BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Defence: Imagine if it were Brown

Nick Robinson | 13:29 UK time, Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Trident

Test firing of a Trident missile

Aircraft carriers without aircraft (unless the French help out)...

A £3bn ship being built which the government doesn't really want and may sell soon after it's finished...

Trident's renewal postponed - allowing a future (Lab/Lib?) government to re-open the question of the need for a continuous at-sea deterrence again...

Pause for a minute and imagine how the press would have greeted these proposals if Gordon Brown had announced them.

Of course, David Cameron will almost certainly blame his predecessor for the fact they have had to be made at all.

These are extraordinary political times.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    GB would have been applauded for realising that there was no money for such folly. But then that wasn't his style exactly was it which means it's left to others to clean up the mess that Labour's left!

  • Comment number 2.

    Another fine mess. And yes, the press isn't sufficiently holding the govt to account. An IpsosMori poll out today shows huge support for what Cameron is doing.

  • Comment number 3.

    Its very strange to build an aircraft carrier but not have the planes to use on it . There maybe a case for keeping some of the Harries (which are outdated ) until we get the new fixed wing aircraft . However I dont see this floating airport not being used to launch planes during a conflict perhaps the big society has just become international

  • Comment number 4.

    As for Trident its been placed in the too hard to do box due the possible frictions within the coalition . Who will say that the deficit is the priority

  • Comment number 5.

    Only a Coalition that included the Conservatives could have made these cuts.

    The truth is we want to a defence capability associated with being a global player. In truth we are no longer a global player and can no longer afford to pretend that we are one.

  • Comment number 6.

    As I recall David Cameron has already said that the defence budget was the most chaotic he had ever seen. So no surprises.

  • Comment number 7.

    You aint seen nothing yet. All the contradictions, anomalies and unintended consequences of the basic CSR will be emerging over the next few weeks which will give the press and media enough material for a long time. Lib Dem grass roots will have lots to talk about over the winter. George Osborne will find out for the first time in his career what it is like to make decisions that affect large numbers of people that he did not go to school with or even knew.

  • Comment number 8.

    Nick. the press would might have asked why he not only destroyed the UK economy, but also our armed forces.

    More likely is they would have continued to ignore the public demand for his removal for incompetence and carried on saying what a wonderful chancellor and PM he was.

    The man who still hides away in Scotland should be pursued by the press and made to answer for his total incompetence with the MoD budget as well as the massive deficit and the massive debt. PFI, pensions, increased size of the public sector during recession reckless commitments made in the dying days of labour to buy votes in Scotland and the Northeast of England etc.

    I can only wish the coalition the best of luck and skill in getting the UK out of the mess labour created. It seems from the latest Mori poll that a majority of people feel the same.

  • Comment number 9.

    Er, Nick, he already did.

    Who do you think announced the CV project? Why do you think Rosyth had anything to do with it?

    Who do you think did as much as he possibly could to put the renewing Trident decision off until after the election?

    I notice you make no mention of the 37bn overspend in the procurement budget.

    I notice you make no comment about the other projects that have gone to make up this overspend - like FSTA, like the DTR which has just been binned, like the initially badly managed DII, like the order for Chinooks that he was going to place which werent even going to arrive until after we had left Afghanistan...

    Brown didnt understand defence, never did, never ever will.

    5#

    Arguably true because a) The libs would have us reduced to bows and arrows and sitting around a tee-pee holding hands and understand defence even less than Labour, save for Westlands and b) Labour just kept on writing cheques to sectors of the defence industry that gave their retired ministers consultancy jobs and that they deep down knew could never be cashed. After all, it was coming from Gordon's perpetual growth magic money tree.

    None of the three main parties have any true realistic, strategically achievable defence policies that are not hamstrung by Treasury objectives. None of them.

    You cant be interventionist and projecting power if you're skint. You simply cannot do it with the amount of capability gaps that there are and that there are going to be. Something has to give.

    That means either your foreign/defence policy objectives or your financial constraints. You cant do both.

  • Comment number 10.

    We could sell the carriers off. I'm sure some country would like discounted aircraft carriers courtesy of the UK government incompetance. Sounds like a win win.

  • Comment number 11.

    So much for Britannia ruling the waves....

  • Comment number 12.

    8. Fair and True

    Could not agree more - Gordon Brown is the victim of his own hybris. Infact we are all victims of that incompetent fool.

    Good Luck to the Coalition, whatever happens it was Labour that got us into this hole in the first place.

    Never forget that.

  • Comment number 13.

    Cassandra - what nonsense are you spouting?

    The cuts would have come regardless of who was in power.

    The UK remains a global player as long as it retains nuclear capability.

  • Comment number 14.

    Anyone know what the ebay fees would be like on a £3bn aircraft carrier?

  • Comment number 15.

    Plus Nick, the carriers were a political purchase. Not a strategic one. Its a job creation scheme. Now its too far gone to cancel them, regardless of whether we need them or not. Had the tories been able to cancel them, they would have. Through life costs when you take into account the cost of the F35 fleet is just too high.

    I'm just hearing as well about MRA4 being binned. So, you've got two HMS White Elephants with no aircraft, coming into service at different times, with no existing capability to cover, plus no way of protecting them if they are ever to get into harms way and be used for force projection... For anyone to say that we remain a tier one military player is laughable. We might be in terms of defence budget but for what we are getting for it, you've got to be joking.

    And this was a settlement that the Ministry signed off on as being workable? This was something that all three service chiefs agreed on in the end after the several rounds of fighting like ferrets in a sack?

    The Times puts it aptly... Ignominious.

    Add another department to John Reids "Unfit For Purpose" list, which is now the MoJ, HMRC, MoD, Home Office.... any more?

  • Comment number 16.

