Looking over this, it may appear that I'm an apologist for 'Dr' John. Not the case - nasty little man. I appreciate that over the term he's berating Portillo over cuts, we had an end to the Cold War, peace dividend, etc, etc and a cut was to be expected.
However I do seem to remember a little sojourn called Bosnia going on at the time so hammering the defence budget while enaged in expeditionary ops may not be strictly in keeping with Portillo's current line.
Perhaps because Blair enjoyed the role so much, Brown has set his face against it. Certainly the relationship between Blair and the armed forces was one of mutual infatuation. He may have starved them of resources (or maybe his chancellor did) and he may have made a typically hubristic blunder in committing to Helmand when more soldiers were needed in Basra; but despite that, Blair clearly valued the military and made time to hear their concerns. The army is not alone in missing his charisma today.
But he was, and is almost certainly still part of the party faithful, so will be willing to berate the current gov't in any way shape or form. Don't get me wrong Gordy is a cvnt, just trying to be objective.
It's a fair article in my opinion. Fair play to Portillo for writing it up and getting the issues discussed in the mainstream media. The comments attached to the article seem to bear out public opinion that he has a point. Interesting analysis of Brown being responsible for many of the mil's failings, when he was in No 11. Wouldn't disagree, and hopefully the article will lead to more people taking this forward with similar analysis.
If everybody is honest, they will recall that Tony Blair came in talking of pay rises and loveliness. Unfortunately he neither delivered cash or conditions but everyone expected him to do right by the armed forces...
Call me a bluff old merchant of death but Portillo did give me a lovely moment. whilst in BL in '96 he came to visit. Ignoring all the red-tabs and senior grown ups he made a bee-line for me and shook hands warmly. "What are you doing here!?" he quoth. Then followed ten minutes of inconsequential defence industry chat. What my superiors didn't know was that I had guided him aroundd Farnborough Air Show and liaised on DIC matters with his private office.
One super-careerist was so bitter at losing his briefing slot and "face time" he never forgave me. T0sser.
You misunderstand me. I too happen to think Portillo's right (less the infatuation with Blair thing - he's an oleaginous, demagogic cretin with extreme narcissitic tendencies. And he married a frog.)
My point was more that it's very easy for Portillo to now throw tomatoes from the stalls. When, for once in his entirely unfulfilled political career, he had the opportunity to run something it was presiding over cuts while committing HM Forces to ops.
Portillo, along with all of us sufficiently sentient to form an opinion, can point blame. However, some of us like to think that if we were ever to get the chance (however remote it might be) we'd be the ones to make a difference. Portillo had his chance and conformed. As such, a busted flush.
Numerous commentators and opposition politicians are currently using the state of HM Forces as the fashionable stick with which to beat the Government . My fear is that when Dave and George finally see the balance books, fine words in support of you all will be lost on the wind.
Portillio's cuts came at a time when a)a post-cold War peace dividend was required and b)suggesting a world of enduring expeditionary operations would have got you your ticket, a pension and a nice padded room with all the electrical shock treatment you could take.
He was good on procurement and despite that god-awful market testing malarkey didn't make any mad as a badger decisions. Except Eurofighter. Which was partly my fault...
Is Portillo stating that much of the faults are down to Labour chopping and changing defence ministers ? If I remember correctly Geoff Hoon had a near record breaking stint as defence minister . Maybe Portillo should complain there's a lack of defence ministers who have had no military experience . But seeing as Portillo himself refused to join the cadet force at his public school he's not going to mention that
BTW he claims faralities almost dropped to zero when troops were ferried about " bandit country " . Strange because I was under the impression it was the most dangerous posting in the British army from the mid 70s to the Good Friday agreement , though i'm willing to be proved wrong
I don't really care what people think of Portillo, he is a high profile person with a lot of media savvy and is listened to.
That he has chosen to speak can only be good and he does speak having held the Defence job so he does at least know a bit about what he's talking and, yes he may have made cuts in his time but he kept the CDS and CGS on side and with him.