Out Of The Closet – Jim Murphy Exposed As A Right Wing Tory – Will He Jump Ship For UKIP???

 

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January 2015: Red Tory Murphy Retains Executive Membership of Tory-dominated Ultra Right-Wing Think Tank – The Henry Jackson Society (HJS)

Named after hawkish Democratic US senator Henry “Scoop” ­ Jackson, the HJS was founded in 2005 to promote a “forward strategy” on global democracy, drawing on strong militaries in the US and EU. The bulk of charitable donations to the society comes from Tory donors such as the Atkin Charitable Foundation, a London-based charity founded by a British businessman turned philanthropist Edward Atkin.

 

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It first financed the HJS in 2010 with a modest £5,000 grant, but subsequently the amounts increased considerably, totalling £375,000 between 2011 and 2013. The Stanley Kalms foundation, named after the Dixons boss, also gave the society £100,000 last year. Michael Gove MP, theTory Party’s Chief Whip in the House of Commons and a leading neoconservative, was a founding trustee of the HJS.”

 

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Murphy, the only Scots MP holding membership, delivered policy speeches at the HJS’s London HQ in 2012 and 2013, has been a member of its advisory political council since mid-2012, despite the views of some of its key staff prompting even the Tory frontbench to end relations with it in 2011.

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Labour leader in Scotland Murphy has been repeatedly urged to sever his links with the controversial think tank which is accused of pushing an anti-Muslim agenda. Human rights lawyer, advocate Niall McCluskey, said Murphy should “consider his position” with the HJS. The Spinwatch group, SNP and Greens also called on Murphy to quit the right-wing outfit.

McCluskey, who works with Amnesty International and has dealt with cases involving people facing extradition to oppressive regimes, said: “The problem with the Henry Jackson Society at the moment is Douglas Murray, who has been articulating certain viewpoints that are of concern, that appear to be anti-Islamic. “The question arises whether or not it’s appropriate for the leader of Scottish Labour to be associated with a society like that, if that’s the sort of message it appears to be espousing.

dearlove_1531139cFormer head of MI6

 

Major financial donor Nina Rosenwald, “also finances the US-based right-wing Gatestone Institute”, which uses its foreign status to publish potentially libellous attacks on British Muslims and pro-Palestine campaigners and organisations. Gatestone also publishes the work of HJS associate director Douglas Murray, who said in 2006 that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”…. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop.”

In 2013, Murray claimed London had “become a foreign country” because “white Britons” were a minority in 23 of 33 London boroughs, and last month he downplayed the US Senate report on CIA torture after 9/11 as “largely or partly untrue”. HJS founder and director Alan Mendoza has also blamed ­immigration for a rise in anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe.

 

Michael-Gove.jpg.pagespeed.ce.0Dv96BPT6T  Michael Gove Tory MP

Last week, the HJS, a registered charity in England, withdrew funding from two Commons groups for MPs on domestic and international security rather than disclose its own sources of income. Commons Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson had told the HJS to provide a list of firms donating more than £5000 a year to it, but the HJS refused citing donor “privacy”, and withdrew its support from the parliamentary groups instead. It was subsequently reported that HJS has been receiving large sums from Tory donors.

 

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Professor David Miller, co-founder of Spinwatch, which complained about the HJS in the Commons, said: “When you look at what Douglas Murray has said about Muslims, I don’t understand how it’s ­possible for the Scottish Labour Party leader to endorse the Henry Jackson Society. “It’s moved from an intellectually respectable conservative position to an increasingly anti-Islamic position.”

In 2012, founder member Dr Marko Attila Hoare resigned from the HJS saying it had become “a mere caricature of its former self”. Instead of a bipartisan think tank, he said it has become “an abrasively right-wing forum with an anti-Muslim tinge”.

 

_63775450_63775448 Gisela Stuart Labour MP

SNP MSP Sandra White said: “Jim Murphy should consider his position as an adviser to this right-wing, neo-con organisation – it is an extraordinary role for a Labour leader in Scotland and a huge embarrassment to his party.”

A Green spokesman said: “Scottish Greens stand for peace, tolerance and a welcoming ­Scotland. What does Labour stand for if its Scottish leader maintains links with what appears to be a lobby group for military and ­corporate interests?” http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/scottish-labour-leader-urged-to-cut-links-with-right-wing-think-tank.26194695

 

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Comments:

* There seems to be an ongoing remodelling of Murphy underway, a u turn here, a u turn there. here a change, there a change, everywhere a change, change. Don’t like these principles, don’t worry I have got others seems to be his motto. Well at least we can establish how gullible the electorate is in response to these tactics.

