"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Monday, 13 July 2009

Defence Questions

Bollox Bob (aka the Defence Secretary, The Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth) began by paying tribute to the fifteen men who died last week (but didn't read out their names) and to all the Armed Forces. He urged 'all sides of the House' to come together and be unfailing 'in our support for them; they deserve no less.'

He said progress was being made but the insurgency 'remains resilient'. He said the majority of people could go about their daily lives but in some areas, the South & East in particular, there were significant security challenges. (Coincidentally where the British and American troops are in the majority). In Helmand there are British, Estonian, Danish, Afghan & American troops engaged in 'major offensive operations to secure key population centres' in the run-up to the elections.

Brokenshire: Con. Hornchurch. Some of the greatest security threats are on the ground. Can he (BB) explain why he thinks that current level of provision & support for helicopter cover is sufficient, esp in light of changes in policy and approach of ops in the theatres which put lives of troops at risk.
BB: Huge uplift in helicopter frames and helicopter hours (84% increase). Merlin and 'some' Chinook out in 2010. Said some ops couldn't be conducted from inside 'highly armoured vehicle or a helicopter'.
Mullin: Lab. Sunderland Sth. No useful purpose served in highlighting failures of equipment since it leads to fall in morale of personnel and families.
BB: Agreed. Cannot remove risk from this kind of operation but it is govt's duty to keep forces as safe as possible.
Arbuthnot: Con. Chair of Defence Committee. When CoE said Treasury would ensure the MoD would not be short of money, what, in practice, did he mean and what would BB be doing to take him up on his promise?
BB: The UOR was raised in Dec 08 from £635m to include another £101m in order to get latest capability into theatre to deal with the UOR process (urgent operational requirement)
Abbott: Lab. Hackney Nth. Raised issue of perception of losing 'hearts & minds of ordinary Afghani people'. Were increasingly seen not as a liberating force but an occupying one.
BB: Absolutely. Not personally come across that opinion when out there [well, he wouldn't, would he since he's so cossetted and protected?] War will not be won by killing Taliban but by protecting & winning the people.
Ancram: Con. Devizes. Since Helmand is a heartland of the Taliban why were troops sent in on the basis that 'not a shot would be fired'. Serious mis-reading of the situation in Helmand for which our Armed Forces are paying a heavy price.
BB: It never was said. What was said was from this Despatch Box by the then Sec of State was that we would be happy if not a shot would be fired.
Reid: Confirmed what BB said and 'no doubt inadvertently' Ancram had misled the Hse. We did not seek war; did not go as part of an invasion.
BB: Reaffirmed Reid's statement.
Campbell: LibDem. Fife Nth-East. Difficult & dangerous operations but that doesn't absolve us of the responsibility to do everything in our power to minimise casualties. Isn't fundamental problem for the govt that there is no comprehensive strategy to deal with narcotics issue and will continue to struggle until one is put in place.
BB: Was cut short in his long-winded response by Speaker Bercow.
Crausby: Lab. Bolton Nth-East. Spoke of necessity of cross-party unity or else in danger of losing support of the British people. 'Does he agree with me that any attempt to play politics blah, blah blah.'
BB: Agreed.
Harvey: LibDem Defence Spokesman. Objective is ultimately political and military battle is precondition to achieving that. After 8yrs Taliban is contained into a terrorist insurgency and not a standing army. How can international community shift from predominantly military battle into a political one?
BB: [It looks as though he forgot to use the Grecian 2000 today, he's definitely grey, and he has a new hairstyle].
Watson: Lab. West Bromwich East. Shame about 'unseemly row about airlift' in the media. The Defence world will know 'what that's all about' and would expect pressure to be maintained on funding for defence and expect 'Front Bench opposite to commit the current Shadow Chancellor to end this shameful refusal not to commit to even existing defence spending.' [Murmurs]. Someone should tell Watson that vertical stripes don't do anything to make him look less fat.
Fox: Con. Shadow Defence Sec. When govt cut helicopter budget in 2004 by £1.4bn, was it a mistake.
BB: 60% more helicopter frames, 84% more helicopter hours and the Merlin to be moved,enhancements to be made to Lynx & Chinook.
Fox: Take that as a yes. Quoted Lords Guthrie & King. American forces have 8 times more helicopters for number of personnel. How did UK get into such an unacceptable position?
BB: Yet to hear how Hon Gentleman thinks we can get more helicopters into theatre. He's said nothing to indicate how he would do it quicker.

This is only a third of the way through the debate and Quentin Davies, who has taken over from Bollox Bob, has just been reprimanded by Bercow for not addressing the House as a whole. Unless something more interesting comes to light I won't be posting any more on this.


  1. Thanks so much for that GV, it's not easy to transcribe the non-sensical ramblings of some MPs.

  2. You're welcome SR but sometimes, as this debate highlighted, the effort involved isn't justified by the result. Nothing was challenged with a passion and nothing new came to light. In fact, until I saw your comment I was thinking of deleting it to free up space :)

  3. "Mullin: Lab. Sunderland Sth. No useful purpose served in highlighting failures of equipment since it leads to fall in morale of personnel and families."

    Not to mention dead soldiers on the ground ... fucking bastards.

  4. Yes, that's one thing about having it on record. To hear him you'd have thought those criticising lack of resources/equipment were traitors and should keep their opinions to themselves. Some of them used it as a political football and there was no useful outcome - perhaps Thursday's debate will be different.


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