A Collection of Broken Down Ships

The Daily Mail has published extracts, and it must be said, chosen to selectively quote, Vice Admiral Simon Lister, Chief Naval Engineering Officer

The Daily Mail story is here

And the Naval Engineer, from which it is quoting, is here

I will let you compare the two but the MoD’s response which could be characterised by ‘well, everyone has skill shortages’ seems complacent at best.

H/T Mark

 

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Jack
Jack
May 25, 2014 4:29 pm

Its the Daily Fail, say no more.

The Limey
The Limey
May 25, 2014 11:21 pm

The linked edition of The Naval Engineer has a very interesting article about why the Type 26 is not getting IEP, which I know had been commented on with surprise on a few threads here.

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
May 26, 2014 6:34 am

Its this sort of headline that has given UKIP such a field day. I wrote to my MP about why we were cutting our defence budget whilst at the same time increasing overseas aid. His response (and he was a Minister at the time) was that it increased the safety of the UK.

Make what you will over that.

Peter Elliott
May 26, 2014 6:50 am

Also a good article about an engine change in Illustrious in Dubai. Which is both good and bad. Good that we have the skills to do that out there in just a few days. Bad that some essential items had to be flown out becuase they had not been carrried on board.

I take the ‘doom and gloom’ section at the beginning of the leading article as essential scene setting from a man looking to push through a programme of reforms. Unless he acknowledges the current reality with a degree of honest he’s never going to get the buy-in he needs from those below him. Of course we might argue that the real problem lies above, in those who set the budgets. Hopefully they won’t blame him for the bad publicity and instead back him up in the work that he is doing.

I doubt the article was deliberately placed in the ‘Fail’ by him or his friends. Probably the Naval Engineer piece was passed on by a disgruntled lower rate. But it may not do any harm long term if it makes the politicians more aware of risks attached to defence ‘savings’.

Chris
Chris
May 26, 2014 8:07 am

Its a while now since Theodore Roosevelt said the right way to conduct foreign policy was to speak softly but carry a big stick. Political Correctness, a disease that only afflicts Western-minded states, doesn’t like the concept of threatening anyone with a big stick, so now we must all speak softly and hope. Not that politicians are concerned; speaking softly is vastly cheaper than running a properly credible military which frees up lots of Treasury funds for the more vote-winning projects, and in any case because all parties* have convinced themselves the most Politically Correct wins the most votes, there is no fear of any competitor criticizing levels of Aid spending vs. Defence. Win win for the politico.

I watch with mild despair the contorted world of business competition. (Bear with me it is sort of relevant.) For example. Years ago I could buy razors with one sharp steel blade in them, a system that worked well on the contours under the stubble. Then one of the companies put two blades really close together and proclaimed a better shave resulted – well possibly over the flatter contours but not in the corners. But corporate competition was engaged and each manufacturer brought out razors with more blades than the other in a mad game of one-upmanship. Now there are razors with five blades requiring all skin to be convex because the corners under the nose or by the ears are ripped to shreds by the outer blades while trying to press the 1/4 inch wide set of blades into the corner. Completely useless, and only exist because the marketeers are trying to beat the competition. Doing a good job as a tool has long since ceased to be important. The same with soft soft soft toilet paper that dissolves to paste on the first contact with anything damp, with banks trying to outdo each others’ obscene wage & bonus packages to prove they are the wealthiest and most committed to retaining ‘the best people’, and soon with fridge manufacturers outdoing the competition with integration of their dumb white goods with the internet (why??) The customer in each case has become irrelevant in the much more serious world of corporate competitive one-upmanship.

Why was that relevant? Because the Political Parties engage in exactly the same games. One party’s MP is found with his hand in the till, suddenly there’s a witch-hunt to prove the other party is just as bad. To be truthful, the good public would prefer to hear from the party concerned that the miscreant had been appropriately dealt with, that the system was fixed and that enforcement of proper conduct was strengthened – not listen to party mouthpieces bawling at each other ‘But the fact is the Gentleman opposite can’t criticize us when he has no control of his own party! He just doesn’t get it!’ Well that fixed the problem then. Personally I couldn’t give a fig what Party A thinks of Party B. Its pathetic and truly irrelevant. The elected MPs, Government and opposition, should be putting effort into running the country as best as they can, not running down the vacuous personalities opposite. In my opinion.

