Strategic, Defence and Security Review Pre Annoucement Posturing


As usual the country has been a wash with rumour, leaks and the Navy & Army rattling they’re collective sabre’s in the National Press trying to vie for primacy at the trough!

It is no surprise of many who have either served or had some connection to the military. The many theories that have been bandied about are incredulous.

To balance the books left behind after a certain party who have once more brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy, we are all going to have to swallow some very bitter pills. There are few options we could look at:

  • Combine all branches of the Her Majesties Armed Forces into a Self Defence Force and make a larger semi-professional reserve to supplement our professional regular’s. This would cut the headquarters staff, reduces levels of management ranks and removes duplicated departments (Personnel, pay, judiciary and medical). Cut the number of front line ships aircraft and troops and equipment required to support overseas operations.

    This means we lose the ability to wage war elsewhere and could pave the way to remove our nuclear deterrent. We engage fully with the European Defence Force, join the Euro zone and complete the process that that the European Constitution wanted. [A federal European State]

    Reduction of forces to this level, should in theory gives us the funds to build both CVF’s, however, in this scenario we rebuild to accept fixed wing aircraft, meaning we could fly the Naval variant Typhoon or purchase larger numbers of F/A 18E’s giving a proven airframe which gives greater inter Ally co-operation.

    If you want proof that it works then look no further than Canada, they were in one heck of a mess not so long back, however, they managed to get things working. Yes they have America next door, but we have Europe and the so called ‘Special Relationship’.

    or

  • Lose the Royal Airforce (RAF). Give The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA)/(RN) responsibility for fixed wing aircraft (Air defence, Maritime Surveillance (MR4A or 737-800 MMA/A319 MPA), aerial refuelling, manned reconnaissance and Ground Attack), Full Search and Rescue responsibility and Anti Sub Warfare retained. Give the Army Air Corp (AAC) responsibility for all rotary wing flight (except S&R and ASW), troop transport both battlefield and long distance along with reconnaissance (via UAV’s). However the Army must then plan for tomorrow’s wars, use up to date equipment, place into extended readiness most of it’s main battle tanks, get rid of obsolete equipment. The RN to finish it’s ships and boat replacement plan, sell off out dated and unsafe vessels.

    This offers the obvious deletion of Officer corps, headquarters and staff. It removes the need to retain certain properties. It gives a huge boost to reducing the budgetary constraints and removes duplicated services again, but less than forming an SDF. As an ex Crab this would hurt but could be the best option. Could mean that more carriers be built and an in house replacement for Trident could be funded. (An easier way of projecting more power)

    or finally

  • Return all flying duties to the RAF, disband the FAA and AAC, close Naval Air Stations apart from those closest to the Carrier/Fleet home port. This reduces duplication of some departments, but is probably the least helpful in budgetary measures. It should enable the navy to keep its carriers adapted for Naval variant Typhoons or F/A18E’s. Harriers and Tornado’s removed to ensure arrival of Nimrod MR4A.

    This provides limited benefit to the forces and minimal budgetary gain, apart from the do nothing approach this approach is the least likely to do any good!

Then to add insult to injury we find certain a certain country in South America deciding that they want to try and grab a newly discovered Oil rich land mass in the South Atlantic. Surprising really as we are about to renew our carrier fleet once more. One might be excused for thinking that we have jumped back some 28 years. Argentina may need a distraction right now, but we tried really hard to lose the last Falklands conflict, are we set to revisit the scene of the crime again? Can’t see HMG giving the deeds of title away just because someone’s throwing an infantile tantrum. Take your claim to the International Courts if you think you have a valid claim, however, as the Islanders have already stated self determinance and voted to stay british, clear off…. And you too Hilary Clinton!


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Campaign to Ban the Use of the Word Fair in Politics!


It is time to put an end to the use of the word ‘Fair’ in political debate.

Fair is word used by infants and children and the cry ‘It’s not FAIR!” is heard by many a parent dishing out punishment or forbidding certain activities. It should never be used after the age of 10. The current crop of Politician’s have each tried to hijack the ‘Fair” ground, to gain voters interest.

