Sue Gray’s report into Partygate has finally been published. A damp squib, it was hardly worth the wait. Eviscerated of any meaningful content on the orders of the Metropolitan Police it has let Boris off the hook, for the time being. Thankfully it’s likely to be a temporary reprieve only.
The first signs of trouble emerged last week. Clearly caving in to pressure from the Cabinet Office the Met tried to delay publication of the report altogether. Sue Gray and her team pushed back, but eventually were forced to agree to limiting the report to an anodyne summary. Given that no one has yet produced an opt-in agreement, which as I explained in December was necessary for the Covid regulations to apply to government buildings, the Met’s stance looks even odder. For the avoidance of doubt no breach of the regulations could have taken place as all the parties were held on Crown land.
Gray was only able to publish her findings in relation to four events, out of twenty or so allegations. The report contains a mild reproof of Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, but not by name, and recommends against civil servants getting drunk on the job. There’s no warning against them getting drunk on power, however. A full report, probably with redactions, will be published in due course, hopefully this decade.
MPs are more than usually confused, no offense intended. Lacking any real understanding of power structures in modern Britain they are blaming Boris for the delay in publishing the full report, but that’s nonsense. The Met report to the Cabinet Office, not Number 10.
Manifestly it was the Cabinet Office which leant on the Met. The critical departure will be that of Simon Case, not Boris, who is simply a figurehead, unable to take any important policy decision. He can’t even speak to President Putin on the telephone!
Whilst they can sense that the Met caved in to pressure MPs are quite incapable of correctly identifying the source of the pressure. Since Case’s departure should lead to the shutting down of GO2, the German intelligence operation in London, and the covert listening post run a by S, a German electronics firm, the stakes could not be higher.
The listening post of course is the key to German control of Whitehall. Every MP’s phone is tapped and every one of their emails monitored, although much of the legwork is no doubt done by the 50,000 plus intelligence officers who work for the DVD in Germany.
It’s quite amusing to see critics of Boris back down suddenly, no doubt under blackmail pressure. Scarcely any MPs understand that every phone conversation they have on a digital network is being picked up by the listening post and recorded.
The degree of ignorance amongst MPs has serious implications for the democratic legitimacy of the House of Commons. Unaware of how Britain is governed and equally unaware of both GO2 and the German listening post MPs are incapable of holding the executive to account, indeed only a handful understand where executive power in Britain is held. It is likely that there will be a gradual power shift to the House of Lords, indeed the next Prime Minister could well come from the Lords. As a number of commentators have picked up, there’s no obvious candidate to replace Boris, at any rate not if you obsess on the House of Commons as the only source of a replacement.
Given the degree of penetration of Whitehall by German intelligence the next PM, in order to be effective and not end up as a house-trained idiot like Boris Johnson, no offense intended, will need to be intelligence literate. He or she will also need to possess high intelligence, or be willing to listen to advisers who have. Boris did have such an adviser, in Dominic Cummings, but caved in to Cabinet Office pressure, supported by Mrs Boris, to force him out, leading in turn to one of the infamous parties by way of celebration. (At least they weren’t celebrating the death of Prince Philip.)
Sadly, the last MP with high intelligence was that nice man Enoch Powell, whom I knew, who left the House of Commons in 1987. A former intelligence officer, he worked with an old friend of mine, also sadly no longer with us, Lt-Col Harry Beckhough, on the Enigma decrypts of Rommel’s communications with OKH in Berlin prior to the Second Battle of El Alamein. Enoch was one of the masterminds of the Eighth Army’s great victory over the Afrika Korps.
There isn’t a single MP who can lay claim to any achievement outside politics even remotely approaching Enoch Powell’s brilliant work in 1942. Derided by some on the left as a fascist, he did far more than any man or woman on the left to defeat fascism. (I once heard a delightful story about Enoch by the way, who was smeared by the press as a racist – a young black woman was serving as a waitress at a reception in the Palace of Westminster. There were lots of Labour MPs, but the only person attending who treated the young lady as a human being and stopped to talk to her was Enoch Powell. She never forgot it.)
Britain is unique amongst the democracies in having a second chamber with members of high intelligence, the House of Lords. US senators, for example, are no smarter than congressmen, sadly, no offense intended. Since the Prime Minister can be a member of either House of Parliament (the last PM in the Lords was my old friend the Earl of Home, in 1963) this affords the UK the possibility of having an intelligent PM. It would be an interesting experiment. Our last intelligent Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, didn’t do so badly, did he?
