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Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

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November 9, 2011 2:41 pm

No entries?

Well let me leave a little easter egg from someone to find years from now. It’s November 2011 and Italy’s cost of borrowing just went over 7%. The Euro is in serious trouble.

November 9, 2011 4:13 pm
paul g
November 9, 2011 6:51 pm

2 questions from the above comments what happens in italy goes belly up, i’m thinking agusta westland owned by finnimeca (excuse spelling) and also will it effect F-35 as italy are making a fair bit of it.
If we did this europe defence sharing, could’ve looked a bit stupid if we had left A2G to anyone but france in the recent dust up in libya!!

November 9, 2011 8:58 pm

If Italy goes, hold on tight (to your job).

Italy is bascially unsaveable if she goes down. The best the IMF and the EU fund could do would be to manage the fallout and perhaps help out some of the exposed banks. Spain, Ireland and Portugal might go soon after as people lose confidence.

The Euro could be done for to be honest. Last night, while ‘Sconi was arsing about the markets started slowly withdrawing on the Euro. Expect that slow movement to go f**king mental if the Italians are forced into a prolonged election campaign (there is a confidence vote in the government scheduled before the next vote on austerity measures!).

And if you have any gold, hold onto it for a minute. Last night the price briefly nudged over $1,800 per ounce. If Italy goes, it’s game on! Shame some one eyed Scottish twat sold most of our gold reserves a long time ago. He got $3.5 billion for it then. That same amount of gold would be worth a bit under $23 billion on Today’s market. (Our remaining reserve is probably worth about $15 billion).

paul g
November 9, 2011 9:14 pm

wow a $19billion difference just think how many schools in africa and pakistan dave could build with that!!!

November 9, 2011 9:32 pm


Italy is really only final assembly for Italian and Dutch F35 Jets so far.


November 9, 2011 10:03 pm

Or a small business loan guarantee scheme that would kick the economy into shape sharpish. One day we’ll get a Government that understands that Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) account for over half of all employment, and are far more flexible and useful in building a strong and diverse economy than large businesses.

November 9, 2011 10:10 pm

“One day we’ll get a Government that understands that Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) account for over half of all employment, and are far more flexible and useful in building a strong and diverse economy than large businesses.”

They seem to know it but they can’t do sod all about it.

Dominic Johnson
November 9, 2011 10:16 pm

sme’s dont fit in 5 year plans and power point economies.

November 9, 2011 10:24 pm

Dom they are always banging on about the importance of SMEs. And they always bang on about how they need help. And the Government does try. But they are crap.

November 9, 2011 11:13 pm

Well the plan is “Project Merlin” presumably designed to magic money out of the banks and into the economy. But it’s not enough.

Really the Government could do with selling off its shares in various banks and using the money, plus some it stumps up itself (axe that f**king Big society bank for a start), to create a fund of its own, instead of relying on the banks to do the right thing.

El Sid
El Sid
November 10, 2011 8:13 pm

Italy going pop would probably be bad for the Yeovil end of AW and bad/good for the Italian end. Bad because the Italian government would slash defence spending (and maybe have the odd Cavour for sale?), but good because if they left the euro, the lira would crash and it would become really cheap to make stuff in Italy.

There’s other ramifications – even the Germans are cutting back on things like NH-90s to help pay for all the kebabs they’ve been ordering lately.

It’s easy to overstate the Italian problem, it’s not as bad as Greece – if they could just sort out their tax collection and black economy, they’d be fine. At the moment their citizens have too much money (>$8 trillion in savings or something like that) and the government debt is about 100% of GDP – normally 80-90% is about where you start losing AAA ratings and such like. If they could just relieve the Mafia/Camorra of a trillion or so, they’d be cushty. The US is about 100% of GDP, and UK 70% (thanks to North Sea oil rather than any great prudence by our politicians) – but we also have a lot more private debt.

Finally – has anyone asked Alex Salmond how that “Independence in Europe” thing is going? Apparently Scotland would be on the hook for €8bn of Greek/Italy bailouts if they were independent and part of the euro.

paul g
November 12, 2011 12:45 pm

army captain writes and distributes memo about shedloads of soldiers, including wounded to be made redundant.
2 things about this capt;
1)he will be orderly officer between 1-31st dec
2)he will be claiming jobseekers 1st jan onwards!


paul g
November 12, 2011 12:53 pm

oh and this popped up on arse,

also noted on the thread that most of the worlds uranium is located where they want to go!!

November 12, 2011 1:54 pm

Nobody will be kicking recovering wounded soldiers out of the Army as part of redundancy. Now there are some wounded soldiers who have essentially recovered who might get made redundant along with everyone else.

I’m sorry but that’s the way it has to be, the Army is not social jobs programme and they’ll get a far better package of money and re-settlement than they’d ever have gotten in civilian life to start again.

The MoD well recognises that it has a duty of care toward the recovering wounded and they stay on strength, fully paid up until they are rehabilitated. This can take 3-5 years.

November 12, 2011 2:11 pm

I swear there are a group of senior advisors in the US government and military just pissing their pants right now at how much extra spending (or loss reductions) they can get Congress to agree to based on “the Chinese threat”.

Angus McLellan
Angus McLellan
November 12, 2011 2:50 pm

@El Sid: Salmond won’t be worried. There’s was discussion on BBC Newsweek today. The programme also has two vaguely defence-related pieces in the second half.

There’s a piece on the future of space programmes. Chris.B won’t be surprised to learn that the punditry expected the US to be more than a little concerned if China started a Moon landing programme. And they will. So, not just the Pentagon who’ll be looking for more pennies in the face of the Yellow Peril then, but NASA too.

I sometimes think I must have slept through the Chinese invasion of Taiwan. The cover-up was very effective too because I can’t find any evidence that it happened.

There’s also a stating-the-bleeding-obvious discussion of the Iranian nuclear programme. An attack on Iran, especially an Israeli attack, would strengthen Ahmedinejad’s weak internal position. Well I never! Our expert guessed around 3-5 years from a hypothetical decision in Tehran to proceed with a bomb programme to actually producing a weaponisable device. A device that would only be useful for test and PR purposes would be doable in a year supposedly.

Paul R
Paul R
November 12, 2011 8:17 pm

I understand why the Army wants to cut those that are injured and will not make it back into active service.
I’m ok with letting them go, providing the welfare system has the correct benefit for them, ie create a veteran benefit and not just stick them on any new crappy benefit, then you’ve got to do something with the pensions. Also I’d like to see opportunities for them in the army still, not everyone has to be fighting fit, its probably a horrible term, but become a paper pusher (like accounts, something that is useful outside of the army)

Sadly with government joined up thinking like ours does not exist.

So the outrage in people is probably not because they’re injured and getting kicked out, its the lack of commitment from the government after they are made redundant.

The benefit system is a complete mess at the moment, it amazes me that GP, Consultants and specialists are ignored in benefit claims, yet the government wants these very people(whom they ignore) to run the bloody nhs!!!

Does anyone know if the current or future benefit systems has anything for veterans?

btw I don’t like the use of the word veteran, now days its portrayed as quite glorified and heroic. But more along the lines of “medically retired because all I had was a shitty land rover”

November 12, 2011 8:55 pm

There are jobs in the Army for them, each case I believe is judged on its merits. Obviously there is more scope for keeping an old sweat with one foot missing in as an RQ or instructor than there is your 19 year old Tom.

If you’re injured and discharged you get Armed Force Compensation Scheme lump sum payments and a guaranteed income payment. Plus they can obviously access over civilian benefits. If they have also been sensible they’ll have a PAX pay out too. I know a double amputee who is now a millionaire – for what its worth.

The civilian benefit system has nothing in particular for “veterans”. War Pensions can be completely disregarded for Housing Benefit but that is down to each council and there are, believe it or not, some tight bastards who take it all into account.

Dominic Johnson
November 12, 2011 9:18 pm

paul r
not being funny, but people join infantry because they’re too thick to do anything else.
I cant run 20 miles in full kit in 6 hours, but i can maintain 99.94% accuracy for 14 hours for 4 days (plus getting home an back to work).
Not really time for airbumming……

Rommel considered ‘none coms’ to be second class, monty kicked his arse good and proper

November 12, 2011 9:26 pm

“not being funny, but people join infantry because they’re too thick to do anything else”

Doesn’t sound much like the infantry I worked with for 6.5 months Dom. Sure there were plenty of fuck ups but there were some switched on cookies. And there’s a lot to know and remember.

And they need 100% accuracy, for 195 days with little sleep or someone cops it.

steve taylor
November 12, 2011 10:47 pm

DomJ said “not being funny, but people join infantry because they’re too thick to do anything else.”

I would proffer an apology to the community for that one and hope they forgive you.

paul g
November 13, 2011 4:21 pm

Indeed it is and created by degree holding technicians as well! Infantry thick? it’s horses for courses not everyone in the inf is bright but then again i’ve known tradesmen who can fix stuff all day long, but need to be told to wash, go to the toilet etc etc.
What does tend to happen is those not so accademic are encouraged to find out what they can do and on leaving the mob have the confidence to crack on and do well.
I’m with phil on the wounded in the old days (even the 80’s) there were always jobs for the downgraded now it’s a leaner machine, no mess managers,stewards or clothing storeman jobs. So as long as the aftercare is spot on then it’s time to go, sounds harsh i know but if your new slimmed down inf had 20% non deployable is it an effective unit?

steve taylor
November 13, 2011 6:02 pm

Does make you think though by the time you have outsourced a service and paid the ex-servicemen a whole host of benefits whether it would be cheaper keeping him/her in uniform. Couldn’t do it for everyone but…….

November 14, 2011 7:44 pm
Adam Sugden
Adam Sugden
November 19, 2011 5:17 pm


US are going to send 2500 marines to Australia.

November 21, 2011 12:20 am

Seems like Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are committed to a new “Eurasian Union” starting in 2015. Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia could be on the list to eventually join, with others following. Interesting development.

Paul R
Paul R
November 25, 2011 5:09 pm

Well lets hope they have a common currency, it might just break them apart in the future.

I’d laugh if anyone suggests this is another soviet union, its probably no worse than the EU.

November 25, 2011 9:55 pm

@ PaulR

The plan is to make it a purely economic union. It’s just a way for Moscow to try and help out its economy a little, while also pulling those states away from the influence of outside players.

There’s no military aspect to this. It’s nothing really to worry about either, it’s largely looking just like a defensive measure against the spread of the EU into the eastern steppes and China’s diplomatic efforts on its western border.

November 28, 2011 12:28 pm

will Defence see any further cuts tomorrow (because some departments are certainly going to):


I am cautiously optimistic that their will be no cuts, but the black-hole hasn’t entirely been elimiated so there may well be further cuts.

November 28, 2011 12:29 pm

[edit] function is still borked [/edit]

will Defence see any further ((budget)) cuts tomorrow (because some departments are certainly going to):


I am cautiously optimistic that their will be no ((budget)) cuts, but the black-hole hasn’t entirely been eliminated so there may well be further ((capability)) cuts.

November 28, 2011 12:37 pm

Its through and through an “oh shit, wtf china is gobbling us all up” union.

November 28, 2011 1:55 pm

Yep, there are already big energy/ pipeline deals between China and Kazakhstan.

If the railway comes next, there is only Turkmenistan in between, before linking with Iran.

November 28, 2011 4:07 pm

Those countries in the middle must be loving it. They’ve got a bidding war between Russia and China going on, and now the Americans are going to be looking for logistical staging posts and through routes as well. It’s Christmas come a little early.

November 28, 2011 5:54 pm

Russia To Send Warships to Syria in 2012: Report

Paul R
Paul R
November 28, 2011 10:34 pm


“French, Germans Should Team on UAV: German Minister”
If this happens then I expect European UAV project will get very messy very quick. Problem with such multi national projects is that everyone want something and always wants more design and production share.

I hope we tell the Germans to get stuffed, this is an opportunity for the UK to push for a project with France alone and get ahead of the Germans.

Gareth Jones
December 5, 2011 6:47 am

Thought this might be of interest – some detail on the possible post independence plans for Scotland:


Samond wants 9% of defence equipment…

December 5, 2011 8:09 am

Salmond can f**k off.

The bit about building closer ties with Northern and Eastern europe I can understand, for the UK as a whole.

But 9% of defence? Laughed off. That defence was built, surprisingly enough, for the protection of the United Kingdom. If the Scots wish to leave that protection then they’re more than welcome, but the protection stays with the organisation that bought it.

December 5, 2011 8:59 am

If Salmond can swing independence (and its increasingly unlikely as the recession drags on) then I expect the English Government to royally screw the SNP – if we gave them 9% the value rather than 9% of the inventory of the armed forces I wonder what that would look like in terms of numbers, I bet it would result in very little kit (as F-35, the Carriers and Trident replacement would distort the equipment budget which might be the real reason why Trident transferred to the core equipment budget) and certainly not the kit the SNP wants which is 24 Typhoons and 2 Type 23’s/Type 26’s and enough equipment to stand up the Royal Regiment of Scotland as multi-role force, along with a England committing to paying for the redevelopment of all the real estate to the standards Salmond wants.

