Tuesday News Review

MPs back military action in Libya

MPs have voted overwhelmingly to back military action in Libya, even as poll figures emerge showing the conflict is unpopular with the public. The government won the vote by 557 to 13, although many MPs voiced their concerns and anxieties about the decision. Meanwhile, a ComRes poll for ITV news showed 49% of people think military action in Libya is an unnecessary risk. Only one in three (35%) thought it was right for the UK to take military action against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. The vote came as a reminder to David Cameron of the political gamble he is taking, after the prime minister spent hours in the Commons Chamber listening to backbench MPs’ concerns and trying to persuade parliament of the case for action. “Gaddafi has had every conceivable opportunity to stop massacring his own people,” he told the Commons. “The time for red lines, threats and last chances is over. Tough action is needed now to ensure that people in Libya can live their lives without fear. – Politics.co.uk

Questions over Libya targets

Divisions opened yesterday between British ministers and the head of the armed forces over whether Muammar Gaddafi should be personally targeted in the strikes on the Libyan military machine. Government sources maintained it could be legitimate to attempt to kill the Libyan leader if he was orchestrating brutal armed operations against his own civilians. Their assertion came hours after General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, insisted that a direct strike against the Libyan leader was not permitted by last week’s United Nations Security Council resolution. Senior figures in Washington have also emphasised that the coalition is barred by the UN from attempting to hit Gaddafi; the issue is sensitive because of fears that talk of toppling the regime could alienate Arab supporters of the action. The controversy was sparked when Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, signalled that Gaddafi could be a “legitimate target”. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, also left open the possibility in a BBC interview yesterday. But Gen Richards, speaking after a meeting of ministers and military chiefs on Libya, was adamant that Gaddafi could not be targeted. Asked if it could happen, he replied: “Absolutely not. It is not allowed under the UN resolution and it is not something I want to discuss any further.” – the Independent

I support the Government’s decision on Libya but I think Liam Fox’s comments are irresponsible in many ways. His view that the aim of our military effort is to bring about regime change is outside what is a very broad UN resolution. It is wrong but also counterproductive at a time when we are trying to maintain a broad coalition including Arab opinion to talk in such a way. I agree with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who said, “If we start adding additional objectives then I think we create a problem”. Gaddafi is a tyrant, but it is up to the people of Libya to decide what happens next in their country and not for any single foreign government. Our government needs to have one clear policy on this. – Jim Murphy MP’s blog

Libya raises questions over defence cuts

Britain’s military operations in Libya have already led to calls for a review of the squeeze on the defence budget – and the pressure is likely to grow the longer the campaign lasts. In a fortnight, the British army and Royal Navy will set out plans for voluntary redundancy schemes; the Royal Air Force set out its proposals earlier this month. The services need to cut at least 11,000 posts;compulsory redundancies are almost certain. The Treasury is also negotiating with the Ministry of Defence about a £1bn overspend in the defence budget, and what extra services and capabilities might have to be scrapped to balance the books. Unless the Treasury relents – or offers to give the ministry a loan – service chiefs believe that thousands more jobs might have to go, and equipment either sold off or decommissioned. “We might see more ships tied up to docks permanently, or more aircraft grounded for ever,” one official said. The details of fresh cuts and the redundancy schemes could well come out as British service personnel continue to fight in Afghanistan, and play a leading role in operations in Libya – an appalling juxtaposition highlighted by Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary. If that wasn’t awkward enough, some of the British “assets” deployed in the Mediterranean – the frigate HMS Cumberland and two Nimrod surveillance aircraft – were on their way to the scrapheap before being spared to help the coalition effort. The entire Tornado fleet was also likely to be decommissioned – but defence analysts say, because of this crisis, it would be much more difficult to axe them now. – the Guardian

New job for Coulson

Andy Coulson has set himself up as an independent freelance consultant offering communications advice and has just won approval for his first client, a global conference for young future world leaders. Mr Coulson, former director of communications at 10 Downing Street (pictured back left) resigned in January after the furore caused by allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World, which he previously edited. He has always denied knowledge of hacking under his watch, although he resigned as editor in 2007 when one of his journalists and a private detective were jailed for intercepting voicemails.  His new role was confirmed by Kate Robertson, the co-founder of “One Young World“, who is also UK group chairman of Euro RSCG Worldwide, part of the French marketing group Havas. – Financial Times

One Response to “Tuesday News Review”

  1. Robin Thorpe says:

    “Gaddafi has had every conceivable opportunity to stop massacring his own people,” he told the Commons. “The time for red lines, threats and last chances is over. Tough action is needed now to ensure that people in Libya can live their lives without fear.”

    I think Cameron is grandstanding a bit here. It will surely take more than bombing strategic targets to remove fear from Libya. Political unrest will always bring fear, it may bring hope as well but until some stability is found parents will always be fearful for their children’s future. There is a long road ahead for the Libyan people and rhetoric in the commons will not bring about security.

    As for Liam Fox, who does he think he is to talk about murdering another human being. WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. If the government, Labour or Conservative, wish the people of the UK and the world to respect them and respect peace then they must respect the law. Whether this be international law, Scottish law or the law of England and Wales. If it is perceived that Gaddaffi is in breach of Libyan or international law then he must judged in a court, not in a throwaway comment to ITN.

    The ConDems are showing their inexperience here, I hope Paddy is giving them a few tips on international diplomacy.

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