Having an intelligent PM replace Boris would mean that the Free World would have two intelligent leaders, treating Russia as a modern democracy, which she is, and a member of the Free World. I’m not sure that there’s ever been a time when the world had two seriously intelligent elected leaders. We might even get some work done!
Click photo to read report.
Even MPs and the MSM have woken up to the possibility of a Russian attack on rump Ukraine. Had they read my columns in November and December 2020 they might have been forewarned!
Estimates vary but it’s clear that the Russian and Byelorussian military build-up is continuing. It looks like there are about 150,000 troops in total in staging areas near to the Ukrainian frontier, counting forces in Byelorussia and Crimea. I suspect that the Russian General Staff, who are highly competent with respect, would regard those numbers as a little light for a serious offensive against the Ukrainians.
I am also hearing that ground conditions still do not favor massed movements by armored fighting vehicles. It’s not just tanks that need firm ground of course, but tube and rocket artillery, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, trucks and other logistic support vehicles. I think that the Russians will have a pop at Kiev, but I’m not expecting war to break out until towards the end of this month.
The MSM are so hopelessly biased against Russia and dear old Pooters that there’s no hope of getting them to grasp Russia’s strategic concerns, most of which should concern us as well. The Ukraine is a deeply corrupt German client state, which has a hold on Joe Biden and has involved itself in organised crime on a large scale. It has also been involved in nuclear proliferation, for example of SS-19 warheads. Indeed at one time Kiev was ‘Warheads’R’Us’.
The Ukrainian Air Force was directly involved in the shameful shooting down of MH17 in 2014 over Ukrainian airspace. The Chinese struck the killer blow, with their version of the Buk SAM, but it was the Ukrainians who fired the first missile, an AAM directed at the cockpit, the idea being to kill or disable the crew. No Western leader protested Kiev’s involvement.
Ukraine also hosts one of the ground stations for the Scalar High Energy Weapons System, most recently targeted on Tonga. President Putin is well-informed, with respect, far more so than Boris Johnson or Joe Biden.
I doubt that either has even heard of the SHEWS system and even if they have, unlike President Putin, they lack the intelligence to grasp the implications, again no offense intended.
I am not saying by the way that either Boris Johnson or Joe Biden is stupid. They aren’t. The problem is that they lack the high intelligence and sophistication required for leadership of a major power in an increasingly complex world. President Putin is fitted for leadership. They aren’t.
This week’s movie review: In the Heat of the Night (1967, dir. Norman Jewison)
Shown on British television over the weekend as a tribute to the great actor Sir Sidney Poitier, who plays the lead, Detective Virgil Tibbs, In the Heat of the Night is one of the greatest movies ever made.
An anti-racist movie, it wears its message lightly and still manages to provide plenty of excitement. It’s a movie with a message, but the message is a good one.
Beautifully directed, it’s also highly atmospheric. You can really feel the old South, even though it was shot in Sparta, Illinois, not Sparta, Mississippi! (According to Wikipedia Sparta MS provided soldiers for the Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War.)
The plot is almost too well-known to call for recitation. Sparta’s fictional police department is almost as bad as Thames Valley Police. Blinded by racism and lacking any serious forensic expertise they are floundering in a murder investigation until Detective Tibbs helps them out.
The tension between Tibbs and Chief Gillespie, superbly played by Rod Steiger in his greatest role, is at the core of the movie, but it’s a dynamic relationship. The Chief comes to the aid of Detective Tibbs when he’s set on by a bunch of good ol’ boys, complete with Confederate flag on their automobile, which ain’t a Toyota! Moreover he comes to respect Tibbs.
Whatever faults he may have the Chief wants to nail the actual killer. This would rule him out of any sort of leadership role in Thames Valley Police. He actually has some integrity, although like Thames Valley he’s happy to beat confessions out of suspects. Detective Tibbs also comes to recognise this and by the end of the movie is able to see some good in the man.
Huge admirer though I am of the late, great Sidney Poitier, I think that the Oscar for Best Actor deservedly went to Steiger. His character was the more complex and undergoes more development. Of the two parts it was the more difficult to play, outstanding though Sir Sidney was.
Don’t overlook the support cast, although it’s easy to do so when the leads are two such fine actors at the height of their powers. Warren Oates in particular is excellent as Officer Woods, a policeman dumb enough to be considered for Thames Valley Police, no offense intended, indeed he’s probably make Chief Constable.
Playing stupid people very often requires intelligence. Acting is not like politics, where stupidity is seen as a virtue.
However many times you’ve seen it, watch it again, and raise a glass in memory, not just of Sir Sidney Poitier, but of Rod Steiger and Warren Oates as well.
First published 2 February 2022
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.
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