a covert operation to get that little thrill when handling 007...

    If the "Secret Service" thinks that offering bad intelligence results in promotion (which seemed to work for John Scarlett, if, dear Mods you allow such a comment which appears to have been written into official enquiries), I suggest that what they need is an injection of some damned good market research team to analyse the results being shoved under the doors of te FO and Downing Street.

  • Comment number 87.

    JB@78

    I like the cycle stuff John, but I'm sorry I dont agree that this excuses Clarke for the 6-7% deficits he was running while tax as a percentage of GDP was going up at a pretty impressive rate.

    The really bad thing about it was that you're right, he was busy paying dole money which simply exacerbated the under spending and investment in our public services (even with some mighty privatisation receipts coming in too). Labour promised to put that right and were voted in on that basis.

    I know you have issues with the amount of spending - fair enough (and I agree that there are very bad examples of inefficiencies and policies that can be questioned). I just dont think that calling Labours period in office economic mismanagement (balls or otherwise) while holding out Tory policy as some kind of virtuous economics is recognising what actually happened. (the last bit is aimed at the general rhetoric we often see)

  • Comment number 88.

    Nick Robinson used to be Chairman of the Young Conservatives so it's not surprising that he thinks David Cameron's laboured joke was a 'wounding blow'. If you watch the sequence again, no one reacts to the 'knifing' line and it's not until Cameron says 'and I think that I'm looking at him' with heavy gesticulation and exaggerated facial signals to his colleagues that anyone can muster a laugh. If Ed Miliband was wounded by Cameron's performance today then I'm a banana.

  • Comment number 89.

    TheGingerF @75

    Ginger, my impression was that the SNP were essentially Labour supporters who wanted Scottish independence? Beyond playing politics with each other, what real differences exist?

    As for independence, that is a very interesting issue. Personally, I am somewhat surprised (given AS continually poking the English in the eye) that there is not a real call for English independence? I personally got the impression that Labour’s Scottish MP’s were 'voting in' legislation that only affected England, but would never have approved it in Scotland?

  • Comment number 90.

    Thanks for the reply. The VM reference was deliberate and reflects the frustration I sometimes feel about politics in general. Would have described myself as centre left up to 1997 when TB gave it a whole new meaning. It often feels like I'm somewhere between the Beast of Bolsover and Tony Benn with a touch of Michael Foot and John Smith thrown in for balance!
    Not that it's any of my business but I've always been slightly suspicious of Alex S {probably because he's an ex economist :o)}. Smart operator for sure. How gradual do you think his march towards independence is? Does it sustain his position better to be ever nearer but not quite there?
    I tend to see most people as reasonable and rational - just trying to do their job (even policemen). Joking aside, I can't really see Dave and Co. as deliberately evil in intent. Just terribly mistaken in their analysis of the problem.

  • Comment number 91.

    bryhers

    If Your 79 touched a nerve of two, nothing compared to your 81.

    "Mr Gove would like to be foreign secretary on the Parkinson principle that people rise to their own level of incompetence."

    Surely, in the name of all the Saints, Gove is already there.



  • Comment number 92.

    87. At 8:58pm on 09 Mar 2011, TheGingerF wrote:

    "I like the cycle stuff John, but I'm sorry I dont agree that this excuses Clarke for the 6-7% deficits he was running while tax as a percentage of GDP was going up at a pretty impressive rate."


    Ok Ginger, but two points.

    You can't really defend Labour's deficit in growth but attack Clarke's deficit whilst coming out of recession! And secondly, Clarke's cut v tax solution in 1993 was more in line with Darling's (I mean Balls')in 2010, which is why taxes increased whilst the deficit was still in play.


  • Comment number 93.

    JohnB - there's clear red water between SNP and Labour these days, and its not of the political hue!

    Despite many areas where their politics coincide (a bit like Labour and Tory) the contest between the parties and those who support them is probably as vociferous as any around the UK (makes Cameron v Miliband look like childsplay).

    I have sympathy with the old West Lothian question but not completely sure its as simple of stopping Scottish/Welsh/NI MPs voting on certain things. In then end a UK system without all regions having devolved power is imperfect. Having said that, a devolved England could have a very divisive political landscape.

  • Comment number 94.

    86 Fairly

    Good to see you back fairly. Hope you are here to stay and all is well with you.

    Talk soon

    Mr Naughty2

  • Comment number 95.

    IDB - you've gone and mentioned John Smith and got me all sentimental - where might we all be now if he'd become PM?

    I wouldnt worry too much about Eck Salmond - the Scottish people will keep an eye on him. And by the way, it is your business while there is no independence - in that way we definitely are all in this together.

  • Comment number 96.

    61. Mr N

    "One gone, two to go."
    'I think you'll find it two gone Blame but confident we'll bag the other two lol.'


    Two gone but only one of them worth having... THE one.

    'However, not sure where the Tory Party stand regarding these issues perhaps whilst you're around you could help out?'

    Well as I'm obsessed by the Daily Mail according to Physic Sue I should be able to help you out there. Alternatively The One Show is a good place to start.

  • Comment number 97.

    79. bryhers:

    A return to form... and not an owl in sight.

  • Comment number 98.

    J_B @83
    The blank piece of paper stuff is more of a red rag to wave at the bull, so to speak. The plan was the Darling plan.
    Not much of a plan, in so far as it was the inevitable consequence of events. (Osborne could have come up with it given the circumstances and did as it happens.) And no Labour didn't/don't need to flesh it out because they are no longer the Government and let's face it the Coalition only put flesh on the bones after coming to power and it's still subject to ammendment/u-turns.
    On the opportunism thing. Like I said the time for that will be much closer to the next election. The present job is to hold the government to account. Quite right to.

  • Comment number 99.

    JohnB @ 92

    Fair points John, well made.

    Going forward, a more balanced UK economy with reduced reliance on any one sector, proper (and sensible) regulation for financial sector and a foreign policy that somehow manages to dovetail ethics and realpolitik.

  • Comment number 100.

    88 Andrew Brooke

    "If Ed Miliband was wounded by Cameron's performance today then I'm a banana. "
    ===========================

    Let's hope you find your new form apeeling.

 

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