Labour in a spin over Trident U-turn

5 Nov

According to the BBC, former Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has suggested that Labour are contemplating a U-turn on Trident. The same man who branded the Lib Dems as ‘immature’ and threatening national security on the issue of a nuclear deterrent may be about to turn on the costly WMD himself in a flabbergasting display of wishy-washy flip-floppery.

Is this yet another example that Labour will sacrifice their convictions at a moments notice to win some votes, or are they truly taking their duty as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition quite seriously, by opposing absolutely everything the Coalition puts forward?

In fairness this Labour rethink is due to the tough financial position that the last Labour government put us into, making trinkets such as a £20bn nuclear weapon slightly beyond our budget. So that’s one cut Bob, what do you propose for the rest of the deficit?

Woolas bites the dust: Surprise as Labour finally punished for breaking electoral law

5 Nov

For those who thought it would never happen, it is wonderful to see a Labour campaign being punished for breaking electoral law. I have crossed swords with the Labour Party a number of times, and never once did one of those campaigns go by without suspicion of dodgy dealings or a phonecall to the police.

Now it could be paranoia, but there’s been enough smoke that I always assumed someone would find the fire, thankfully Phil Woolas has provided. Woolas, who until he was kicked out of his parliamentary seat for breaking the law was a part of Red Ed’s front bench team, has been caught deliberately lying to the electorate.

Almost as worrying as this is that a former Immigration Minister was responsible for distribution campaign literature that could quite easily be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to promote racial tensions for political gain.

It is pleasing to see a Labour MP being punished for breaking electoral law, but it is astonishing that this is such a rare occurrence.

We need to see light at the end of the tunnel

29 Oct

Times are hard, the Coalition is absolutely correct in the action they are taking to reduce the deficit, and they are right not to make light of how serious this situation is. Labour crashed the economy and effectively bankrupted the state, the cuts need to hard and the British people need to adopt a Dunkirk spirit to get through.

However, we need hope. Not fluffy optimism or talk of green shoots, the British people need something tangible, a vision of the future that will help sweeten the pill of the present. Deficit reduction, efficiency savings, welfare reform – all important, but too dry to inspire the masses.

We need projects and plans for when the recovery has been realised, even if they won’t start in this Parliament, people need to believe in the purpose of what we are doing now. We need to sell the vision of what a streamlined, dynamic, competitive, ambitious Britain can achieve. This must include a number of ‘prestige projects’ like the Channel Tunnel or Concorde – achievements that show the world that Britain is open for business and leading the way, not an inefficient socialist quagmire. More importantly, the British people need faith in our collective abilities and a sense of pride that has been sadly lacking for many years.

We need to believe that Britain can be Great again, or it will continue to fade.

We’re not in this together, so stop saying it.

26 Oct

The rhetoric being used by the Coalition leadership is not likely to be winning them much support. The Coalition, especially the Lib Dems, are proving to be very poor at spin. It is unlikely that either party will ever rival Labour for mastery of the dark art of political manipulation, however such a poor showing of late does raise serious questions.

There is one phrase gushing forth from almost every coalition minister at the moment, “We’re in this together,” and the only party winning votes from it is Labour.

The notion that David Cameron, George Osborne or Nick Clegg are “in this together” with the rest of the country sounds absurd and disingenuous, and quite clearly seen as such by the British people. None of them has ever been in it with the vast majority of the population, and when the cuts really hit in they still won’t be.

They are each from privileged backgrounds, have never known poverty and – through no fault of their own – can never truly understand the impact of being cast to the very fringe of society, living hand to mouth.

They each represent very affluent safe-seats, they won’t be losing their jobs and their constituents will weather this storm far better than most.

However, it is reversed snobbery to use this against them. They are privileged but I believe they do care and do want to help turn this country back to the right path. I particularly believe Nick Clegg to be a genuinely decent individual with a great deal of compassion for the people he represents.

But we are not in this together, and if the strategists in both parties haven’t realised how ridiculous this sounds, then maybe the job cuts should start at home.

Is Red Ed turning his back on his comrades?

19 Oct

It would appear that Red Ed won’t be joining his comrades on their little march. “Yes, I will attend the rally,” promised young Ed to the TUC Conference. Now, having been elected by his Union friends, he is wriggling away from them and his promises.