The only logical bit of Salmond’s plans if for P-3’s a I hope our clueless bunch of morons running the country can swallow their pride and get us some suitably modernised by Airbus in the next few years.

December 5, 2011 9:08 am

I think he’s also forgetting that the Defence Industrial Strategy would require the UK to remove all shipbuilding from Scotland and return it to sovereign territory.

The trouble is he’s got a lot of people dangling off the North Sea Oil thread, while keeping it hush, hush that by 2020 most of that oil will be spent. Then what are they gonna do?

December 5, 2011 9:35 am

They’ll get 9% of the equipment, its fairly standard, and 9% of the staff if they want them, or can convince them to join up.

Its unlikely they will even want 9% of the kit.
Lets face it, they arent going to want 1 Astute are they? They might however, want T1 typhoons.
Would they even want Challies?

“I think he’s also forgetting that the Defence Industrial Strategy would require the UK to remove all shipbuilding from Scotland and return it to sovereign territory.”
The idea probably just hasnt occured to him that Scottish Independance would have a down side.
There are dozens of rusting harbour towns that would love to host the nuclear submarines or the new ship yards.
Barrow would be a good place to invest if Scottish independance looked likely.

December 5, 2011 9:36 am

There’s also a Scottish armoured Regiment (SCOTS DG) and unless it changed in the last 8 years, at least a couple of Regiments of Scottish-affiliated Gunners and Sappers. Of course, not all of the soldiers in those Regiments are Scottish, and even among the Scots, not all may wish to transfer across. Rewinding to my time in green, I wouldn’t have done. I joined the Army to go to places, to serve on operations in a first class world Army, not to be part of some militia.

What’s the betting that 9% of hardware is going to consist of hundreds of Snatch Landrovers, CVR(T) and Bulldog, with a few Bedford 4 tonners thrown in for goodwill?

December 5, 2011 10:00 am

Indeed, its quite likely scotland would expect a payout instead of all of that 9%.

The population thing is interesting, Irish Members of the armed forces were given the same choice on the creation of the free state, no idea how many chose to join the new and how many stayed, but nowadays, I’d guess very few would want to be part of a scottish armed forces.

December 5, 2011 11:17 am

I am doing this comparison based on the Irish defence forces (even though the article reference was specifically to Nordic neighbours):
RE “joined the Army to go to places, to serve on operations in a first class world Army, not to be part of some militia”
– 40.000 members of the Irish forces have served with UN and the like operations (I am sure there is some double counting there, but just divide that with the overall strength); so they do get to travel

RE “What’s the betting that 9% of hardware is going to consist of hundreds of Snatch Landrovers, CVR(T) and Bulldog, with a few Bedford 4 tonners thrown in for goodwill?”
– quite a good mix if you think of a) the Scottish landscape, or b) peacekeeping (not making)
– and of course the balances would be split based on book values (not count) so they would be getting loadsa…

BTW: I (would) welcome a new member to the Nordic family, but I object to
1. hollowing out the UK defence, and
2. not accounting for all that money sent north of the border as a budget subsidy over so many years (mainly from folks in the SE)

December 5, 2011 11:30 am

@ ACC,

re UN and Ireland, many individual missions, the remainder at Company level as peace keepers. It’s hardly grown up war fighting across the full spectrum of conflict, which is the attraction to many of joining the British Army (or RAF, or RN).

December 5, 2011 11:43 am

well, I so much agree
– and the rumour has it (facts are not published) that the Scottish representation in SF is quite disproportionately high

December 5, 2011 11:53 am

Isn’t it more likely, anyway, that if Scotland devolution goes ahead, Defence and Foreign Policy remain a common matter within the UK, with Scotland having an independence-lite more related to internal matters than to much else…? Until days ago, for the little i read, it looked like the most likely option.

But i have to admit that i’ve not followed the situation much, so far.

December 5, 2011 12:25 pm

Usual comment, however, short of a “martial races” theory, its likely simply that the English and Welsh are more likely to leave the army.
The Scots in the SAS would of course, be free to choose which force they want to join, the Scots Militia, or remain in the SAS? Dont see many of them opting the homeland….
And of course, the England could still recruit from Scotland, we recruit from everywhere else….

The SNP strategy has always been simply to maximise the subsidy it gets from England, rather than true independance.
However, the Tories have a majority in the UK *if* Scotland leaves.
Cameron is an avowed unionist, but his position is far from secure, and those who could wield the knife on him, and those who may sit on his throne, are far more practical.

Salmond could find a himself facing a vote in England on throwing Scotland out of the union.

Angus McLellan
Angus McLellan
December 5, 2011 1:02 pm

@ChrisB: If you want to split the debts you surely need to split the assets too. There’s a huge amount of debt and not so many assets. But as Tubby says, what would be worth taking? The only obvious biggish-ticket items would be helicopters and C-130Js and possibly a couple of half-built Type 26s, always assuming that they’ve progressed beyond the PowerPoint phase. Type 23s and Typhoons both have the same basic flaw, although for different reasons. They are expensive to feed and care for.

@Dom: Barrow would be a poor base for submarines, a long way from open ocean and the amount of dredging needed to get Trident boats in and out was said to be huge. Devonport is the most obvious alternative to Faslane. The problem, as it always has been, is to find a Coulport-substitute. Something floaty in Carrick Roads or Falmouth Bay perhaps?

In terms of choice as to where to serve, what the SNP may think would be less important than what Westminster decided. The Irish Free State example/precedent is a poor one for all sorts of reasons. But as far as it goes, what happened then was that regiments recruited in the Free State were disbanded and those recruited at least partly in Northern Ireland were kept on the books. However, in the event of split the UK defence budget would be facing a cut in cash terms of 10% in round numbers. It would be no surprise at all if everything that could be claimed to be “Scottish” were to be disbanded and personnel numbers cut yet again. There might not be a large element of choice for everyone since the alternative to the Scottish forces might be no job at all.

Brian Black
Brian Black
December 5, 2011 2:08 pm

They should take their share of surplus Challengers, worn out Tornados and the like, whether they want them or not. Certainly shouldn’t be allowed to cherry-pick the newest and best kit.

The SNP still arrogantly view manpower as a product to take, rather than people to recruit. Even if every Scot wanted to transfer to a Scottish force, I doubt they’d get a good balance of trades and skills. Probably was easier for the Irish than it would be with today’s much more hi-tech and complex forces.

December 5, 2011 2:23 pm

RE “Certainly shouldn’t be allowed to cherry-pick the newest and best kit”…and not cash, which is in short supply

Anyway, we are coming up with good slogans for the referendum:”in the event of split the UK defence budget would be facing a cut in cash terms of 10% in round numbers. It would be no surprise at all if everything that could be claimed to be “Scottish” were to be disbanded and personnel numbers cut yet again.”
– the closes existing parallel would probably be Catalonia in Spain. They have, through decades long negotiation, got their share of local tax take to 90 %
– with the same formula (and no more subsidy!), 9 % would go towards common defence (non-nuclear Scotland might still be an issue to be worked on) and the 1% would correspond to foreign aid goal (mind you, that would mean paying for two sets of embassies and consular representation) as defence and foreign policy are indivisible

Brian Black
Brian Black
December 5, 2011 2:25 pm

Didn’t Salmond screw the prospects of Scottish independence anyway? The moment he decided to introduce the third option of ‘devolution max’ in the referendum – divides many who might otherwise have voted to leave.

Much Scottish culture and tradition is 19th century invention. I wonder also how this new and imaginary Scandinavian identity goes down with those who see their ancestry as Irish, many nationalists included.

December 6, 2011 11:18 am

Forgot about this thread.

“The moment he decided to introduce the third option of ‘devolution max’ in the referendum…”

Which is where all this is really headed. Salmond doesn’t want independence, what he wants is to get his grubby mits on the money and the power, without the over arching responsibility for things like defence and diplomacy.

Personally I think the whole devolution thing is a waste of time, except Northern Ireland. The power these assemblies possess is quite limited and the cost of their buildings plus all those assembly ministers seems like a waste.

I believe Cameron announced recently a plan to jump the gun on Salmond and force a referendum which would only have two choices; yes or no to independence.

Frankly it’s in the tories favour. No Scottish MP’s would make it almost prohibitive for Labour to get re-elected.

December 6, 2011 2:45 pm

“Frankly it’s in the tories favour. No Scottish MP’s would make it almost prohibitive for Labour to get re-elected.”

Is it also in the UK’s favour?

December 6, 2011 3:18 pm

Beyond border security, in what interest to the rest of the UK is it to see one part of the union granted Devo max with benefits over the other 3 countries? None.

You cannot have 2 economies within one country & currency with unlimited borrowing powers.

Should be a straight yes/no to any referendum, anything else will antagonise everyone else in the UK that isn’t Scottish.

Considering Scotland would get lumped with £150bn debt from the off, not have AAA borrowing rates and would have to spend a significant chunk of its GDP on the servicing the debt I agree with others that Salmond doesn’t think Scots will vote for independence so will go for milking Westminster for as much British taxpayers money as possible as well as more power.

December 6, 2011 3:25 pm

In the sense that Labour governements are bad?

December 6, 2011 3:56 pm

In the sense that, from the outside at least, it looks like no one gains from an eventual separation, other than the Tories.

And i’m horrified by the disproportionate effects that, i fear, a separation would have on the armed forces.

But, again, i’m gazing at this from the outside.

December 6, 2011 3:59 pm

@ Gabs

“In the sense that, from the outside at least, it looks like no one gains from an eventual separation, other than the Tories”

That’s about the sum of the situation.

December 6, 2011 4:01 pm

it looks like no one gains from an eventual separation

Apart from the SNP, it’s their ultimate dream.

December 6, 2011 4:10 pm

Everyone will be better off seperate.
The Tories are of course the most obvious winner, but Scotland wins, as does England.
England wins, because it no longer has to subsidise the Scotland, but Scotland wins, because its forced to earn its own way.

Educated Scots will no longer jump on a train to London and never come back, they’ll migrate to Glasgow, or Edinburgh.
Politics in Scotland will cease to revolve around who can beg the most from Westminster!

It could even improve defence!

Scotland would want little more than Fisheries Protection and Maritime Patrol, the UK could subcontract those services, in exchange for protection by our high end warfighters

December 6, 2011 4:45 pm

Having greasy Salmon-d up north making deals with people not in the best interests of the UK? I don’t see that working out well.

paul g
December 9, 2011 10:38 pm

so having watched the news, and seen sarkosy and DC cocking a snoot at each other when passing in the room anyone else think the “new best friends” era with regard to defence is over. Bang goes the rafales theory TD!!!

December 9, 2011 10:48 pm

nah, IR is a pragmatic business, regardless of europe both france and britain know THEY only stand to gain by supporting each others ambitions.

besides which, sarkosy will be out in 9 months, and the left of france is much less enamoured of the european political project.

December 9, 2011 11:09 pm

JDBFTRX has hit the nail on the head there. Much depends on what happens with Sarkosy. The word on the street is that not a lot of people are particulalrly pleased with the way he’s snuggling up to Germany.

I’m worried for the small nations of Europes periphery more than anything. This whole Euro business is essentially a large con meant to support German manufacturing, and unfortunately a lot of small countries in Europe and around it are going to pay a heavy long term price in order to support Germany.

steve taylor
December 9, 2011 11:17 pm

DomJ said “Scotland would want little more than Fisheries Protection”

The Scots already do their own FP.


You will note their latest ship was built in Poland. So much for the naughty London government not supporting Scottish shipbuilding.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
December 12, 2011 3:40 pm

@ Chris B. 09/12/11:

“I’m worried for the small nations of Europes periphery more than anything. ”

Seems like *we* might be a nation on the European Periphery, now.

Thing is, I can’t help but think that this is a “good thing” tm. After all, this and the last govt’s international policy directives were mostly aimed at Africa & India. Maybe we should be trying to mould the Commonwealth into an trade union, tied together with DfID funding!!

December 12, 2011 4:51 pm

@ DD – “Seems like *we* might be a nation on the European Periphery, now. Thing is, I can’t help but think that this is a good thing tm.”

Agreed, and if TD will forgive me for linking a non-military article:


There was always a split in the EU, ever since the Euro, but we have always pretended there wasn’t, so it was impossible to articulate a different evolution for the union.

Well, we’ve stopped pretending, but perhaps the happy result will be that countries like Sweden can stop pretending they might join were it not for some ‘inconvenient’ technicalities.

I know AAC has some reservations, and I put a lot of stock in his opinion of matters financial, but I believe the politics makes the opportunity worth the risk.

December 13, 2011 3:04 am

That would mean a Newspaper had to give someone else credit, which is something they don’t take to lightly!

As for Europe, I think this is a good thing. This split in the Euro countries will not be held together just by a bit of treaty change. The Euro is dying, and I doubt much is going to save it. Just last week it was revealed in several of the lower key news outlets that the Germans are printing new Deutsche Marks in case the Euro fails and everyone goes back to their old currencies (a wise plan).

