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Will Yoxall
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A second rate system would be pointless, why waste money on something which won't deter? The basing of Cruise missiles in the UK was about political gamesmanship not strategic deterrence. A Cruise missile system would be slower (and easier to shoot down), carry a lesser yield and have to be developed from scratch so you'd end up with an expensive system unable to do the job it was designed to do. It is precisely because threats change that we should retain a viable nuclear deterrent - strategic weapon development is a long term issue, we won't be able to pop down the nuclear weapons isle in a hardware store the morning before we need a nuclear deterrent again. The UK should retain balanced forces rather than being sucked into a situation where our entire armed forces are only capable of fighting the Taliban. Defence policy should always take a long view, short termism would be a huge mistake.
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In general I like your draft Tim, though I have one quibble. There is no cheaper alternative to Trident, if you want a nuclear deterrent which is secure enough to deter you need a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile system (SLBM) - and Trident is the cheapest option when it comes to SLBMs. Anything which is not an SLBM is too easy to counter, and therefore does not provide a deterrent. There is no cheaper alternative to Trident, it's Trident or nothing if we don't want to waste money on a deterrent which doesn't work.
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I entirely concur. Trident is the cheapest deterrent we are ever going to get - nothing else is survivable enough to actually deter. Anything else would be an expensive false economy given that anything other than a Submarine Launched Balistic Missile would deter nobody.
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Brilliant idea, lets close our eyes, put our fingers in our ears and pretend the world doesn't exist. I'm sure we can appease anyone who has an issue with us, it worked so well at Munich. Whilst were at it should we pop the keys to the Falklands through Argentina's letter box? Not having expensive weapons would not the make the world safer, or us richer - it would however make us less able to deal with threats which do arise.
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I didn't say that there hadn't been huge waste, much of which is generated by shifting requirements, delays in ordering which increase costs, reviewing projects in a search for savings only to spend more money, and also the frequent rotation of both civil servants and armed forces personnel through various project teams leading to a lack of continuity in thinking. There are also possibly too many civil servants within the MoD creating work for themselves which isn't really required. I frequently read Richard North's blog, I like it, but even if we able to make savings we would still have a funding gap! My own focus is on the Royal Navy, where we are short by around 10 FF/DDs on the minimum we need to do the job, even if we can cut lots of waste there are many areas of the UK's frontline capability which need attention. Research and Development are also in need of more cash; this will go a long way into developing the right systems and will save money in the long term. General Dannatt seems unable to see beyond immediate requirements, Afghanistan is important but it would be a mistake to shape our entire Armed Forces around that one commitment. General Dannatt recently attacked CVF, CVF will be a versatile asset which will serve the UK very well for the next forty years or so, we would be very foolish to lose the capability CVF will provide so we can meet our commitments in Afghanistan - this isn't to say we shouldn't meet our commitments in Afghanistan you understand, just that we shouldn't rob Peter to pay Paul.
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An excellent article by Bernard Jenkin, James Arbuthnot also made an excellent speech in the Defence in the World debate on Thursday - essentially on the same basic premise Bernard Jenkins article here. It is good to know that there is such solid thinking on defence matters, we as a country should be spending more on our Armed Forces. SDR 98 was a good defence review, it set sensible force structures which we should have kept to, but Gordon Brown refused to fund it. When we took on long term commitments such as Afghanistan and Iraq there should have been a significant increase in funds commensurate with the additional loads which were being placed on our Armed Forces - again because Gordon Brown refused to fund our forces adequately. Defence since 1997 has been a story which promised much in the form of SDR 98 and yet delivered only disappointment. The Royal Navy has fewer ships and fewer people - something we will come to regret and a situation which should be reversed if at all possible, our Army is apparently too small to fully cope with the scale of Afghanistan - the Army has something like 15,000 fewer personnel than it did in 1997. There have been some improvements in individual items of equipment - things like the Type 45 destroyer, but because defence has been inadequately funded we have too few of them. My hope is that in spite the huge debt burden the next Conservative Government can rectify the unsatisfactory situation our Armed Forces are in. Bernard Jenkin has set a reasonable and achievable goal in the form of 3% of GDP on defence. We must strive for value for money in all areas of public expenditure but Defence has been the poor relation of Government spending for too long remedial action must be taken. Bernard Jenkin is also wise to remind us all that we cannot be a passenger, reliant totally on America for our defence - we have duty as a wealthy nation to pay our own way, that doesn't mean we shouldn’t co-operate with the US on defence - far from it, what it does mean is that it is morally wrong for us to expect the United States to come to our rescue if our interest are threatened.
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Expenses are not means tested, and as it happens I think it would be wrong to treat MP's differently because of their personal wealth. However if they've played the system to profit personally that's different - if Bill Cash's daughter didn't declare the £15,000 rent she recieved from her father then Bill Cash should go, as like I said in my previous post he has behaved in a similar manner to Derek Conway.
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I may be in a small minority but I don't think she's done anything wrong; therefore I have to say that unless the scrutiny panel finds something the Conservative party should stand by her. Julie Kirkbride cannot be held accountable for the actions of her husband, we don't try the wives of murderers or fraudsters do we? We cannot punish the innocent along with the guilty simply because the baying mob wants us to. I don't think she has done anything morally questionable by allowing her brother to live in her second home, also I don't think it is inappropriate for a family member to provide secretarial support - many small businesses survive on help from family. If she has done wrong then she should go, the scrutiny panel has yet to rule on this, if the pass her as fit to serve then she should be supported. We cannot allow insinuation and mob rule to run our party, some kind of due process must be observed lest we punish the innocent with the guilty.