    Go Team Moron!

  • Comment number 17.

    If it costs more to cancel these contracts than to complete them, then whoever wrote the contracts should be jailed or at least fired in disgrace.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nice one Cameron. You just lost your blue rinse/patriot vote. If you are lucky they will just stay home next time round.

  • Comment number 19.

    These defence 'reforms' indirectly emphasize that this country can no longer afford, as a standalone entity, to be a meaningful player in the 'worlds police force'.

    Therefore, it is significant that there are (glacially slow) moves to merge our military into an EU Defence force and offer enhanced interoperability with the USA.

    That is the future for our military.

  • Comment number 20.

    Without the carriers we have no force projection ability. So if anyone invades our protectorates we first send a stiff letter and our next step is...... nuking their homeland. Clever. So much for the middle ground. :/

  • Comment number 21.

    "Pause for a minute and imagine how the press would have greeted these proposals if Gordon Brown had announced them."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/05/military.defence

    They were well on their way, Nick, as you will know. Invading two foreign countries without an appropriate defence budget has its downside.

    "These are extraordinary political times."
    Is that the best you can do?

    This SDR is not well thought through, cuts or no cuts. The MoD has been a shambles under several governments now. Doesn't look like things will change on that front.

  • Comment number 22.

    #15 Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    'Add another department to John Reids "Unfit For Purpose" list, which is now the MoJ, HMRC, MoD, Home Office.... any more?'

    It might be easier to list what actually works even reasonably well at Westminster and in Whitehall(that is if you can think of anything that does).

    No mention of trimming the most 'top-heavy' armed forces on the planet, with the superabundance of chiefs - admirals, generals and vice-marshalls etc.

    The pull-out from Sangin illustrates that the army can't hack it against the Taleban. Its taken for granted in this review that the Afghan War is (1) justifiable in foreign policy terms (2) winnable (3) affordable and (4) increases the UK's security.
    In my opinion continuation of the conflict means further losses of British and Afghan lives, with the sole purpose of bolstering US foreign policy. Its cost is escalating and runs into billions which the UK cannot afford. Time to pull out of the war now, not just Sangin.

    As for the two gigantic aircraft carriers... they're a joke... better to scrap the contracts now... even if built and equipped with the front line aircraft required they are designed for a cold war type conflict. The Admiralty still thinks its 1810, rather than 2010.

    British Prime Ministers, regardless of party, are puppets of Washington.

  • Comment number 23.

    The beauty of this remark is we don't have to imagine what it would be like if it were Gordon Brown making these announcements. He is no longer the prime minsiter having registered the second worst poll in labour's history; topped only by Michael Foot.

    The coalition has scored a huge success in winning the argument over benefits with a crushing 67% believing benefits should only go to those who need them most. The coalition themselves are riding high well above the party formerly known as new labour on 53% support vs 36%...

    What more needs to be said? Ed Miliband has secured a marginal improvement in labour's fortunes but still doesn't have a credible economic policy?

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 24.

    18/20#

    Are you Denis Skinner in disguise?

  • Comment number 25.

    Building an aircraft carrier just for the hell of it; that sounds a bit Keynesian.

  • Comment number 26.

    By the cringe @ 13

    I guess you need to believe in the fairytale that the UK remains a global player. My guess is you are over 50 and vote Tory.

    You can say it as much as you like but nothing changes the fact that the UK is no longer a global player. Indeed after the signature of the Lisbon Treaty we do not even have complete control of our foreign policy.

    If you were right and mere ownership of nuclear weapons was sufficient to make a country a global player then North Korea, Israel and Pakistan are global players.

    Oh and maybe the cuts would have come anyway but I was simply agreeing with Nick Robinson that it is politically easier for the Conservatives to make such cuts.

  • Comment number 27.

    I thought this was supposed to be a strategic defense review? Looks like something Baldric and Blackadder may have cooked up.

    Instead we will have two carriers with no aircraft even the ones that could actually use it - perhaps Boris could tow them to the Thames estuary park them end to end and have his airport whilst we wait for some fighters to arrive. With only 19 surface ships left the Thames estuary may well be the only place these ships could actually be protected adequately anyway.

  • Comment number 28.

    "Therefore, it is significant that there are (glacially slow) moves to merge our military into an EU Defence force and offer enhanced interoperability with the USA."

    All the EUDF is doing is just draining more money, creating more bureaucracy. I cannot see any area recently since the end of the cold war where the EU has acted militarily in a common purpose either by itself, or under the aegis of the UN. Look at the Balkans for heavens sake.

    EUDF is definitely not the way forward. Yes, NATO needs to rethink its purpose, following the end of the cold war, but it does not need superceding by the EU. Absolutely not. Look how much the EU's foreign affairs lot are gobbling in terms of cash for running costs and for what tangible benefit?? Nothing!

  • Comment number 29.

    Ho, ho, ho - tory government joke of the day.

    Aircraft carriers costing billions but no aircraft.

    For the next six years no aircraft carriers at all.

    I'm getting de ja vu - tories just elected, argentines making a fuss about the malvinas, tories wanting to scrap carriers to save some dosh.

    I know he was only a schoolboy at the time - should someone show lord snooty a video of the falklands war?

    It's a great time to laugh at the tories.

  • Comment number 30.

    25#

    Something you Labour apologists dont account for... contract penalty clauses. It forces you to continue with something, even though you may not want it because the financial penalty for breaking the contract is higher than what you've already paid.

    Which bonehead signed off on this contract?????

    More deafening silence or pseudo-witty remarks Saga???

