Timmy elsewhere

To claim that anyone’s Brexit strategy is in crisis is to misunderstand what a strategy is. It is the goal that you have decided to reach.

Britain’s strategy in World War II was the unconditional surrender of Germany – everything else was tactics. Hulk’s strategy is “Smash!”. Britain’s strategy with respect to Brexit is: “Thank you, it’s been great, we’re leaving. Maybe we can do lunch some day?” Everything else is simply tactics.

25 comments on “Timmy elsewhere

  1. This assumes the government’s strategy is actually Brexit. Or is even coherent.

    I suspect that a lot of complaints about May’s tactics hides a subtle strategy – to delegitimize Brexit so that it can be avoided and we will have to remain. It is a slow drip-drip.

    Not sure it is working though.

  2. Mmmm….
    Britain’s war aims in WW2 were to remain a free sovereign nation whilst retaining a significant portion of its Empire. The strategic decisions to achieve this included prosecuting a campaign in N.Africa & an invasion of the N. European coast in conjunction with the US. The tactics involved the details by which the strategic targets could be met.
    So, following the analogy, the UK’s aims are again to remain a free & sovereign nation. So whether the UK can do this from within or without the Single Market is a strategic decision. Along the lines of whether Britain should seek an accommodation with Germany in ’40. The tactics, therefore, are the negotiating methods to be employed to achieve whichever route is taken.
    But there is no clear line between strategy & tactics. At their inception, strategies are tactical on a large scale. One tries to obscure one’s strategic plans from one’s opponents as long as possible.Therefore the government may be in a muddle over the Single Market issue. Or be simply playing a clever game.

  3. Of course, SMfS nails it. First you need to establish which f****g side your government’s fighting on.

  4. And regarding Sir Ivan Rogers & some of the other big-wigs. Bit like conducting D-Day planning meetings in conjunction with the German General Staff

  5. Mr in Spain, you’re right about Sir Rogers. Got knows where amongst the mandarins they’ll find someone who wants to be helpful, much less merely not hostile. But I thought our 1939 was aim was as guarantor of Poland’s borders, albeit I suppose this must be seen within the broader context of the ancient policy of maintaining Europe’s balance of power.

  6. M’learned Mr Lud. That was the pre-war plan. But as they say, plans rarely survive contact with the enemy.

  7. And is there any actual evidence of an “ancient policy of maintaining Europe’s balance of power”
    Given the incompetence of the ruling classes isn’t:

    We have this cunning scheme
    ……
    ……..
    Oh bugger!
    ………..
    ……….
    We have this cunning scheme.
    ……..

    more likely?

  8. Edward Lud – “But I thought our 1939 was aim was as guarantor of Poland’s borders, albeit I suppose this must be seen within the broader context of the ancient policy of maintaining Europe’s balance of power.”

    Responding to Germany and the Soviet Union dividing Poland up between them by paying the Soviet Union to take over all of Poland – and hence advance a thousand kilometres deeper into Europe – is an odd way of maintaining the balance of power.

    If our ruling class has not improved – and it hasn’t, not by a long shot – we are so screwed.

  9. A strategy is not a goal. It is a way of achieving a goal. Our goal is to win the election. Our strategy is to campaign hard in the swing states. Our tactics will be to emphasize the benefits of our policies to the average person. Our operations will involve door-to-door door canvassing and stadium events.

  10. As it happens I played golf yesterday with someone who was in the Diplomatic Service for 35 years and was appointed Ambassador to OECD for 2 years and he had an interesting take on this issue. Obviously there was a lot of defending one of his own, but once we get past that discussion he was quite objective.

    In his role at the OECD, and the EU Ambassadors role is the same, he had to understand all the other players in negotiations and what their strategies and red lines would be. He then had to put all this in context, along with the various cultural expectations, in to briefing packs for the professional negotiators and politicians who would come in and do the hard negotiations, which he wouldn’t be involved in other than providing background information as needed.

