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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Two announcements to come from Downing Street..
One is an already prepared statement on a 'road fees'scheme.. one which would see an end to road tax, the equivalent of yearly license plate charges, and the introduction of mileage charges leveed against those who use heavily laden highways and byways, leading into any city in the country.. Now while Tony is adamant in starting ten such plans in ten of our major cities, just to see how it'll work, one of his spokesmen has admitted that a national plan is not cast in stone. That this in an effort to cut congestion, and is an idea that should be given a chance.
But, the 1.7million motorists who have signed an internet petition against this charging by the mile, could spell the eventual end to the whole thing..
So, while our roads will still be inadequate to handle the volume of rush-hour traffic, it'll be Gordon Brown's problem in a month or two..
The second is of far greater importance, on so many levels..
Tony's going to announce the withdrawal of some of the British Forces in and around Basra..
Again, should the violence escallate when the withdrawal begins, the troops will return, but the plan expected is to involve some 15 hundred troops coming home in the next month or so, and another 15 hundred by Christmas..
This comes as George is about to announce the infusion of some 21 thousand more American troops to try to contain what's becoming an absolute fiasco in Baghdad.
Now, this British withdrawal, as mentioned, is conditional, and could be a signal to George that Tony's time is coming to an end, along with the political carreers of many of those who supported the American stance unconditionally. A message to those in power in Washington, that Gordon Brown might be an entirely different Prime Minister, one wanting a closer relationship with the EU than that which is now enjoyed with the US.
It is no secret Gordon's a Europhile, and even though, at this point, the Conservatives under David Cameron appear to hold an edge in public opinion, our elections are 18 months away, and a lot can happen in a year and a half..
Even if the Tories get in, and David holds the reins, Iraq is an unpopular war in this country, one in which, it seems, the media is mourning each and every life lost in the Middle East.
Not the same can be said about Afghanistan though. There is a general awareness that terrorism is a real threat, and Afghanistan, with the Taliban and al Q'aeda based in that country, is as good a place as any to fight their infrastructure. Even those who read the most basic of newspapers understands that terrorists will strike here, and that arms and men are slipping across the Pakistani border in droves to form cells, and to actively fight in Afghanistan.
But not Iraq.
And with the distinct possibility the US will expand it's war effort against Iran to stop it's development of nuclear capabilities, the British man on the street understands the US alliance could drop us in yet another endless confrontation. For even if Iran is militarily occupied, and it's nuclear installations destroyed, it would simply mean yet another war of attrition.. guerilla warfare with no ultimate winner.. only a steady stream of body's returning to families who are proud their children chose to serve their country, but who vocally wonder about the wisdom of sending them to serve against an enemy which is not 'playing fair'.
To those of this country, throughout our involvements in all our conflicts, there has been a peace in place at it's outcome, and the knowledge that 'peace' for that particular theatre, is not going to come.
It's not popular.
On the whole, British are tolerant of anothers particular God, and a war in which one particular 'faith' has declared jihad against our entire society, has left us somewhat bewildered.
And indeed, the thoughts of the man on the street are beginning to question the 'right and wrong' of involvement in a conflict that has affected so many already, and stands to effect a definate division among those who are 'British', and those who are 'foreigners'.
Tony's announcement will be a popular one.
And if George does indeed decide the threat of Iran deserves military action, he may have to depend on UN support, for it's questionable as to whether this government will commit any more manpower to an effort with so little popular support here.
This departure of Tony, could cost George.
In fact, one would give good odds on it.
And to add to the general sense of confusion, comes the announcement from Iran's Ahmadenejad, that he'd be happy to talk to any Western power about stopping it's nuclear programs, if that power agreed to abandon it's own. He asks the question, 'why should a country with a nuclear arsenal already in place, deny Iran the right to develop parity?'
An easily answered question, but asked, at a bad time..
Condaleesa Rice is offering the Iranians what might be called a 'poisoned pill'.. Either stop the enrichment programs, or face the prospect of greater embargo's, and the distinct possibility of armed conflict.
Ahmanenejad has but one answer to that, which is in effect an ultimatum.
And that could be delivered in two words.

One more brief note here. British banks are announcing their annual profit statements this week. NatWest made just over £2.5 billion last year. It's number three on the list.
More on this issue later..

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