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Some interesting facts about the MoD equipment;

    1. The Harrier aircraft, all versions are now past their life expectancy and each life update which extends its airframe hours costs an exponential amounts. So their presence was not and is not an option especially when we have the JSF / F35 coming online. Something many appear to have forgotten.
    2. Without the STOVL aircraft Ark Royal was to become a helicopter pad, again something that just does not make finacail sense so bringing its decommissioning forward seams to be quite logical.

    Now there is also the MoD's procurement process if that is what we can call it. This needs to be completely overhauled, from the start with design freeze to the through life support ending with the equipments decommissioning. If they, the MoD could just eliminate programme overspend their budget would increase in real terms dramatically, some £3 billion this year alone.

    And let us not forget the £3.3 billion extra spent this year by the Old Nu Labour goverment prior to their demise.

    And finally we should all remember Liam Byrne note left to his successor informing him "there's no money left".



  • Comment number 33.

    22#

    Pardon me, you're right, I didnt address the top heavy structure. I'm sincerely hoping that the review will at least do that. It has been badly imbalanced since the end of the cold war and I remember from my own time at HQAIR in the 90's watching the empire consolidation going on as one group was absorbed by another. Always easier to trim the tail than cut off one of the heads.

    I would like to think that the grace and favour homes, the flag officer and air officer posts could be returned more to sensible WW2 levels, where a Group Captain for instance commanded a group - we got through the Berlin airlift, for example with no more than 8 Group Captains in the entire RAF. So, yes this is something that needs to be addressed.

    With regard to Sangin... we went in with a flawed plan. The insistence on using the platoon house concept was deeply flawed from the start. Much stiffer resistance was met than anticipated. The lack of any regeneration/hearts and minds work beyond guaranteeing initial security was woeful as DFID and their like refused to leave their compounds in Kabul. Read Col Stuart Tootal's book about his command of 3 Para in Sangin and you'll get a genuine feel for what he and his men were up against.

    The whole Afghan campaign has been a mess and we should never have gone in. It has been a failure of strategy, of diplomacy, the aid money sent there has been disappearing on pallets to Dubai as fast as it turns up - See Andrew Neils' blog where he queries a Government minister on the subject - it has led to abuse by the MOD of the UOR procurement method, it has been a licence for the defence contractors to print money and has become a self licking lollipop.

    Those political, military and strategic failures are not in any way a justification to slight those who lost their lives out there. Those who have died and have been injured have deserved better and it is not a lack of courage and dedication that has caused the mission to fail. I just sincerely hope you see that.

  • Comment number 34.

    29#

    The moderators will not let me use the kind of language I would like to in response to your post Jon, so I'll let it rest with this.

    The first time you posted it, it made you look like a twit. The second time you posted it did nothing to change the opinion of the first post.

    Understand?

  • Comment number 35.

    A 42,000 cut in MoD personnel, and more Special Forces spending. Sounds like an small army of Arnie Schwarzeneggers to me. Maybe the PM has taken inspiration from Rourkes Drift?

  • Comment number 36.

    29. At 3:31pm on 19 Oct 2010, jon112dk wrote:
    Ho, ho, ho - tory government joke of the day.
    Aircraft carriers costing billions but no aircraft.
    =========================================================================
    Once again you show how ignorant you are and listen only to the headlines. You also obviously don't bother to read any one else's entries that don't agree with you. For we will have the aircraft for the carriers, the JSF or F35 as it is now called. It does not take much research to find this out but you obviously wouldn't be bothered as it may spoil what you think is a good story.

    Please also see post "32".

    I think you should change your parting message to "Its a good time to be a prat".


  • Comment number 37.

    25. At 3:25pm on 19 Oct 2010, sagamix wrote:
    Building an aircraft carrier just for the hell of it; that sounds a bit Keynesian.
    =========================================================================
    Well it was a contract signed by "Gordon's" mob so does follow.

  • Comment number 38.

    17. At 2:59pm on 19 Oct 2010, Forlornehope wrote:
    If it costs more to cancel these contracts than to complete them, then whoever wrote the contracts should be jailed or at least fired in disgrace.
    =========================================================================
    I totally agree, the person responsible was the then minister in charge, this was Des Brown Minister for Defence under the then PM Gordon Brown and the Chancellor Alister Darling. They all should be keelhauled.

  • Comment number 39.

    Is anyone else as depressed as me by the fact that little or no discussion has been entered into on the idea of a joint EU defence force. Surely this is the long term sensible solution.

    Anyone against this idea will have to give me the scenario they envisage where we would not go to the aid of a fellow EU country which was under external attack and vice versa.

  • Comment number 40.

    35#

    "Sounds like an small army of Arnie Schwarzeneggers to me."

    Yes.... given your "extensive" knowledge of the subject matter at hand, it would rather sound like that, wouldnt it?

  • Comment number 41.

    40. At 4:14pm on 19 Oct 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    "35#

    "Sounds like an small army of Arnie Schwarzeneggers to me."

    Yes.... given your "extensive" knowledge of the subject matter at hand, it would rather sound like that, wouldnt it?"

    I don't have extensive knowledge, where did you get that idea from? I was merely trying to inject some humour, but can see how humourless people would not have realised that.

  • Comment number 42.

    36. At 4:04pm on 19 Oct 2010, Chris London wrote:

    29. At 3:31pm on 19 Oct 2010, jon112dk wrote:
    Ho, ho, ho - tory government joke of the day.
    Aircraft carriers costing billions but no aircraft.
    =========================================================================
    Once again you show how ignorant you are and listen only to the headlines. You also obviously don't bother to read any one else's entries that don't agree with you. For we will have the aircraft for the carriers, the JSF or F35 as it is now called. It does not take much research to find this out but you obviously wouldn't be bothered as it may spoil what you think is a good story.

    Please also see post "32".

    I think you should change your parting message to "Its a good time to be a prat".