The problem lies with what exactly is fair? It is a sad fact of life that we all learn that, life is indeed, not fair. Fairness is subjective, so what could be classed as fair by me, may not be classed as fair by the other end of the spectrum. This is why our politicians, and indeed ourselves, should stop using the word. The word is infantile and puerile. Examine the policies, describe them as equalising measures yes, but never say they bring fairness! Because somewhere, someone will say ‘No, I don’t think it is!’

Where does it say that it is fair that a family with a single earner bringing home over £43,250 looses their Child Benefit (CB), but when a twin earning family, with each individual earning under £44k but the total household income is £60k+ should get to keep it?

The Chancellor says that with the current Tax system in place there is no way of targeting familial income. What utter cant! What about the Tax Credit (TC) system? This is run by HMRC, who also happen to distribute CB, why on earth can’t the two benefit systems be amalgamated and the same TC ‘computer’ be used to target familial income? Now I’m sure someone would say “well this would mean a huge increase in workload for the TC system”, simple solution give the CB team the same software, problem solved, job done. Equality reigns!

I do think the general idea that higher rate earners should lose CB is a good one. They don’t quite have the same need for it, but then I would. I am unlikely to fall into that tax bracket any time soon. The Conservative cabinet needs to get back in touch with both the voters, and indeed, it’s supporters and consider very carefully how they will retain Governance if they continue to drop these nasty surprises on us.


The Hurricane’s of Change, are a Blowin’!


“There is a wind of change blowing across….”

I can’t remember exactly who said the quote but by deduction I believe it was Neville Chamberlain after getting out of an aircraft just before the start of the Second World War. Two months into the ConDem Coalition Government formation and I think it is fairly noticeable that the winds aren’t blowing anymore, there is a full blown Hurricane whistling down the Halls and corridors of power in Westminster and across the country! The speed of change and style of leadership is both awe inspiring and frightening at the same time! Government is not supposed to/can’t work this quickly, allegedly. It has in the past moved with the grace and posture of an Icelandic Glacier. Whilst frustrating, you know it is going to get there, just a decade or two behind everyone else.

I don’t think anyone can say with a straight face, that Labour’s idea’s of spending to get us out of a recession haven’t brought the nation to the brink of bankruptcy. The cuts are painful and will be felt in all corners of England and Wales. However, some members of society are almost certainly going to feel it more than others. I for one sit in nervousness as someone from another Government department starts ‘Vulnerable People Bashing”! The emergency budget will hit me in the pocket more than an abled bodied person will. I have no savings, no tactical buffer of cash to protect me from the men and women of the Treasury. My family and I barely manage to survive on the Government Benefits that we receive. I am unable to work at present and have been on Incapacity Benefit for about 4 years. It’s not that I don’t want to work, it’s just that I can’t ensure that I am fit for work when the Company needs me. In fact going self employed would be the same. I also receive Disability Living Allowance, Housing and Council Tax Credit, Children’s Tax Credit and that is it. According to my local Council, I receive nearly one hundred pounds less than the Government suggests my family and I need to live on. However, the DWP suggest otherwise. Add this to the Council insisting that I pay £20 a week towards my total care package of £36 means I am once again out of pocket.

The argument that everyone who is claiming benefits is a fraud and work shy doesn’t wash with me. I would love to swop places with anyone if it meant I could have my legs functioning properly and with it my dignity. I agree that everyone needs to shoulder some of the responsibilities of the national debt. But when we are subsisting, not living, the danger of the budget and every other cost saving measure makes it a real possibility me and my family are going to be living beneath the poverty line. These policy’s are not going to make our reputation any better in the world, if the most vulnerable people (and there are definitely people in a worse situation than I am in) are harmed by these decisions taken in haste. I want to see real change, in the way Government works, it is time to call “time” on the Nanny State! However, consult with the people who sitting at the pointy end first, please!


A New purpose and format to my Blog!