* The path of all Blair’s stooges. Get in bed with the US Military and Industrial complex, and you’re made for life. They even use the old ‘freedom and democracy ‘ New World Order Blair Bush clarion call in a quote here. You may recall that we ‘shocked and awed’ Baghdad for 24 hours to bestow freedom and democracy on the survivors. Murphy is keeping his fingers in every Neo Liberal pie, just like the others. That way lies Non Executive directorships, a Lairdship, a Special Envoy gig, and of course the lucrative £10k a pop lecture tour. He is your classic New Labour gravy trainer, and like all those Labour Lords, Special Envoys, and Former Cabinet Ministers before him, he will eke out a post political career working for the Man.

 

6a00e54ee8dd9788330162ff8e8aaf970d David Willets Tory MP

May I suggest a casual browse on the Ethernet to follow the post Westminster careers of his fellow travellers on the Westminster Gravy Train to illustrate how well these Socialists are doing these days; military equipment and WMD’s, private health care, security firms and so on. Murphy is hoisted by his own petard (sic). WE ‘sweaty Jocks’ will not be fooled again.

 

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* The Friends of Israel links he maintains is a giveaway. Murphy is ultra-right wing despite claiming not to be. Seems to me he is a perfect match for the HJS.

 

article-0-004699DB00000258-646_233x423Charles David Powell, Baron Powell of Bayswater Policy advisor to Prime Ministers

* The continued referencing to Scottish labour is irrational nonsense. The is no such thing. Merely a branch of UK labour which channels London orders north and harvests Scottish stooges to pack out the Labour benches. We might as well send inflatable dummies to be deployed as required. The real thing is costly in every sense.

* “Last week, the HJS, a registered charity in England, withdrew funding from two Commons groups for MPs on domestic and international security rather than disclose its own sources of income.” Why does a group such as this have charitable status in the first place? If this group will not disclose their sources of income, then their charitable status should be removed [as should any body, society or institution who fail to supply details of where their “donations” come from].

 

SNN0309AN--_1613137aDenis McShane MP ( Jailed for fraudulently claiming expeses)

* Have a look at the Charity commission website where you will find copies of the last three years’ accounts. The latest reveal that it has a loan outstanding of £225,000 to Lord Harry Dalmeny, Deputy Lieutenant of Midlothian and the son of the Earl of Roseby, a Scottish nobleman. In the Guardian article you quote from there were details of the sources of income that appear to have escaped your notice. ” Much of the money has come from Tory donors such as the Atkin Charitable Foundation, a London-based charity founded by a British businessman turned philanthropist Edward Atkin.

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It first financed the HJS in 2010 with a modest £5,000 grant, but subsequently the amounts increased considerably, totalling £375,000 between 2011 and 2013. The Stanley Kalms foundation, named after the Dixons boss, also gave the society £100,000 last year.” If you think the charity is not abiding by the Charity Commission rules you can report it. Finally, it is pretty clear that it is a Tory-dominated think tank which makes a change from the Labour- dominated charities in England. But I agree with you that tax reliefs should not support politically-aligned charities.

* There’s nothing altruistic or ‘progressive’ about the Henry Jackson Society, however it paints itself. It is a single agenda ‘mafia’ – darkly power peddling means to reactionary ends. A craftily cultivated neoliberal world under a controlling US neocon claw. Should suit US acolytes nicely. Like Mr. Blair and Mr. Murphy of that ilk; and Messrs Osborne and Cameron too, come to think of it.

ancram_1460161c Former  Tory MP Michael Ancram, (Marquess of Lothian).

 

The problem with the Henry Jackson Society goes far beyond Douglas Murray. The organisation is closely linked to the right-wing Eurosceptic faction of the Conservative Party. Another senior HJS staff-member of long standing, Raheem Kassam, recently left to become senior advisor to Nigel Farage and UKIP; while he was working for the HJS, Kassam edited the websites Commentator and Trending Central, where he focused on publishing anti-Muslim material, including articles sympathetic to Marine Le Pen’s National Front and Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom. HJS eminence grise and financial donor Lord Kalms was expelled from the Tory party some years ago after coming out in support of UKIP.

 

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* HJS President Brendan Simms and Executive Director Alan Mendoza are calling for the UK to abandon Europe; they support the establishment of a European super-state from which the UK would be excluded, but to which it would be loosely linked via some form of association agreement, in the manner of Morocco or Egypt. HJS President Brendan Simms also recently described Scottish independence as a graver threat to Western security than either ISIS or Vladimir Putin. So Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy belongs to an organisation campaigning to take Britain out of Europe, and with pretty extreme views about the national aspirations of half of the Scottish electorate.