Ultimately “more europe” benefits Germany and France, and to a lesser extent some of the other countries, but it will shaft most of the smaller ones, who will find themselves bound by the rules, regulations and financial conditions of the larger states and unable to compete effectively in sectors like manufacturing, where they otherwise might be able to gain a big advantage.

paul g
December 14, 2011 8:40 pm

faun trackway have won an £18million order from turkey for tracklaying equipment,trucks and trackway. They have also opened an office in washington DC, (like griffon hovercraft, you have to have premises in the US to get a look in, it’s a legal thing i believe, don’t quote me though)

December 14, 2011 8:54 pm

Who says we never export anything?

paul g
December 14, 2011 11:00 pm

we? didn’t realise you were welsh as well!!! :-)

December 14, 2011 11:17 pm

I think you’ll find that you’re under the jurisdiction of Her Majesty’s government and as such, subject to the Laws and Customs of the United Kingdom ;)

December 15, 2011 5:37 pm

i don’t know if it’s been put up already. Upto 13000 troops required on busy days for the olympics. It seems mainly checking bags and tickets. Wonderful :-(

December 19, 2011 1:52 am

From wired.com 15 Dec:
“But the issue would appear to be moot. In the statement, Meyer said he was “gratified” to learn that BAE “did not ultimately sell and does not intend to sell advanced thermal scopes to Pakistan.” He will drop his lawsuits against both BAE — which he said performs “important work… to protect the men and women of the U.S. military” — and McCreight.

It is not clear from the statement what compelled Meyer to change his mind. The lawsuit was not primarily about the scope sale, but rather about the slander and retaliation charges. Those go unmentioned in the statement.”

December 19, 2011 3:25 pm

Dear leader, Kim Jong-Il, has ceased to be. Heart attack apparently.

December 19, 2011 3:35 pm

“Upto 13000 troops required on busy days for the olympics. It seems mainly checking bags and tickets. Wonderful :-(”

Ha ha! Stag on!

December 19, 2011 3:36 pm

“Dear leader, Kim Jong-Il, has ceased to be. Heart attack apparently.”

I reckon he’s been dead ages and the news was about to get out. Or he’s freshly dead and someone broke the news quick so they could move quickly to secure power.

paul g
December 19, 2011 3:59 pm

phil, i used to do that at wimbledon, but there you get £100ish a day from the tennis club to cover transport and lodgings and squaddie loving posh totty everywhere!!!

December 21, 2011 6:30 am

Time for Christmas presents: List of modules (what! no containers) used on the LCS
– no news, really, other than there will be a missile system good for both anti-ship and land targets use
– speculation that Jumper is at the front of the queue (NSM version to do the same is still in development and mainly positioned for airlaunch – could change, though)

Kentish Paul
Kentish Paul
December 21, 2011 8:39 pm

Not wishing to be stirring it, but why were the news reports of the PM’s visit to Afganistan centered around the RAF. OK he couldn’t get to Bastion, but the RAF are only a part of our effort and I notice that the photocall had to feature a female crew member. Not cynical in the least !

Also did not the Tornadoes look a lot darker than I remember them.

paul g
December 21, 2011 8:49 pm

i read in the paper that typhoon has lost out to F-35 in japan, 42 ordered, ah well there’s still india and brazil. That’s brazil who’s just banned any ship flying the falklands islands flag from docking in it’s ports. oh shite!!

December 21, 2011 8:58 pm

Ironic really as Kandahar is far more dangerous than Bastion.

December 21, 2011 9:29 pm

Afganistan centered around the RAF. OK he couldn’t get to Bastion

err cos there’s nearly no army in KAF? Maybe we should we had them drive over just so they could be included in the pictures?

December 21, 2011 9:40 pm

They were on their way but the Snatch broke down.

December 21, 2011 9:46 pm

Sounds about right for that pile of shit

December 21, 2011 10:24 pm

Yeah, $127 m a piece for the 42 F-35s to Japan (with spares… it is the “A” which currently costs 15m less to build (profit is in there as the parts come from so many different players).

India, yes. Brazil would need a carrier-capable a/c, at least that’s in the tender terms.

December 22, 2011 8:49 pm

Act of Valor

I just watched a trailer for this new film, and it looks pretty good. It’s supposedly inspired by true events, but here’s the thing – it’s actually starring real-life active duty SEALs!

I really don’t know what to think of this, aside from obvious propaganda, isn’t there some security risk (I assume they’re using aliases, but even so), and couldn’t this be used as a training manual by potential enemies?

Trailer and synopsis is here…


Paul R
Paul R
December 23, 2011 4:51 pm


“Weapons procurement could fall to private sector under new proposals

Ministers consider involving private sector in purchasing decisions to bring an end to overspending at Ministry of Defence

A cop out or what!
“We’re so useless and we can’t be bothered to do it ourself and we sacked the wrong people”
So defence companies get to manage how the money is spent!

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
December 27, 2011 8:37 pm

There’s an interesting report on Radio 4 at the moment, “Buying defence”.


It’ll be available to all on iPlayer soon so give it a listen.

December 27, 2011 10:58 pm

China gets approval for Afghanistan oil exploration bid.The approval is a major win for China as it has been looking to invest in resource-rich Afghanistan.


Brian Black
Brian Black
December 28, 2011 1:27 am

Mark, I guess eventually, a relatively small number of Afghans -government officials in the main- will become insanely rich; and a few million peasants will become that much more dissatisfied with their lot in life.

Add a long history and culture of war, tribalsm and corruption into the mix, along with the various religious nut-jobs who want everyone to live in the stone-age, and I reckon China will find itself pretty busy in Afghanistan.

Gareth Jones
December 28, 2011 11:28 am
December 28, 2011 8:38 pm

U.S. Warns Iran Against Blocking Off Strait of Hormuz


December 29, 2011 7:49 am

Braveheart finally made it into production

– even though it is the turret only
– barrel from Nexter
– chassis and electronics from Poland

December 31, 2011 4:20 pm


Using round figures that about a 20 £billion per annum + increase in defence expenditure.

OK so what do you cut by 20 £ billion? Cut it of benefits and you will need all that 20 billion to contain the riots. Cut it of health and education and you can forget getting elected.

Borrow it and the bond market will wreck your economy It would represent approx a 15% increase in current account deficit.

So literately; what gives?

December 31, 2011 4:22 pm


I don’t think we can go green, but we can go nuclear. I am looking forward too a crash program.

December 31, 2011 5:23 pm

Hi Ixion,

It would be benefits where I would make the cuts, not that I would take Spain as a good example, but un-employment only lasts a year, we could means test the fuel winter payment, means test child benefit are just three things I can think of the top of my head.

Yes I know its easy to say change this or that, and harder to think through the consequences, but IMO our social system should solely exist to maximise our human capital – i.e. good education (including free post 18 vocational and tertiary eduction) and health care are important as they produce productive highly skilled workers and keeps them working longer – some of the benefits people can receive suffer from the law of unintended consequences – its totally fair that a single mother, who is single from no fault of her own be supported until such time she can work, but its not fair if we then allow a teenager from a disadvantaged background to abuse child tax benefits and housing benefits to avoid working by getting pregnant straight from school, and frankly having worked in a very poor school in a poor area(for a year only) and talked to people who work for Sure Start, education to raise their aspirations has completely failed and will never work.

December 31, 2011 5:31 pm

+1 on nuclear, I did my research for the PhD I never submitted on one of the materials used in AGR’s and met lots of people from the nuclear industry and as long as NIREX is sorted then I expect to see the Government cotton on to the fact that we need a large portion of our energy from nuclear (I can see tidal and hybrid off-shore wave/wind generation eventually by the middle of the century hitting around 30% of all generation, and us moving to a hydrogen economy for our surface transport fleet, but a mix of nuclear and coal with carbon capture is going to be needed for the rest of energy needs. I am not buying into fusion, it still produces high level waste in the form of the reactor chamber, and has consistently been just 50 years away since the early experiments in the later forty’s and early fifty’s).

steve taylor
December 31, 2011 6:17 pm

Remind me again which country had the world’s first reactor producing power for a civilian grid?

Given a choice between going cold and hungry in the dark (no nuclear) and Coronation Street, hot food, and FaceBook (nuclear) I know which one the great British public will go for.

I think fusion is a goer, “clean” or not.

Dominic Johnson
December 31, 2011 6:20 pm

80% of the health budget is spent on people who will be dead within two years.

If you replaced the Welfare (healthcare, pension, unemployment) budgets with a “citizens wage”, it would be about £5k for every man woman and child in the country.

If you did away with education, you could give every child £5k a year, every year, from 0-21.
I know a lot of people who’d have been better off learning the three r’s and then using the rest of their “education” budget to buy a share in a trade business.

“and frankly having worked in a very poor school in a poor area(for a year only) and talked to people who work for Sure Start, education to raise their aspirations has completely failed and will never work.”

One in Three girls at my secondary school was, or had already been, pregnant by the 31st August in our final year.
Its hard to argue they didnt make a rational choice.

Wind just doesnt work*.
Huhnes “cheaper electricity bills through wind” are a 5% saving on bills only after a 30% energy useage reduction.

*Special cases aside, like wind to power heating in the scottish islands which is cost effective compared to diesel heating.

December 31, 2011 6:55 pm

Tubby heres a few ideas

1) Scrap pensions/NI system, NI is income tax by a different name. Replace pensions by upgraded to auto entitled post age69 entitlement to Income support, and concoment benefits. Totally means tested.
2) Scrap child benefit we don’t need more children so stop subsidising them.
3) Increase Corp tax to recover lost Employer NI, payments, tax profits not jobs.
4) Scrap ALL local Govt it is all stupidly inefficient.
5) Work for benefits (under 69) essential.

Just some ideas.

December 31, 2011 7:24 pm

Perhaps a gentler version.
Tell those 16-45 they can only spend 9 years max on unemployment benefit(no more than 5 years continuos). Teenagers might start taking qualifications more seriously.
Encourage more state schools to teach for GCSE Engineering.
Limit child benefit to the first two.
Cut foreign aid from 0.7% GDP to 0.5% like most other countries. That would free £3.45 billion pa for Britain to spend on itself. Say £450 million off debt, £1.5 billion for defence, £500 m each for energy & transport infrastructure + grants to industry.
I would not scrap local government. Keep frontline jobs (police,fire,refuse,carers) but scrap 75% back office non jobs(diversity,climate change,facilitators,deputy directors,trendy managers,etc.)
It is easy to be cynical about fusion. We have not made the big breakthrough yet, but many baby steps forward have been made in the last couple of decades. These get overlooked.
In the meantime, I want a HTGR & ALMR built(high temp gas reactor & adv liq metal reactor).

December 31, 2011 8:14 pm


I would be brutal, but only on the sharpest knife cuts quickest and hurts least.

I forgot the Foreign aid, I would cut it 75% and scrap the dept and give the cash to foreign office to be spent to further British interests.

Scraping local govt would mean keeping the frontline staff, as would nationalisiig the police and the fire service and the ‘National’ Health service.

We have too many small hospitals, try and close one and all hell breaks loose.

It would not be popular but it has been attested by experts, we could run national services nationaly for about half what we payand get pretty much the same front line quality.

I would also reinvigorate the guilds and introduce engineering (of various types) in to schools. graded from technicians 1,2,3, to engineer, 1,2,3.

And the right to use engineer as a title like doctor.

Gospel according to Ixion chapter 1 verse 1.

December 31, 2011 8:23 pm

Ah, so now we’re playing fantasy governments! Well in that case….

Let’s start with Corporation Tax, which should be running at 35-40%. The notion that businesses would flock away from the country if this happened is utter rubbish.

Businesses don’t come here for the tax breaks, they come here because of the market, the good standard of living, the ease of doing business and probaby most importantly, the legal protection afforded to them by our contract laws.

In addition, I’d scythe away many of the tax deductible items such as depreciation, in order to stop the freakanomic accounting that takes place (just look at the MoD’s accounting, whereby the “running cost” of a Torndao is pegged at £45k per hour, when the actual cost is closer to £5-10k)

As for unemployment, the main problem is that without any form of specialist skills, someone who is unemployed, especially for a long time, needs to reset and ends up back at the bottom of the employment ladder.

This is where the focus of re-employment efforts should be. Everything that can be done to cut VAT should be done, as VAT is effectively a tax on consumption (spending), which is the one thing you need to boost the economy and create low level jobs.

In addition, the health and safety laws relating to building sites need to be dumped. Currently there are about twenty individual health and safety licenses for different jobs (CSCS cards). These should be scrapped in favour of a foremans card with the foreman taking responsibility for those working under him. This would make it much easier for the unemployed to find casual labouring work for example.

Education needs to be heavily rebalanced back towards English, Science and Maths, with a focus on the important basics. The “no child left behind” policy should be seriously reconsidered, as it ties teachers hands.

University education should be subsidised only on those courses which have a major use to the economy. If you want to study the history of art, fine, but you’re going to pay whatever the university feels like charging (uncapped).

Personally I’d can DIfD and find other ways to distribute that money.

As for the old bill, I’d like to see them focus at the local level on nuisance problems and information gathering, leaving the major operations to more centralised departments (drug networks tend to span regionally and sometimes nationally).

Energy wise, stop tarting about with pipeline dreams and just get on with using known reactors. I can understand investing in future programs and research, but not sitting on our hands hoping that the next big thing will be invented tomorrow.

Wave power over wind power, and forced efficiency savings.