    I don’t know what went on with Sir Ivan, but replacing him now seems a bit self defeating if that was his role as his replacement isn’t likely to have the same knowledge of our interlocutors and being a “hard negotiator” can be dangerous in those situations.

  11. The Senior Civil Service needs to be sacked en masse at once with zero compensation and all pensions confiscated. They need to be stripped of all honours and titles at the same time and their work records marked that they are being summarily dishonourably discharged for disloyalty and dishonest commerce with enemy powers.

    A giant boost to the nation all round.

  12. Strategy: We are leaving.
    Tactics: Write the letter and cancel the direct debit. Then change the phone number and the locks on the doors.

  13. BiND

    Your point is a good one in that it can be helpful to be able to read the runes in a complex negotiation of what your interlocutors might be thinking or willing to concede.

    In the case of Brexit, however, there is little in the way of horse-trading to be done if one accepts that there is only one type of Brexit possible which is a comprehensive withrawl from the EU and its institutions, customs union, single market and so on. The only points for discussion – and there are doubtless heaps and heaps of them – are fairly peripheral.

    The last thing one needs is some administrative sour-puss butting in every five minutes with what the Greeks or Hungarians think should be the arrangements for EU pensions and similar chaff.

  14. @BiND
    Isn’t there an assumption, there, that the briefings & information are free of bias? Be nice to know what our diplomatic lion does with his time apart from play golf. Nice little sinecure somewhere, has he? And whether there was a missed opportunity for a 9 iron across the back of the head in revenge.

  15. And buy a big dog and a big sofa. Either to hide behind, or so the dog’s got somewhere to sleep.

    Was definitely under the impression that the whole unconditional surrender thing was at Stalin’s insistence at Tehran?

    BiND : kind of depends on how well Sir Ivan actually performed doesn’t it? Certainly, some of our negotiations recently don’t seem to have achieved very much, so maybe his briefings were a bit crap. But then he’s supposed to be leaving in a year anyway, so who knows?

  16. BiND,

    “In his role at the OECD, and the EU Ambassadors role is the same, he had to understand all the other players in negotiations and what their strategies and red lines would be. He then had to put all this in context, along with the various cultural expectations, in to briefing packs for the professional negotiators and politicians who would come in and do the hard negotiations, which he wouldn’t be involved in other than providing background information as needed.”

    I have to ask, is any of this in any way useful? Given the outcome of the UK’s negotiations in the last couple of decades, what do you think?

    None of the negotiations with the EU have been to any advantage to the UK. Cameron lost his shirt in these negotiations after all, where were all these ‘exports’ on the EU then?

    I think you could have done better with a kazoo and headless chicken.

  17. Bit like conducting D-Day planning meetings in conjunction with the German General Staff

    No, it’s worse than that: it’s like doing so with the French.

  18. The UK’s European strategy over the past 25 years has been to keep signing agreements that make it increasingly hard to leave while never confronting the fact that the great mass of people in this country are either hostile to, or don’t give a damn about, the European project. Eventually that mismatch was going to end in tears. We couldn’t have gone on being a refusenik on the Euro forever.

    If the Treaty of Lisbon makes it so difficult to leave the EU, then why did we sign it? I don’t think we’ve ever lost a war that makes us so beholden to foreign powers as some of the Remoaners seem to want to claim Article 50 does. Mysteriously Labour’s broken manifesto pledge on the issue seems to have been forgotten.

    It’s cockup or conspiracy really. Either we deluded ourselves by thinking we were playing a clever game in Europe that we could walk away from when it suited us. Or people like Sir Ivan acted like a man who, not believing he’ll get planning permission for an entire house, builds in stages in the expectation that the people in charge wouldn’t dare tear it all down when it’s finished.

    In either case being asked to admire the wisdom and integrity of the political classes is a bit much.

  19. A strategy is not a goal. It is a way of achieving a goal. Our goal is to win the election. Our strategy is to campaign hard in the swing states. Our tactics will be to emphasize the benefits of our policies to the average person. Our operations will involve door-to-door door canvassing and stadium events.