The defence budget in peace-time will always be a soft target. Spend on schools and benefits and the health service directly affect lives of every voter, where defence spending affects those directly funded by it and few others. Only when there is a sudden urgent need for defence (and where the lack of it would directly put people’s safety or wealth at risk) will the public see the value of a well maintained military. And despite the fine work done by the forces in Iraq the Balkans and Afghanistan, none of these were to repel impending invasion; for most of the population the military involvement was remote and probably unnecessary. There is little incentive for politicians to move funds from popular social spending to the divisive not very PC defence budget (not that anyone could accuse any politician of being more concerned about votes than national interest of course). Quite where the love-in for the overpriced trainset fits I don’t know.

So no surprise here that the MP stated Aid was more effective than Defence in the cause of national security. Entirely on-message. Entirely wrong, but its all about the votes, you know?

*Well not quite all parties. As this week showed: UKIP, a party of limited detail when it comes to costed policies for running the country, has campaigned without overbearance of careful political correctness. Its made some gaffs. Some of its candidates have embarrassed themselves and UKIP. And yet lots of people voted for them. I suspect at least part of the reason is because of the refreshing lack of inter-party insults and derision (I can’t recall a UKIP statement focusing on other parties’ inadequacies); perhaps uniquely in modern times this is a bunch that have said ‘Look. These are our aims. Here are the reasons why we have them. If you agree with us then vote for us, if you don’t then that’s fine vote for one of the other lot.’ I’ll be interested to see if this ‘we believe this is right for the country’ approach survives into a costed manifesto and if so, what they say they can afford to do for UK defence.

Daniel Hodges
Daniel Hodges
May 26, 2014 8:43 am

I will say this once and never comment again about it we in europe have fought 2 world wars the last one because of right wing neofacist and all because the good and honest let there fears get the better of them i know see this happening now anyone who votes ukip is voting for a neo facist party and this will bring a world war 3 about if it looks like ukip get in power at west minster i will activley support a west midlands indepentant move to leave the uk and become indepent of the facist if that means taking up arms to defend said indepentant state then so be it

x
x
May 26, 2014 10:06 am

@ Daniel Hodges

I think you will find fascism is a socialist political creed; large government, control of all aspects of society, all a nation’s resources harness towards supporting national advancement in all spheres, and a desire to export their system to other nations. Really terms like right or left wing are a bit too broad. If socialism is left wing, an extreme example being Stalinist Soviet Union, and compare the characteristics as I listed with the characteristics of National Socialist Germany you can hardly say the latter is the diametric opposite. It is hardly small government, socially conservative balanced against personal freedom, freedom to keep the rewards of your labour, and a distinct predisposition to not interfere in the affairs of others’ home and states. Unfortunately humanity is innately gregarious, we are tribal, and though nobody professes to liking to be lead most will actually naturally defer to leaders, be they formal or natural which leads to all human society basically being a hierarchy in structure. Lastly we are all programmed to accrue resources and the easier it is to accrue those resources the more we feel entitled to them and even not to question us having them. That is why our leaders tend to feather their own nests in power. An entitle elite is dangerous. As Jefferson said “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.” The EU doesn’t fear the people actually it has probably gone beyond contempt of the peoples of Europe. Humanity is not yet at a position in its evolution to put to one side differences, it is getting there, but not for a long time will a human be a human. Trying to impose an order, as socialism does, leads to sense of disconnect in the individual. Culturally we are European but our preference is still to be with our own. We live for example in a age where we have freedom of movement within Europe. Legally I am as much a citizen of Spain as I am of Poland. Yet how many do you know who have emigrated (to work and live, not retire) have gone to Europe? And how many have left for New Zealand, Australia, Canada, or the US. I have people in all those places. Culturally Europeans share a lot, but they also share many differences, and those with tribalism, and distrust of the other drive behaviour as much as the similarities. To purely see Europe in broad political terms, and worse incorrectly attribute and ignore characteristics of those political systems, isn’t right. The West attacks Putin for his behaviour, yet he is behaving no differently than Soviet’s behaved, who behaved no differently than the tzars; because culture and geography drive society. The Chinese are behaving like Chinese. The EU’s problem is lacks those foundations, Europe is still too diverse, and when in the past there have been pan-Europe structures they have eventually failed. And in modern times from the Reformation onwards we have sat looked in, able to intervene when we need, and then retreat across the sea. Taking part in NATO was natural. Common enemy. Easily defined task. Indeed we shouldered more of the responsibility that the Europe themselves. The EU is not natural. Ill defined purposes. And we shoulder more than much of the load than many European states. The EU is bound to fail without a natural centre of gravity. Certainly London will never be that centre and while our political elites think they can compete with French political guile and German economic might to steer Europe then we will always be in trouble. That our influence in terms of soft power world wide surpasses that of Germany and France is something that should be considered.