    What Carriers? HMS Ark Royal scrapped immediately, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales not due until 2016 and 2018, and that's if they're built on time. Keep everything crossed and hope the Argies don't invade the Falklands.

  • Comment number 43.

    33. At 3:54pm on 19 Oct 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    "I remember from my own time at HQAIR in the 90's watching the empire consolidation going on as one group was absorbed by another."

    Your own advice seems to be outdated by at least 10 years, hardly an expert yourself arer you? Certainly not one that should bore the rest of us with your amateur posturings as per post #33

  • Comment number 44.

    Fubar_Saunders @ 28

    This country is in a political union within the EU.

    This country is more-or-less in an economic union within the EU.

    This country is slowly becoming part of a military union within the EU.

  • Comment number 45.

    39. At 4:13pm on 19 Oct 2010, bikespice wrote:
    Is anyone else as depressed as me by the fact that little or no discussion has been entered into on the idea of a joint EU defence force. Surely this is the long term sensible solution.
    =========================================================================
    Yes after all the UN and NATO do such a good job......

    I am being ironic I thought I better make that clear as you may think I was being serious.


  • Comment number 46.

    "More deafening silence or pseudo-witty remarks Saga???" - fubar @ 30

    It was, in fact, a serious comment (sort of). Can make a weird kind of sense, when in a slump, to just build something ... anything. This was one of Keynes' insights, wasn't it? Bit counter intuitive but there you go, that's JMK all over.

    And from prior thread, this charge of yours and Andy's re me trousering City money and now sniping at the hand which fed (as it were), well I angrily reject all and any criticism of my position. Why? Well for (1) I'm offering an insider's view for the benefit of tout le blog, and for (2) I emerged from the whole experience as the person I am now, a Clear Thinking Progressive - that is surely to my immense credit.

  • Comment number 47.

    29.jon112dk

    Aircraft carriers without aircraft. Ho ho ho.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/05/military.defence

    Nimrods unfit to fly sent into operation? Ho ho ho.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11537773

    Faulty software in Chinooks. Ho ho ho.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8437000/8437740.stm

    Failure to supply troops with basic equipment. Ho ho ho.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3376542.ece

    Invading a sovereign country without any sanction or exit strategy? Ho ho ho.

    Laugh at the tories by all means.
    But show some intelligence with it.

  • Comment number 48.

    Saga - I suppose the only good thing is that at least "Gordon's crew" did not sign up to a PPP / PFI programme. If any of the others they committed us to are to go by we would be up the river without a carrier.

  • Comment number 49.

    36 ChrisLondon

    more like:

    'It's a good time to be a labour prat because we've got no chance of returning to government for the next quarter century'

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 50.

    TSR2
    TSR2
    TSR2
    TSR2
    TSR2

  • Comment number 51.

    Anyone mentioned Liam Byrne's note yet....thought so.

  • Comment number 52.


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/8072041/Navy-aircraft-carrier-will-be-sold-after-three-years-and-never-carry-jets.html


    "The first of the new carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will enter service in 2016, configured to carry helicopters, not jets"

    "The second new carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, will arrive in 2019. At that point, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be put into “extended readiness”, effectively mothballed indefinitely."

    What a shambles

  • Comment number 53.

    39 bikespice

    Is anyone else as depressed as me by the fact that little or no discussion has been entered into on the idea of a joint EU defence force. Surely this is the long term sensible solution.

    Anyone against this idea will have to give me the scenario they envisage where we would not go to the aid of a fellow EU country which was under external attack and vice versa.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    You can already see from recent NATO history that there is a group that is not prepared to pull its weight. Unfortunately, many European countries fall into this category and I would not want to rely on any of them.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ mekondelta (post number 1)

    I'm getting slightly fed up of the "mess that Labour left" argument. Until the banking sector collapsed, all of Labours plans were funded. That's a fact, you can go and look up the figures. It's just that the funds vanished when Labour had to step to rescue private banks.

    And how many of those bankers do you think voted Labour? Do you really think the banks operated on a left-wing Labour policy? Or do you think they operated on the free-market principals propounded by the coalition? I think we can guess, and we can all see the results.

  • Comment number 55.

    34. At 3:56pm on 19 Oct 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    29#
    The moderators will not let me use the kind of language I would like to in response to your post Jon, so I'll let it rest with this.
    The first time you posted it, it made you look like a twit. The second time you posted it did nothing to change the opinion of the first post.
    Understand?
    =============================

    I understand fine well.

    First time I posted that the tories will have aircraft carriers with no planes you tory cheerleaders reckoned I was wrong. Some of you thought you were clever because you had heard of JSF.

    Reality is they will have no british fixed wing aircraft from 2016-2020.

    (If you only want to use helicopters then we really don't need ships that big. Excuse me if I laugh even louder at the tory idea of asking the French if they want to use our carriers for their aircraft.)

    If you don't understand this, then read above where Nick is telling you the same thing, or go elsewhere and read the full story.

    I always knew people must be dumb to defend the tories, but you are really proving it today fubar.

    It's a great time to laugh at the tories.

  • Comment number 56.

    bikespice @ 39

    You suggest that that little or no discussion has been entered into on the idea of a joint EU defence force.

    I would imagine that our politicians have had and are continuing to have, long and extensive discussions on this very subject - in private.

    Once they have settled the longer term political decision (in private of course) to merge our military into an EU Defence Force then all that will remain is the task of 'shaping the public'.

    It is fairly straightforward to see how this might be pitched, the politicians will probably spin it as cost-savings measures on expensive military kit and greater co-operation with our EU partners to ensure that no security 'holes' are left in the EU security blanket.

  • Comment number 57.

