"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."

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Oh! Woad Is Me! The Strategic Defence Review

Drake's Drum, Studland Abbey, Devon

Only the vested interests, the delusional or the criminally insane would argue that the looming cuts are not caused by the previous thirteen poxy years of Labour government.  However, where the axe falls and how deep are the cuts is down to the current, politically-engineered coalition of Libservatives.

Cameron's weasel words on the EU, the ring-fencing of the NHS budget and overseas aid were there for all to see before the GE yet here he is now, centre-stage, having elbowed the Defence Sec out of the way, cutting the balls and heart out of our Armed Forces.

(Military personnel, Defence Secretary Liam Fox and ACM Sir Jock Stirrup listen to Cameron deliver a speech this morning at Permanent Joint HQ).

There hardly seems much point watching the live SDSR, after all, how much worse can things get?

Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence & Security Review.pdf
Government praised by CND

How ironic that this Thursday is Trafalgar Day.   There will be a parade by the Sea Cadet Corps on Sunday the 24th in Trafalgar Square if you're in central London at that time - it might not take place next year. "The battle of Trafalgar is seen as a turning point in the fight against Napoleon's attempt to make Europe his personal empire."

It's time to take a tip from the Picts:

'Woad', to the tune of Men of Harlech

What's the use of wearing braces?
Vests and pants and boots with laces?
Spats and hats you buy in places
Down the Brompton Road?

What's the use of shirts of cotton?
Studs that always get forgotten?
These affairs are simply rotten,
Better far is woad.

Woad's the stuff to show men.
Woad to scare your foemen.
Boil it to a brilliant hue
And rub it on your back and ab-do-men.
Ancient Briton ne'er did hit on
Anything as good as woad to fit on
Neck or knees or where you sit on.
Tailors you be blowed!

Romans came across the channel
All dressed up in tin and flannel
Half a pint of woad per man'll
Dress us more than these.

Saxons you can waste your stitches
Building beds for bugs in britches
We have woad to clothe us which is
Not a nest for fleas

Romans keep your armours,
Saxons your pyjamas.
Hairy coats were made for goats,
Gorillas, yaks, retriever dogs and llamas
Tramp up Snowdon with your woad on,
Never mind if you get blowed on
Never want a button sewed on.
Go it Ancient B's.

Grow your own woad
Buy your own pitchfork
Make your own torch

(Part of the Comprehensive Spending Review as shown by Danny Alexander today: " Providing £2.9bn of international climate finance..."    Click to enlarge and stand on your head to read or wait until tomorrow).   Almost 500,000 public sector jobs to go before 2014-15 also reported in The Daily Mail

UPDATE: Conservative Home has an excellent summary (it's a 75-page .pdf) reproduced in full:
  • Defence budget will fall by 8% over four years.
  • Britain's defence budget will remain the fourth largest in the world.
  • We will remain a world power with a large aid budget and one of the largest embassy networks in the world.
  • There is no cut whatsoever in our support for the frontline in Afghanistan. That will continue to be funded directly from the Treasury's Special Reserve. In fact more helicopters, surveillance capacity and anti-IED equipment will be supplied.
  • There will be a shift to conflict prevention and to tackling unconventional threats. £500m of new money will be invested in resisting cyber-attacks.
  • 25,000 MoD jobs will go as part of a leaner defence department.
  • The Nimrod project will be cancelled and the MoD will become much more commercially-minded in future.
  • One-third of DFID's budget will be switched to conflict prevention.
  • 7,000 soldiers will be cut. The total strength of the army will fall to just over 95,000.
  • Britain will retain the ability to retain a force of 30,000 to a war theatre.
  • Tanks and heavy artillery will be cut by 40%.
  • The Army will return from Germany - half by 2015 and all by 2020.
  • The Royal Navy and RAF manpower will both be cut by 5,000.
  • The number of frigates and destroyers will be reduced to 19 from 23. The future Fleet will be more suited to piracy and drug trafficking.
  • The Harrier will be retired after forty years of great service in order to ensure the Tornado can be fully funded.
  • Labour had signed contracts that meant the second aircraft carrier would be more expensive to cancel than to build.
  • Britain will have carrier strike capacity in the future that will accommodate the Joint Strike Fighter and aircraft from key allies.
  • Trident will be renewed but not until 2028 by extending the life of the current Vanguard submarines. The number of warheads in the replacement will be reduced. More than £3bn will be saved by these measures.


  1. I agree that certain spending decisions are ridiculous, but the MoD has long been due for reform

    We have developed a mindset in this country that we must have our own fully capable military, no doubt down to our imperial history and WW2, but now it is mostly a waste, much like trident the debate it is down to whether we keep the safety net or not

    Having lived abroad, and got used to having a tiny force defending the borders, I'm with them on this, we're paying a lot for peace of mind and the main effect of having it is that we get dragged off to the middle east

    In recent years we've had piecemeal reforms that have resulted in billions of waste because politicians wouldn't take the brave decisions - it's time for someone to actually cut sensibly and take the hit politically, or fully fund what we have

  2. I'm still reading the review and will watch his announcement later (I recorded it!). Agreed that we have a collective national memory of our Armed Forces - or you could call it collective national pride moulded over hundreds of years.

    What I object to most vehemently is the foggy and loose language used and the hiding of foreign involvement until the deal is done. If they could, politicians would keep us in the dark and totally ignore us.

    The aircraft carrier debacle is down to Blair & Brown without a doubt (together with the Anglo-French talks) but when it comes to cuts in the military they must be precise, not piecemeal, as you say and I'm not sure Cameron has done the country any favours with this sdsr which seems Treasury & EU-driven to me.


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