Um. Basically I think what you have posted is pure rhubarb. But I will defend you right to rhubarb. And perhaps a big dollop of custard too. :)

x
x
May 26, 2014 10:38 am

“”If Germany has become the economic heart of Europe, through the incompetence and weakness of our leaders, then France has been and will be the political heart of Europe.” – Marine Le Pen

If you get my drift. :)

mike
mike
May 26, 2014 10:55 am

Elliot

“Bad that some essential items had to be flown out becuase they had not been carrried on board.”

Actually happens fairly frequently (more so with shrinking numbers of a class of ship), when I was at Lyneham, almost once a week a herc would quietly lift off with parts bound for some location for some RN ship, from engine parts to weapons…. to sonar cable to replace that damaged by a wayward Spanish fishing boat :I

Dubai is one of our frequent ports for that AOR, fairly standard.

Daniel Hodges
Daniel Hodges
May 26, 2014 10:57 am

@x

Thank you for defending my rubarb and my right to rubarb and i agree europe is at a cross roads and much talking as were we fit in to that is needed but that does not change my view to what kind of party ukip are and yes x i will defend your right to rubarb and big dollops of custard to

Challenger
Challenger
May 26, 2014 11:06 am

On the one hand the RN has an increasingly ageing fleet with capital ships, submarines and frigates all either reaching the end of their planned service life’s or already way past them which means in the cold light of day break-downs and frequent repairs should be expected. I mean in the mid 1990’s the plan by 2014 would have been to have had a class of carriers to replace the Invincible’s already in service, the Swiftsure’s supplanted by the Astute’s with another batch well on the way to take over from the Trafalgars, 12 Type 45’s approaching full operating capability and some sort of Future Surface Combatant being steadily churned out to replace the frigate force.

On the other hand the ability of the RN to conduct serious replacement/repair jobs far away from home and compared to most naval services actually keep a large proportion of it’s assets deployed at sea when it’s faced with an increasingly ageing fleet is something which (although still a concern and not at all acceptable) I think should be and in many circles probably is admired.

Mark
Mark
May 26, 2014 11:21 am

When these stories come out and over the years were seen similar from all the services it usually ends with we need more more for defence (we’d all like that). But to me I would ask what are the senior officers/civil servants doing to allow these things to manifest themselves in the first place. Surely there job is to ensure the equipment we have is properly resourced with sufficient spares and trained personnel and if that means reducing kit ect then so be it and you tell the politicians sorry can’t do that deployment or task no ship/plane/trucks left sir.

Mike

You can’t tell them that didn’t you know when the navy deploys it doesn’t require any form of land support able to sail the 7 seas self sufficient never needing to enter port unless for cocktails.

x
x
May 26, 2014 11:43 am

@ Dan Hodges

UKIP is a protest vote; it has no real manifesto beyond self-determination. And self-determination isn’t exactly a fascist (or socialist) objective on the contrary. Actually most parties bin their manifesto within hours of getting into power. There is no mechanism beyond the ballot box to hold any party to account to keep to its promise to act upon the platform which it was elected. And their replacements will be free to do the same.

To accuse UKIP of being fascist and to ignore the EU’s socialist/fascist agenda is folly.

Topman
Topman
May 26, 2014 11:50 am

‘and if that means reducing kit ect then so be it and you tell the politicians sorry can’t do that deployment or task no ship/plane/trucks left sir.’

From my point of view it would be nice, however like is echoed on here numbers of equipment becomes all important. Supporting said equipment is often as important as buying it and that this isn’t cheap or easy is a revelation to some.

ChrisM
ChrisM
May 26, 2014 11:55 am

‘and if that means reducing kit ect then so be it and you tell the politicians sorry can’t do that deployment or task no ship/plane/trucks left sir.’

Suggest reducing kit and the politicians will bite your arm off. Then you have no kit and expansion is difficult.
If you keep the kit and struggle to maintain it you still have the kit, and if the bad times roll (ie threat rises so military needs increase) you can throw money at it and get results much quicker.