After finding life getting harder rather than easier living with my wheelchair, I have decided that no more.  I will not accept discrimination whether unintended or not! So Every now and then I am going to blog about my good and bad experiences, I will try to list places where I had a good time was able to get in without having to resort to asking four strong blokes to get me in to place, I will certainly be voicing my displeasure.

On top of that I intend to catalogue my progress as I grapple with the Eb Tenor (also known as Alto outside the UK) Horn!  I’ve been playing in a small ensemble in Firth Park called ‘Brassed On’ and am enjoying it immensely!

Enjoy the Weekend!

Election 2010


Picture copyright © BBC 2010


Well one thing we can say is what a blooming Night!

At this moment, at a time when many were hoping for stable governance, we are staring into the abyss that is the nightmare scenario of a hung parliament. I don’t think any body in the Commons wanted it, even if polls predicted it would be so. As it stands I agree with Mr Cameron’s assessment, but then I would I voted for his party, a loan Blue flag in a Tsunami of Red Nu Labour! The country may not have given a clear guidance as to whom they wanted to govern, however, they overwhelmingly decided Mr Brown was not the best hand on the tiller at this time!

It is a shame that due to miscalculation, due to incompetence, due to Voter ignorance and in some cases due to; dare I say it ‘possibly illegal or undemocratic’ process far too many who showed an interest to vote have been disenfranchised. However, the Constitution is what it is. Flawed maybe, but that is the rules that were agreed by all parties who stood for election tacitly or overtly. Therefore although I may not like it, we face a real threat of more Mr Brown and his cronies in power until the coalition fails. It means an end to open and transparent governance, it means deals made behind closed doors to meet politically expedient requirements. The voting system needs bringing into the 21st century, I fear Proportional Representation would be a mistake, first past the post is not right, but what other models are there open to us? As a disabled person, the polling station was not exactly accessible, I was able to cast my own vote but not in secret, at one point I thought my wife may have had to do it as the polling staff saw a wheelchair and thought I was mentally incapacitated, well those who know me well may agree, but they were soon put right in that I was perfectly capable of marking a cross on two separate pieces of paper.

At least I cared enough to vote. I know that many people have placed their lives on the line to enable me to have that process. I exercise it unless I am unable. However, if internet voting could be controlled then I would never loose that right. Many decry compulsory voting, I think it would be good for the country, but only on the proviso that there is a none of the above box, spoiled ballots are supposed to be recognised as abstentions, although many are not aware of this. In the hope that at least you would engage with the process and understand the differences in party politics. You certainly should be proud of performing ‘your civic duty’, you then have a right to carp on about how bad the council or Government is! Because if you don’t use your voice when given the chance, you have passed that silence as a mandate! If we are wishing for fairness, it may even bring about the Lib Dem’s hope for true three way party politics. Something I think is good for debate!

I hope and pray that good sense will prevail, sometimes I may as well wish I could run the London Marathon. But an uncertain and unstable period awaits us. I look forward to the coming week and where the true picture stands!


Billy No Mates!!!!


Friendship, how does someone who knows so many, likes so many and yet still not feel like he has many friends?

The answer dear reader is an easy one, lack of communication, an inability to do anything else but lie in a darkened room and above all apathy and lethargy!

I am the world’s best procrastinator!

I have several things I want to do and yet can’t muster the energy to do stuff I really want to do. My Life right now sucks! I am quite literally a huge waste of space. I am consuming precious oxygen, polluting harmful CO2. Not to mention the waste of power from all my ‘Gadgets’.

I read a blog last night about someone who is dying by inches from Autonomic Neuropathy. It was a sobering read. Her body is quite literally killing itself. But, she went through some similar experiences. She has managed to get through it, and considering the stuff I have to deal with then so can I.

Easier said than done! But we shall see. So to all who follow my ramblings, all those who I promised to keep in touch with, here it is, I promise to try harder to contact you, even if I have nothing to say, because quite frankly the only experience I’ve had that week is pain and the despair of needing more pain relief two minutes after taking the last dose. I promise to try not to moan about how hard life is living in a wheelchair, how every trip needs to be assessed for my safety before embarkation, how I even have to travel with my wife, because if I have a fit when I’m out and about it scares people, and they then call an ambulance and I end up in yet another accident and emergency department, where I’m told there is nothing we can do, go home and sleep it off! Oh and no you can’t have any more pain relief you’ve just has 20µg of Morphine and your telling me that you’ve still got pain! The look is one mixed with pity and concern usually followed by have you had counselling on your drug addiction? Like they would be any different if faced with the same pain I face each waking hour!

