Selling off the Family Aluminium

I say aluminium, of course, because there is no silver left, that went a long time ago.

After the announcement a few weeks ago of the preferred bidder for the sale of Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre the MoD announced today the long process of selling of the Government Pipeline and Storage System (GPSS) has concluded, the Spanish company Compañía Logística de Hidrocarburos being named as the winning bidder.

80 MoD personnel will be TUPE’d over to CLH as part of the £82m deal.

The GPSS logistics infrastructure acquired by CLH comprise a pipeline network of 2,000 kilometres, which represents 50% of the total in the UK, and 16 storage facilities, with more than one million cubic metres of storage capacity.

The network is currently implementing a notable infrastructure modernisation programme aimed at making it safer and more efficient, which CLH has committed to continue.

The offer submitted by CLH for the acquisition of GPSS took into account the favourable estimates for growth in demand for aviation fuel at the airports currently supplied by this oil distribution network and the commercial growth opportunities, as well as the broad experience of the network’s current management team.

Read more here

Is there anything left to sell?

Which brings us neatly to a follow up from this week’s budget and the short post a few days ago, the snappily titled Public Accounts – Forty-Seventh Report Major Projects Report 2014 and the Equipment Plan 2014 to 2024, and reforming defence acquisition.

Click here to view the whole thing with a summary to be going on with.

We welcome the progress made by the Ministry of Defence (the Department) in getting to grips with its budget and military equipment costs. The affordability of the Department’s 10-year plan for buying and supporting equipment is, however, dependent on it: continuing to control cost increases in existing equipment projects; delivering ambitious project cost savings over the next 10 years in order to balance its budget; and having the right skills in place to ensure that the assumptions made in its plans are robust and deliverable. Failure to improve the skills of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), which buys and maintains military equipment, will undermine the Department’s efforts to improve control over its finances. The Department agrees that DE&S is over-reliant on expensive contractors and DE&S is spending a further £250 million on contractors over the next three and a half years to determine how it will address this and secure the skills needed to deliver the Equipment Plan within the assumed budget and to time.

There remain risks to the success of the Department’s Army 2020 programme designed to reduce the size of the regular Army and increase the number of trained Army reserves. The Department has not yet addressed our previous recommendations to develop credible contingency plans in the event that it cannot recruit the number of regular and reserve soldiers it requires. While the Department is reporting progress against its recruitment targets, it does acknowledge that targets beyond 2016 will be challenging and require significant improvements in performance.

Apart from the amusing piece on spending money on external consultants on how they can stop spending money on external consultants the key issue is risk.

It also starts with a statement that seems to be woefully out of date.

The Department is seeking to tackle funding pressures by restructuring the Army. Army 2020 is an ambitious programme of change that seeks, for the first time, to integrate fully a regular Army of 82,500 with a larger and more frequently used Army Reserve of 30,000.

I have added the emphasis because this report would seem to be diametrically opposed the latest position as described only a few weeks ago by the Chief of the General Staff, General General Sir Nicholas Carter, during a lecture at Chatham House.

To recap what he said.

The point about the Army Reserve though is that the obligation if you join it is only for training, less some specialists. We are not going to use it regularly and routinely, as perhaps was suggested a couple of years ago. Rather, it is there in the event of a national emergency. That means it’s much more straightforward, I think, for an individual to be a member of the Army Reserve. If you’re a reservist, what you have to do is to try and balance an equilateral triangle between the employer, your family and your own thoughts on life. If that becomes an isosceles, you won’t retain or recruit the reservist. So it’s important to keep that in balance, and that means that it is sensible to talk about the obligation being for training only, unless you can afford the time as an individual to deploy with your regular counterparts.

Again, emphasis added.

The MoD have told the committee that the running costs of the Army will be reduced by £10.6 billion over the ten year 2011-2021 period. It also suggests that the MoD does not have a contingency plan for a failing implementation of Army 2020, which includes the Army Reserve.

I think however, that it is rather obvious.

Plan B is exactly what the CGS said, an Army Reserve that is not deployed except in extremis (accepting certain specialist functions)

Anyway, back to risk.

The report is quite clear in stating a position that the MoD is working from a set of assumptions for future savings on the capital and support budgets that it admits may be over stated. Despite being confident, it has no contingency for failure. Planning for failure is always a difficult thing to do, it can undermine confidence in an organisation and the people delivering complex projects, it also reduces incentives to achieve the goal.