Nick
Nick
May 26, 2014 12:01 pm

X

While some members of the EU commission may want an single EU, but essentially the EU is run by compromise at Council of Minister level where the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland are the major players. The UK doesn’t give too much thought to the EU politically (unlike Germany, France and Italy), which is why we’re crap at getting our way except for the few things we really care about (single market and EU enlargement). The fact that we now don’t like some of the consequences of the various things we agreed and implemented reflects our lack of interest more than anything else surely ?

The EU is no more socialist or fascist in its agenda than the sum of European governments are. Just look what it spends the EU budget on.

I agree UKIP is essentially a protest movement today – it may become something more significant politically with representation at Westminster down the line, but it will never be a majority opinion in the UK as no politically party can obtain and exercise real power in the UK based on a single policy. It will though continue to exercise a pull on Tory policy towards exiting the EU though. However, until Tory UKIP’ers can explain just how we will be better off outside the EU than inside, like the Tea party guys in the US, I very much doubt that the UK will leave the EU.

Nick

Nick
Nick
May 26, 2014 12:07 pm

Chris, Topman

Aren’t we reaching a cross roads in UK foreign policy though ? Whilst we (it seems) will have a small very capable armed forces with a core of modern kit (Carriers, T45, T26, F35s etc) we’re starting to hit the point when we can’t afford ($ and capability let alone domestic political support) to actually maintain everything that we want to do politically. We either spend more or we back away from political commitments in the next 5 years or so ?

The problem with the last SDR (and next ?) is that we haven’t quite made our mind up yet ?

Nick

AW1
AW1
May 26, 2014 1:00 pm

Boss,

Ref your concern about the MoD, skills shortages and complacency. I can’t remember if it is in this edition of the Naval Engineer or the next (this one I think), but read up on Project Faraday. It is at least recognition of the issue and an attempt to fix it.

Cheers

Aw1

Anonymous
Anonymous
May 26, 2014 4:47 pm

Conflict can be prevented by aid. So you increase you defence budget and start wars that how it happens when you want no aid.

x
x
May 26, 2014 6:02 pm

@ Nick

I have yet to see any conclusive evidence why we are better in than out. The Europhilic argument seems to be basically “You are stupid if you want out….” I don’t see how the likes of Canada, Australia, Japan, or Norway, Korea survive on their own. As I say trade hasn’t increased with Europe since the 70s; it is a declining market. Brits emigrate to the White Commonwealth. It seems most of the free trade legislation is about opening up markets so the Germans can expand into them. And though our politicians are quick to shrug and use the EU for not doing this, that, or the other they are not so quick to point out when the EU is responsible for major shifts in our nation such as the break-up of BR or major changes to Royal Mail. Or a more local example for me when due to steel quotas are local works were closed; “cash and close” or restructuring. Then we have CFP. British owners made have sold their quotas on, but that wasn’t because they wanted to. And CAP, oh lummy where to start with that pile of raspberry flan? All the time the Germans are gaining (all members of EU trade missions seem to have German accents), the French were picking and choosing which EU “laws” to follow, and southern Europe gained massive investment in their infrastructure while ours deteriorated. If you point any of this out you are scaremongering, yet the benefits are hard to see.

What is sad is that a country that once ran a third of planet now runs scared of nations who only see as far as the frontiers of their own little continent. We were the first global trading nation, we still are a global trading nation. and we need to start charting our course in the world again. In global financial terms our EU contributions aren’t much but they would help towards getting us back out there in trade terms.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-A7q68AMkAnE/U4KHNz6mQSI/AAAAAAAAP7g/YrUOY1Shd6E/s1600/Churchill.jpg

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 26, 2014 6:11 pm

The problem with Europe is that it has grown beyond where it should have stopped. Unfortunately what the skeptics have to face up to is that is no longer 1910 or even 1940. We are a country of 60 million on the fringes of Europe, our former colonies now make goods cheaper and in many cases better than we do. if we were to simply pull out and incur the inevitable European back lash and tariffs we will be even worse off.
Sometimes you have to face reality and play the hand you are dealt, in this case that is opposing further EU integration from within and last night showed many others share that view.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 26, 2014 6:20 pm

I wonder that if this article had been headlined “a collection of broken down old two stars” it would have been more accurate.

Many two stars are old colleagues, and in some cases old friends. I despair of them. I think the MOD is in a very bad place now. It is not their fault, but rather the political strait jackets they have to wear to advance.

