BBC - Browne Misunderstood?

#1
Is he just misunderstood, maybe he does have some good points:

BBC News Analysis

BBC News said:
The first military judgement I heard on Des Browne, a year ago now, isn't printable. The then new secretary of state was visiting Afghanistan...

... People were lined up, expecting the kind of back-slapping, hand shaking, blustering, joking, sometimes intimidating performance that John Reid would have given. Instead, said the soldiers, Mr Browne made some tentative, mumbling conversation. Then, he went into lunch, piled his plate high with food and made a bee-line across the crowded room to an empty corner. Several tables full of soldiers were left slack-jawed in his wake.

I wasn't present for this alleged incident but two soldiers said they had seen it and they were furious. It certainly seemed to exemplify some of Mr Browne's problems as secretary of state.
Not a good start, if there is one thing we value above all else in our leaders it is charisma and Des is sadly lacking in that department.

BBC News said:
Damagingly, his services nickname is "Swiss Des". That's because his grey pompadour bears an uncanny resemblance to that of "Swiss Tony", the character in the BBC comedy the Fast Show, whose career as a car salesman flags because he's lost his confidence.
Did that start on ARRSE, or was it brought in from some NAAFI somewhere?

BBC News said:
It took a little longer to establish a connection than perhaps Dr Reid might have done but at the end of it Mr Browne had earned the troops' genuine respect. Mr Browne has now been to Afghanistan three times, Iraq four times, more than any other defence secretary, say his inner circle. "He keeps in touch with what is happening out there -- and he cares," said one close advisor.
Was that genuinely the case or just what the reporter was told? If he has been to Iraq and Afghanistan more than any other SofS that has to be a good thing, surely?

As for the second statement in bold I reported this quote from The Times2 on another thread:

Times2 said:
Browne says that as a father, he feels a responsibility for the young British soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and was deeply affected when he attended his first repatriation ceremony for the bodies.

He recalls: "What struck me at Brize Norton as these young men brought the coffins of their colleagues home - every one of them looked like my boy, my 20-year-old son."
So Is Des misunderstood? Is he a genuinely nice chap who has just been caught out by how scurrilous Westminster can be? Do we want a genuinely nice chap as SofS? Maybe he is worth a second chance after all...

P.S. This thread is not about his handling of the "cash for cowardice" affair, but about his record as SofS as a whole.
 
#2
He might be a nice chap (I'll give him benefit of the doubt as I've never met him), but that does not make him competent for the job.

Niceness does not excuse incompetence. (Thats incompetence for his whole tenure as SoS for Defence, not just last couple of weeks)
 
#3
He seems much better than some of those who have gone before.

As a matter of interest, who do posters think the best Defence secretary in history was. Tack the vote onto the bottoms of Your posts if You want to add to this aside - that way we won't be off thread.
 

Sarastro

LE
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#4
Exactly what Stooge said. There might be plenty of officers and NCO's who are nice chaps, but are you going to care if they bumble into an ambush with you in tow? I'd rather have a competent arrsehole than a nice fool.

Sven said:
He seems much better than some of those who have gone before.

As a matter of interest, who do posters think the best Defence secretary we never had was. Tack the vote onto the bottoms of Your posts if You want to add to this aside - that way we won't be off thread.
Alan Clark.
 
#5
Stooge said:
Niceness does not excuse incompetence.
I'm afraid that's all we're likely to get for the remainder of this government. Career politicians and trade unionists with no relevant experience will be thrown into ministerial jobs that they can't even begin to cope with.

Patricia Hewitt at health; Margaret Beckett at the Foreign Office, even John Reid, who is probably the best of the lot can't manage the Home Office. As a reward for years of loyalty to the dear leader they are given ministerial posts and a blind eye is turned to the resultant chaos.

I've no doubt Swiss Des is a decent and clever man. But as a solicitor, he has never managed a large organisation. Even when he became a partner in a law firm he would only have had a secretary a few junior solicitors reporting to him. How in god's name can he be expected to manage an organisation the size of the MoD? I understand he took a day's holiday during the crisis and was uncontactable for 24 hours.
 

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