Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Going Ballistic

Ah, the dear old Defence Select Committee, doing what it does best.

Lobbying for fat public contracts to be awarded to its members' past, present and future employers in the arms trade.

It is 160 years since we were last at war with Russia. But we constantly have to pretend, both that we are teetering on the brink of such a war, and that the absence of it means that we are at peace.

Russia has been picked at random from among the nations of the earth, and we merrily go to war with any or all of the rest, just so long as we never do so with her, a possibility for which we must ever be on our guard.

In reality, if NATO still has any military role, rather than merely organising top level weekend breaks in European capitals, then it is as the extension of Erdogan's Turkey.

Compared to that, Putin's Russia is not an unattractive prospect.

Ken Clarke has been recorded predicting "war with at least three countries at once" under Michael Gove. But the same is true of all the other candidates for Leader of the Conservative Party, all of whom are accordingly enemies of civil liberties.

As for Trident, the eye-watering expense of it blinds us to the jaw-dropping increase in that cost every time that anyone bothers to check.

Under any other circumstance, the Conservative Party would rightly go ballistic, so to speak, at a small proportion of any of those increases alone. Never mind at the whole bill, which is now completely out of control.

Meanwhile, we now barely have a Navy. We had the mightiest that the world had ever seen, before nuclear weapons were ever even imagined.

A Commons vote on the national bankruptcy that is Trident "renewal" belongs in the same believe-it-when-you-see-it category as the invocation of Article 50, or a challenge to the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

But such a vote ought to be welcomed, and even forced.

Like the wannabe Shadow Defence Secretary, John Woodcock, the 64-year-old Michael Fallon has never worked outside politics.

But the real Shadow Defence Secretary, the anti-Trident Clive Lewis, is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Woodcock is famous for never visiting the poorer areas of his constituency, which contains several centres of considerable deprivation.

Instead, he hangs around exclusively with the local aristocracy from the shipyard.

He cannot, however, hold his marginal seat on their votes alone.

Everyone else ought to decline to vote for him, and if necessary vote for the candidate best placed to defeat him.

"Vote Tory"? Well, they are going to win somewhere. They may as well make themselves useful.


  1. As for Trident, the eye-watering expense of it blinds us to the jaw-dropping increase in that cost every time that anyone bothers to check

    Indeed, I don't know why we don't switch to an airborne deterrent.

    That would be far cheaper and would also be fully independent of the Americans.

  2. We did indeed have the mightiest navy the world had ever seen.

    Orwell wrote, the cotnrast between our love of large navies combined with our dislike of having a large standing army was a reflection of our sound instincts and our desire to protect individual liberty against state power.

    Because "there are military dictatorships everywhere, but there is no such thing as a naval dictatorship."