Daniel Hodges
Daniel Hodges
May 26, 2014 6:41 pm

@Apats

you are spot on most of the car plants in the uk are foregin owned which support so many jobs in uk the moment we pull out of the eu so will they

x
x
May 26, 2014 6:46 pm

There is a difference between being pro-Europe and pro-EU. Why some fear a trade war when we buy more off them than they do from us I don’t know. Sometimes you have to face facts that nothing is too big to fail; anybody who lived through 1989 to 1991 should know that. Anybody who has read a history book should know the same could be said of Rome, the empire of Charlemagne, etc. Perhaps it is a generational thing that see things differently as I communicate worldwide with a huge range of people and see ships and aircraft becoming more efficient that perhaps thinkers of my generation look beyond a small peninsular off Russia and think in global terms? Is it any wonder that the most vibrant political movement amongst the young these days is Libertarianism? Frau Merklel ‘s dreams died on the streets of Kiev, lets not defend the indefensible any more for own sakes and the sakes of Western civilisation.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 26, 2014 6:51 pm

@X
I find it strange that you would see an event on the scale of the collapse of the USSR or the Roman Empire as a good thing for anyone. That would be a disaster and you should also note that despite the current balance of trade, the whole of the EU would far more easily find alternative sources and buyers than our island.
I am not pro EU by any means and would have stopped at free trade, freedom of movement, defence pacts, health care and embassy assistance along with certain standards of democracy, justice etc.
however the way to achieve anything approaching this is from within not from without and certainly not following the sort of catastrophic collapse you refer to.

The Other Chris
May 26, 2014 6:56 pm

High science and heavy technology companies aren’t moving or investing further here for our superior links with Europe.

Topman
Topman
May 26, 2014 6:56 pm

I think there is a bit of difference in looking to the collapse of the EU and seeing in it and then the collapse of all sorts of empires such as Rome it did collapse but took a long time. Or perhaps more like the SU, in say 50-60 years? Me I think it’ll be long long after everyone here now is six foot under, if it will collapse rather than just change. I wonder if people thought the a single gov for this country rather than various kingdoms thought it unworkable and would collapse.

Chris
Chris
May 26, 2014 7:07 pm

RT – if I remember right you had a robust – um – discussion with IXION over whether you would do the right thing even if it was to your personal disadvantage. You stated you would take the hit and do the right thing. Indeed I am of the same mind; as witnessed by the years of my design work without funding because in my view the resulting designs are what the lads/lasses at the sharp end need, and they deserve my support. How sad then that as you describe the upper echelons of the armed forces have to trade in their scruples in exchange for a shot at promotion and grudging acceptance from the political elite. (I almost wrote Politburo there but decided that was inflammatory.) Maybe this is why so many retiring Generals/Admirals/Air Marshals suddenly erupt into “Its just not good enough!!” outbursts – all those years of bitten lips waiting until the pension is secure. I do though take the point they have no option – those that don’t play the gravy-train game don’t get to high office, so the only way to get into a position of influence is to abandon all thoughts of using the influence as morals might have demanded…

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 26, 2014 7:26 pm

Chris,

I’m the horse that does not like being led. Or conforming.

I had a one to one with the Military Secretary a year after I left the Joint Staff Course. Not scheduled, we were shooting together at his cousin’s farm. He told me that I’d probably make one star, but that I’d attracted the wrong sort of notice with being independent and stroppy. I also had several one to ones with Mrs RT, who told me that she was not going to put up with being a camp follower, and that we needed about £100 k in clear income to pay the bills, and that wearing some gold braid was not going to do that. Then I looked at the old man who retired as a Brigadier and got a job as an RO1 at 55. I decided that I couldn’t do that.

So I left. Both the best, and worst, decision I ever made.

x
x
May 26, 2014 7:33 pm

@ APATS

I am just looking to see where I said it was good. I find it strange that you can be so blasé about doing nothing to avoid such a disaster.

The EU would cut off us if we didn’t pay them homage? They won’t trade with us? Are you saying our trade relationship with Europe is a product of the market but some form of command economy, something artificial? And if Europe can go elsewhere couldn’t we go elsewhere too? You are making no sense. We trade with Europe because they offer our economy the things it needs and the same for us in reverse. This is a global economy. We need to sever all our social connections with the EU and enter into a free trade arrangement with them. That was what my parents, grandparents, etc. voted for after all. What will collapse the economy over there is the Euro and though we would be effected severely having our own currency would provide some protection. We would all be better off with a Germany that still had the Mark and was less well off but Brussels, Berlin, and Paris know better. For somebody who isn’t pro-EU you seem pretty convinced by the arguments for the union.