It is therefore understandable that there is no published contingency but one would hope there exists at least a viable set of priorities that allows programmes and costs to be scaled back, extended or cancelled.

One of the key ‘excuses’ for a lack of programme management improvement despite decades of MoD reform has been a lack of commercial and programme management skills because it was straight jacketed by civil service rules and pay structure. Essentially, DE&S was competing for talent in a market where it could not pay the going rates. This issue has been consistently highlighted by numerous studies and projects that have examined the issue. Consequently the DES& reforms have sought to move DE&S into a more commercial environment where it can be free of civil service pay grades and employment rules.

In 2013/14 some £480 million, some 37% of total costs was spent by DE&S filling skills gaps with contractors

This is an incredible admission from the MoD that I have not seen picked up elsewhere, 37% of of costs are due to contractors, no doubt many of these contractors are actually ex MoD personnel doing exactly the same job they did when employed by the MoD but because of the relentless (and politically driven) desire to reduce headcount have been forced out.

The MoD has been unable to change the demand for that persons outcome so although the politicians can stand at the despatch box and talk about ‘slashing civil servants’ all they have done is simply replace a wage bill with an invoice plus 40% profit. Reducing public sector personnel will reduce pension liabilities but now those contractors will be paying for their own pension out of there daily rate.

It’s all the same.

However, there is no detailed plan setting out how these new freedoms will be used to secure the necessary skills while delivering the reductions in overall costs required by 2017

Hang on, the MoD has been saying forever the reason it has failed to deliver significant efficiences in the acquisition process is because it is shackled by the civil service and yet when it is free (and has been in concept since the SDSR 2010) it has no plan for how it will exploit these freedoms.

Item 5 in the report is the best.

DE&S is planning to spend £250 million over the next three and a half years on contractors to advise on how it can reduce its over reliance on contractors.

Am I alone in thinking this is veering into parody, like asking a butcher how I can eat fewer sausages.

It talks of a study with PWC for £43m that will determine what human resource structures would be most appropriate. Let me repeat that, £43m to determine the most appropriate HR structure for an organisation that employees 12,500 people, or just under £3,500 for each person it employs. Lets just say £43m is a professional services type contract. I had a quick look at what HR project managers and consultants are charging over at Personnel Today. Salaries of £60k do not seem uncommon, assuming an average project will have some on less and some on more, £60k per annum seems a reasonable average to work from. Ratcheting this up to include profit, a bit of T&S and other expenses gives us about £80k per annum and I think I am being generous.

£43m buys a project team, based on the £80k per year costs, of nearly 550 people.

Or put another way, not far off an Infantry battalion or number of personnel currently in Sierra Leone, or put yet another way, piss taking on a NATO scale.

What defence output will this deliver?

Advice on HR structures for an organisation that is smaller by some margin than Bristol City Councilthe 7th largest council in the UK, not 1st or 5th, 7th.

Remember though, the MoD doesn’t have enough money.

Yet another depressing read, the MoD is basing its future spending plans on achieving significant savings and a rising equipment budget, neither of which has anything other than the word ‘risk’ associated with it and that is before we take into account the almost certain share of GDP cut signalled in the budget.

Gloomy, indeed.


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The Other Chris
March 20, 2015 10:24 pm

Employing staff in HR who promote HR policies and procedures necessitating more HR staff to ensure that you’re complying with HR best practice until there are so many HR staff that there are more people in HR than in any other department and you suddenly realise that the largest premises your company owns purely houses your HR staff who’ve now renamed your world beating Technical/Financial/Service/Consulting/Manufacturing company to “Capita”.

March 21, 2015 2:27 am

Posts like this TD, always make me chuckle,

I am presuming like me you are ex-military and being of that elk there is nothing better than having a good whinge about defence.
Because when you are in military, we whinge about everything and how everyone else has always got better kit than us and when we are out of the military we say how great is was and it was better when we were in and it’s all going downhill now.
I have been 24 years in the military and 16 years in the defence industry and without blowing too much of a trumpet I am at the top of my specialist skill set and sort after all over the world by military organisations.
So I do not have an insular view about where we are and where other nations stand in military matters. Yes we may be down to aluminium, possibly iron soon, but in the grand scheme of things when you look at other nations, the state they are in, the horror stories of their procurement fiasco’s when talking to them, I think some of ours pales into insignificance.
So what if we do not make the figures for personnel in 2020, so what if we have x amount of fast jet squadrons or x amount of T26 Frigates.
Yes there is lots of posturing by certain nations but the reality of all out conflict on main land Europe really!! Or to justify projection to deal with what we seen as external threats that might reach our shores.

