14 Oct 2011

Who told Fox his time was up?

I puzzle who persuaded Dr Fox the game was up because I thought he was showing little sign of realising it himself. In Libya, last weekend, he looked shaken and nervous. Likewise on his way to the commons for the statement on Monday.

After the statement he was visibly relieved, toasted in the smoking room of the commons and congratulated on his clever escape by political friend and foe alike.

By Tuesday’s cabinet, Dr Fox was looking composed again. He and William Hague spoke about Libya and the Middle East and “you wouldn’t know” there was anything wrong when you heard the defence secretary speak, one cabinet minister told me. At MoD meetings on Tuesday on defence transformation, Dr Fox seemed composed and on top of the detail an MoD source said.

Today, the PM has made it clear that he didn’t try to talk Dr Fox into resigning. His spokesman is even saying that the PM said something along the lines of  “are you sure?” when Dr Fox surprised him with his phone call saying he’d decided to go at around 2.30pm. I wonder how surprised he was.

Behind the scenes the chancellor has been offering solace and advice to Dr Fox. He has also been making sure, I hear, that he is fully informed about the cabinet office investigation into the Adam Werritty affair. George Osborne has been in Manchester and then Paris for the G20 finance ministers meeting over the last 24 hours but he is nothing if not a master of multi-tasking.

Aides admit he has been “involved” in the whole business back home at the MoD but were unable to confirm whether Dr Fox and George Osborne had spoken in the last 24 hours. It would be a funny moment for George Osborne not to be in touch given his role since the story broke in counselling Dr Fox.

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond, the new defence secretary, is a old-fashioned   Conservative in many ways. You get a whiff of that with his choice of car (Jag) and his move to raise the speed limit on motorways.

He is also a man who spent the years building up to 2010 going through the sums of different ministries and working out, as prospective Treasury Chief Secretary, how to cut the MoD budget.

Justine Greening, his replacement at transport, was a prominent supporter of Liam Fox’s campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 2005.

So figures on the right of the party will have little to complain about in terms of the political balance of the cabinet. What’s interesting is that David Cameron felt he had to keep an eye on such balance.

He couldn’t catapault one of his ardent political groupies into a top job because, like Tony Blair with the Brown/Blair balance, Major with the europhile/sceptic balance and Margaret Thatcher with the dry/wet balance there were internal party dynamics to be taken into account.

She is, you will have noticed, a woman and David Cameron needs more of them in his top jobs.

She also served 18 months in George Osborne’s shadow treasury team before being pulled back to his governmental treasury team when the coalition was formed. When the memoirs are written for this government I predict the forensic powder will throw up Mr Osborne’s fingerprints everywhere!

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11 reader comments

  1. StuartM says:

    Fox may have gone (it always was going to happen), but we still need answers about Werrity and the extreme sounding right wing and overseas support he was getting and how he got so close, where else similar things have happened and what is going to be done to stop it.

    After-all, just look at who else was involved in this Atlantic Bridge thing (Osbourne, Hague, et al.). Most of the questions still remain and still need to be answered.

  2. Philip Edwards says:


    That’s one Atlantic Bridge near fascist gone.

    Any bets he is replaced by…er, another near fascist?

    It is “Defence,” after all, and they NEVER appoint anybody less than a screaming neocon loon to that position.

    Funny, though, the Yank Atlantic Bridge branch is still in place. Mind you, they didn’t try to claim charity status as did the Brit version.

    Equally funny how Brit members of the crackpot Atlantic Bridge are the first to whine about “the nanny state” (whatever that is) – but then fled for state subsidy via charity status. There’s a neat irony there don’t you think?

    Meanwhile, behind all the shenanigans the NHS Bill sneaked through. Bet that has Tory “health care” private company directors rubbing their hands with Yank medical industrial complex thieves. Surprised you missed that one.

  3. Gerry says:

    “Who told Fox his time was up”?