@ Topman

I am listening to the TT. I am getting a bit carried away and my musings and language reflect my excitement.

The majority of my family live well into their 90s and 100s. With medical advancements I will hopefully see the end of the EU. Sorry you will be dead. :(

Don’t forget the USSR only last 70 years or so. The EU is what coming up to 60? So who knows you may be lucky?

Topman
Topman
May 26, 2014 7:37 pm

@ x

I’m impressed you’ve figured out how old I am ;) Well if you know it’s collapsing before you die, get down the bookies, but you know what they say, you never see a bookie on a push bike ;)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 26, 2014 7:39 pm

@X

You seem to think it is what would happen and offer no solution, I want to influence and reform from within, that is hardly blase or nothing.

Are you naive enough to imagine that a lot of countries and a lot of people within the EU would not seek to take advantage of us being outside looking in? They are just going to say, here UK lets have a free trade agreement? What do we offer that they could not now get elsewhere compared to what our 60 million bodies would have to buy at more expensive prices from further afield. We need to encourage others to share our view point rather than piss off in a strop, cutting our nose off to spite our face.

I am not convinced by the arguments but I realise that a unilateral withdrawal would not be good and the collapse rather than the reform would be a disaster. It is 2014 and you have to deal with what is in front of you and look at actions/reactions and consequences because that si reality, Winston and your parents and grand parents are frankly irrelevant.

x
x
May 26, 2014 8:11 pm

@ Topman

I can work out your muscle density through analysing the levels of darkness of the pixels in the text of your posts. A bit of maths I can work out to the month your age. A bit more maths and I can tell you what you had for tea. :)

@ APATS

Naive? You are the one who is being naive believing that those who work in the Bundestag and meet in the Élysée balance the greater good of Europe against the needs of their own countries. Further you are deluded if you think that Europe would automatically act in a spiteful, nay childish manner if we did leave. That they would cut us off as a market just because we weren’t hiking £15billion to them per anum. My God that is a protection racket; that makes us worse than whores. We are a product of history; history is made by man and from it we learn how man behaves. To glibly dismiss it shows a lack of depth.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 26, 2014 8:16 pm

@X

“We are a product of history; history is made by man and from it we learn how man behaves. To glibly dismiss it shows a lack of depth.”

Really, perhaps if people spent less time reminiscing and more time actually looking at today and reality we would actually get on with what needs to be done.
Your first 2 sentences totally contradict each other, in the first sentence you tell me that they act only in their own self interest and in the next you argue that they would not act in such a manner. Make your mind up.
I have had the pleasure and sometimes displeasure of living on mainland Europe and we should not make the mistake of thinking it is them and us when it comes to dissatisfaction with the direction the EU is taking.

Topman
Topman
May 26, 2014 8:21 pm

@x

All good stuff I’m sure. Let me know what odds you get down the bookies.

Chris
Chris
May 26, 2014 9:30 pm

Ref EU vs. UK – I’ve looked and don’t see it that way. According to Wiki (so must be true) UKIP wants a return to the EEC or EFTA type of arrangement – free trade agreements but no executive/federal government. That’s not quite the same as telling the other European states to never darken our doorstep again. The difference between the UKIP position and the more pro-EU parties is that UKIP state the only way to get to this sort of trade agreement is by departing the EU club and approaching anew with a clean sheet agreement, where other parties state they can negotiate from within to get to the same sort of position. I don’t think even the most pro-EU parties like the LibDems advocate blindly walking into full federal control of the UK as a province of a European superstate; all seem to argue for less EU control, more autonomy, more self-determination etc.

But this isn’t a weird UK-only stance. Looking around the other nations we see that Spain has a significant proportion of MEPs from a party that wants less EU control, Denmark has elected a fair proportion of MEPs on an anti-immigration ticket but nowhere near as anti-immigration as France’s FN shock result, Portugal has now a significant faction of anti-austerity MEPs as obviously has Greece. Finland and the Netherlands on the other hand returned fewer Eurosceptics than expected, while Germany and Italy stayed solidly pro-EU as did no surprise the new eastern states who are net recipients of EU regeneration cash. While the Van Rompuy club might show irritation at the increase in argumentative anti-federalists, it is I suspect the anti-austerity faction which is the greatest threat to the EU project. If Greece and Portugal decide to spend Euros they don’t have once again, expect to see Spain and Italy demand equal latitude, and once again the Euro will be in danger. UKIP is far less of a danger to the EU than errant profligate Eurozone states would be.