I am not turning into a pacifist but there is reality and sometimes I don’t see that reality.

Am in Australia at the moment and am looking at the $300 million request for CBRN equipment across all the CBRN domains and the figures that the “Commonwealth” are looking at purchasing are astronomical and am thinking why? Where is the threat that justifies such amounts of kit, where is the reality in all of this? The procurement tale of this project and the time it has taken to get to this stage reads almost in par with the AWD saga out here.

So yes we can whinge about how shit it is all is with UK Military and soon we will not be able to fight our way out of a paper bag, but sometimes when we are lampooning ourselves we should remember that others nations cannot even put up a fight inside the paper bag.

March 21, 2015 6:34 am

I recall another comment on an earlier thread that to help achieve more efficient procurement the MoD was going to demand a percentage of new recruits to procurement have some form of relevant qualification and experience and are at least a junior member of the appropriate body. Existing staff would be encouraged take qualifications and gain membership also. Why would a company , except for apprentices, hire inexperienced, unqualified staff to do a particular role especially one were the overall spend is in the 10’s billions per year. If its a pay grade issue to match commercial salaries review the grading then set the salary so it is commensurate with the role. Its the tail wagging the dog scenario.

March 21, 2015 7:28 am

just bcz those who are being scrutinized get to comment on the reports (a delay in publishing)?

“It also starts with a statement that seems to be woefully out of date.

The Department is seeking to tackle funding pressures by restructuring the Army. Army 2020 is an ambitious programme of change that seeks, for the first time, to integrate fully a regular Army of 82,500 with a larger and more frequently used Army Reserve of 30,000.

I have added the emphasis because this report would seem to be diametrically opposed the latest position as described only a few weeks ago by the Chief of the General Staff, General General Sir Nicholas Carter”

Overall, though, quite a depressing read. What parts of DE&S have not been sold yet? Does the management get a performance bonus for each slice?

Stuart MacGregor
Stuart MacGregor
March 21, 2015 8:42 am

Ref Marchwood, as I understand the article they are not selling Marchwood it is being managed by a private company. As apparently it is also being under utilised they are going to develop spare capacity to bring in revenue from the commercial sector. Whilst I would prefer for it to remain military run this could be sensible as it would remain a military asset that is bringing in money and offsetting the port operating costs. No different than Northolt accepting private operators. Many of our infrastructure is run by private companies and Marchwood seems idea as it is a small port that can be easily run by a civilian company. Obviously all IMHO.

March 21, 2015 9:57 am

“£60k per annum seems a reasonable average to work from. Ratcheting this up to include profit, a bit of T&S and other expenses gives us about £80k per annum and I think I am being generous.”

No, you are not being generous. Employer’s NI, pension contributions, BUPA etc will add 25%+ to the £60k salary, then there are the overheads of office space, business rates, electricity/gas/water, HR (these £60k HR consultants aren’t going to process their own payroll), admin, computer support, auditing, etc, etc. Overheads of 100% of salary bill are not uncommon. Then add T&S, profit, … Overall I’d reckon ~£150k+ annual cost of getting the £60k consultant for normal office style work e.g. HR, management or software consultancy, i.e. nothing that requires large capital equipment purchases and running costs or supporting staff in dangerous or remote places.

March 21, 2015 10:22 am


Thanks for that. as a total outsider my only sources are loose connections with some middle ranks of a surprising number of countries, and good old wikibollocks; (wow who knew, Elvis arrived on earth when he crashed his space ship at Roswell)…..

Many pros constant refrain is “its the men not the machines that matter”, and many poorer and a lot richer nations than us have spectacular kit but little idea how to use it, no spares and no reloads, and what condition is it in?

How many countries have say, Harpoon, how many of those have more than a dozen actual missiles??

The phrase used about Putins boys that Much of thier kit will not survive contact with thier ignition keys never mind the enemy, always tickled me. After all in Gulf 1 much of the marines pre positioned kit was in a hell of a state when they tried to fire it up….

So a good point well made. But outside of some of the USA’s attempts to bust the laws of physics. Fres and the Elephants must come near the top of the world table of fuck ups.

I am actually more worried about the sale or privitisation of, millitary infrastructure. There was a reason for the great shell scandal of 1915 and the abandonment of the commissary dept etc…..