I promise to only wear the ‘I’m just FINE and dandy’ smile every time we meet, instead of the ‘ I’m gonna eat you and your kids’ grimace due to pain, I know it causes you upset!

If my being in a chair hurts your sensibilities I even promise to try and sit on a normal chair and tell you everything is ok after I fall of it and end up damaging myself, again!


Avatar


It was unofficially my birthday yesterday. You see I’m one of those ‘lucky’ souls whose birth lies on the 29th of Feb.

I had a great day, had lunch with the wife and kids & then Granny came and took the kids so we could have some us time. We ate dinner & then watched Avatar in 3D. Those waiting for the DVD to come out are gonna miss something. The film was heavily CGI’d but well worth the money. Being in a wheelchair sucks when you go to the cinema. Why? Because you are always pushed to the sides you never get to sit in the middle so you loose some of the effect. Why is that. It feels like we are something to hide away, like modern day lepers. Is it because we embarass other theatre goers? Is it because I shouldn’t want to watch films because I don’t have the mental capacity to understand, well I can assure you I do!

Now all I have too do is get over the discomfort of being in the chair all day yesterday. Till next time live long and prosper


Children’s Holiday’s


You Know What?

I remember when I was a Child, that our holiday’s never seemed to last long enough. Now I’m older and a Father, why do I feel like the holiday’s are going on to long. I am now in day three of thirteen! I’m not sure I’m going to survive till next Monday when I get the blessed release of back to School Day! I know technically the holiday is only 5 days long and that we have to deal with during the weekend normally. However, I have two boys, aged 9 & 6 they need to be bullied into washing (as do most boys of that age I’m sure) tidy their rooms (nothing new there I hear you cry) and ensure that they get to run around for at least three hours a day to get them to the tiredness levels of school days.

This used to be fine when I was not stuck in a wheelchair, but access to fun places to run around with variety is not easy anymore as I can’t drive either yet! So I will either need to get a party pack of Vallium or go mad. Both seem likely. If you don’t hear from me after next week call the emergency services I might have committed Hari-Kiri or worse!


Kids Today!


I am completely in shock! I have just had three young teenagers barge through my closed front door.

I don’t lock the door when my wife goes to work as I am disabled and I suffer from a slight case of nerves when I have the kids on my own. So for this to happen, I feel completely violated. I have had to put the chain on and lock the door. I was positively shaking for the first half hour now I am just angry. How dare they do this to me, how dare I, let them make me feel this way.

I don’t know what to do, gonna have to wait til my wife comes home to let her in. Sheffield has never been that scary for me, but since moving to the S4 area I feel a bit like a fish out of water. Anyway, I’m not going to let them scare me out. Where else am I going to find the size of council bungalow I have? Till next time adieu!


Sarcasm punctuation mark aims to put an end to email confusion – Telegraph


Sarcasm punctuation mark aims to put an end to email confusion – Telegraph

I have to admit, it would be good if this is a real life applicable new punctuation mark. It would help out in those situations when you are dealing with people who don’t have a sense of humour! When I worked for a certain Electrical Retailer’s call centre in the UK here in Sheffield, we had what was termed ‘Respect for People ‘Training Session’s’. Now luckily it wasn’t graded but you had sign to agree for compliance.

However, when a colleague drops the ball and you have to pick up the pieces, this would have solved me having to go and explain that, no I wasn’t being rude, I was just explaining how I did your job for you and I wasn’t being disrespectful, however, you can have a disciplinary if you want one! It gets boring.

Alternatively, let’s not bother, because there are times when some just don’t have a clue about sarcasm, don’t know how it works or when it’s being used on them and it is extremely amusing for the sarcastically minded!