    The Damage, that ZaNU_liebour with their spend spend spend policy of the last 13 years, thats has been done to the defence infra-structure will only become apparent in the next couple of years. Brown and Co have brought it to its knees and leaves us dependant on the french and the USA for much of our capabilities.

    JSF is a made in USA plane appart from a small amount of UK stuff and not in the key area's.

    France contributes to other areas of equipement too via ownership of formerly UK based companies, even Isreal makes a contribution.

    The USA is doing many of the mission parts that the UK can nolonger perform and will leave us dependant on them. something that will lead to more trouble.

    A new moment was to go for the JSF when a EFA/Thypoon or Harrier Alternative would have been better. Ah yeah that was taken by Blair/Brown in 2001 approx.

    This just goes to show that ring fencing the NHS for political purposes father than making it better and saving money too has on other areas.

    Brown Single handedly wrecked the UK.

  • Comment number 58.

    #39 France , Italy , Germany for a start are 3 words why it would not make sense

  • Comment number 59.

    36. At 4:04pm on 19 Oct 2010, Chris London

    See response to fubar #55 above.

    Wow, that's so impressive - you've heard of JSF. Of course I had never heard of that. Ho, ho, ho.

    Please go elsewhere and read when JSF will become operational with UK forces - it's 2020 at the earliest. Until then the tories either have no carriers at all or carriers with no fixed wing aircraft.

    Boy you tories are dumb.

    It's a good time to laugh at the tories - including the ones on here.

  • Comment number 60.

    #25 Yeah and it was your mat Mr Brown that ordered then 10 years late in the first place, having to have a JSF rather than a UK solution , which we are quite capable of having if the like of Brown stop meddling.

    I bet you feel quite smug about that comment don't you. Freedom to do and say what you like comes at a price to give you that privalage. Otherwise we would all be speaking German or RUSSIAN by now if we did not have the means to keep them out of the UK.

  • Comment number 61.

    42. At 4:27pm on 19 Oct 2010, ItsAlreadyTooLate wrote:
    =========================================================================
    In answer to your question we do still have HMS Illustrious and HMS Invincible which are technically aircraft carriers. All be on the small side only some 20,000 tons where as the Ark Royal is about 43,000 tons.

  • Comment number 62.

    42. ItsAlreadyTooLate

    'What Carriers? HMS Ark Royal scrapped immediately, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales not due until 2016 and 2018, and that's if they're built on time. Keep everything crossed and hope the Argies don't invade the Falklands.'


    Unless anyone knows otherwise I think HMS Illustrious is undergoing a refurb now, should be operational next year sometime. Unless she has also been scrapped? Probably be helicopters only if all Harriers are gone.

  • Comment number 63.

    32. At 3:50pm on 19 Oct 2010, Chris London wrote:
    Some interesting facts about the MoD equipment;

    1. The Harrier aircraft, all versions are now past their life expectancy and each life update which extends its airframe hours costs an exponential amounts. So their presence was not and is not an option especially when we have the JSF / F35 coming online. Something many appear to have forgotten.

    Where are you getting your facts from? It is my understanding that investments in Harrier (GR9) have given the aircraft the potential to operate through to around 2025 at little additional capital expenditure whereas the Tornado, the aircraft chosen to remain in its place, will need significant additional costs to keep it operational. If the aircraft is past its sell by date why do the US Marine Corps still use them; not to mention the Spanish, Italian and Indian Navies.

    No, the answer to the demise of the Harrier is much simpler. Despite Liam Fox's contention this morning on the BBC that his planned 10 year gap in aircraft carrier capability could be equated to the 2 year gap in the 1970s between the old ARK ROYAL paying off and the INVINCIBLE being commissioned, the RAF hierarchy know that with no Harriers or aircraft carriers, the Royal Navy will have completely lost by 2020 the capability, in fixed wing pilots and flight deck personnel, to conduct fixed wing carrier operations. Hence the decision to sacrifice the Harriers which will hamstring the Fleet Air Arm.

    If the cuts have to be made, lets at least be honest about it.

  • Comment number 64.

    46 saga

    And from prior thread, this charge of yours and Andy's re me trousering City money and now sniping at the hand which fed (as it were), well I angrily reject all and any criticism of my position. Why? Well for (1) I'm offering an insider's view for the benefit of tout le blog, and for (2) I emerged from the whole experience as the person I am now, a Clear Thinking Progressive - that is surely to my immense credit.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    It would be to your immense credit if you were able to tell us how, after seeing the light, you donated your ill-gotten gains to charity. I presume you did, didn't you?

  • Comment number 65.

    The UK is done for.
    France is done for.
    Germany is done for.
    Spain is done for.
    Italy is done for.

    There is only one course of action to keep our level of wellbeing, to keep our current lifestyle of being able to afford entry level housing, to buy a car and pay for quality food.

    It is time for the United States of Europe to be born, and no culture will be lost. New Yorkers are as different to Californians as British are as different to the Spanish.

    We watch the same sports, listen to the same music, praise the same actors, cherish the same values, hold dear the same ideolgies, prefer social interactions over money.

    Those who do not agree need to atleast once visit Europe, and stop taking their bleeding holidays the Disney Land, Florida every year.

    I know what I am talking about, those who worry that a linked Europe will destroy your laws and freedom are having the biggest laugh in the world. The UK is far more restrictive of personal freedom than any other European nations, and the UK laws are over 99% identical to that of Slovakia for goodness sake, and even more simular to the other large Euro nations!

    And what is this rubbish about losing sovereignty? What sovereignty? Please tell me... what exactle are we supposed to be losing? Sovereignty is nothing more than a word, and it is a meaningless word at that!

    United States of Europe is better than the UK.
    United States of Europe better than Spain.
    United States of Europe better than Germany.
    United States of Europe better than Italy.
    United States of Europe better than France.