 

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Supermarket Power Unfettered – The Tail Cannot Be Allowed to Wag The Dog – Time Scotland Brought Them To Heel

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March 2015: Supermarkets and Other Retailers Abused Their Power Just Before The Referendum – Spreading Fear and Doubt Within The Scottish Electorate

UK lax tax laws provide a myriad of loopholes which are widely used for tax avoidance and the Treasury is losing many £ billions of tax revenues each and every year. Just about all of the larger retailers, (supermarkets) and other food manufacturers compete for places in the top 10 tax haven users. A survey of the UK’s largest 100 public companies revealed that there are over 8,000 linking offshoots involved in business activities, (onshore and offshore) all registered in tax havens. Only 2 out of the 100 public companies had no offshoots registered in tax havens.

Referendum scare stories broadcast just before the referendum vote, by Asda, John Lewis, B&Q, Tesco, Virgin, Timpsons and many other large retailers providing goods & services to Scotland should be considered against the fact that just about all of them and their management teams pay little or no tax to the UK Treasury.

So a load of tax dodgers, briefed, instructed and to be rewarded by David Cameron, (over 100 lords created in 3 years) fully utilizing a Westminster compliant and corrupt BBC, press and other media outlets spread rumor and innuendo about unspecified price increases just before the referendum and had the desired effect creating fear in the minds of many Scots who might otherwise have voted for independence.

 

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Cameron and Osborne and the rest of the political elite at Westminster should be ashamed allowing Trillions of tax to be dodged by billionaire owners and their management teams whilst harassing Scot’s earning a pittance for every penny they are able to screw from them.

Events since September 2014 have seen an rapid expansion of trade in smaller superstores such as Aldi & Lidl who advised Scots their pricing strategy would remain unchanged in the event of a Yes Or No vote. It was for the Scots electorate to decide their future free from any interference by retailing outlets who might have other agendas.

 

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Trade at Tesco and the other members of the big four has taken a downturn, despite reducing the price of their goods and this appears to be permanent as the Scots electorate e exact their revenge transferring their loyalty to Aldi, Lidl and other similar outlets.

Reflecting on the foregoing it is worthwhile taking a lookback at events pertaining to the referendum, involving the supermarkets etc.

 

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9 December 2013: Cost of food will rise in Scotland if country goes independent, warn supermarkets

Food prices in the biggest supermarkets will rise if Scotland backs independence, retail giants have warned. Big name stores like Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s absorb the higher costs of doing business in Scotland so that prices are the same across the UK.

But if voters decide to go it alone in next year’s referendum, Scotland would be treated like other overseas operations where prices are higher. Longer travel distances between depots and stores in Scotland increase transport costs to good food onto shelves.

shopping-ap-swscan00822-copyHow to grocery shop online.
Companies which sell alcohol and cigarettes also pay higher business rates. There have already been claims that an independent Scotland will pay higher energy, mortgage and tax bills. But the warning that the weekly shop will also be more costly is likely to alarm people who have paid little attention to the debates about currency unions and EU negotiations.

Andy Clarke, chief executive of Asda, said: ‘At Asda, we believe in fairness so the price customers pay for a pint of milk or loaf of bread is the same regardless of where they live in the UK. ‘However the cost of doing business in different parts of the country does vary. ‘A yes vote in 2014 could result in Scotland being a less attractive investment proposition for business, and put further pressure on our costs.’

Dalton Philips, chief executive of Wm Morrison said: ‘If the regulatory environment was to increase the burden of the cost structure on business, that would potentially have to be passed through to consumer pricing, because why should the English and Welsh consumer subsidise the increased cost of doing business in Scotland?’ Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520658/Cost-weekly-food-shop-rise-independent-Scotland-supermarkets-warn.html#ixzz3TRtnN0Ad

 

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10 December 2013: Nationalist anger at supermarkets over independence food price warning

In interviews with the Financial Times, supermarket bosses said they would be unwilling to absorb the extra costs of doing business in a separate Scotland or to pass on any additional costs to customers elsewhere in the UK. The argued they already have lower margins north of the Border due to higher distribution costs and a Scottish Government tax on large shops that sell both tobacco and alcohol.

The comments were welcomed by Better Together, the campaign to keep Scotland part of the UK, while a senior academic advised voters to consider their “food security” when casting their votes in the referendum.

A senior executive from one of the major supermarkets was quoted anonymously as saying: “We would treat it as an international market and act accordingly by putting up our prices. “The costs of distribution are much higher in Scotland but at the moment that gets absorbed by the UK business.”