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As has already been touched upon he seems a bit self centred, let's hope he proves us wrong.
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One point worth remembering is that without supporting the skills of our domestic defence industry we become increasingly reliant on foreign companies, which are also dwindling in number, to use Douglas Carswell's analogy we could still end up with only one restaurant chain if we buy off the shelf from the Americans. It is also important to maintain a skills base within the United Kingdom to get bespoke equipment when we need it, either because foreign sources dry up (because of demand elsewhere or procurement ceasing) or because we have a very specific UK requirement. A key example of buying off the shelf not making sense is warships, American warships are over crewed by RN standards, the UK would be poorly served by having to operate US derived warships. European procurement of platforms also has a very bad history, although the development of systems has been much more successful. We cannot rely entirely on the market for defence procurement because the market isn’t that big and is already approaching a monopoly, by relying solely on off the shelf procurement we'd have even less of a choice over weapon systems and platforms. I think Douglas Carswell (and Daniel Hannan) is entirely right on the localism agenda, but whilst I admire his commitment to market economics it doesn't really work terribly well for all defence procurement programmes. If we want to get our procurement in order we have to stop messing around with specifications, we need to decide what we need set out a specification and stick to it when we put out to tender, we should continue to fund research and development into systems which we may like to use in the future - many of these will have to be collaborative projects.
Toggle Commented May 26, 2009 on Douglas Carswell on defence at CentreRight
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He should go. He may have been an excellent constituency MP, but that isn't a defence for his expenses fiddle, it's a shame to lose a good MP but he has to pay the price for his folly.
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I have some reservations regarding some of Douglas Carswell's positions of Defence procurement, but I am very impressed with some of his other thoughts and his and Daniel Hannan's book is a must read.
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The fact that the good work of many MP's goes largely unnoticed is irrelevant to the expenses issue. Expenses have fallen out of control and a system open to abuse and public disdain is dragging down the whole political world. Mind you the fact that someone is paid £92,000 to read the news strikes me as a bit steep.
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The man should resign, it really is a low, low thing to expect repayment for rememberance day wreaths. I'd be tempted to vote for another candidate if I lived in his constituency. Deselect him and have somebody with some decency take his seat at the next election.
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You can't just extend the life of a nuclear reactor at the stroke of a pen, the Vanguards would need to be refueled which would be very expensive for not many extra years before the hulls have had enough.
Toggle Commented May 1, 2009 on Neuter the CATS at CentreRight
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It's not to build whole aircraft that is important, but to maintain key skills which are transferable between the civil and military markets. I'm not saying that the UK should sub BAE to develop a competitor to Eurofighter or F35 but we need to have some sovereign capability should overseas sources dry up. Also when the UK needs something bespoke it will have and industry able to cater to Britain's needs. A good example of how the UK's indigenous defence industry works in Britain's favour is shipbuilding - often certain critics suggest we could save money by buying American ships - American ships do not fit the Royal Navy's mode of operation, they are massively over crewed and have many different systems (not to mention having to convert basic things like sockets to 240V and other basic fittings). Also by buying foreign ships a large amount of capital flows out of the country rather than going to British workers (who spend money in their local economy) or coming back in tax. It makes a lot of sense to get a lot of weapons from foreign sources, but the UK should retain the capability to provide for itself should it ever need to.
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You cannot operate a Harrier from a container ship, in certain circumstances Harriers can take off and land on container ships but not with a payload or even a great deal of fuel. Also weapon storage on container ships would be hazardous to say the least.
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It's BAE, or more acurately BAE Systems, it hasn't been BAe for a decade or so.
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I broadley agree with your post, in particular regarding a military need for three Aircraft Carriers, though it should be said that Trident or at least Submarine Launched Balistic Missiles are the minimal deterrent. No other system is secure enough to actually deter.
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I should probably mention that the US plans to extend the life of Trident D-5 but that isn't a complete guarantee that it will fit in Vanguard class SSBNs. Also SLEPing the Vanguards won't buy us that much time 5 - 7 years maybe though given how late we've left designing a replacement we will have to go for SLEP anyway or risk a gap in our deterrent. Vanguard will leave service in 2017 without a refit and will leave serice around 2026 with a refit - that refit will cost money but will also buy time to sort out Vanguard replacements - the Vanguards themselves cannot go on forever same as any machine. Possibly we might have only to SLEP the first two or three Vanguards which would cover us into the mid 2020s which would probably be just enough time if we got our act together within the first two years of the next Parliament.
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The Vanguards will need refueling plus if the US retires its version of Trident and we don't have a submarine capable of taking whatever replaces it we'll be in a sticky situation.
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If I'm completely honest I'm not sure cutting A400M would save much money we still need an air logistics capability which means buying something be it A400M or C130J + C17 and that would probably cost £3Bn. So on a cost basis we might not save anything, though it might be possible that we get more bang for our buck as it were. Under all circumstances the Aircraft Carriers, F35 and Trident must be kept. If I completely candid Defence should be immune from cuts as it hasn't benefitted from the spending bonanza of recent times the Ministry of Defence might be instucted to spend its money better but all the capabilities it has and aspires to have a needed, though we might be tempted to review the suitability of individual programmes and platforms (i.e. we still need A2A Tankers but we can certainly see that FSTA is not the right way to go about it).
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