Charge of the Hoon Brigade

The Daily Torygraph's Commons Sketch, both humorous and accurate. C&P because login regd.

Commons sketch
By Andrew Gimson
(Filed: 26/10/2004)

Theirs not to reason why - charge of the Hoon brigade

The Hoon Defence Force took to the field yesterday to provide covering fire for its commander-in-chief, Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary. The courage of the middle-aged men who have answered the call of Mr Hoon to help him get through Defence Questions is beyond praise, but one is bound to question whether it was right to throw this force into battle quite so soon after it was formed.

The loyalty of Stephen McCabe (Birmingham Hall Green), a former social worker, and Geraint Davies (Croydon Central), a former marketing manager, who were the two Labour backbenchers to intervene yesterday on Mr Hoon's behalf, is evident for all to see.

The only doubt was whether they were being properly led. Can it be that Mr Hoon has allowed them to enter battle before they have been equipped with the most modern, heavy-duty arguments, and been trained how to use them? Does anyone in the Hoon Defence Force have the slightest idea of the counter-insurgency techniques needed to survive in the hostile environment of the parliamentary Labour Party?

Sir Peter Tapsell (C, Louth and Horncastle) expressed a widely shared estimate of Mr Hoon's leadership abilities: "In the memorial week of the Charge of the Light Brigade, is it not clear that by invading Iraq the Secretary of State has shown himself to be as stupid as Lord Lucan?" The Speaker called on Sir Peter to withdraw the word "stupid", prompting Sir Peter to say with a smile: "I withdraw the word 'stupid' and replace it with 'uninformed'."

Mr Hoon made a successful reply to this jibe: "I know the Conservative Party revels in glorious failure and long may it continue to do so."

Tennyson's lines in The Charge of the Light Brigade, "Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why", are an apt characterisation of the behaviour of Mr Hoon and his junior colleagues when questioned in the Commons.

But the next line, "Theirs but to do and die", should warn us against hailing the poet as a prophet, for if he could have foreseen the behaviour of Mr Hoon and his colleagues he would surely have written, "Theirs but to do and keep their jobs."

This was the vital cause to which the fledgling Hoon Defence Force was yesterday committed, with Mr McCabe asking: "Is it possible for a modern army to win a war, particularly a terrorist war, if their mission is constantly undermined by attacks in their own Parliament and their own press?" Mr Davies then asked Mr Hoon to "ask the media to reflect on the fact that their constant carping up to January will undermine investment and democracy and play into the hands of the terrorists".

The logic of this argument appears to be that in order to build democracy in Iraq, we must refrain from criticism of Mr Hoon. The simplest thing to do would perhaps be to declare Mr Hoon infallible. It is a measure of Mr Hoon's humility that he declined to go quite as far as that, and merely declared: "There is inevitably a balance to be struck between the needs of free speech in a democracy and the need to communicate information, particularly in this House, as against operational requirements."

Mr Hoon's favourite word is "operational", and yesterday he gave us "operational reasons", "operational effectiveness" and "operational requirements". It gives him a professional-sounding excuse to avoid taking the Commons, or the British people, into his confidence.
There is an urgent Operational reason for Hoon to be dispatched to the International Space Station to reflect on his ineptitude and with a bit of luck stay there.
I'm no Hoonophile, but let's say he was run over by a tomorrow, who would replace him? If you go looking for someone with military experience you could find that the new SoS for Defence is the Right Honourable Major (Retd) E. Joyce MP!!!!!!!!!!

I believe the last Defence Secretary with any military experience was malcolm Rifkind, who was a subaltern in the fifties.

However the meat of the argument is right, this whole Government's no 1 priority is to keep itself in a job.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
So the 1st Bn The Hoon Dogs have been posted to Westminster. Are they a 'large' regiment or single battalion and more to the point, are they included in PoD's cuts (sorry restructuring)? :wink:

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