    United States of Europe is the only answer and those who disagree are the ones who still "believe the world is flat".

  • Comment number 66.

    I see all the right-wingers are more shrill than usual today....a tad rattled maybe ? (obviously not sabres anymore.)

  • Comment number 67.

    54 Russell Jones

    I'm getting slightly fed up of the "mess that Labour left" argument.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I'm more than "slightly fed up" of the mess that Labour left.

  • Comment number 68.

    57 iris Survivor

    'Brown single handedly wrecked the UK'

    Spot on

    Gold.. sold at 200$ now 1,350$

    Private sector final salary pensions..destroyed

    Public sector final salary pensions ..protected and another one million added to the liability

    PFI.. billions of long term commitments at over inflated 'I can't believe they are offering this' rates, bankrupting schools and hospitals way into the future

    Bank regulation.. consistently ignoring warnings from the Bank of England

    Bank leverage.. the worst bust in the developed world now propped up by billions in government insurance.

    Defence.. billions in unfunded long term commitments now being addressed by the coalition

    Private sector growth under newlabour.. zero in thriteen years in manufacturing.. only now beginning to blossom under the coalition according to latest CBI survey

    Gordon Brown.. a shambles of a chancellor and prime minister. A thirteen year track record of profligacy, incompetence, waste and hubris.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 69.

    Liam Fox on telly at the mo...another opportunity to engage in that popular national pastime...laughing at the Tories..(you know I think it could catch on...)

  • Comment number 70.

    rr7 @ 23

    "The coalition has scored a huge success in winning the argument over benefits with a crushing 67% believing benefits should only go to those who need them most."

    If you think about what you've written here, Robin - I've bolded the offending word so as to help - you will realise it's nonsensical.

    Under this way of thinking we could end up paying benefits ONLY to Roger - he being in a right old state, more on his uppers than any other person in the land.

    The 67% who "agreed" also need to reflect and retract.

  • Comment number 71.

    I didn't know the French had only one clapped out aircraft carrier that spends two out of every seven years at the menders...you learn something new everyday...



  • Comment number 72.

    No Chris (45), not good - being ironic and then telling us you're being ironic. That's showing a lack of confidence in your irony. Let yourself down there.

  • Comment number 73.

    Nick, you say "Of course, David Cameron will almost certainly blame his predecessor"

    It's difficult to see who else is to blame as Labour have been in power for the last 13 years. They were finally booted out of office following the mis-handling of the economy and the worst financial crisis this country has ever seen.

    Defence procurement must be planned many years ahead with finance in place. This is a total shambles.

    That said, whatever the situation the coalition inherited, it is clearly absurd to end up with two unusable Aircraft Carriers with no aircraft. Cameron would do far better to make some bold decisions based on where we are now, not where we would like to be.

    Trident is a complete waste of money and could be easily be scrapped without affecting the security of the realm. Meanwhile, much more urgent effort should be made to stop anti-western rogue nations acquiring nuclear weapons, such as Iran. This is the real threat.

  • Comment number 74.

    russell @ 54

    A nod to your 329 previous on our peculiar relationship with property. One of the great dividers (between the haves and the have-nots, the old and the young) in our society and only getting worse. You should post it again next time the topic of earned versus unearned wealth - money over merit - crops up. Which it's bound to.

  • Comment number 75.

    I have to admit it's been pretty farcical today. First the creation of the new weapon, the NAACs (No Aircraft Aircraft Carrier.) Plus Danny "opps the page fell open" Alexander does a turn...

    Carry On Laugh at the Tories(and LibDems)...released nationwide 6/5/10.

  • Comment number 76.

    #67 I'm more than feed up with the mess labour have left.

    We could cut the licence fee from C£145 to C£95 and give that to the defence budget.

  • Comment number 77.

    "A joint EU defence force. Surely this is the long term sensible solution." - spice @ 39

    You'd have thought so, wouldn't you? I predict it will happen in your lifetime (assuming you're in the pink). I also think the UK will join the Euro. Sure there's a few details to be ironed out but from where I'm standing (i.e. up here) it makes all the sense in the world. I really hate the pound, find it illogical and annoying - why on earth do we need our own currency?

  • Comment number 78.

    At first glance, having aircraft carriers but no aircraft to put on them does sound like the coalition have done something quite mad.

    But, when you think about it, you might see that it's really the only thing that's physically possible.

    The contracts/processes for the carriers have now gone too far; it's not possible to back out of them without the cost of backing out being more than the cost of finishing the build, so it makes logical and financial sense to get them finished, and then they can just be unused until we get some more cash and can afford some planes.

    So, at first glance I thought "that's bonkers", but when I thought about it a bit more I thought "This is all happening because Brown bankrupted the UK and we don't have any choice; this is the only possible decision that can be made in the circumstances, and is probably the cheapest/best option."

    So, Nick, if Gordon Brown had done this, then the response from most of the public (after they'd thought about it for a bit) would probably be the same as cameron doing it, ie:

    "Brown/Labour have forced us into a situation where we've got aircraft carriers with no planes, and that situation has been brought about purely because of Brown's/Labour's total financial negligence."

    The coalition are trying to make decisions which are the best financially and for the country generally; sometimes it'll bring up weird anomalies like this one, but when you think about the situation then usually those anomalies are not ones that you can get around, and are ones that are forced upon us because of the total economic annihilation that Brown/Labour left in their wake.

  • Comment number 79.

    Here it is simplified for the tories on here...

    2010 - Harriers out of service. No carrier fixed wing capability.
    2016 - First new carrier. It can NOT operate JSF.
    2020 - Second carrier. Finally we have carrier fixed wing capability.
    2020 - First, white elephant, carrier sold or mothballed (!)