March 21, 2015 10:23 am

Please Mr Sanches send 10,000 gals of jet fuel to Gib. and 10,000 to The Falklands?

No understand English – do you mean Malvinas have our Argie friends agreed! – Gib border closed!!!!!!!

Is any of Gib storage included in sale???

March 21, 2015 10:33 am


Again I wonder if the recognition just how small our forces are as an ‘opperation’ would actually help make runing and supplying them easier and cheaper, and lead to a more effective armed forces..

Starting with for example the idea of the airforce ( your idea if it flies its light blue or mine of if ditch the light blue entirely), it matters not which, either would mearge what are quite small opperations into larger ones.

When we cna fit the entire armed forces into wembly stadium. Some of our structure do seem Byzantine, and pointlessly complicated.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 21, 2015 10:46 am

£100k per person per year is the planning figure for engineering work with proper deliverables. Not sure how consultants fit into that model, nor less PWC who always seem to be grossly overvalued.

Might be fun to put up the deal approver in front of a Commons Select committee.

March 21, 2015 10:48 am

With the expected focus on domestic antiterrorism and low level threat stability needs, should the UK consider creating a Gendarmerie force rather than focus on army reserves? The EFG (European Gendarmerie Force) was used to provide stability in Haiti for example.

Would allow the armed forces to remain focused on high end war fighting.

March 21, 2015 12:10 pm

Interesting,when an NHS commissioner pays an NHS provider organisation to provide a new service the staffing costs tend to be paid at 25 to 30% above salary for all on costs, the funding is also worked out at the mid point of the staff salary grades not the top. It a harsh costing method ( as all NHS costings are) and the provider is expected to manage any funding gap.

I have never had the pleasure of being able to design a service ( and find a provider) which had 100% added onto staff salaries for on costs.

March 21, 2015 1:18 pm

An old rule of thumb in professional charge rates eg consultants from the providers perspective was third salary, third overheads and third profit. The latter was often flexed as part of the overall pricing of the deal eg discount. Things may have moved on a bit now

March 21, 2015 2:33 pm

From my own experience ~3x salary is pretty standard nowadays so easily getting to 100-150k per year per person.


MoD costs for personnel are ~3x salary today, mostly due to pensions liabilities. Additional costs aren’t small given fixed costs for DII provision, office space etc.

Definitely agree that 200-300 people studying DE&S HR structure is ridicous -£43m goes a long way in other parts of MoD.

Main issue is that MoD has shedded civil service personnel but the process burden has grown (e.g. Airworthiness, legal liabilities). Its really difficult to make good decisions when you’re spending so much time fighting the system. But who has time to think about re-organising the process. I think that fundamentally we need high level waivers and acceptance of risk back (e.g. regain crown immunity) otherwise its going to grind to a halt.

DE&S change to trading fund status to enable competitive salaries to be paid is a joke. Dstl went down this route. Result is that staff are paid ~20% less than equivalent MoD staff let alone industry.

March 21, 2015 7:50 pm

@TD: “Repulse, nice idea but two words… Budget Wars”

Agreed, wish someone had the balls to push through the big decisions needed.

The French Gendarmerie has a annual budget of £5-6bn and a staff of 100k. Something half this size would be enough, and even absorb the MoD police and UK border force duties. Sure the money can be found out of the international aid budget ;) The jobs would be a nice boost to the economy also…

The roles I have in mind are:
– Protection of UK public buildings (inc Airports, nuclear power stations)
– Domestic anti terrorism ops
– UK military facility protection
– UK border law enforcement and customs
– MoD policing
– Supporting global stability and humanitarian aid ops (inc as part of EGF)
– Supporting domestic and global anti disease operations (e.g. Ebola)

Cancel any plans for increasing the Reserves, might even negate the need for the RAF regiment, thus giving more funds to plug the gaps… What’s not to like :)

March 21, 2015 8:19 pm

150k a year? , I am in the wrong job. Just have to remember to only say half the solutions I think of and I set up for life ;-)

March 21, 2015 9:52 pm

Another interesting and well timed Channel 4 documentary tonight; Will Hutton argued the UK business environment, unique around the world in the lack of any protective measures from foreign buy-outs, has resulted in a large majority of businesses that were once world-class British earners being sold off for a quick buck. In his assessment the only winners (despite politicians crowing about how well these sell-offs showed the country’s business environment was working) were bankers, corporate lawyers and fast-buck short term shareholders.