Carbon capture coal is a goer. I don’t really care how green it actually is, as long as it looks and sounds green to the public. What can’t speak, can’t lie.

December 31, 2011 8:28 pm

I should point out that by pipeline dreams I wasn’t talking about the pipeline from the article, I just meant they myriad of possible future reactors, all of which a lot of talking is done about while no real action is taken. In the meantime we could be cracking on with proven designs.

December 31, 2011 9:05 pm

The only production reactor is the APWR as being built in Finland. It is late & overbudget. Greens fail to mention the next 2 identical built in China are on time & budget, because they have all the knowledge from the 1st in Finland.
If you built a HTGR or ALMR, the first would get the inevitable glitches, but those that followed would be fine.
Britain had a small HTGR in the 70s. Japan built a prototype HTGR recently. The production version also could have made Hydrogen as a byproduct.
Why HTGR? PWRs burn 5% fuel meaning 95% waste. HTGR burn 65% fuel, leaving 35% waste. HTGR can run on a Thorium/Uranium mix.
An ALMR could burn 94% of PWR waste , while generating electricity. A working ALMR destroys the anti nuclear arguement.
As for carbon capture, I like that sugar beet processing plant, that uses its waste CO2 & warm water to grow tomatos to near organic standards in giant greenhouses. A clean coal plant could pipe its waste warm water & CO2 to giant greenhouses growing salad & fruit crops.
Scrapping small local hospitals only works if you have good transport links. Nobody wants an ambulance to take more than 20 minutes to get you to hospital.

December 31, 2011 9:29 pm


“I would also reinvigorate the guilds and introduce engineering (of various types) in to schools. graded from technicians 1,2,3, to engineer, 1,2,3.”

I agree

“And the right to use engineer as a title like doctor.”

there was a petition on the number 10 website (the last one) to have engineer recognised as a professional accreditation signed by over 40000 people government say it current supports and and invests in engineering to an appropriate level.

A friend who runs a shop told me the other day he recently employed a long term unemployed guy who told him he had 5 people employed by the government to get him into work include one who helps him with techniques for searching thru the paper for to find jobs and one who is a motivation person to give him self believe he’ll find a job. Its eye opening

Chris totally agree with the mod accounting thing some real startling numbers would appear in relation to several a/c if the real life operating cost per hour was revealed.

Id turn DFID into a charity that the UK public can fund it if it so wishes. With a small fixed amount of government funding going to the FO for disaster relief.

January 1, 2012 9:50 am

@ DominicJ
“One in Three girls at my secondary school was, or had already been, pregnant by the 31st August in our final year.”
Blimey, you must have been knackered.

January 1, 2012 11:15 am

I know what it is to be unemployed.

I know how soul destroying it its.

I remember how my fists use to itch when faced with smug bastards who made statements of the

‘There are jobs out there for everyone that wants one and is prepared to work for a realistic wage’


I know what clinical depression is, and a close relative of mine who hasn’t missed a days work in his life struggles with the ‘Black dog’. My fists itch when people say all he needs too do is to ‘Pull himself together.

But my fists itch even more when I come across the

The lazy work-shy scum I deal with daily,(both male and female), who are either on the Jobseekers; or ‘the sick’ because they have’depression’. who clearly can work but have no intention of ever doing so…

The trouble is sorting the wheat from the chaff.

If we could do that we could afford Nellie, Dumbo and Babba (the fictional third carrier, together with all the bells and whistles…

Answers on how to do that, on a postcard to:-

Blue Peter.
BBC Save the nation appeal
No 10 and 11 Downing street……

January 1, 2012 11:19 am



If we had an Olympic shagging contest, UK Under 21s team would win hands down.

January 1, 2012 11:43 am

Fantasy fleets may not be my thing but a bit of fantasy government draws me like a moth to a flame. Especially since I’ve just been enjoying Series 1 of Yes Minister.

There are two main problems in this country. All of which have been spotted by various Governments, but, funnily enough, especially by New Labour.

1. Education. Now I’m not a 3Rs man especially, I think that old fashioned type of education doesn’t achieve anything startling in itself. The problem is, and it is inextricably linked to the second problem I discuss in a bit, is parents and school attitudes to teaching. Teaching it must be realised is about a lot more than teaching subjects to kids. Its about paternalism, it’s about being caring and looking after the kids in your care, it’s about giving a damn beyond their results. A LOT of teachers are like this but the institution stifles it. My friend is a primary school teacher and she is forbidden to give her kids a cuddle, even when crying. A lot of these kids come to school, filthy, full of junkfood by parents that don’t give a flying shit. And yet they are not allowed to challenge the parents on why they are letting their kids come to school stinking. Kids need to have a solid 3Rs, they also need to be taught critical thinking. But above all, teaching needs to be seen as a social service. Combine education and social services departments, how can you possibly teach a kid whose parents don’t care about their child education or even their child’s welfare? You simply cannot do it, sometimes you’re lucky and some kids do well despite it all but most don’t make it. The best schools do well because their parents care about their education (which is why they spend the dosh) and because the teachers there see their role as being paternalistic, not just teachers of subjects. Teachers need to become social workers. Like it or not.

2. The Welfare State. The destroyer of this country. The elephant in the room. The most destructive thing ever unleashed on this country. And this is not a rant against welfare, we are a rich and compassionate country – I whole heartedly support having welfare. But our welfare system is utterly broken. It breeds dependency and concentrates misery and deprivation and normalises deviant behaviour and breeds people who simply cannot co-exist with other people who are bound by the economic reality of every day life. The welfare state divorces people from striving for their daily bread, there are people there to “support” you all the way. And Council House housing policies based on need concentrates misery so kids grow up in an environment that is utterly destructive to human nature. They cannot conceive of anything other than their next pleasure. It is all they have to worry about, the state won’t let them starve or die, they literally do not have to lift a finger. So they breed, their kids have no aspirations and are as dependent as their parents and then we expect teachers to be able to work magic on kids fed on junk food, allowed to do what they want because their parents do, and who have no interest in or need to learn because society will allow them to exist without it.

Unless you tackle these two fundamental issues, everything else is just tinkering. Sort out education and welfare and lots of other things will follow.

January 1, 2012 3:30 pm


Broadly agree – see the fall of Rome! All the money spent on “bread and games” so its not like we haven’t had a couple of
f thousand years to study this problem!!

Perhaps we should study some of the yanks workfare progrmmes? They are weird because the republicans accuse the democrats of being communists, but even Obama’s reforms would hardly make them a welfare state – but with the size of their population and even bigger gap between richest and poorest than we have, we could possibly learn a few things from them ???

January 1, 2012 3:35 pm

@ mark.
The DFID as a charity idea has been my favoured option for years. to me it seems to be the best option for all parties, those who want to contribute can contribute. I won’t be one of them.

They can then see how many £450,000 ferris wheels they can build in Lashkar gar with the money they receive (it won’t be many).

January 1, 2012 3:47 pm

By to think notthe way Canadian education system is very different with a much greater focus on turning out reasonably behaved young citizens; yes its suffered a little from “trendy lefty” issues, but certainly not to the level of the UK. Schooling starts with Kindergarten, so the education starts later the kids being a wee bit more mature – are the top flight as good at 18 as the brightest and best in the UK? Possibly not, my wife seems to think not, but then that is why a lot of degrees over here have a fourth year. Back to the schools though, we have ‘spirit days’ each term for example when the kids go in sports shirts, with their hair died funny colours, and lessons are binned in favour of outside agencies doing presentations on recycling or something. Also
even in a VERY ethnically diverse school full of immigrants, they sing Oh Canada every morning, and even if they may learn about each others cultures, there is red and white and make leafs everywhere – solid national identity anyone??? :-)

January 1, 2012 5:46 pm

“Perhaps we should study some of the yanks workfare progrmmes”

Perhaps. But very often, we have the same types of time limits and stringent requirements, the problem is they are not enforced. If you went by the letter of all the Benefit regulations the different schemes are actually very strict. It fascinates me to see the Government declare that Jobseekers for example will have to look for work full time. The regulations already stipulate that! But there’s no backbone in the system to enforce things as they should be. And it is because there are numerous agencies out there who “support” claimants and who think the best way to do so is to milk every penny they can from the system for them. So instead of teaching them a few hard lessons and letting them lose money, they get led by the hand, letters are written, and decisions overturned on a daily basis. And so the claimant who did not fulfil their obligations and knows it, goes to their support worker or an agency like CAB or Shelter and get what they want in the end. Times that by hundreds of thousand times a year and people are allowed to live like farm animals, everything done for them. I am sick to death of people for example, getting someone to fill in their forms because “they can’t read”. Why are people being paid benefit that is not conditional on literacy or going to reading and writing lessons, why are we rewarding this ignorance and this destructive idleness?

So a start, enforce the rules that are already in place and ALL benefits are conditional on literacy if the person is of normal learning ability.

Paul R
Paul R
January 2, 2012 7:15 pm

You’ve also got to look at the money Government spends on “schemes” and other third parties like ATOS.
ATOS are a joke and simply they create reports full of lies, I know this from my own experience. I’ve even heard they are now involved in the tribunal process.

The government aren’t currently enforcing the rules, they are quite simply shafting people for idealogical reasons and profit for their friends at the private companies, the same can be said for all the other departments.

Its amazing, doctors to run the health service but they’re professional medical opinions ignored when it comes to disability benefits. What’s next? The Navy to run the Army whose will then run the RAF who will be fighting ground wars. Just following the logic set already….

There is a problem with the welfare state, always has and will be, it will remain dysfunctional while the politicians remain dysfunctional as well, again same for each department.

Iain Duncan Smith reforms won’t really archive anything, anything to cut costs then fixing the problem. They cut housing benefit, yet at the same time say they have the right to buy further reducing the amount of affordable housing on the market!

I’m 24 and I’m really worried about the future. We’ve got a government which is no better than the last, while Labour have got sod all to say, whose latest wheeze is to blame the BBC.

Who the f’ am I meant to vote for in the future?
Tory and Labour don’t really look that much different when you look at them closely and the Limp Dims are just a party with no back bone.

Aussie Johnno
Aussie Johnno
January 4, 2012 2:01 am

Two interesting press pieces today 4/1/2012);

1. the USAF has reached a decision on its ‘Light Air support Aircraft, AKA armed trainer. In somewhat of a surprise it has picked the Super Tucano for an initial order of 20 aircraft. What is no surprise is the the ‘other party’, Beechcraft with the AT-6, has headed for the courts seeking a review of the process.

2. The New York Times, repeated in our local rag, has claimed that the US intends to move from a Defence policy of being able to conduct 2 major combat operations at the same time to an ability to conduct one major combat operation while retaining the ability to deter a second major player.

Sign of the times?

January 4, 2012 7:16 am

Hi Johnno,

On your first one, I think the news piece stated that they are for training the Afghan airforce (presumably means that they are given to them when combat readiness is reached)

On the second, we can now draw a linear trend line:
– early 90s down from 2 and a half wars to two
– early tens down from 2 to one and a half
– by early thirties US relative power will have declined so much that they will only be willing to engage in an existential conflict

Australia is building relevant capabilities for that scenario; Europe is not

January 4, 2012 9:52 am

A sign of the times?
Yes, but not the times of “American Decline”, but Russian.
The US planned throughout the cold war to fight simultanious wars against the USSR and China, in Europe and the pacific.

That looks a little extreme now

Paul R
The government “cuts” are a £20bn increase in public spending.
Thats right, far from being cut, government spending, on everything except the police and armed forces, has gone up.

The housing benefit “cut” will crush Labour if they make a stand on it at the election.


To put this into perspective, my mortgage interest in £360 a MONTH.
I’d have paid my mortgage off by now if I received that sort of benefit, and I bought my house less than 5 years ago…..

Paul R
Paul R
January 5, 2012 12:13 am

I think Labour don’t need to make a stand at all, Ed Millie is a useless leader so making stands to crush themselves is not required!

I remember when I lived on a council estate, my parents mortgage repayments weren’t as high as they currently would be, housing benefit of 2 weeks would have probably matched the monthly mortgage payment. (It was an ex council house on an estate on the very edge)

But because the council houses were sold, house prices have gone up, now with private land lords it will cost the tax payer more. I’m not talking small houses, 4 bedrooms(1 which is a box room) big enough to fit in a double bed and furniture, large separate lounge and dinning room. These houses should have not been sold off!

For what the government pays out in housing benefit, they should have kept stock. Why pay stupid amount of housing benefit when the house its going to is over priced or something which was ex council!

The Labour and Tories only have themselves to blame on the cost of housing benefit, the cause and cost of housing.

I agree, housing benefit is a lot of money, to some extent too much, but again lets not look at who the tenant is but who the bloody owner is!

But again it seems to fit in with government, utter useless at getting a good deal and good at wasting tax payer money.

Housing in this country is just stupid. In a brand new local development, why pay £300k for a brand new SMALL three bedroom house when you could spend around £250k on a three bedroom bungalow with a bigger ground plot, likely a garage and off road parking built in the 60s around the corner? That is just stupid!