    Well put!

  20. Charlie Suet

    ‘The UK’s European strategy over the past 25 years has been to keep signing agreements that make it increasingly hard to leave while never confronting the fact that the great mass of people in this country are either hostile to, or don’t give a damn about, the European project. Eventually that mismatch was going to end in tears. We couldn’t have gone on being a refusenik on the Euro forever.

    If the Treaty of Lisbon makes it so difficult to leave the EU, then why did we sign it?’

    One of the best summaries of EU negotiations since Major ever – 16/10. Needs to be drummed physically into the head of every Remainiac/Remoaner. ‘These agreements were not put to the people – ever’

  21. TMB,

    In the case of Brexit, however, there is little in the way of horse-trading to be done if one accepts that there is only one type of Brexit possible which is a comprehensive withrawl from the EU and its institutions, customs union, single market and so on. The only points for discussion – and there are doubtless heaps and heaps of them – are fairly peripheral.

    I agree but our Lords and Master seem to think there’s loads to negotiate, if there is its best if its done seriously and sensibly. AIUI most of it is dry technical stuff such as pensions, employment and long term funding commitments to EU projects.

    bis,

    Isn’t there an assumption, there, that the briefings & information are free of bias? Be nice to know what our diplomatic lion does with his time apart from play golf. Nice little sinecure somewhere, has he? And whether there was a missed opportunity for a 9 iron across the back of the head in revenge.

    He’s retired, hence gold on Wednesday morning and it was the first time I’ve played with him in our roll-up.

    Of course, there’s bias everywhere and as I said I don’t know what Sir Ivan really did although he looks like someone who is steeped in the EU bureaucracy. If its just some of the Brexiteers settling old scores then we don’t want such small minded approaches at this stage, however see below.

    DuckyMcDuckface,

    BiND : kind of depends on how well Sir Ivan actually performed doesn’t it? Certainly, some of our negotiations recently don’t seem to have achieved very much, so maybe his briefings were a bit crap. But then he’s supposed to be leaving in a year anyway, so who knows?

    One story I picked up on was that he didn’t support Cameron’s re-negotiation and made it clear. If that is the case then he should have been sacked earlier and it is a reason to get rid of him now. I can’t remember where I picked that up so may be just post hoc justification.

    David Moore,

    I have to ask, is any of this in any way useful? Given the outcome of the UK’s negotiations in the last couple of decades, what do you think?

    None of the negotiations with the EU have been to any advantage to the UK. Cameron lost his shirt in these negotiations after all, where were all these ‘exports’ on the EU then?

    I think you could have done better with a kazoo and headless chicken.

    I forget who it was but the BBC Analysis team interviewed one of our EU negotiators. He said that normally you have a lit of 100+ things you don’t like and all you can do is distil those down to 5 or so key points and negotiate hard, so yes we always loose out in an EU negotiation. The problem is that nobody ever does the benefit side.

  22. “Britain’s strategy in World War II was the unconditional surrender of Germany”: no, that wasn’t strategy, that was policy.

    Policy > strategy > tactics. Shoulda gone to Ampleforth.

  23. O Razor – great, except for having to deal with them afterwards.
    Minor things like trade, crime, deporting foreigners, tourism, shipping, joint ventures and so on.
    For a lot of things there does need agreement thrashed out and agreed by the other parties.
    We export a fair bit to the EU, a chunk of which relies on importing things from… the EU. We have a lot of citizens in the EU that would be illegal immigrants and therefore deported to Britain. Losing their jobs, their assets etc. Not to mention how to get rid of the immigrants here when you cannot just dump them into a country, have to do a bit more than prod them off a ship into the water at the 12 mile limit…

  24. So the strategy is a Norway deal, because that’s what the people voted for, and the tactic is to not tell anyone and to try to avoid a discussion in parliament, because that’s what the people want.

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