In this environment its no surprise MOD is selling off as much as it can, in the mistaken belief that private businesses pour investment in for free. As Mr Hutton finds out, what private businesses (particularly those in venture capitalist and other casual investors hands) really do is syphon as much cash out of the business as possible for dividends. In one case the dividend payout was some 40% greater than the total profit made by the company, financed by a greater debt burden (fine while interest rates are low, a cause of bankruptcy once rates rise).

As he says, if this behaviour continues as it has done for the past two/three decades then the UK will be a dumbed down sold-off wasteland.

Daniel Hodges
Daniel Hodges
March 22, 2015 12:26 am

@ Chris watched the same program and he is spot on been saying this most of my adult life we really need to sort this out nothing to do with the eu all are owen fault listening to the people who have vested intrests it really winds me up all we need to do is invest and put ownership controls i mean eveyone elise does only us brits are stupid a nuff to put up with this if 1 party made this the first thing that they would pass in to law if the got in would get my vote everytime

March 22, 2015 6:32 am

Chris, Daniel

If you (an overseas based multinational) buy an existing UK group in the same sector, the two main reasons to do so must be to gain market share (ie rebranding existing UK into international brand) without going to the trouble of starting up and building your own brand in the Uk (long slow and not necessarily successful).


the buy technical expertise or into a market segment you are weak in (the HP/Autonomy deal would be a recent example, but there are plenty of others).

In the former, there are also sort of tax planning thins you can do (charge your UK operations a big fee to use the brand and to sell any brand you want to keep overseas and then licence it back). I believe this is very common.

For the expertise, you are naturally going to feed it into your own (overseas) research centre and then apply it and incorporate into your existing products as well as selling the tech through your own network.

Back in the 1980’s I had always understood Thatcher approved because UK management was deemed to be pretty crap. I don’t think that is true today. However, since then this is a big money earner for the professional services and banking (both commercial banking for loan finance and investment banking for advice and pricing). Not surprisingly these sectors have deep pockets …

I have been reading about the particularly UK (and US) problem of Short termism in the stock markets for almost as long as I can remember. One big difference is scale in the US. There are an awful lot of high net worth individuals who provide start up finance for new ideas and consequentially the entrepreneur/startup sector is much better financed and supported than in the UK.

In Europe (Germany especially) the regional banks (often part owned by the regional government – certainly closely linked) provide long term financing (and often take a direct ownership investment as well) which finances technological risk taking in the SME sector. Contrast that with the UK, where UK commercial banks are reluctant to loan due to high perceived risk.

Will Hutton (and others) has being going on about this for years.

Daniel Hodges
Daniel Hodges
March 22, 2015 7:19 am

@ Nick total agree and i have been going on about it at least since my early 20’s i am now in my early 40’s and still on the same merry go round but the problem is joe public arn’t intrested on till it hits there job

March 22, 2015 12:57 pm

The MOD is not the only public sector organisation to make poor financial decisions in the name of cost cutting.
I can think of one public-sector organisation who runs a large vehicle fleet.
Recently they decided to downgrade one of the vehicles in an effort to save money.
However when this vehicle was purchased and delivered to the unit that was about to operate it they found the performance was well below the legacy vehicle and not fit for purpose. Unfortunately a large order had already been made and the vehicles delivered.
These had to go somewhere and were given to another unit who operate a smaller vehicle.
The difference in cost between the smaller vehicle and “Cost Saving” vehicle was £9000 at showroom prices.
There was still the purchase of the original vehicle to be taken into account.
This however cost somewhere in the region of £400,000 in the name of cost savings.

Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
March 22, 2015 2:38 pm

Don’t think ANY of DE&S has actually been sold off. ISS (IT department/Geriatric ward) jumped ship to JFC when it looked like GOCO was happening, which I’m sure causes all kinds of interesting HR issues (and possibly no longer included in that 12k figure?).

I think the boss’s points about the relatively small scale of DE&S are really interesting. There’s a bit of an attitude of “We’re the MoD, we’re the big swinging dick in the defence sector” which generates some fairly arrogant behaviour, especially when contact with reality reveals that many (truely) big companies spend more on marketing than on some of our vaunted projects, and the profit margin is frankly beneath their notice (never mind the nause of dealing with defence contracts). Major projects like ships and jets asides, we’re not a big player and we’re a terrible client to deal with. The best that can be said is that MoD is always ‘good for it’ and pays on time…probably.