    Hopefully, everyone with a shred of integrity and sense of decency who could get within his earshot. I have no idea which, if any, of the governing coalition would qualify, but I’d like to think that are at least SOME in there who have an interest in doing what is best for the country, and the people, rather than just play politics and look after themselves and their mates. How can his nauseating, arrogant behaviour in the face of these accusations be tolerated for a single second? I notice his resignation letter doesn’t even begin to apologise for the abuse of privilege, and taxpayers’ money, that he and his friend are so obviously and arrogantly guilty of.

  4. Ray Turner says:

    The greatest damage from this sorry business, is the enormous damage it has done to the idea that the business of Government was going to be cleaned-up, with self-interest put well and truly on the shelf…

    Have Ministers and the PM forgotten about the expenses scandal, duck-houses, moat-cleaning and the like…?

    Dr Fox should have resigned or been given the grand order of the boot a few days ago…

  5. Tanya spooner says:

    I’m relieved that Dr Fox has gone because everyone I know has been thinking that he was making the government, the MOD and even the country look mendacious, foolish and weak. I hope Philip Hammond will be able to manage what is a fairly impossible job without embarrassing all of the above and the next thing I would like to know is why the whole Fox phenomenon was allowed to continue as long as it did.

  6. Gary says:

    Sounding more and more like Chancellor George “Palpatine” Osborne is making moves to oust Cameron. Or maybe kepp him there as a puppet leader, like the soviets have done and also the Iranians and Afgans etc.

    1. sue_m says:

      Cameron is already a puppet leader – Osborne’s hand seems to be everywhere. Very worrying considering his clear inability to adapt to the changing needs of the country, his ideology and complete lack of concern for transparency in politics – preferring to support his wrong doing friend than expect him to be accountable to the electorate. Was Osborne the mysterious guest at the burglary I wonder? His links with AB need looking at closely too.
      It hasn’t taken long at all for this govt to start stinking as bad as the last sleaze-ridden Tory govt did. The dangerous thing now is that they all seem to believe they are above the law, above ethical guidelines and above the rest of us.
      None of them appears trustworthy and Osborne and Fox typify the arrogant, as-long-as-I’m-alright-jack attitude that is the last thing the country needs at the moment.
      What a pity the idea of constituents recalling MPs was kicked into the long grass – politics hasn’t got cleaner, it’s got darker and dirtier.

  7. Yorkshire Lass says:

    ‘Who told Fox his time was up?’
    Well, it wasn’t Cameron, as it should have been. Maybe it was Werritty?

  8. Noel says:

    Ask liam Fox if he were to go back to medicine, has he forgootne all his knoledge or only has fragments ?.

    Remeebr Jon snow’s program on inadequate GPO’s; Wonder what Dr Fox’s attitude to that program is?

    Perhaps an exclusivie interview ith the one and only jOn snow to discuss, with the emabaarsing doctiors in attendance fo rtheir feedback?.

  9. Mudplugger says:

    Setting aside the sordid and disreputable details behind the Fox Fiasco (even only those exposed to date), it is interesting to note the dramatic rate of increase in ‘sleeze-speed’.

    The fag-end of the Thatcher/Major era was dominated by various examples of sleeze, perpetrated by those who had grown comfortable and over-confident after a long period in office.

    The final days of the Blair/Brown reign similarly featured the arrogance of long-held power being demonstrated by many of its holders.

    But with the fresh Coalition, there has been a sudden increase in the sleeze-speed, from David Laws, through Liam Fox and shortly (we hope) Chris Huhne, all demonstrating that same arrogance but within only a few short months in power.

    Some may applaud this as validating their efficiency in reaching that terminal state so quickly, but others will wonder if, despite the public travails of the Expenses Scandal, our elected representatives are just getting even more brass-faced about the contempt in which they hold their electors.

    We are better off without Fox and Laws, as we will be without Huhne – but maybe we’d be better off without all the other 647 scoundrels too.

  10. Lemog says:

    Mudplugger, fully agree with everything you have posted. Like you I am amazed at the speed with which the condems are showing their sheer contempt for the electorate, as you say, at least with thatcher / major and blair / brown it came after a considerable period of power. Will we ever be told the whole truth about the fox / werrity scandal, like hell we will. Expect to hear lots of fox has apologised, we need to move on, let`s put this behind us and focus on sorting out the mess we inherited, labour did it to and it`s all their fault anyway

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