So as I see it there are grumblings of discontent in all corners; the EU cannot meet the expectations of every state (disparate states; disparate goals) and irritation is showing. That the UK wants to pull back to a less deeply integrated position is just one aspect of the EU’s growing pains and by no means the most destructive. And since all the UK parties seem to want a change in relationship towards lighter regulation attached to solid trading arrangements all the angst over whether the UK should be ‘in’ or ‘out’ seems vaguely pointless really, as the end goal is not so very different. Or have I missed something?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 26, 2014 9:33 pm

@ Chris

You have made one fatal mistake though. You have summed it up logically and sensibly. The total lack of references to World Wars, Churchill, we are an Island and we had an Empire means that you will never win over many people :)

Chris
Chris
May 26, 2014 9:42 pm

APATS – sorry. That’s the innate engineer in me forcing its way to the fore. I will try to be more partisan jingoistic hotheaded and biased in future as internet etiquette demands.

x
x
May 26, 2014 10:25 pm

@ APATS

I think your trouble is you spend too much time looking at now and not looking to possible futures. You should do a physics paper physicist have been trying to define exactly what is meant by “now” for decades as you seemingly are trapped entirely in the present you can answer their question. Nobel Prize stuff.

No I didn’t contradict myself. You assert that if we walked away they would punish us. And you seem to also believe that Berlin and Paris are operating some sort of protection racket. You assert we pay them for the privilege of trading with them and that could replace us with out any reference to the free market. If trading elsewhere benefited them would be doing so now. It isn’t a binary issue. I said,

“You are the one who is being naive believing that those who work in the Bundestag and meet in the Élysée balance the greater good of Europe against the needs of their own countries.”

There is nothing invalid about that statement; states act for their own benefit. The only difference is the level of conviction and belief. If your attitude is common amongst HMG staff then no wonder the Continentals have us at a disadvantage. You don’t know how the French and the Germans operate because you place no value on history you have made it clear that it is no importance to you in the mental processes you use to reach a judgement. As soon as you disagree with that statement you admit you are lying.

And the I said,

“Further you are deluded if you think that Europe would automatically act in a spiteful, nay childish manner if we did leave.”

They trade with us because we offer them what we want at the price they want. German and France aren’t charities. Again do you not know how the free market (well as free is it supposedly) works? I know some service personnel struggle with life outside but you are taking it a bit too far.

And then I said,

“That they would cut us off as a market just because we weren’t hiking £15billion to them per anum. ”

The UK paying the EU to trade with them isn’t the EU’s problem it is the UK’s problem. Do you really think the hundreds of millions of mutual trade would stop if we stopped paying what amounts to a few per cent of that trade. Really? What about the impact on the jobs on the continent. Germany trades with us now more than they trade than with the French. That £15 billion is for infrastructure and projects within the EU if we are not in we wouldn’t be paying. Germany have done very well out of us having large amounts of service personnel stationed in their country; the whole of Western Europe benefitted from our large expenditure on defence, How much more do you want the UK to pay into the EU? Into Europe? Bankrupted fighting two world wars and yet you think everything hinges on £15bn. Whoops! Of course that is history it doesn’t factor into your thinking.

Lastly how does Chris pointing out that what I am saying that the EU is unpopular any vindication of what you say? You say you anti-EU yet you can’t or don’t want to see past the EU.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 26, 2014 10:39 pm

@X

Your entire post is based on the premise that things would carry on as normal. You then go back to the Cold war and 2 world wars and Service personnel based in Germany like they owe us a favour. It is simple economics that the remainder of the EU could absorb our departure and move on as they are much bigger than us and we sell them nothing they cannot get elsewhere before we even look at companies here that could re locate.

Maybe they do but they are not going to think so, it is in the past so get over it. the very very simple fact is that a unilateral withdrawal from the EU would cost us money and lose us jobs. If it were to contribute to a possible disintegration of the EU rather than reform it may well cost us lives (history as you seem to like).

What we paid out in 2world wars and the Cold war counts for jack shit today. In the cold hard light of the real world.