Paul R
Paul R
January 5, 2012 12:15 am

Oh and I do not expect housing benefit should be paid to people living in the really posh top class locations in London, its simple, you’ve been priced out. I would suggest we’d give them a free bus and train pass, but we all know how cheap they are nowdays….

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
January 6, 2012 2:46 pm

Ooh Ooh, fantasy Gubbimints! Can I join in?

“2) Scrap Child Benefit . .” Oh, yes we do. From a macro level the population (and therefore tax base) is only growing due to immigration. The problem is that there is an increasing number of illegal immigrants that slip past the the tax system due to lax border controls. Only a “citizenship amnesty”, compulsory Census and tying benefits (including non-emergency NHS care) to citizenship will cure this. If the working population shrinks or only “benefit scrounger” families have children, then the tax base would collapse starting a vicious circle of cost-cutting and further tax base reduction.

“4) Scrap local govt . . ” I agree that we have more than one layer of government that duplicates functions (something about our much vaunted “checks & balances”?). Actually I’d do it the otherway round. Sort of. Central Govt. spent £503b in 2011 while Local govt. spent £179b. so local govt. only spends 26% of the total. I’d devolve as many functions of government to local County authorities (but feel free to make Regional authorities to replace them) as possible (Policing, Education, Health), and have all tax gathering carried out at Local level, paving the way for local setting of Council, income and business taxes. That way local authorities would be able to attract inward investment and population movements directly by setting low taxes, or accurately reflect the cost of services by increasing taxes.

“5) Work for benefits essential . .” Verymuch agreed. But I’d call it “national service” – basically any central or local govt job that can be trained for in 6-12 months (street cleaners, hospital porters, clerks etc.) should be given to the unemployed in return for their benefits. The unions would complain, but but slowly introducing it via replacments for natural wastage it shouldn’t cost anyone their job. Will also reduce the pensions and payment burden (these ppl are on benefits not “being employed”). I definitly foresee some unintended consequences tho’

“We have too many small hospitals . .” Maybe get the Health Trusts to concentrate high end treatments and surgery at a few large “centres of excellence”, but Maternity, A&E, Recuperation and out-patient treatment are just the sort of thing that should be local. Either because you need to keep transit times low (A&E, Maternity), or visitors/out-patients don’t want to be inconvenienced by repeated long travel distances. Bring back “Cottage Hospitals” I say!

@John Hartley:
“Encourage more state schools to teach for GCSE Engineering.” Actually we need to rebalance the effort put into SEN – average – G&T pupils. Much of the effort is put into the SEN end of the spectrum (especially for badly behjaved kids, what a disincentive it is for most pupils in my Wife’s school when the Kids in the “unit” get to go to a restaraunt when they behave well, while the rest of the school struggles to put on any form of school trips), but not enough at the G&T end. Yet we rely on the G&T pupils to go to university and add value by being employed in British R&D and sutting edge Engineering companies.

@Chris B:
“Businesses don’t come here for the tax breaks . . ” Actually you’d be surprised. Youngs Foods have closed an factory in Cumbria because funding had dried up, Nestle are leaving Croydon for the same reasons. The sorts of companies that don’t come here for the tax breaks are the SME’s that have grown up in the UK. For those we need to make Taxation clearer and rmeove the “tax avoidance” grey area’s, mybe by setting business taxes high and allowing reductions for specific targets (less waste, WEEE recycling, Lower energy consumption etc.) that way the onus is on the companies to prove the reductions in tax that they need. Also, I’d put as much effort in stamping out corporate tax avoidance as we do Benefit Fraud – snd “name and shame” the big infringers!

“As for unemployment, the main problem . .” Someone on this thread has said that pupils should be given money to spend in an education “market”. While I disagree with that for KS1-KS4, for further and continuing ed. having a bunch of Education “crediuts” that you use to gain access to CFEE’s colleges and Tech. Colleges is a good idea (and one that the Lib. Dems. have banged on about for the past decade – but inexplicatbly forgotten about now they are in power). That way when (and nowadays is is increasingly *when*) you are made unemployed, you have the oppurtunity and access to re-training to help get another job. Just trying to get more “unskilled” jobs out there (apart from govt. jobs – see above) won’t work, as the minimum required living standard in the UK is too high to make such companies uncompetitive internationally. Also, I know a few people who “bunked off” for most of their school careers and, now they’ve been confronted with the awful truth of benefits and low-skilled work, are desparate to train themselves up and are highly motivated to do so.

“University Education . .” Agreed totally. We don’t want to stop people studying Medieval Literature at Oxbridge, but such “vanity courses” should be unfunded by the taxpayer. Taxpayer funding should be led by whatever professions we currently have an imminent “skills gap” in.

Also and Further,

I wouldn’t scrap DfID, but rather channel all non-emergancy funding into Commonwealth countries as part of a way to re0invigorate the Commonwealth. Also, I’d tie funding to specific goals (i.e. India gets £450mil – but only if they eradicate slums in 10 years). We could also have senior and junior members of the Commonwealth (Senior as in UK, Canada, SA, Australia) with the Senior members helping to direct policy, and bearing responsibility for the Junior members. Once a threshold is reached (democracy, living standards, low amounts of poverty etc.) then a junior member gets invited to the senior members club. Such a carrot method would work much better on states like Kenya and India who are aspirational, and who would see seing a senior member in anything as something to aim for. We could even open membership of the Commonwealth to new members!

The benefits system is definitely broken, as IXION, Chris B. and Phil have said. On another thread someone mentioned a citizen’s wage to replace all individual benefits (i.e. except carers allowance and Child Benefit) If you set it at minimum wage -10% then that should encourage people to take most jobs (until Labour come into power and up it to minimum wage level!) and streamline the benefits system.

As for renewable energy, I’ve always seen the utility for wind and solar as being “disruptive” technology. Rather than large scale projects undertaken by the energy companies, enabling solar and wind to tie into the grid on a personal scale would produce greater benefits, provide better resilience and the distributed nature of the power generation means that energy will be flowing into the Grid from soewhwere as it is rarely not sunny or windy *everwhere* in the UK. Having said that a backup of 25-30% nuclear/clean coal/stored energy is necessary to take into account usage spikes and dips in natural generation.

Finally, even though I regard myself as a Liberal (even a Radical), I see no use in the EU in its current incarnation. Free Trade Area? – yes, Common Border controls & harmonisation of Safety & Manufacturing standards? – yes, Centralised undemocratic super-state? – no! It’s one of the 3 reasons I stopped my party membership in 2006 (the others being Defence Policy and the scunner Campbell!).

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
January 6, 2012 2:52 pm

Update: “5) Work for benefits essential . .” Verymuch agreed. But I’d call it “national service” – basically any central or local govt job that can be trained for in 6-12 months (street cleaners, hospital porters, clerks etc.) should be given to the unemployed in return for their benefits. The unions would complain, but but slowly introducing it via replacments for natural wastage it shouldn’t cost anyone their job. Will also reduce the pensions and payment burden (these ppl are on benefits not “being employed”). I definitly foresee some unintended consequences tho’

Actually, if I were made Benevolent Dictator For Life, I’d make such a National Service scheme compulsory for all 18-22 year olds. That way the jobs would attract young adults with a range of skills and backgrounds. Some would be able to “stay on” or train further (SRN – Ward Sister, or care worker – supervisor) while everyone would get an experience of what it is like to do these, often thankless and menial jobs.

January 6, 2012 3:40 pm

““4) Scrap local govt . . ” I agree that we have more than one layer of government that duplicates functions (something about our much vaunted “checks & balances”?). Actually I’d do it the otherway round. Sort of. Central Govt. spent £503b in 2011 while Local govt. spent £179b. so local govt. only spends 26% of the total.”

Its actualy worse than that, because 80% of local government funds are grants from central government.
So only 5% of government spending is really local.
But even that isnt really local, because central government tells local government what to do, and councillors who object are sacked by “The Standards Board” and barred from standing for election again.

““Businesses don’t come here for the tax breaks . . ” Actually you’d be surprised. Youngs Foods have closed an factory in Cumbria because funding had dried up”
But thats the problem, “high tax and grant back” attracts only wasters, interested in claiming grants, “rent seeking”.
A serious business will go wheres theres a 10% tax burden, not where theres a raft of grants it can claim back in return for brown evelopes to the right mandarin.

““University Education . .” Agreed totally. We don’t want to stop people studying Medieval Literature at Oxbridge, but such “vanity courses” should be unfunded by the taxpayer. Taxpayer funding should be led by whatever professions we currently have an imminent “skills gap” in.”

But who gets to decide where theres a skills gap?
What Government Inspector with his clipboard and tick list would have green lighted iPad design in 1995?

“harmonisation of Safety & Manufacturing standards? – yes”

But the EU doesnt actualy decide those, for the most part, they are international standards that are simply passed into law by the EU, frequently in poor ways.
The icelandic air disaster was entirely an EU cock up. Once, a plane flew over an active volcano, it was virtualy sandblasted and nearly crashed. So an international warning system was set up, to warn pilots about active volcanoes so they could avoid the ash cloud in future. The EU over reacted, and decided to impose no fly zones, until it could be proven that the ash cloud was safe, but created no system with which to prove safety. In the end, the airlines just launched their planes from outside EUrope and handed a fait accompli to brussels.

January 6, 2012 3:55 pm

so when are you getting into power Dom?

i’ll be cheering you on!

January 6, 2012 6:20 pm

“We don’t want to stop people studying Medieval Literature at Oxbridge, but such “vanity courses” should be unfunded by the taxpayer”

I’ve bitten.

There is nothing “vanity” about an education in history. It teaches critical thinking (the main thing that this population lacks), it teaches research skills, it teaches argument, it teaches eloquence, it teaches inter-disciplinary subject. In short, it can produce a perfectly well educated individual who is armed with valuable and transferable skills and a mindset that questions and researches and seeks answers. This inverted snobbish thinking that we should all be praising plumbing and engineering courses is tedious. The country will not be a better place as a whole if we shit out lots of engineers and vocational folk.

Kids need to have a solid foundation in the 3Rs and critical thinking – critical thinking is, excuse the pun, critical. People must question, people must think, people must seek answers. It is not human nature so it must be taught and instilled and subjects like history and media studies that people take the piss out of teach that in spades.

So, a solid foundation in the 3Rs, a solid foundation in a foreign language, taught from primary school, a solid foundation in critical thinking skills, a solid foundation in religious studies and media studies and a solid foundation in the natural sciences, and then they can choose as they get older and focus more and more on what suits them, from vocational to Medieval Philosophy if they want.

What is also needed is a more coherant “Second Chance” where people who made the wrong choices when they were younger in A Level or Degree subject can get a subsidised second crack at a subject they have realised would be more useful to their circumstances.

January 6, 2012 6:30 pm

Now, I could stand on my soap box and rant about local government until I dropped dead. I could write a book on what I think is wrong with local government. Volumes even. Even the words make me angry.

But, a local authority of some sort IS needed. They undertake the minutiae of daily existence that has the most fundamental impact on people’s lives. They fix street lights, highways properties and works, waste disposal, trading standards, building control, development plans and planning applications. These are all utterly fundamental services and it makes sense for local units to deliver them as the localities are very different in characters and needs.

The trouble with local government is that is spends a huge amount of money (a lot of it funded by central and devolved government coffers) on pointless, stupid, inane services that the rest of the world does perfectly well without and which the evidence base for success is very low or non-existent.

These initiatives need to stop. The whole system needs a massive overhaul. The Government does not even know what legal obligations it has placed on local authorities, it has had to go cap in hand and ask people to think of them and from that database it wants to cut them down. So we have no idea what local government is supposed to be doing in its entirety and money that should be going to core services is being spent on politicised and pointless little programmes that become self justifying and I’m going to stop right there before I REALLY get going!

Local Government must exist. But its duties should be rolled back to core services with funding only allowed to be channelled to other schemes when the core duties are being discharged effectively and that will be decided on a qualitative basis, and not on poxy targets and PIs.

It’s hard, local government should have autonomy, but it also does stupid shit with its autonomy. Like the Labour councils who refused to put into place civil defence measures in the Cold War because they were anti-nuclear so the Government had to make them by passing the 1983 law and some still ignored it.

It’s not an easy question. But some Councils are just too big for their boots now and too self justifying. And smug.

January 6, 2012 6:34 pm

“Actually, if I were made Benevolent Dictator For Life, I’d make such a National Service scheme compulsory for all 18-22 year olds. ”

National Service, the solution to all our woes! The populist conception of National Service doesn’t take into account its enormous, budget busting cost, its huge tranches of almost untrainable soldiers who spent most of their time in jail, the delays in education, the interruption in the lives of perfectly normal and decent people and the philosophical problems of when a central government can force you to fight when the country is not in a state of war and needs defending from a livid and obvious threat of destruction.

January 6, 2012 9:37 pm

My experience of interacting with Local Government has been consistent with dealing with petty individuals, detached from reality, who are self serving and corrupt to the absolute core.

If I were the Benevolent Dictator then I would scrap the lot of them, replaced by centrally appointed administrators. Chose your name for them, Governors or whatever. They and their staff would be responsible for handling things like waste disposal etc.

No committees, no faffing about.

