Monday, 24 August 2009

We need more jaw-jaw

MORE than 200 soldiers have now died in Afghanistan with no sign of any end to the fighting. So when is it going to stop? Well, the government tells us it will stop when we win. The new British Army chief General Sir David Richards even said that we might be stuck there for 40 years! If we’re still stuck in the Afghan mountains then, it would mean a lot more fatalities ahead. But is this war even winnable? It’s a hard one to call. Obviously, our government reckons we can get the job done. And the courage and professionalism of our brave and dedicated military is not in doubt. But HOW can we win? That’s not a question I’ve heard a good answer to yet. Don’t they realise that the very act of “being there” is actually part of the problem? I know ministers don’t like to admit it, but lots of local people support the Taliban who are hell-bent on getting us OUT of that country. I also get tired of hearing that the reason we’re there is about stopping terrorist attacks in the UK. You don’t have to be an international peace envoy to see the reality and realise that we’re provoking some the terrorism by fighting them in their country. So here’s my humble suggestion. Let’s look at other ways of solving the mess. Like trying to talk with the people we’re fighting. It’s not such a crazy idea. We did that same thing in Northern Ireland. And it worked. The terrorists have stopped their killing. Life in Belfast is better than it’s been in over 40 years. Why is Afghanistan so different? What’s for sure is that the current way we’re approaching it isn’t working. And until we take a new look at it, the bullets will keep flying, the bombs will keep going off, and our military will carry on paying the ultimate price.
POLITICALLY speaking, I’m pro-Royal Family. I’ll tend to defend them when they get hassle in the press. So I pricked up my ears when I heard the inimitable Duchess of York – Fergie – had swapped her Royal lifestyle to live in Manchester’s Wythenshawe housing estate. That must have come as a surprise to the neighbours. One minute, it’s just your normal folks next door. Next minute you’re hearing the National Anthem every few seconds and the bins are filling with empty bottles of champagne and caviar. She says she hoped it might turn Wythenshawe into a “thriving community”. That’s a pretty big ambition, considering she was living there for just 10 days. Still, fair play to her, it was an interesting project and I respect her for putting herself in an unusual circumstance for her. Sadly, after she’d filmed it, Fergie got loads of stick on the radio. She went in a rage and said she she’ll never go back to anything like this again. Funny how history repeats itself. I wonder if, after Fergie moved out of Wythenshawe, the Queen phoned the residents and said: “Yes, she was just the same after she moved out of Buckingham Palace.”
I DON’T normally have a go at political parties, but something happened some days ago which really got my Parliamentary goat. So the Conservative Party are now saying they might get rid of “league tables” on how schools are performing. That’s sensible. But what I want to ask them is if league tables are so crap, why did YOU—the Conservatives— introduce them in the first place? I mean, it wasn’t as if everyone was telling them it was a great idea back then. I remember folks objecting at the time. League tables for schools are about as clever as measuring someone’s intelligence by weighing their head. That’s the thing which annoys me about politics. Governments introduce stuff which is obviously stupid. Then they expect to get praise for dumping the barmy idea a couple of decades later. The same thing happened with the Poll Tax, which the Tories introduced and then scrapped. And it even goes for the war in Iraq, which the Tories voted for, but now say they’re opposed to. It’s all “yes but—no but,” and “in out—in out”. You can’t run a country well by introducing bad policy and then abolishing it again. I suppose at least we’d know what a Conservative government’s theme tune could be – the “Hokey Cokey”.
WELL, it had to happen sooner or later. Spanish researchers are saying that beer is GOOD for women. They reckon ladies who drink moderate amounts of beer may have stronger bones. That’s pretty good news. Perhaps our government should promote beer through the NHS for ladies. We could have a beer allowance distributed through the Benefits Agency to make sure that every female gets her healthy portion and fair share of booze. But what would it do to the overall appearance of the fairer sex? That worries me not a little. After all, my good friend Donna Tickel doesn’t look like she’s in need of an improved bone structure. She’s far too sweet to need bitter.

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