You could make a good argument that a lot of the HR structures and procurement processes are totally disproportionate to the scales of money involved. Hannay makes a good point that a more commercial structure did Dstl no favours. Having dealt with them recently I was pretty shocked at how bad their pay was, even compared to the rest of MoD. There are also some serious recruitment and retention issues bubbling away under the surface, resulting in most of the peers I know there personally rapidly sacking it off. The only change I’ve heard about within DE&S so far is a slow rumbling towards ‘specialist’ pay for engineers and the like….and offering ‘higher starting pay’ for some vacancies. Because paying new hires more for the same job than someone promoted internally is excellent for morale!

Oh, and the creation of a new board of executive directors (ka-ching, £££ for the boys) and a new job description for CDM, complete with £250k salary. (I’m in two minds about that one; obviously you need to pay well for what is a pretty important role, but the market rates are over-inflated bullshit.)

jon livesey
jon livesey
March 22, 2015 11:20 pm

I honestly think you are trying far too hard here. The Government Pipeline and Storage System, for example, is a hangover from Operation Pluto, which supplied fuels for D-Day.

There was probably every reasons for the Government own its own Pipeline and Storage System back then, and almost none today. If they can get a private company to buy and/or run it today, the taxpayer should be happy. Colonel Outraged of Tumbridge wells (ret) is often just way behind the times.

Incidentally, it’s always a good idea to know your allusions thoroughly. When Macmillan described a Thatcher policy as “selling off the family silver”, he thought it wise to issue a clarification the next day.

“When I ventured to criticise, the other day, this system I was, I am afraid, misunderstood. As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism. I am sure they will be more efficient. What I ventured to question was the using of these huge sums as if they were income. ”

It’s always tempting to throw quotes around, but it’s even better to understand them in context.

March 23, 2015 9:57 am

“DE&S is planning to spend £250 million over the next three and a half years on contractors to advise on how it can reduce its over reliance on contractors.”

It’s statements like this that make me deeply unsympathetic to MoD bleating about budget problems. You have to work with DE&S regularly to understand just how mind bogglingly inefficient they are. Add all these small/medium sized inefficiencies together and the “why can we only afford X fast jet squadrons/ frigates / battalions” questions become a lot easier to answer. The MoD gets enough money, they are just really crap at spending it.

March 23, 2015 10:14 am

Nick – ref two reasons to buy into UK – I agree. Either to buy market share or to take ownership of UK inventiveness.

It brought the question to mind, what is the UK benefit from foreign owned businesses on our soil? Clearly there is advantage in increased UK employment with consequent reduction in benefits paid out and an increase in income tax revenue brought in, but beyond that? I think the way it works is that the profit goes where the owner resides? (Less various business taxes which HMT seems bad at collecting.) So when the Gov’t talks of the investment in the UK by the likes of Tata, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, EDF, Hitachi, Ferrovial etc etc what they really mean is these non-British organisations are creating jobs (very good but no doubt more important to politicians as votes) and a small amount of business tax revenue, most of the cash that the UK entity draws in flows straight back out to the owner. Please correct me if that’s wrong. If correct then the counter to that is that Dyson, in moving production to Malaysia, has reduced the UK workforce but probably increased profit and market share, making a bigger improvement to the wealth of the nation than had he maintained an all UK business?

jon – ref SuperMac revising ‘what he meant’ – never underestimate the ability of politicians to retrospectively explain they didn’t say what people thought they said. On the TV this weekend were two clips next to each other, of a prospective Tory candidate at hustings declaring repeatedly ‘all UKIP voters are racists’ – said four or five times in those words without any conditionality. On the TV the next day when challenged by an interviewer whether she said those words, the response was no, she hadn’t, she was misunderstood, clearly not all UKIP voters were racist. 180 degrees in 2 days, the about face no doubt being caused by the pollsters showing she lost votes with the UKIP racist stance where she thought she’d win some. So when SuperMac revised and ‘explained’ his position it probably had more to do with not reducing the Tory vote at the next election than with misunderstood context.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
March 23, 2015 4:59 pm

Pedantry, but isn’t the £250 million like paying the butcher to advise on reducing sausage consumption.

March 23, 2015 6:45 pm

Marchwood is a sensible sell off at the right time – far more sensible ways of essentially providing an ammunition area to load a RORO ferry which doesnt need MOD to run it constantly.

As for costs – if £150k sounds expensive for a contractor, wait till you see the capitation rates for service personnel before you add any allowances on at all. They make contractors look cheap as chips!