PM Brown promises ‘barbeque summer’

Actually, no. UK scientists have not just developed a weather control machine. That would be crazy. What happened was that they caught a leprechaun who gave them a pot of gold in return for being set free. How else can we explain the pledge that the government will:

  • go ahead with two 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers at a cost of £5 billion;
  • maintain troop numbers in the Army at more than 100,000; and
  • commit a future government to the Joint Strike Fighter, costing £10 billion, and completing the £20 billion Typhoon programme.

No need to have any tough debate on strategy then. It’s all been worked out. Surely this is more than just short-term political manoeuvring, right? Right? 

Happy days. I love barbeque!

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5 thoughts on “PM Brown promises ‘barbeque summer’

  1. Formerly Grant says:

    Has anyone seriously, honestly and thoroughly looked at how much the United Kingdom’s forces spend on what?

    On another note, it’s still a bit of a shock to me to hear those terms put as ‘high’. In the U.S we’re looking at hundreds of billions of dollars. I suppose we’ll have to get ready for this sort of thing in the long run.

  2. David Betz says:

    For sure it is all relative. Relative to the United States the UK spends quite a bit less as a percentage of GDP. The US has averaged a little over 4 % over the last ten years (down from over 5 in the latter days of the Cold War) whereas the UK currently is about 2.4 % now and averaged about that over the last decade (down from about 5 % in the ’80s).

    More data than you can shake a stick at is to be found at SIPRI:

    http://www.sipri.org/databases

    Personally, I would double defence spending–not as a means of avoiding defence reform but because I think it’s just too low. The money could be found in our bloated national health and welfare systems which have really eaten the budget. There is no way, however, that this is going to happen. Utterly politically non-starting. The best estimate of future UK defence spending is Malcolm Chalmers’ recent Whitehall paper:

    http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/FDR_Working_Paper_1.pdf

    Best case scenario is that funding will fall about 11 % between now and 2016 and there are good reasons to suspect cuts will be deeper.

    To me, this is what makes these ‘pledges’ so risible. They are so obviously made in bad faith.

  3. Noel Falconer says:

    In my field, defence, I know how to HALVE expenditure without the slightest loss of capability – sack nine of every ten star-rank officers, make do with the Typhoons and Tridents we have, and cancel the carriers that will never be built anyhow.

    Specialists in other areas may not quite match this, but there’s no lack of skeletons in cupboards, nor of need to clear those out.

  4. David Betz says:

    ‘…sack nine of every ten star-rank officers, make do with the Typhoons and Tridents we have, and cancel the carriers that will never be built anyhow.’

    I agree with the first. It seems to me there’s a cohort of really good junior officers at the bottom and a handful of good ones at the top but in the middle is a stubborn belt of bureaucratic cellulite that nothing seems able to shift–certainly not, thus far, the actualities of fighting a war. It’s a bureaucratic monster that nothing can change, regardless of who is pressing.

    On the second, I’m afraid that we have no choice but to accept that the 20 billion spent on Eurofighter is basically wasted. The best that can be hoped is that the Saudis or someone–anyone?–will take them off us for a decent price.

    On the third, I agree. I don’t really understand the pressing need for a son of Trident. If the existing one can be updated for a fraction of the cost then that seems to me a good idea.

    But on the last despite many reservations I must admit that I’ve changed my mind on these carriers. It seems to me that they bring a lot of capability that isn’t easy to be substituted. I admit that I am not a sea power expert but I’m increasingly swayed by the arguments of those who are.

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