I also distrust all this talk of compulsory schemes. That sounds a lot like enforced labour to me, a route you absolutely don’t want to be going down. It would also throw a spanner in the works when all those people refused to work such hours and such jobs for such little pay, leaving a gaping hole in services as they effectively went on strike.

The government needs to do two simple things; actually help people find jobs and actually encourage employers to take on jobseekers.

A CV database of jobseekers, minus the names and addresses (give each CV a code which the employer then gives to the Job Centre) would be a start.

I also find it somewhat laughable that jobseekers are left to their own devices for 12 months before being offered the help of private companies to touch up their CV’s etc. Surely that aid should be provided right off the bat?

On to the NHS and I mostly agree with what people are saying about centralising some health care specialities while keeping some services (A&E, Maternity) on a more localised basis. At some point the extreme cost of GP’s also needs to be clawed back.

Again to Education, I just think certain courses have limited applicability in the real world. I’m not saying we should focus purely on engineering or things like that, but I do think there are a lot of courses that really ought to receive no government funding, while others are essentially made free. And yes, that includes Media Studies.

Dominic Johnson
January 6, 2012 10:36 pm

Standing again in May.
Last of my “nice” leaflets will be out this weekend (hopefully, rain dependant) then its 5 months of dirty tricks leaflets to utterly destroy labours vote.
My favourite plan so far is “Vicious Tory Cuts Exposed” in big red writing, and then a break down of all the spending increases, with “rent a gob” quotes. And of course, a breakdown of the local MPs wages for being a councillor, MP and his expenses, that sent them mental last year :)

I’m afraid I’m with Phil on Medieval Literature from Oxford, its Modern Literature from Bolton you;ve got to worry about.

The problem with local government is, it isnt local.
The average size of a local government in France, Germany and the United States is 10,000, its 180,000 over here.
We need local government, and it needs to be Democratic (frankly, it doesnt matter if the Libertarians or the Communists control your local council, they cant change anything)

I think some sort of National Service would be good, if your 18, dont have a job, and arent studying, you should at least be offered it as an option, pays just beer money, and at the end, you get a ford fiesta (or such) as a bonus, along with hopefully some sort of skill.
I know you all dont like my charecterisation of infantrymen as knuckle dragging idiots, but all the former infantrymen I know are(!) and all of them have pretty decent jobs because the army turned them from layabouts into people who could get up on time.

“Super Hospitals” are a monster.

January 6, 2012 10:54 pm

“The average size of a local government in France, Germany and the United States is 10,000, its 180,000 over here.”

As ever its a question of balance. Local Government in France was the other extreme, hyper local to use a modern phrase which I obviously despise. But that’s just too inefficient hence a lot of the units have amalgamated, officially or in union.

One needs to strike the right balance between size and efficiency and local conditions. Some things are not particularly efficient when centralised and scaled up, for example waste disposal – it’s a pretty local job organising the routes and lorries etc.

Trouble with local government is the fact that it is so specialised in its functions that a lot of people become managers simply by virtue of doing 10-15 years and get promoted to their level of incompetence. It’s chock full of self-important middle managers all doing some elaborate dance trying to seem useful. Wipe out 50% of the functions of my local authority and 90% wouldn’t notice, shut down waste disposal or highways and 99% would certainly notice and react forcefully in about 8 hours.

Super Hospitals – difficult but some specialities are better off concentrated. Go to a hospital specialising in cardiac medicine and you know you will see a cardiac specialist, in general hospitals, its best not to need a specialist at the weekend or after hours.

January 6, 2012 11:03 pm

“My experience of interacting with Local Government has been consistent with dealing with petty individuals, detached from reality, who are self serving and corrupt to the absolute core.”

I never realised we had spoken!

“A CV database of jobseekers, minus the names and addresses (give each CV a code which the employer then gives to the Job Centre) would be a start.”

Never will happen. Data protection is a HYPER sensitive concern, especially since that disk went missing with millions of details on it. No way will Government ever develop such a database, and if they did, it would be horrendous to use.

“Again to Education, I just think certain courses have limited applicability in the real world.”

Any rigorous education, no matter what in, is a wonder of the world and is what makes us civilised. It all comes together, there are very few courses out there that are probably useless. There are a lot more traditionally “useful” courses badly taught that accomplish nothing.

Education and learning is so much more than the subject.

Neglectful ignorance is humanity’s worst sin in my eyes.

I watched Afghans with a careful eye and I realised that most of their problems stem from their illiteracy and lack of critical thinking. They exist in a “natural” human state in an unnatural human environment. And it’s not a good place to be.

January 6, 2012 11:43 pm

@ DomincJ, re knuckle-dragging idiots.

The education starts with not invading Murmansk. Not in a billion scenarios is that ever an answer. Even I know that, and I failed the infantry suitability evaluation question (otherwise known as the recce / infantry selection test), namely “there’s enemy out there somewhere, now go and find them”.

January 7, 2012 12:30 am

It is of note that by many counters:

Most cost efficient
Beast health lifestyle support.
Most effective at spotting early signs of major and minor disease.



Which is entirely state controlled! It it also uses the local clinic with big central hospital model.

Chris B

Your not only right about dealing with local govt, try dealing with central govt!

Unfortunately that’s why the central database thingy is a non starter.

Govts are to IT projects are (as my old Gipsy Grandad use to say…

“About as much use as a thousand yards of chain to a drowning man”

January 7, 2012 12:42 am


I can’t even big to imagine what dealing with central government is like. It surely can’t be any worse.

@ Phil

The CV thing might be a job for the private sector. There are a lot of these job sites about now that allow employers to search prospective CVs. Surely the Job Centre couldn’t f**k that up….

Dominic Johnson
January 7, 2012 12:05 pm

Yeah, and tractor production is up 70%….

January 7, 2012 2:25 pm


Whilst ‘Facts’ are always up for questions, like who gathered them? Are they lying, are we comparing apples with apples? etc.

It isinternationally accepted that despite having the budget of a half decent news year eve party Cuba has very low rates of; and very high rates of detection in the early stages of; Cancer, Heart disease,and other chronic illnesses. It has many local clinics, almost one per street, everyone gets regular medicals, etc etc. It has been studies as a way forward for Western health care, you can imagine what the American right thought of it!

Sorry of it causes you Ideological pain.

Chris B

I recount this story of trying to book a professional visit to see a serving prisoner.

Me:- Tel the prison, given the number for the office that deals with such things.

I telephone that number – no reply after several attempts.

I telephone main Prison Number, they confirm that is the correct number.

I telephone again next day no reply after several attempts.

I telephone main prison number and complain about non response.

“Oh we know said the operator it’s their policy not to answer the telephone”!

I point out that is stupid and the response is

“That is the number for legal visits and the only one which we can give out”!

Me:- I ask them to put me through internally.

They refuse they are not allowed to do that.

I ask to speak to deputy governor responsible. He refuses to talk too me.

I write to deputy governor pointing out thsi stupidity.

He writes back explaining that if I wish to speak to prisoners I should call XXXXXXXXXXXX the same number I have been ringing.

I write back saying in effect ‘Balls’, and the Deputy governor confirms by return that ‘That department is experiencing IT difficulties and will not be able to answer calls for some time.
I write back requesting they call/ write to me with an appointment and perhaps an alternative number. I receive no reply.

In the meantime, time ticks on.

Client is produced at Crown court Judge tries to bollock me for not preparing defence.

I produce this pythonesque correspondance.

Judge goes purple and order his clerk to contact the governor immediately. Somehow Crown court judges tend to get their calls answered.

I am given an appointment to see the client the following week.

In the meantime I get a letter from the governor accusing me of trouble making! And if I need to speak to a prisoner all I have to do is call XXXXXXX –

You guessed it the number they are not answering!

That is just some of the dumb shit I have to put up with.

January 7, 2012 2:39 pm

Try talking to the Child Benefit Office. They are paranoid on a Stalinist level, especially since they lost their disk. They flat out will not deal with other Government agencies or local government agencies.

I’d love to see the actual physical office, I imagine it is behind a moat with searchlights and towers and more pat downs for CD ROMs as you leave work for the day than the Royal Mint.

Data Protection legislation in this country has outpaced the ability of Government to securely communicate with itself and local government. Both culturally and technologically (ie where the technology does exist, the culture is suspicious of it and will not use it or uses it in a bizarre technophobic manner).

And that makes for a nightmare.

El Sid
El Sid
January 7, 2012 3:15 pm

There’s been some meeja coverage of Jim Murphy talking about the £5bn of defence cuts that he would do if Labour were in power. I think this is his original article :


“National security is dependent on economic stability….we have identified £5bn worth of savings Labour would make within the MoD budget if in government. We prioritise non-frontline savings, but we are clear that some savings will need to come from the equipment programme and manpower…areas such as civil servant numbers, bonuses and allowances for senior officers and MoD restructuring where further savings can be found….The package includes cuts that now they have been taken cannot be reversed, for example a reduction in heavy artillery designed for another era and the cancellation of Nimrod”

It begs the obvious question, if you can see all these obvious cuts now – why the hell didn’t you cut the fat when you were in government and put the money into strike length tubes and proper sonar on T45 (or insert pet project here)?

And for all the headlines, the £5bn is obviously double counting some of the cuts already made in the SDSR. By implication it includes the loss of the carriers and Harriers. And he’s rather faint in his support of Nimrod – he implies that they would have cancelled it even if it hadn’t already been sent to the scrapyard, but he would have made more plans for a substitute. It all fits my theory that MRA4 was a complete clusterduck and everyone knew it, but noone had the balls to admit it and cancel it sooner.

El Sid
El Sid
January 7, 2012 5:11 pm

There’s a bit more detail here :


But the party cannot put an amount on these savings because the government has not released any figures. Murphy will do more work in this area, indicating that the £5bn figure could rise.

Murphy said of the £5bn of savings he would accept: “This is a through, forensic package which strengthens defence economic credibility and deals comprehensively with the idea that we oppose all cuts. The truth is the Labour party would have to make cuts if we were in power.

“Some of them are natural. We no longer face a threat of an invasion across the German plain. We don’t need those tank regiments. Others are painful, such as targeted reductions in some welfare programmes.”

But shadow defence secretary made clear that he would strongly oppose some cuts introduced in the government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of October 2010.

He said: “You have others [cuts] that we will strongly oppose. The idea that you cannot deploy an aircraft carrier with aeroplanes on it for a decade – whatever way you do the sums it doesn’t add up. It is not credible, it’s not popular, it is not sustainable, it doesn’t make sense. Across the world people are scratching their head at an island nation not being able to park an aircraft carrier off the coast of Libya.”

Murphy is to bring together a group of academics and defence experts next month to carry out a review Britain’s defence needs. This is designed to reassess the SDSR which has, according to Murphy, been overtaken by events. “When the government was doing its defence review it asked the wrong question. The question they asked was how much can they save rather than what is Britain’s role in the world. This led them to the conclusion to have an 8% year on year cut. They came up with the wrong response to the wrong question. What we are approaching on defence is to come up with a different answer to the right question.

“The government’s process has not survived the first contact with world events – the Arab spring, concerns about North Korea, heightened worries about Iran.

“An awful lot has changed in a short year. The government’s review already looks out of date in contrast to George Robertson’s [1998 strategic defence] review. Apart from the epoch changing events of 9/11 it remained strong and relevant. The government’s one was out of date within a few months.”

While Murphy accepts the scrapping of Nimrod, he was highly critical of the government for failing to replace the capability of the aircraft, which monitored the movements of Russian nuclear submarines.

“The government cut them up on live television. They treated probably the most expensive technically capable aircraft in our history like a second hand car. They just scrapped it and chopped it into pieces. What you can do is buy in a different kind of capability, possibly from the Americans, and refitting other airframes with some of the technology that would have been inside Nimrod.

Nimrod was the Rolls-Royce and it was treated like a secondhand car sent to scrap. Nimrod was an important part of the nuclear deterrent because it gave you the ability to know which other submarines were in the water when you were deploying your nuclear submarines.

“When they left the west coast of Scotland, you knew what was within a few hundred miles of them and what their unique signal would be. We would have filled the gap straight away,” he said.
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Latest 1 2 3 … 10 11 12 Next All thesliurge
5 January 2012 09:07PM
Surely the whole point of being in Opposition is you have to ‘oppose’ the Government?

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| Link nelson1980
5 January 2012 09:08PM
Only 13 years too late…

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| Link Gelion
5 January 2012 09:09PM
“Labour told to accept spending cuts to be credible”

Austerity is a hugely hypocritical POLITICAL settlement not an economic one. As I have just posted on the blog about infant class sizes and the lib dem council asking the government to relax the sizes.

“4 weeks ago Osborne came to the Dispatch box to tell everyone – the whole nation – about how austerity would be with us for years.

A week after he then gave out an average £210,000 bonus to 24,000 City workers in a bank owned 83% by the State.

Just 1 x £210,000 bonus could have paid for 10 teachers at £21,000 a year.”

You see? One rule for the rich and the bankers who give the Tories 50% of their party funds, and one rule for the majority who are paying for minority greed with austerity.

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| Link Strummered
5 January 2012 09:09PM
That’s rich coming from them – Shallow and temporary populism is all Cameron does, and fails miserably at that too.

