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Saturday, 22 August 2009

Rough estimates

I have the greatest of admiration for people who "know how to use an envelope". Not for the usual purpose of sending letters and parcels by post, but for the real use of working out numbers, particularly costs. It is a skill that second nature to anybody in aposition of autthority in business or in government, and for the most adept, no envelope is actually necessary.

In the past I have commented on the Blair government's inexcusable exaggeration of possible UK deaths on 9/11? 700 (as estimated by Straw and Blair)? Try 48.

Now we have a new example from Ed Balls, then a special adviser to the chancellor of the day Gordon Brown, now a minister prepared a report saying that the “central estimate” for the cost of “preparation, deployment and return” of UK troops from Iraq was £2.5bn, about the same as the cost of UK participation in the 1991 Gulf war.

Now I am not an expert on military warfare or its cost, nor of MOD budgetting, but I do know that counter invasion of Kuwait and the removal of the Iraqi army was a relatively simple affair, and I also know that when the Iraqis had been pushed back into Iraq, the earlier present Bush and the rest of his admninistration resisted the idea of moving on Baghdad because of the cost and extra effort of doing so.

Ten years later, obviously to the issues that were clear to the elder Bush and perhaps willfully ignoring the lessons of history, the Labour government foolishly thinks that ten years later a more complex exercise, including occupying a defeated nation would actually cost less in real terms.

Balls and Brown deserve their own envelopes, filled with P45s.

1 comment:

Demetrius said...

Once upon a time when the world was young I was on a General Staff where a dozen of us very often moved 17,000 armoured troops and everything they had before breakfast. But in those days we didn't do fairy tale costings for laughs, and we had bigger envelopes, remember foolscap?