Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Saturday list #107 - The ten worst decisions in history

In honour of Zac Goldsmith and his rather bad decision to sack himself, I thought we'd honour him by posting the ten worst decisions in history. Hopefully it will cheer Zac up to know that some people are even more stupid than he is!

1. Hitler invades the USSR. Probably the worst military decision ever. Although the USSR was in a mess, the German army did not have the infrastructure to fight a prolonged war against the USSR whilst the UK was still capable of fighting them. This decision was perhaps the worst ever and shaped the history of the world.

2. Japan attacks Pearl Harbour. The attack on Pearl Harbour brought the USA into the war and ended up with the complete defeat of Japan. Any sane assessment of the relative power of both nations would have flagged up the fact that this was a war Japan couldn't win.

3. Argentina invades the Falkland Islands. The ascist junta of generals was tottering on the precipice of defeat. They thought the UK was too weak to retake the Falkland Islands and that they would be seen as heroes. They assumed that the UK would just walk away from a conflict thousands of miles away. They were wrong. Their actions have probably guaranteed that the islands will remain British for ever. It also lead to the collapse of military rule in Argentina.

4. Egypt attack on Israel in 1973. Initially the Egyptians took Israel by complete surprise and had a stunning advance. This quickly evapourated and the Israeli's completely routed Egypt. It marked the end of Arab dreams of vanquishing Israel and within a few years Anwar Sadat realised that a peaceful solution was more sensible. That is how Egyt regained the lost territories.

5. Decca Records turn down the Beatles. Perhaps the worst business decision ever made. Decca took the view that there was no future in beat combos. EMI signed them instead and made billions.

6. Salman Rushdie writes The Satanic Verses. Rushdie thought that it was a jolly good idea to write a book slagging off Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. Ayatollah Khomeini took a dim view and put a Fatwa on him, demanding his death. That was the end of Mr Rushdie being able to live a normal life (whilst I'm all for free speech, one has to admit that in hindsight, even Mr Rushdie probably wishes he'd written a book about adultery in Airdrie instead).

7. Leon Trotsky falls out with Stalin. Trotsky was the darling of the Russian revolution. He made the fatal mistake of falling out with Josef Stalin. Stalin showed his apperication of Trotsky's efforts by despatching an agent to clean his ears with an icepick. Moral of the story, don't piss off homicidal tyrants.

8. Ted Heath calls election to decide who runs Britain. In 1974, the UK was in a state of perpetual industrial decline and strife. Prime Minister Ted Heath called an election to decide who runs the country. He lost. That ushered in Margaret Thatcher, the antithesis of Heaths One Nation Tories. We  have all had to live with the consequences.

9. Arthur Scargill calls miners strike without a ballot. Arthur Scargill wanted to do to Thatcher what Joe Gormley did to Heath. She had other plans. Because Scargill didn't have a mandate, the union split, with some miners defecting to the anti strike UDM. Scargill lost and Thatcher used this to bring swathes of visious anti union legislation that has virtually castrated the Trades Union movement in the UK.

10. Beeching report decimates British Rail. In the early 1960's, British Rail was losing money hand over fist. The then Tory government commissioned Richard Beeching to produce a study to sort the mess out. Beeching's report recommended wholesale closure of lines, closing just about everything that had red ink in the profit and loss account. Many viable lines were lost and whole communities were cut off. Many of these are now the subject of expensive projects to reopen them. The most notable to date are the Borders Railwaym whcih opened last year and the Varsity line between Oxford and Cambridge, which is in the process of being reopened. Had he not shut the Great Central line, we wouldn't be spending £50 billion on HS2. Probably the most expensive cock up in British history.

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