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| Link eroica
5 January 2012 09:10PM
We need a fucking opposition.

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| Link stillangry
5 January 2012 09:10PM
So now that the 3 main parties are all thatcherite is there anyone who believes that this country is not completely fukced?

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| Link RickRick90
5 January 2012 09:10PM
It’s not credible to force the poor to pay for a crisis they didn’t cause.

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| Link LabourStoleMyCash
5 January 2012 09:12PM
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy tells the Guardian the party must reject ‘shallow and temporary’ populism

Wow! Even Dim Jim knows this and the rest cant figure it out.

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| Link dfr1980
5 January 2012 09:12PM
Maybe it’s my stupidity, but I thought there was a consensus in British, nay Western, politics, that cuts were neccessary. Labour’s line has been simply not to cut ‘too far and too fast’. I don’t think there’s anything new here.

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| Link kjee
5 January 2012 09:13PM
Methinks a plot is afoot..

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| Link dapperdanielle
5 January 2012 09:14PM
Credible to which group though?

Leaders of the finance industry? Big business?

Folk who live in the south-east – where there are still some jobs?

Or those who are afraid of losing jobs and houses, workers in the NHS watching the creeping privatization of hospitals and care?

The service personnel watching the award of private contracts and debasement of their service?

Or the disabled, sick and poor?

Exactly who will vote for Labour if they don’t make a stand against the selling off of this country and the scapegoating of the disadvantaged?

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| Link artpunx
5 January 2012 09:14PM
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy tells the Guardian the party must reject ‘shallow and temporary’ populism’

…is he not better off telling his party?

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| Link MrShigemitsu
5 January 2012 09:15PM
The Labour Party, in its present incarnation, is irrelevant.

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| Link IpswichMan
5 January 2012 09:15PM
Response to thesliurge, 5 January 2012 09:07PM
That doesn’t mean arguing that the sky isn’t blue.

Labour have to accept that cuts have to be made. They are perfectly entitled to disagree with where the Tories are making the cuts, and suggest how they themselves would do it were they in power.

Recommend? (98)
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| Link RedMiner
5 January 2012 09:15PM
Do these spending cuts include scrapping Iain Duncan Smith’s colossal vanity project, The Work Programme, costing 7 billion and rising to give Tesco and the like free workers at the tax payer’s expense, and predicted to have worse results than if it didn’t exist at all in finding the unemployed real jobs?

Recommend? (394)
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| Link LabourStoleMyCash
5 January 2012 09:15PM
He said: “You have others [cuts] that we will strongly oppose. The idea that you cannot deploy an aircraft carrier with aeroplanes on it for a decade – whatever way you do the sums it doesn’t add up. It is not credible, it’s not popular, it is not sustainable, it doesn’t make sense.

It makes economic sense Dim Jim. We use a French one…..stooooopid!

They use ours when they’re built. Saves lots, Dim Jim.

Recommend? (38)
Respond (3)
| Link clarkebond
5 January 2012 09:16PM
Response to thesliurge, 5 January 2012 09:07PM
You don’t have to oppose every single government proposal to oppose the government. This policy is sensible and shows that Labour won’t oppose everything for the sake of it.

Recommend? (59)
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| Link JeffoY
5 January 2012 09:16PM
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.
5 January 2012 09:16PM
Response to RickRick90, 5 January 2012 09:10PM
Except the poor aren’t paying for it. The taxpayer in general is. And the vast majority of tax is paid by the wealthiest 10%.

Recommend? (152)
Respond (3)
| Link ChanceyGardener
5 January 2012 09:16PM
the party must reject ‘shallow and temporary’ populism

Well that’s Ed’s strategy down the shitter then. Better come up with some real opposition policies.

Recommend? (104)
Respond (0)
| Link peterpuffin
5 January 2012 09:16PM
This follows on from Liam Byrne’s comments re benefits such as housing benefit and unemployment benefit; it is frankly unbelievable! Housing benefit for example benefits the LANDLORD.

Why does the Shadow Defence Secretary not stick to his job and set about re-defining our sphere of influence; we do not want to go EAST of Suez ! We should be prepared to defend Europe; and that is all !

Has he less guts than Macmillan ?

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Respond (1)
| Link clarkebond
5 January 2012 09:17PM
Response to LabourStoleMyCash, 5 January 2012 09:15PM
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.
5 January 2012 09:17PM
Response to thesliurge, 5 January 2012 09:07PM
True to a point, but not so far as to argue against the government when they suggest that the world is round.

Can’t see it happening myself mind – it’s far too easy to rant on about cuts in the expectation that the public won’t start blaming those who piled up the debt in the first place.

Recommend? (33)
Respond (0)
| Link Tonytoday
5 January 2012 09:18PM
As others have pointed out, what Murphy is saying reflects labour policy anyway. The cost of bailing out the banks has to be paid for somehow. However, the two main parties (I think we can forget about the LibDems for the forseeable future, possibly forever) can’t go into the next election just saying, “Hey, we can manage austerity better than those guys”. They’ve got to offer something to the public, most of whom will be pretty pissed off by that time.

Recommend? (56)
Respond (0)
| Link NTEightySix
5 January 2012 09:18PM
Wankers like this should accept that the BANKERS ought to be held accountable and that the public sector is being used as a diversion to prevent the greedy sods from paying up.

Recommend? (321)
Respond (2)
| Link JeffoY
5 January 2012 09:18PM
Response to LabourStoleMyCash, 5 January 2012 09:15PM
Your username has become hilariously ironic.

Recommend? (118)
Respond (0)
| Link IpswichMan
5 January 2012 09:18PM
Response to Gelion, 5 January 2012 09:09PM
Erm, Osborne doesn’t own the banks, nor does he give out bonuses. Nor does he have the power to stop banks paying bonuses.

When Labour bailed the banks out they had the power to set terms. So blame them.

In any case, it’s an irrelevence.

Recommend? (210)
Respond (4)
| Link SkintAndDemoralised
5 January 2012 09:19PM
Nu Labour have nowhere to go. They are now a neo-liberal party who are so similar to the conservatives, and so discredited given their record in office that they can’t offer a viable opposition.

If they are carrying neo-liberal tools like Murphy they will never provide any realistic sort of opposition to the coalition. A clear out is required, but I suspect that as Milibean and Balls and the rest of the leadership are cut from the same cloth as Blair and Brown they won’t have the guts to change anything.

Recommend? (163)
Respond (1)
| Link Fbayes
5 January 2012 09:19PM
Obviously there needs to be some cuts, Labour is playing a dangerous game by not announcing any cuts what so ever. How ever there is a very valid point, it is that the cuts are not working and they will cause another recession.

For all the talk about how the Coalition saved Britain from turning into Greece, that remains to be seen. They keep cutting and cutting and their economy keeps shrinking and shrinking. The same will happen here, just not on such a drastic scale.

Britain needs an effective opposition to stand up to this government, otherwise we will stagnate for years like the Japanese.

Recommend? (51)
Respond (0)
| Link SuperClive
5 January 2012 09:22PM
Ah, Jim Murphy, the NUS leader who went on to help impose tuition fees on students. Lovely to hear him talk about credibility there.

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| Link clarkebond
5 January 2012 09:23PM
Response to SkintAndDemoralised, 5 January 2012 09:19PM
What alternative would you propose?

Recommend? (13)
Respond (0)
| Link PeleMcAmble
5 January 2012 09:23PM
Opposition is a great place to be – meal ticket assured and you can rock the boat as much as you like. And of course, you can always take the moral high ground whenever and you never have to make difficult decisions..

If Labour cared about the working class of this nation it would have got its act together by now. It needs proper policies not the likes of Murphy and Lord Glasman spouting off to newspapers for their own personal esteem. The best current example of those who love opposition is of course Diane Abbott. Claire Short was another and she even hankered for opposition when she was a government minister.

I really do despair about Labour these days. They seem to enjoy opposition more than power.

Recommend? (61)
Respond (1)
5 January 2012 09:24PM
The Conservative Coalition cuts are daily damaging Britain’s economy.

Murphy needs to explain why his cuts are different, who they will affect, and how the wealthy really will shoulder their fair share of the bankers’ debts.

Recommend? (84)
Respond (0)
| Link Volvobollox
5 January 2012 09:24PM
Ed Balls’ argument “too hard, too fast” is perfectly credible. The speed and ferocity of these cuts are purely down to Tory ideology (the sort where John Redwood says it “makes people more Tory”).

Black Labour? Jesus wept.

Recommend? (99)
Respond (2)
| Link LabourStoleMyCash
5 January 2012 09:25PM
Across the world people are scratching their head at an island nation not being able to park an aircraft carrier off the coast of Libya

So Jim “Dim” Murphy (5 watts) dosent know that we have access to the only nuclear powered carrier outside the US Navy.


Recommend? (24)
Respond (2)
| Link CaptSensible
5 January 2012 09:25PM
But if the Labour party, so heroically led by adenoidal Ed rejects ‘shallow and temporary populism’, the cupboard will be pretty bare…

Recommend? (43)
Respond (0)
| Link realisscum
5 January 2012 09:26PM
Response to Gelion, 5 January 2012 09:09PM
How much were bank bonuses in 2009 when Brown went through his charade of imposing a 50% ‘supertax’ along with a knowing wink that it’d be ok to go ahead and double them? Where were you then?

Recommend? (67)
Respond (1)
| Link peterpuffin
5 January 2012 09:28PM
Surely Labour should be redefining Blair’s interventionism; we can’t afford these adventures and they are deeply mistaken.

Afghanistan will revert to Afghanistan in 2014. Iraq is traumatised by the waste of trillions of dollars.

Redefine the scope of our foreign policy and then define the military. The British people are sick of “Our Boys” dying on far off fields.

Promise to bring them home.

Recommend? (82)
Respond (0)
| Link DJT1Million
5 January 2012 09:28PM
More rubbish telling the Labour Party that it has to be even more like New Labour/the Conservatives to be relevant. Tempted to use the word ‘bollocks’ however will take a deep breath and respond politely……..none of the mainstream parties are addressing the real problems we are facing as all fail to see beyond the economic orthodoxy introduced in the 1980s by Mme Thatcher and her ilk. It’s failed, the problems created are getting worse and yet we are being told that even more of the same rubbish policies that caused the problems we are living with are the solution.

….and breathe……I’m so sick of this propaganda being pushed at us day by day. Doesn’t matter if we read the Daily Mail or The Guardian it’s the same rubbish.

Recommend? (184)
Respond (1)
| Link Fbayes
5 January 2012 09:29PM
Response to LabourStoleMyCash, 5 January 2012 09:25PM
How many monkeys do you have to come up with these gags for you?

Recommend? (62)
Respond (1)
| Link Yorkmackem
5 January 2012 09:29PM
“Murphy limited his remarks to his defence brief.”

So we have a shadow minister accepting cuts on defence policy only. But true to form, the Guardian spins this into a dig against Labour’s opposition to cuts across the board.

On top of today’s earlier Clegg love-in, this is just laughable.

Recommend? (81)
Respond (0)
| Link bill4me
5 January 2012 09:30PM
Response to Volvobollox, 5 January 2012 09:24PM
There is only one tiny wee snaglet in your argument.

There has been no cut in Government expenditure. Indeed, it’s risen month by month, every month, since the election.

Recommend? (112)
Respond (2)
| Link realisscum
5 January 2012 09:31PM
Response to Volvobollox, 5 January 2012 09:24PM
Black Labour? Jesus wept.

1. Ed Balls will say ‘too far, too fast’ no matter what the pace of cuts. Maybe he’s remembering Gordon’s anguished cries with that soundbite.

2. Black Labour – do they go in for ‘divide and conquer’, or was that just the white variety?

Recommend? (43)
Respond (0)
| Link TeaJunkie
5 January 2012 09:32PM
Is there really much point in voting any more?

Recommend? (86)
Respond (1)
| Link GreenAlzo
5 January 2012 09:32PM
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.
5 January 2012 09:32PM
Response to IpswichMan, 5 January 2012 09:18PM
…so why the fuck do we bother to vote?!

Recommend? (28)
Respond (1)
| Link LabourStoleMyCash
5 January 2012 09:33PM
Response to Fbayes, 5 January 2012 09:29PM
How many monkeys do you have to come up with these gags for you?

Only one. Dim Jim supplies the raw material.

Recommend? (39)
Respond (1)
| Link tiredofwhiners
5 January 2012 09:33PM
Response to dapperdanielle, 5 January 2012 09:14PM
Exactly who will vote for Labour if they don’t make a stand against the selling off of this country and the scapegoating of the disadvantaged?

You win elections by getting more votes/seats areas as the legal system is set up. That means not doing the ‘right thing’ but doing the thing that gets you the most votes. I am pretty much sure what is ‘right’ in your mind in ‘wrong’ in mine. This is why Michael Foot was unelectable (extreme Left wing not job working for the Russians) and why the BNP will never get in (extreme right wing who may have some point to make but the British in general would never vote for them in numbers as they have too many looney divisive policies).

