Monday, 2 September 2013

Cameron Caught Up Chemical Alley

The front pages of the press today are full of Syria.  There are those claiming that Cameron has to go back to the House of Commons on an agree or else basis and another in the Independent about UK firms supplying chemicals to Syria.

The chemicals cited are Sodium Fluoride and Potassium Fluoride.  The first may well be in your bathroom in the commercial toothpaste if you use the stuff.  The second does come with dire warnings on inhalation but may be found in insecticides.

At any time in very many places there are likely to be tons of these on the move all over the world.  Some will be better quality than others, let us allow the UK products to be in the "high grade" ones the UN Inspectors are interested in.

One of the quirks of government organisation inherited from the Labour Government of 1997 to 2010 was the creation of the Health Protection Agency, which does little to protect health but everything it can to protect the commercial interests under the management objectives it has been given.

One effect of this, was that by placing government science under the HPA, it removed Porton Down, our chemical warfare department from the MoD.  It is still dealing with some very nasty stuff.  Quite where it might be going is another matter.

Nigh on sixty years ago I was a scruffy squaddie shuffling paper unnoticed in the room when the DDMS was discussing gas training with the GOC and observed that then Porton Down was a lunatic asylum for mad scientists.  He was concerned with the casualty rate caused by its indiscriminate testing on squaddies.

My own purely personal opinion is that given the grubby record of Britain in the use of gas in the past, in the colonies as well as other theatres of war, we are far from innocent.  Grandfather of the Kings Liverpool Regiment who landed in military hospital after a bad dose of British gas had strong views on the subject.

So if Assad has been using our stuff and we are now going to stop and give him a bashing for doing so, this may mean a loss of export trade for some of our leading companies.

It would be interesting to see what under the counter means the government might adopt to compensate them.  Compulsory teeth cleaning in schools?  Ridding the countryside of all insects that bite?  Promising a Scotland free of midges?

Putting the HPA in charge of care homes?

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