Tuesday 26 March 2013

Search and Rescue, Indeed

I have absolutely no doubt that the Bristow Group is very good indeed at what it does. But there are agenda here. This is a blow to the Royal Navy, and a heavy blow to the Royal Air Force. Why is there no money with which to buy the helicopters for this essential public service?

The Navy may like to consider that it is instead being spent on Trident, along with the money for all manner of other things that have been, are being and will be cut from the naval defence of this island nation. Even all but one of our remaining Overseas Territories are islands or collections of islands, and that other one is surrounded on three sides by the sea. Neither the foreign claim to there, nor the far more active and pressing foreign claim to one of those collections of islands, is remotely deterred by the white elephant that is eating the Royal Navy along with everything else.

But the situation is even more dire for the RAF. The people who now run the Conservative Party, and who are also taking over UKIP if they have not already done so, have long wanted to abolish it altogether. In fact, they are not very pro-military across the board. All for wars. But not for the Armed Forces. Look at this Government's record and plans. The point is made.

They cannot very well bring forward a Bill to abolish the RAF. So they are grinding it down, slowly but surely. As the Westminster Village voice of American neoconservatism, the Henry Jackson Society (which is very close to The Commentator and to the Murdoch papers, themselves at least well on the way to staging a coup within amateurish, easy-prey UKIP) has since its inception openly advocated a single EU defence "capability" under overall American command, but under the day-to-day control either of Germany or of France, depending on which happened to be in favour at the Court of Commentary at the time of writing.

Within that, the United Kingdom would be permitted only a single service broadly on the model of the Israeli Defence Force or of the United States Marine Corps, which latter, of course, is an elite force within a much larger structure and system, unlike this. But, as the above-linked article by a stalwart of the HJS makes clear, no Air Force, a humiliation inflicted by the victors upon the vanquished ever since the Treaty of Versailles.

Would any person serious about a military career join such a thing? One would not have thought so. But with the French Foreign Legion perhaps also gone, although that is extremely improbable since the French are nothing like the soft touches that we are, what would he or she join instead?

Why, the Armed Services of the United States, of course. After all, we are really a single country, aren't we? One of their companies even provides our Search and Rescue these days, doesn't it? And if a private, including a foreign, company can take over one of the functions of our Armed Forces of most regular and immediate benefit to the general public, then why not any and everything else that our Armed Forces might happen to do?

Meanwhile, back in the days when New Labour was led by Tony Blair and the other lot was led by Michael Howard, deeply disillusioned former Cabinet Ministers from both sides implored me not to write, even in jest, that our most unaccomplished 16-year-olds should be conscripted directly into the IDF, on the grounds that, "if the wrong person reads that, then it will happen." They were not joking. (I was later informed that, entirely independently, something very near to that IDF scheme had been seriously considered within the Blair inner circle. That was how far beyond satire things had moved in the last days of Tony Blair.)

Today, we took a significant step in each and all of those directions. Must Jim Murphy go, as urgently as must Liam Byrne and Stephen Twigg, following David Miliband into well-deserved oblivion?

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