So, as a lot of the people of this country are all for “scapegoating of the disadvantaged’ as you describe it but in our eyes , for right of for wrong do not see the disabled, but see the disabled welfare cheats in abundance, we do not see the genuinely unemployed but see the lifestyle choice spongers protected by the Guardian readership, we do not see the families trying to make end meets on welfare credits but see the payment of £40,000 in home rentals in Kensington to immigrant non-working families ……. and the story goes on, we will never vote for those who protect the sort of spongers, cheats and illegal immigrants whom Labour has protected and positively encouraged over the last 13 years.

Until Labour stop defending the indefensible and start playing majority politics again, they will never get back in power.

To do that, they will have to rein in the Unions so they stop looking like MIchael Foot all over again as the middle earners in the UK are only interested in a party which tries to support them, and don’t really care about Bankers getting away with getting paid too much as thats an aspiration for everyone, but do have a real objection to spongers, cheats and welfare claimants who do nothing for their money.

Just my opinion of course.

Recommend? (50)
Respond (3)
| Link DJT1Million
5 January 2012 09:33PM
Response to IpswichMan, 5 January 2012 09:16PM
Good grief. The poorest taxpayers are paying a much higher percentage of their income than the ‘richest’ taxpayers and are, in addition, being hit by cuts that mean little or nothing to those self same richest taxpayers (tax avoiders more like). Your comment is an insult to the working people of our nation that are having their living standards and opportunities hammered by this God Forsaken coalition. Get a grip please.

Recommend? (171)
Respond (1)
| Link bestie59
5 January 2012 09:36PM
Spud Murphy! Can anyone believe how low the Labour party has sunk when this specimen is part of the front bench.
You and your party can buy into this austerity crap all you like.
Not for me thanks.
This country really is well and truly finished, all politicians are singing from the same hymn sheet and the penny has not yet dropped for the masses they are are heading towards destitution.
Unbelievable there is no fightback in this country, Dave and Gideon have a spring in their step and the working man thinks its all the fault of Bob Crow.
Its so sad its laughable.

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Related information
UK news
Public sector cuts · Public finance · Public services policy
Economic policy · Labour · Defence policy · Jim Murphy · Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband orders review of Scottish Labour party

11 May 2011

Labour leader puts former Scottish secretary Jim Murphy in charge of review following party’s disastrous showing in the Holyrood elections last week

14 Sep 2011

Labour party maps out a purple path to power

29 Mar 2011

Libya rebels’ ambitions needs to be clear, Labour to warn

1 Dec 2011

Labour urged to stop dithering over deficit reduction

23 Jul 2010

If Labour can’t fight social injustice, what’s it all for?

UK risks ‘state of ambivalence’ on defence, warns Labour’s Jim Murphy

3 Mar 2011

Shadow defence secretary says UK must retain proactive, strong defence policy to protect its interests and values

” £2bn over 10 years by accepting the scrapping of the Nimrod MR4 surveillance aircraft.

• £900m over 10 years by making efficiencies in the Trident renewal programme through the submarine enterprise performance programme.

• A one-off saving of £350m from rationalising the defence estate.

• £205m by making cuts to civilian allowances. This will involve more means testing as the forces’ welfare budget is targeted more effectively at members of the armed forces earning less than £20,000.

• An initial £35m by reducing tank regiments.”

“Some of them are natural. We no longer face a threat of an invasion across the German plain. We don’t need those tank regiments.”

Could someone tell me how the threat of an invasion “across the German plain” is any less likely now than in 2010? Or in 1997 for that matter.

January 7, 2012 5:19 pm

el sid i think you need to tidy up your post it’s a bit hard to read.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
January 9, 2012 1:10 pm

Umm, El Sid. Maybe you shouldn’t have clicked on “select all” when copying and pasting out of a round robin email! :-)
Still we’ve all done it. Repeat after me “Data Security is . . .”

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
January 9, 2012 2:08 pm

Think Defence Rant 09-01-12:

Wow, what a response, I post a comment on a Friday, and by Monday the threads all lit up! :-)

@DomJ, Phil Chris.B: Local government, not complaining with your arguments. Whith this situation there are always 2 ways to go. Centralise everything and impose order from the top down (like the EU), or decntralise as much as possible and allow “citizen power” to create the structure (like Keynes and other distributists). Dom, you are obviously True Blue – where as I am Liberal Yellow, we’ll just have to agree to keep the debate clean and friendly :-)

Re. tax breaks – the problem is that within the EU, there is very little difference in skills and employability. There are justifiable areas of excellence in all of the 27 EU member-states, so if UK didn’t offer tax-breaks (or Urban Develpment Zones, or Development Corporations, or what ever this next batch are going to be called), then international business will go with the cheapest EU labour market and simply import to the UK (and there is free-trade amongst EU partners). What the government should be doing (ANY government), is encouraging the startups and SME’s. If those can develop and flourish, then they’ll be the next generation of multi-nationals, and be big and nasty enough to do without govt. help.

Re. Education: @Phil, actually I agree with you. Unfortunately yerars of Nat. Curriculum at KS 1-4 has resulted in “Teaching to Target”, and not encouraging Critical Thinking (your words), or an enthusaism for learning (my words). I learned about the ECW because school only taught about the Great Fire of London (with a passing mention of the Restoration), most of the truly interesing stuff I learned about has been a “filling in the gaps” of my knowledge around what I was taught in school. Not everone is like this, I deal with people on an IT helpdesk who are intelligent human beings, yet only know “as far as their job requires them” regarding computers because they have no interest in “filling in the gaps” even where it would have helped them self-diagnose an IT problem and give them a confidence boost into the bargain. The problem is, how to teach “critial thinking/enthusaism for learning” and then testing the teaching effectiveness.

Re. University courses. @DomJ. some should be obvious (such as Applied Klingon Linguistics), but doesn’t the government publish lists of professions where posts erent being filled (or candidates having to be brought in from abroad)? It’ll be reactive, but it’d be a start?

@Phil: Agree very much on your “second chance”, see my original post – some sort of coherent strategy for citizen’s continuing education and re-training will be a “very good thing”TM, in the “agile” jobs market we currently find ourselves in. Of course, I’m fully expecting DomJ to come back and say that each of us should be ferreting away funds to hedge against this inevitable occurance! ;-)

@Phil: It gets my back up when people refer to local government in this way. There are 4 levels of government (Parish, Borough, County & National), I’m a Parish councillor, and as fun as it is sitting in on an episode of the Vicar of Dibley, it’s frustrating as the next levels up seem to have departments dedicated to telling us “no” in our requests for pot-hole filling/street lamp replacement/gully emptying. And then there’s our National Parks Authority sticking it’s nose in too, it all seems as though everyone is sniping at everyone else a lot of the time. Oh, and I work for the most cost efficient County Council in England, there’s been a marked reduction in “community projects”, “Local facilitators” etc. since Labour left power.

@Phil: National Service – no, not national *military* service, though Martin would probably like to reintroduce something like it as part of his Grand Strategy series of posts, but national *government* service – to do the jobs our press seem to think are always going begging to recent immigrants, to give normal people a feeling of what it is *like* to have to clean streets, care for the inform and elderly, issue parking tickets etc. I hope it would instill a sense of sympathy for those who do the jobs and some restraint when as a member of public you deal with them. Also, if you are in a government service for “the duration” you become institutionalised into the way it works, and gradually all the initiatives andquality leaders and other s**t targets seem normal. Only the new inductees or the strong willed seem to notice anything is wierd, so more “fresh meat” passing though should enable changes to e highlighted more easily.

January 9, 2012 9:20 pm

“@DomJ, Phil Chris.B: Local government, not complaining with your arguments. Whith this situation there are always 2 ways to go. Centralise everything and impose order from the top down (like the EU), or decntralise as much as possible and allow “citizen power” to create the structure (like Keynes and other distributists).”

The answer must be something in the middle. I am not keen on Local Authorities (and Parish Councils) being run from the centre to a great degree. They are, after all, Local Authorities. But neither can they be completely autonomous since they are responsible for upholding certain national standards (building control, food safety etc) and administering national policies (housing benefit etc). What is needed is a clean slate of legal obligations for LAs, pare them back to core requirements built around the more fundamental roles of the authorities like building control, waste disposal, trading standards, highways properties and works and then audit these functions in a qualitative manner, ie not by establishing numerical performance indicators. Then any further crackpot functions they wish to crack on with they can. Perhaps a Discretionary Central Grant awarded to every LA and they can do what they want with the money as long as they are accountable. These are all random ideas. But I think the key is strong core performance, audited by the centre and then autonomy in other matters as directed by the Council and scrutinised.

“Not everone is like this, I deal with people on an IT helpdesk who are intelligent human beings, yet only know “as far as their job requires them””

I hear ya brother! I come across people like this all the time, in fact I have them as my bosses. Done the job for 20 years and can robotically perform the role but they have a shocking lack of general education and a shocking level of ignorance. As you say, they have not filled in the gaps and when these people start to become managers this knowledge gap really starts to gape dramatically. The whole, I learned from the University of Hard Knocks, Earned my Spurs nonsense is just that and this attitude harms LA management and probably management in general. A good leader / manager needs a good level of general knowledge, critical thinking skills, research skills and a desire to continue learning. You need theory as well as experience, both can feed the other.

The Second Chance thing – I am not sure how it would work but I think it is needed. I know I made a mistake in choosing my University subject, but then I was 18 years old, completely clueless and worse, obviously didn’t think for a moment I was clueless. I am lucky in that my Afghan tour has allowed me to fund a MSc in a more useful subject but plenty of others with great potential are stuck because they can’t afford to re-train. And I am not talking about all these NVQs etc, I mean a proper, rigorous, in-depth and challenging course at degree or masters level.

“@Phil: It gets my back up when people refer to local government in this way.”

Yes but you don’t have much money so you can’t cause much trouble! In all seriousness, at this level to my knowledge the problems and solutions are very practical – there is a minimum of money and thus a minimum of jargon and new initiatives, just plain, simple hard work.

National Service – Is there any evidence these schemes are cost effective and achieve anything? Unless it is compulsory I can’t see it being. I am all up for making Jobseekers earn their crust but then you have the problem that they are supposed to be full time Jobseeking. Plus, it smacks very much of inter-war Germany such a scheme. I know that was a long time ago but the idea still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

January 10, 2012 6:12 am

@ Dangerous Dave,

Let me share with you my example of interacting with the local town council just to give you an idea of why I despise local government.

A new parking initiative was introduced in my town. The initiative was to stop people from parking on pavements outside their home, a perfectly normal thing around these parts. The reason sited was “complaints” about women with push chairs having to sometimes walk out into the road because there wasn’t enough room, a fact that completely ignores the unwritten and strictly adhered to residents law (almost like a social concious) of “we’ll park on the pavement this side, you park in the road on that side, that way there’s always a free path”.

Two warnings first, then an £80 fine for each additional offence.

So was any new parking created to compensate? No. Was the council parking that did exist made free for residents? No, of course not.

Did it affect any of the councillars? Take a guess. They all had off street parking, except in the case of the Council leader… who had a small shop opposite HER (important later, just wait) and thus no worries.

It then transpires that the “complaints” could be counted on two fingers. One of the complaints was made by a woman complaining that she had difficulty getting round to her mothers house with her push chair.

Now I’ll give you three fucking guesses as to who the mother was.

That’s why I don’t like local councils, because time and again we see examples of what is essentially corruption.

And if it’s not corruption then it’s simple incompetence. Take the businessesman in Colchester who was forced to remove a sign from outside his shop because it didn’t fit into the “look” of the town.

It was a white sign, with plain blue writing on it. Nothing special or artistic. Just his business name, the address and the Telephone/fax numbers.

This is what I most take umbrage with, petty minded twats who are supposed to be representing local people and being considerate to their needs, instead causing disruption to the everyday running of towns and cities by meddling with those things that do not appeal to their own sensibilities.

I crave the day when we can strip away the extra layers of government found at the lowest levels and take the power out of the hands of small committees of meddling bastards like those that seem to infect Essex, and coincedentally all of the councils to which my relatives and friends come under.

It could be different elsewhere and maybe we’re just unlucky, but I strongly doubt that.

But anytime you want to sit down and chat about the ECW over a glass of Amaretto, now you’ve got my attention. Could yap for days about that.

Again though it comes back to a question of central control over local, in this case education. The theory behind local is that you’re supposed to give people flexibility to teach what they like. But then important subjects get missed out, like the ECW and how it changed our country forever.

At least a strict central curriculum, if done right, would provide a uniform level of education about important subjects. You need not have central lesson plans or anything that rigid, just a uniform national curriculum.

Now a question; why are their multiple exam bodies? Surely there should just be one exam body that issues the same exams to all schools, so that a GCSE means the same nationwide?

And finally, National Service.
While I can see what many posters desire from a national service scheme and while the aims seem very admirable, I absolutely cannot support any scheme that imposes on peoples personal freedom in such a severe manner.

Now I’m not an idealist and I accept that we need a raft of certain laws and measures in place in order to maintain the common good, but I absolutely think forced labour (national service) can’t be one of them, except in situations of absolutely dire national straits (WW3).

January 10, 2012 8:33 am

I understand the disdain, but you cannot expect councils to act responsibly if they are given no responsibility.

I very much understand DomJ’s argument that local councils have very little funding they themselves raise and spend, and even less leeway on spending what central government allocates to them.