I think Chris summed it up perfectly when he said “partisan jingoistic hotheaded and biased”. That is the starting point for many “Little Englanders” on Europe and the EU. They would gladly cut their nose of to spite their face without ever considering the best course of action or the consequences.
A command estimate looks at 3 levels of consequence the out of the EU brigade only see one.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
May 26, 2014 10:55 pm

– just one small point – “Ever Closer Union” is both an article of faith for many of the participants at the Commission (and some national governments)…and an aspiration that we are more or less obliged to pursue by the Treaty of Maastricht…before the sort of sensible re-appraisal that you advocate would be possible, that whole question would need to be revisited…in what is, at root, an idealistic “Grand Project” as opposed to a pragmatic free-trade deal with some extra benefits

I would expect that to be a pretty messy business, and one of very uncertain outcomes…

GNB

wf
wf
May 27, 2014 12:05 am

: @GNB and @x are right both as a point of law and as a matter of practicality. Firstly, any significant EU changes require both unanimity and an intergovernmental conference, and neither is likely to arrive before 2017. Just think on the complete lack of official changes to the Euro treaties over the last 5 years of Euro disaster. The last generation of politicians have been brought up with “europe” as the only true way for anything to be done, they are going to make no significant changes without a metaphorical gun to their heads.

The only way we can get any real changes are to apply to leave under Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty and make our demands from there. We run a trade deficit with the rest of the EU, so we’re hardly going to be cast into outer darkness.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 27, 2014 12:12 am

“We run a trade deficit with the rest of the EU, so we’re hardly going to be cast into outer darkness.”

You hope but that is all, you really do not know. Firstly, any significant EU changes require both unanimity and an intergovernmental conference, and neither is likely to arrive before 2017. ”

Did you catch last nights election results?

Chris
Chris
May 27, 2014 8:12 am

wf, x, GNB, APATS – ref Maastricht restricts – it would be an interesting exercise to force a resolution that every member state lists the top hates/dislikes/frustrations they have with the EU and publish the lot without country attribution and act on majority issues – if a majority of respondents stated (for example) that moving the Europolitico circus from Brussels to Strasbourg & back every month is a pathetic waste of money, then the EU would need to pick an office complex and stay put. If the majority stated they had no desire for a United States of Germany (sorry, Europe) but wanted a trading administration only? Well make it so. Wouldn’t that be democratic and open.

Talking of being open, it would be again interesting if the precise roles of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Council were presented. And what the Secretariat of the European Parliament in Luxembourg does that’s different. Indeed the Council of Europe is apparently a separate, non-EU organization and nothing to do with the Council of the European Union or the European Council, so what’s their role? Not to mention the 40 official Agencies such as the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Or the 33 EU Civil Service Directorates, or the Executive EU Agencies, or Euratom Agencies. Then there is the Court of Justice of the European Union which must not be confused with the European Court of Justice which is part of it or the European Court of Human Rights which is not. There is the European Court of Auditors which is not a court at all and was supposed to ensure proper accounts were kept across the EU and budgets not exceeded. And the European Central Bank that popped into existence at the creation of the pan-European currency to manage price stability and invent monetary policy but as I understand it it has no fiscal control of individual states so its methods escape me.

Incidentally one of the 40 EU Agencies is the European Defence Agency – does it have executive authority over UK defence decisions? Again referring to Wiki, it reports “In 2010 it was reported that should the British Conservative party win the 2010 General Election, then they would withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Defence Agency. On 28 October 2010 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lord Astor of Hever) at the British Ministry of Defence stated in the House of Lords that ‘The Secretary of State for Defence has agreed that we will remain in the European Defence Agency for a period of two years, then we will review the status of our membership.’ Two years later, in October 2012, Lord Astor confirmed that this review was indeed under progress, and that ‘all options, including complete withdrawal, were being considered’. So, eighteen months later, do we know if we’re in or out of the EDA?

All in all its a proper muddle. Councils and agencies and administrations and directorates and parliaments and courts with various powers assumed or granted, non-uniform applicability across the EU states, projects and mandates and laws and policies – yeuch what a mess.

The Other Chris
May 27, 2014 9:37 am

Do we allow London to continue to grow, and invest in the means of managing that growth, or do we attempt to to force growth regionally?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27585765

wf
wf
May 27, 2014 11:59 am

@APATS: correct, I do not “know”, but the correlation of forces in in our favour. The same can’t be said for Scottish shipbuilding if Scotland says yes.

Have you noticed what has been happening in Europe for the last few years over the Euro? Seen any treaty changes? No? Funny that!