The Curmudgeon


Friday, December 18, 2009

Kim Howells: A Tribute

Among the many proud and upstanding members of the House of Claimants who will be spending more time with their directorships from next year's election, I really must spare a mention for Kim Howells, the tumescent apparatchik whose bumbling inanity and ethical nonentity have earned him ministerial posts in half a dozen government departments, while Britain's leading liberal newspaper has bestowed upon him the endearing epithet "outspoken". Howells' most recent claim to fame is last month's advice that the Government would do better to spend the resources of the Afghan campaign on spying and imprisoning at home; but he has many other achievements to his credit.

Howells it was who, on the occasion of the Righteous State's 2006 rampage in Lebanon, made a scathing denunciation of its lack of surgicality, which was having results nearly as deplorable as those in Iraq, a country which Howells claimed that same year was "starting to look like the sort of mess that most of us live in". In 2007, Howells proclaimed that using the aid budget to hire mercenaries was down to the Ministry for Lesser Breeds' "duty of care to its staff and to ensure all contracts are subject to rigorous selection so that we obtain full value for money", doubtless in that order. A few months later, Howells had one of his most charming lapses into veracity when he said that a corrupt, authoritarian and torture-friendly regime ought to be able to work with the Saudi government on the basis of "shared values". Finally, early last year the present writer had the honour of receiving a written statement from the master's own hand, setting out the practical and ethical case for doing as little as possible to help Iraqis who were in personal danger as a result of helping British forces.

While I cannot in honesty say that Dr Howells will be sorely missed, it is certain that a non-Labour government by any party other than that of David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox would have a very hard time finding a replacement of equal calibre.


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