    From 2010 to 2020 we have carriers but no fixed wing aircraft that can operate off them.

    As #63 states, the option to mantain carrier aviation through that period would have been harrier. But your tory heroes have scrapped it.

    Please don't make me laugh even more by telling me the public schoolboys would do something like retake the falklands with a helicopter carrier or a big carrier with french jets and the french pilots needed to fly them.

    It's a great time to laugh at the tories - and the people who support them.

  • Comment number 80.

    AS71 @ 64

    Does alimony count?

  • Comment number 81.

    You have to wonder if Liam Fox has studied what happened to the future career of John Nott, after he and M Thatch decided, for economic reasons, to plan to shrink the Navy by 25% and to sell HMS Invincible to Australia to become the HMAS Dame Edna...
    When you read the 1981 Defense Review statement & today's, they are eerily similar.
    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1981/jun/25/defence-programme

  • Comment number 82.

    "Gordon Brown.. a shambles of a chancellor and prime minister." - 68

    Robin, I can see you now - 25 years hence - still giving it some down at the club; elasticated trousers, nostril hair flying all over the place, going on and on (and on) about Gordon Brown. "Who?" they'll ask (just to wind you up).

    Seriously though, your above comment is off topic. Topic is the defence cuts.

  • Comment number 83.

    61. At 5:11pm on 19 Oct 2010, Chris London wrote:

    42. At 4:27pm on 19 Oct 2010, ItsAlreadyTooLate wrote:
    =========================================================================
    In answer to your question we do still have HMS Illustrious and HMS Invincible which are technically aircraft carriers. All be on the small side only some 20,000 tons where as the Ark Royal is about 43,000 tons.
    =========================================================================

    Errrrr..... no, the HMS Ark Royal is around 20,000 tons as well, the same as the other Invincible Class Carriers you mention.

  • Comment number 84.

    46 - "And from prior thread, this charge of yours and Andy's re me trousering City money and now sniping at the hand which fed (as it were), well I angrily reject all and any criticism of my position. Why? Well for (1) I'm offering an insider's view for the benefit of tout le blog, and for (2) I emerged from the whole experience as the person I am now, a Clear Thinking Progressive - that is surely to my immense credit."

    Of course you reject all criticisnm. You're a hypocrite and that's what they tend to do.

    What insider's view? It amounts to "I used to work there, I made loads of money, I thought it was wrong". What attention to detail! I'm sure anyone could set up their own Financial Services Company armed with that blistering insight.

    You criticise what the finance sector does now yet say you did it yourself for years. One assumes that wracked with guilt you gave all the money away, or at least enough of it to equate to the much higher rates of tax you now wish to foist on others?

    You complain about wealth and property yet have a property you rarely use. Bet you even nominate it as your PPR so come the time you come to sell, you won't pay CGT on it. Bet you do. Still as we've seen from the HoL scandals, the Left do have a tendency to be 'creative' over where they live for tax purposes.

    If we are to believe you, you made a fortune in the city, don't need to work again and are now pontificating on socialism from on top of a pile of money you've no intention of giving away.

    Truly a child of Blair's Britain (the one he practiced of course, not the one he preached)

  • Comment number 85.


    53. At 4:43pm on 19 Oct 2010, AS71 wrote:
    39 bikespice

    "You can already see from recent NATO history that there is a group that is not prepared to pull its weight. Unfortunately, many European countries fall into this category and I would not want to rely on any of them."

    Not sure that this is not code for "Were too sensible to follow the USA into two ill judged excursions"

    Now look I am not suggesting that the EUDF would be controlled by the Council of Ministers like NATO or the UN model. It, like the neccessary percursor of a commonn foreign policy, would be under the democratic control of the European Parliament. Therefor you would not be reliant on any one member country's particular whim of the moment.

    If you only consider the economic argument alone just look at the EU total GDP some 20% greater than the USA. Surely we can arrange a tactical and strategic defence force for the whole of the EU for a couple of percent of this.

    And nobody has answered my original question so to rephrase it "Which EU country would you not wish to defend from external attack?"

  • Comment number 86.

    9. jon112dk etc.:

    "Boy you tories are dumb.
    It's a good time to laugh at the tories - including the ones on here."


    You could say there are a few blunt ones on here, still repeating the same mantras, but in comparison you're making them look like intellectual heavyweights.
    The only difference between Labour's navy and the coalition's is that they would have had some ageing, expensive-to-maintain Harriers on board the new carriers. And even that's debatable... without any party having given us the benefit of a defence spending review before the last election. I don't agree with the coalition's decision to scrap all Harriers but then I don't know all the numbers and permutations involved. Basically it looks like the Navy lost the argument to the Army and Air Force.
    You and others on here would have some credibility if you'd been vocal over Labour's terrible record on Defence during the last decade, now conveniently forgotten. Although 'laughing' would have been inappropriate as many of their scr*w-ups led to tragic but avoidable deaths of our own service men and women. (Admittedly not as funny as carriers without aircraft.)
    Wind-ups are fine but on this particular subject not really appropriate or even justifiable given the unaffordable carrier order was approved by Brown in the first place. The intelligent progressive bloggers are treating this issue with more circumspection. But your lack of humility doesn't afford you that luxury.
    It's not a particularly 'good time' to be anything linked to politics.

  • Comment number 87.

    Robert Peston, on the white elephants (carriers) the Defence chiefs didn't originally want.

    'The one enduring mystery is quite how this astonishing mess was engineered. If ever there was a time and place for a formal investigation - by the National Audit Office - of who decided what and when, well some have argued to me that time is now.'

  • Comment number 88.

    Nick,

    Maybe you should read Robert Peston's blog on the subject, as he uses facts and explains the situation properly, instead of just trying to spin the labour line.