You really would think the Unions would have learnt their lesson. 13 years of being let down by New Labour should have taught them, now they’re members are suffering the inevitable aftermath of the previous governments debts.

The Unions should have spent more of their time challenging Labour and getting a good deal for their members for 13 years. Instead, the Unions let down their people just as Labour did.

Labour MPs and Union leaders have made a habit of working in their own interest, but it is the Labour voters and Union members who pay the price. The loyalty of Labour voters leaves them short-changed. Fortunately the number of voters who “vote Labour and always will” is dropping, Labour will have to learn to listen and be held to account.

Defence cuts: What is Britain’s future in the world?

19 Oct

“Zeal does not rest” is the motto of the HMS Ark Royal, yet as of today it will be rested, permanently.

The flag ship of the Royal Navy, and one of only two operational Invincible Class aircraft carriers in the nations possession, is a high-profile example of the cuts. The Royal Navy is in despair at such a loss, but is it mostly symbolic, or has Britain awoken today a far weakened force?

The problem lies not in the scrapping of the Ark Royal, veteran of the Bosnian conflict and first Gulf, but with the retirement of the Harrier jump-jet and revised plans for the first of the two new aircraft carriers. The first of the new generation carriers will never carry fighter jets, instead it will be helicopter only – providing barely any protection to a fleet.

HMS Illustrious is also due to be scaled back to a glorified heli-pad and retired in 2014.

This first new carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will only last until the second (HMS Prince of Wales) is introduced to service, which will carry the Joint-Strike Fighter, due in 2020. Until then however, we will have to loan or borrow American or French fighters.

It is an embarrassment and has dealt a fierce blow to the pride of an armed forces already struggling for morale.  More importantly though, it leaves the Royal Navy hugely weakened and British interests vulnerable and strikes of terrible naivety and short-sightedness.

We could not fight the Falklands War again and win under these circumstances, if the Argentinians were inclined to renew their interest in the islands (and the oil). Lets not forget, it was cuts to the Royal Navy at the time that tempted Galtieri to attack. Furthermore, the contribution we could make to any further conflict in the middle east or our ability to intervene in North Korea would be greatly reduced and would require us to rely on other Navy’s for protection.

The baffling part is that the Conservatives remain committed to Trident, a weapon we can never use. They are taking a real loss over a symbolic one. We retain our most impractical weapon, and lose one of the most effective ways to assert British power.

Any country that is developing nuclear weapons will be stopped by force, but by conventional warfare, as we saw in Iraq. A lot can change in 10 years, but I will bet the next decade will leave us wanting for an aircraft carrier, whilst Trident sits redundant.

Severn Barrage swept away by tide of austerity

18 Oct

The Coalition has scrapped the proposed Severn Estuary barrage, to the dismay of many and – oddly- to the relief of environmentlists.

I personally believe that this was a short-sighted move, not merely for energy and the environment, but for prestige too. It was going to be a grand project with potential for massive economic stimulus into one of the worst-affected areas during the recession.

It would allow us the opportunity to lead the way and impress the world with British engineering in a way not really achieved since the channel tunnel. We have a massive source of green energy in the Severn Estuary, and we choose not to exploit it.

Many of us who have followed the progress of this story saw this coming, from when the grand plan initially proposed was continuously scaled back. It was yet another sign of the lack of ambition and endeavour that has struck Britain of late. As a country there seems no desire to push ourselves to the forefront of anything. Slow trains, inefficient public services, poorly equipped troops – welcome to half-arsed Britain, our ancestors would be ashamed.

Maybe Chris Huhne should consider the words of a truly great Liberal:

“Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated; you can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”

-David Lloyd George

As for the environmental campaigners who opposed this Green energy project, I am frankly baffled. This great feat of green engineering would have had an impact on the environment, but compared to alternative methods of generating our power the complaint seems ridiculous.

Many environmental campaigners do a good job and I’m glad they exist, however there is a section of environmental fanatics who descend on any hot eco-issue like a swam of smug locusts.  These are people who, I am entirely sure, will not stop fighting until we were all wearing hessian and are returned to the fields. I do not intend to draw direct comparisons between extreme environmentalists and the Khmer Rouge, all I am saying is that they have a similar attitude to compromise.

Maybe someone should tell them that being on the moral high-ground won’t stop them from getting their feet wet if the climate-change sea-level scaremongering proves to be true.

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