It may be hard to believe, but the speech given by Muammar Gaddafi which included quotes like “If they don’t follow Muammar Gaddafi who will they follow? Someone with a beard? Impossible” is not the most absurd thing about the Libyan crisis.
The behaviour of the Libyan government, or at least that part of it that remained loyal to Gaddafi, is reprehensible but not that unexpected or absurd compared to other things they’ve done in the past. The behaviour of the UK government, however, has been completely ridiculous.
This is the first real political crisis that the Cameron/Clegg government has had to deal with and, thus far at least, they’ve not covered themselves in glory.
Cameron has been touring the very region in which the crisis has unfolded but has failed to discuss the issue in any substantial way. In fact, while the French and US Presidents were calling for a change in leadership in Libya, Cameron suggested the current regime could stay in power saying:
“It’s still open to Col Gaddafi to stop that behaviour.”
At the same time, Deputy PM Clegg had gone on holiday to Switzerland leaving William Hague as the most senior member of the cabinet in the UK to manage the evacuation of our citizens from Libya.
An evacuation which has been a real mess in it’s execution. Classic Big Society thinking meant that it seems the government assumed the British oil workers in Libya would make their own way home via private sector commercial flights. This at the same time as Russia, Turkey, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands and the USA were all evacuating their citizens using military flights, ships and government-chartered jumbo jets.
Team Cameron were forced to ask BP for a loan of one of their company 737s to evacuate British residents from Tripoli. At the same time, they dispatched a type-22 frigate, HMS Cumberland, to the port of Benghazi to rescue Brits from there. A type-22 frigate which will be pulling into Plymouth’s Devonport naval base soon to be scrapped as part of the government cuts.
After Clegg was reported as saying he’d ‘forgotten’ he was meant to be in charge of the country, he has this morning returned to London to convene an emergency COBRa committee meeting, a week into the crisis. Not exactly rapid response is it? On top of Clegg’s forgetfulness, Cameron was quick to tell the media that in the age of the blackberry, he was always in charge. So it’s good to know that Cameron is taking full responsibility for the government’s handling of their first major crisis.
In the mean time, Gaddafi continues to massacre his own people, drive up the price of oil around the world, and destabilise the entire middle-east. It’s ok though, because Cameron is always in charge and he’s sent a message to Muammar. That message is
“My question right now would be to Colonel Gaddafi, which is: ‘What on earth do you think you are doing? Stop it.”
Well that’s sure to sort everything out, isn’t it?