    Robert Peston mentions that the MOD don't want them, the government don't want them, but due to the negligence at the MOD and in the treasury at the time of drawing up the contracts, the coalition have been forced into completing the contracts because it's more expensive to back out of them than to complete them.

    You shouldn't be asking "what do all my readers think of Cameron doing something so bonkers?", instead you should be asking the same thing that Robert Peston's asking, ie "who was responsible for drawing up the contracts and signing the cheque?"

    oh, that was Brown and his labour colleagues, so perhaps you don't want to ask that question.

    By the way, the full cost of building 2 brand new massive aircraft carriers is only slightly more than the BBC takes in tax-payers' money in a single year.

  • Comment number 89.

    #82 and you will still be going on about thatcher.

    The reason for the defence cuts is Brown mis-managemet of the UK period

    And he has the Ed's that is Balls to stand in front of the dock where they are building built by poles no less and say that they cannot be cut for reason of jobs YET he refused to funded the Meduim Ligft Helicopter progrmae cut the lynx's and caused general confusion in the MOD whilst fighting 2 wars. The promised at the last 22 Chinooks that he new the MOD could not afford with its current funding

    Actually think it bang right on topic.

    So why was there no CSR or SDR under Brown then ?

  • Comment number 90.

    #86 think that would be which one would defend us prob none and which would invade us, france/germany are more likely to do that than defend us

  • Comment number 91.

    Nonsense, Andy (84). I do work, for one thing. Got TWO (!) jobs at the moment as a matter of fact. Doing my bit. Not adding to the deficit each and every day either (like someone we could mention). And as for "hypocrite" - absolutely not. Imagine a soldier, ex soldier rather. A directionless young man who kind of drifted into the army mainly because he liked the uniform. But then gets sent to the front. He gets through it somehow and he returns home bruised - bruised inside and outside - but still just about intact. Has a think, reflects on what's happened and announces himself anti war, his pacifism not a purely intellectual thing but driven by real (and regretted) experience. Is such a man a hypocrite, Andy? I think not.

  • Comment number 92.

    80 saga

    Does alimony count?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Certainly does!

  • Comment number 93.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/3073680/Admirals-outnumber-warships-in-Royal-Navy-report-shows.html

    Heads: Reduce the number of Admirals, Vice Admirals etc

    Tails: Build them new new Aircraft Carriers (less the Aircraft) to play with.

  • Comment number 94.

    85 bikespice

    Does sovereignty mean nothing to you?

  • Comment number 95.

    94. At 8:46pm on 19 Oct 2010, AS71 wrote:
    85 bikespice

    Does sovereignty mean nothing to you?

    Well once you dump the "My Country Right or Wrong" syndrome the idea of sovereignty becomes less important than finding other like minds in neighbouring states with whom to cooperate to achieve commonly held ideals.

  • Comment number 96.

    79. At 6:07pm on 19 Oct 2010, jon112dk wrote:

    Yes we have all heard the one about the carrier with no aircraft. Now have you heard this one?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2010/10/what_a_carrier_on.html

    The illustrious leaders of our armed forces did not even want the carriers in the first place, with or without aircraft which makes your posts slightly irrelevant. All a vote winning ploy as usual by the elusive Brown propping up the Scottish shipbuilding industry.

  • Comment number 97.

    59. At 4:53pm on 19 Oct 2010, jon112dk wrote:
    Wow, that's so impressive - you've heard of JSF. Of course I had never heard of that. Ho, ho, ho.
    Please go elsewhere and read when JSF will become operational with UK forces - it's 2020 at the earliest. Until then the tories either have no carriers at all or carriers with no fixed wing aircraft.
    =========================================================================
    It is true that the F35 will not now be operational until 2015, oh is that when our carriers were supposed to be coming on line....

    As I have stated we still have two carriers in service and so effectively could fly the F35 from them. Oh yes that does not fit into your story does it.

    please have the decency to read a post before replying to it, at least that way you will not look to idiot you obviously are. It is one thing to have an opinion it is another to be totally bigoted.

  • Comment number 98.

    63. At 5:12pm on 19 Oct 2010, SolidStance wrote:
    Where are you getting your facts from? It is my understanding that investments in Harrier (GR9) have given the aircraft the potential to operate through to around 2025 at little additional capital expenditure whereas the Tornado, the aircraft chosen to remain in its place, will need significant additional costs to keep it operational.
    =========================================================================
    The main upgrades that you are talking about where to the systems and not the airframe. It is the airframe that will need the attention and it is that which will cost.
    ============

    If the aircraft is past its sell by date why do the US Marine Corps still use them; not to mention the Spanish, Italian and Indian Navies.
    Answer in order;
    1. The US have a much larger number of aircraft so the hours and g accumulated are much less than ours. They also kept taking delivery much later than we did.
    2. The Spanish and Italians I am not sure about, but historically their aircraft have little if any actual combat missions under their belt and flights tend to be less invigorating than ours lets say...
    3. The Indian aircraft are similar to the above, however since they went into service in the early 80's they have lost a considerable number. I know they had a major upgrade in 2009 which has extended their life to 2012 but unfortunately that is to be the end of their service with the Indian navy. There was talk with them being replaced with the MIG 29 but I fell out of the loop on that one.

  • Comment number 99.

    83. At 6:40pm on 19 Oct 2010, StrictlyPickled wrote:
    =========================================================================
    Spot on, I was getting my Ark Royal's mixed up.

  • Comment number 100.

    Does anyone remember that episode of Yes Minister (The Compassionate Society) where Jim Hacker discovers a new Hospital with no patients?

    Sort of reminiscent of two aircraft carriers with no aircraft.

    You couldn't make it up.

 

Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.