Friday 25 February 2011

To The Shores Of Tripoli

Grannie always used to say that a man is judged by his friends. Quite why she used to fix her gaze on me when she said that is another issue. Just as my claims “Honest, it wasn’t me, it was my friend” used to cut little ice when people came to complain.

The Libyan crisis and all the horrors that are going on there as well as the stories emerging are causing embarrassment in a number of places and for people who would rather not have old memories awakened. The Colonel is beginning to find as I did that when a window was smashed all the so-called friends took to their heels as fast as possible.

Amongst the many and various friends made (or bought) by the regime in Libya are some interesting connections. One institution that could hardly deny it is the London School of Economics which not only educated some of the family and extended a welcome to the Colonel but took his shilling. One of the Governors and leading alumni is a Cherie Blair, remember her?

Then there are the familiar figures from the previous Government, Gordon and his grim faced bunch of hoods leading the way. What exactly were Thin Ed’ and Fat Ed’ doing in relation to all the comings and goings of the regime in Libya? Not to mention all those corporate people and financial agents enmeshed in the government and involved in contracts and the network of payments systems.

Meanwhile Cameron has decided to cut a stern and positive figure. What and who amongst the Tories there is to dig up in connection with Libya is another question and when the real row starts we might learn. It may be that the long years of Labour rule meant The Colonel did not bother much with Tories but it is unlikely that he did not hedge his bets.

The fall out from all this in the UK and maybe Ireland could be spectacular and Cameron probably is trying to cover his bets as quickly as possible. However, when he suggests that some sort of military intervention is possible it is time to worry.

As we know, when things were politically sticky Blair was always eager to send the troops off to some convenient place to distract attention and to buy favours. But Cameron needs to be careful. The Armed Forces may no longer be up to what is going to be needed there.

When Churchill took the saluting stand at Tripoli in 1943 and the 51st Highland Division marched past one of the units was singing what he took to be a patriotic song.

It was in fact the old folk ditty “Four and Twenty Virgins Came Down From Inverness.” The rest I leave to your imagination. Montgomery thought it wiser not to tell the Prime Minister in the circumstances.

The Americans have their own song about Tripoli, “From The Halls of Montezuma To The Shores of Tripoli” about freeing American’s from foreign pirates. It is the marching song of their Marines.

If there is to be any military intervention, Cameron should leave it to the US Marines and I hope the Generals tell him the truth.


  1. You mentioned Cherie, surely her man's Lady Macbeth? More spots on his hands than hers, mind you.

  2. "Oh the Prime Minister's wife, she was there..."

  3. The painting at the top of the post.

    WTF is THAT meant to be for a Tartan?

  4. FT, by the Red Hackle on their Tossies they are Black Watch pipers, so it's probably a piss poor attempt at Royal Stewart.

  5. I suspect the original photo was B/W and was then tinted for some journal of the period so was a hurried job that has not lasted well. The colouring overall is very patchy. There were certainly Black Watch in the 51st along with Gordon's, Cameron Highlanders, Seaforths, and Argyll and Sutherland.