Beware – here be Top Brass and Mandarins
The ongoing hot weather has made me tetchy but it’s too hot to summon up sufficient anger over news that PHE (!) is issuing ‘guidance’ on how to take care during these hot days. We never ever had a heatwave before so we don’t know what to do and must be told! We also read that NHS personnel is incapable of properly logging the oh-so-vital ‘vaccine passport data’ properly (paywalled link) – but trust them we must, innit! Other news are far more infuriating. These have nothing to do with the heatwave. Something else is going on.
Over the covid~ and lockdown~months we’ve witnessed many instances where we asked ourselves if covid had an unacknowledged side~ or after~effect: that of softening brains and diminishing common sense. Our elected ministers and other, unelected top-level personnel have presented us with many examples where we wondered why they suddenly seemed to be one sandwich short of a picnic.
This phenomenon seems to have affected our Armed Forces Top Brass as well. Two examples caught my eyes – one of them going hand-in-hand with the ongoing invasion by dinghy-migrants and the ‘reaction’ of the Home Office.
Let’s first look at news relating to the junior service, the RAF. Their top brass, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, currently in Hawaii (I thought the USA didn’t allow any foreigners to enter the USA because: ‘covid’?) told the DT that:
“The Royal Air Force is to reinstate a Cold War training exercise amid the threat from Russian cruise missiles, the service’s chief has said. Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said he wants the RAF to re-learn skills not practised for 30 years, and that a series of ‘no-notice’ scatter drills called Exercise Agile Stance will be carried out. The drills will see fighter jets given the order to disperse, meaning they leave their bases to land at civilian airfields or even on motorways. If the jets are spread out, the target for enemies is “harder”, said ACM Wigston.” (paywalled link)
Surely, this is all to the good, right? Only last week though that same ACM said he wanted RAF pilots to spend more time training in
“advanced simulators on the ground rather than accumulating hours in the cockpit of advanced jets […] with the majority of training to take place on the ground – saving flight hours for fighting wars or demonstrations of power.” (link)
I’m of course ignorant of RAF matters but is it naive to assume that RAF pilots will now have to spend their remaining ‘real’ flying time in learning the skills of 30 years ago? Or are we to believe that their fabulous simulators are already programmed to do something which the RAF hasn’t done for 30 years?
Next, the news from the Senior Service, the Royal Navy. We’re informed that their modern destroyers are what non-military observers would label ‘useless’:
“Only one of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers is operational, ministers have admitted. HMS Defender, recently at the centre of a diplomatic row with Russia following a voyage off the Crimean peninsula, is the only vessel of the class without an issue. The other five Type 45s all need work, either planned or due to problems developed while at sea. Both Defender and HMS Diamond were part of the carrier strike group (CSG), the UK’s attempt to demonstrate its naval power around the world.” (paywalled link)
So far so horrifying. Tobias Ellwood MP, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, suggested the situation was “operationally unacceptable”, calling for a ‘bigger Navy’. Does he mean more of the same ultra-modern destroyers, five of which are now not seaworthy? Surely not – after all, “we” do have enough RN vessels! Let me explain …
At the moment, a Royal Navy Strike Force – of which this last surviving destroyer is part – is steaming towards Japan, showcasing the RN’s prowess. ‘Tis to support Japan and to show China that we’re still a force to be reckoned with. In order to ‘strengthen our ties’ with Japan:
“Britain is to base two Royal Navy ships permanently in the Far East to help form a bulwark against Chinese claims over Asian waters.” (paywalled link).
China will shake in their maritime boots when they see what sort of ship the RN is going to base permanently in Japan:
“The two ships to be permanently stationed in the Far East will be HMS Spey and HMS Tamar, both 90-metre offshore patrol vessels normally used for maritime policing duties such as anti-piracy and counter-terrorism.” (paywalled link)
Off-shore patrol vessels, are they? Forgive my maritime naivety, but wouldn’t these vessels be more usefully deployed in the Channel, to prevent the invasion of the dinghy-migrants? Ah – but the covid-affected minds in Whitehall, especially in the Home Office, have found another ‘solution’ to that problem! “We” don’t need no RN patrol vessels, “we” are striking another ‘deal’ with the French, a deal:
“in which the Government will provide an extra 62.7 million Euros (£53 million) in a bid to prevent migrants leaving the French coast. The money, on top of £25 million last year, will pay for a doubling in the number of police to around 200 a day who will patrol the French beaches in a bid to prevent the gangs of traffickers shipping the migrants across the Channel.” (paywalled link)
Have there been any questions in the House of Covid Zombies, formerly the House of Commons, about why our money is being used to pay for French police forces who clearly aren’t doing their job? Why is this money not used to pay for more Border Police here?
Moreover, why are those RN patrol vessels not kept here, to do their job of defending our maritime borders. rather than keeping them in Japan? Perhaps Mr Ellwood ought to ask why we send this money to France – money for which they don’t need to account to us – instead of spending it to enlarge the RN? I was even more incensed when I read that this extra money
“is also expected to lead to a joint bid to forge a new pan-European deal for EU nations to take back illegal migrants who reach the UK.” (paywalled link)
Such ‘hope’ can only arise in covid-softened minds! Do they not understand that this is a perfect set-up for EU states to grab our money, replacing the sums we used to hand over to Brussels before Brexit? Speaking of which, there’s been ‘a deal’ with the EU which slipped under the radar while we weren’t looking – a deal which Brussels now wants to scupper, making Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, very angry:
“Last year the UK, Spain and Gibraltar had agreed that Frontex, the EU’s border agency, would man the land border on the Gibraltar side, according to the Foreign Office. But in proposals published on Tuesday Brussels suggested that the Spanish – who have long claimed that Gibraltar should be under their control – enforce the border.” (paywalled link)
Brussels is now proposing to scrap that UK-Spanish agreement – but the timing isn’t coincidental. RemainCentral writes:
“Some suspect that the move by the European Commission is deliberately designed to put pressure on the British government before talks to try to resolve disputes over the Northern Ireland protocol. Today Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, is to publish the UK’s proposals for reforming the protocol, which is expected to demand significant concessions from Brussels.” (link, paywalled)
These are the people with whom the Home Office is hoping to ‘forge a pan-European deal’ to take back illegal migrants! Do the Whitehall mandarins running the big offices of state – Treasury, Home, Foreign and Defence – not talk to each other? Are they all WFH in splendid, pingitis-induced self-isolation? Is this how the Top Brass and the Whitehall Mandarins propose to defend our country, by paying Danegeld while ‘showcasing naval strength’ in Japan?
I think it’s not the heat or covid which afflicts the brains of those ‘top’ people. It’s something that happens to them while they scramble to reach the top – a sort of ‘occupational hazard’.
Photo by Defence Images