Supermarkets also have to pay the Scottish Government a “health levy” of £30 million a year to sell tobacco and alcohol and Scots consume more branded products, which have lower profit margins.

 

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Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, told the Huffington Post: “Food prices are rising already. Scotland hasn’t got the most benign of climates to do business. “The supermarkets here are rattling their cages. Scots would be well advised to start thinking about their own food security.”

John Lamont, the Scottish Tory Chief Whip, said: “Perhaps the excitable and occasionally venomous reaction from ‘cyber-nats’- explains why more businesses don’t air their views on separation.”

Margaret Curran, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “The message from supermarket bosses is clear – the cost of doing the weekly shop in Scotland is cheaper as part of the UK and would be more expensive with independence.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10506626/Nationalist-anger-at-supermarkets-over-independence-food-price-warning.html

 

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The power of the supermarkets in Scotland is greater than that of the Scottish Government – Control is reserved to Westminster – but are there other ways to moderate their activities?  Well;  Yes and no.

In 2006, after much critisism from small farmers supplying the supermarkets they were investigated (2 year process) by The Competition Commission.

 

Supermarket Self Service Checkout
2006: The Competition Commission is to investigate the power of the supermarkets in Scotland

Grocers, farmers and environmentalists are set to make their case against the power of the big four supermarkets at a hearing in Edinburgh. They will be giving evidence to the Competition Commission, which is carrying out an official inquiry into allegations of monopoly behaviour. It will spend two days gathering evidence in Scotland.

The big four argue they offer value for money and provide what the consumer wants. The market dominance of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons is being investigated for the third time in seven years.

The Office of Fair Trading referred the £120bn supermarket sector to the Competition Commission in May, amid claims that top supermarkets had become too powerful and smaller stores were being squeezed out.

Scottish farmers say the supermarkets buy milk at 18p a litre, less than the cost of production, and sell it for more than 50p. The Grocers Federation says the supermarkets are selling beer at less than the wholesale price as a loss leader.

 

'Sorry ma'am, but a rule is a rule.'

 

The commission is holding hearings with the Scottish Grocers Federation, the Scottish Executive, Scottish Parliament and the NFU Scotland among others.

Peter Freeman, chairman of the Competition Commission, is leading the inquiry. He told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme he was keen to gather as much evidence as possible over the two-year investigation.  He said: “We would encourage people, despite the fear factor, to give evidence to us, we will not threaten their anonymity. “There are people who would also extol what the supermarkets are doing, it’s our job to form a balanced judgement. “We have very extensive powers, but one of the reasons we are in Edinburgh is to make sure that whatever powers we exercise, in what is a reserved matter – competition – take full account of Scottish policies on the environment, on agriculture, on the food supply chain and on retailing.”

James Withers, of the Scottish NFU, warned that farmers were going out of business. He said: “Farmers are not crying for any special favours, they’re not supposed to be immune from business pressures, but they need recognition from the supermarkets that if they’re going to produce high quality that comes at a cost.”

The Scottish Grocers Federation said its members were being hit by promotions such as supermarkets selling beer at less than the wholesale price as a loss leader.

 

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The Green Party also said the voluntary code of practice governing the supermarkets needed an independent adjudicator, or else Scottish farmers and small suppliers would be forced out of business.

Enterprise spokeswoman Shiona Baird said: “The supermarkets are currently abusing their power, leaving farmers struggling to cope with pitiful payments for their goods. “A vibrant farming industry means consumers can buy a range of high quality goods – but this cannot happen if supermarkets do not take a more responsible approach to their business.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/5314492.stm

 

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2008: The final report from the Competition Commission was published in 2008. Conclusions and concerns:

 

* The saturation of Scotland by the big four supermarket chains is: overwhelming, unfair and wasteful

* The largest four supermarket chains – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – control over 70% of the UK grocery market.

 

David Simonds Tesco 30.09.12

 

* 65% of milk, 75% of apples, 80% of fresh potatoes, 85% of beef and 90% of lamb are bought from multiple food retailers.

* Two thirds of suppliers say that relationships between them and retailers are a problem.

* Farmers’ share of a basket of food staples has fallen by 23% between 1988 and 2006.

* Supermarkets account for around three-quarters of the burgeoning £1.9 billion organic market.

* For every £1 spent on cashew nuts in British supermarkets, 77 pence goes to importers and retailers, 22 pence to traders and processors, and just one pence to farmers.

 

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* 5.2 million tonnes of food-related packaging waste comes from UK homes each year.

* Scottish homes waste over £800m worth of food each year – an average of £366 per household.

* It takes 13 litres of water to produce a 70g tomato, 200 litres of water for a 200ml glass of milk, and 2400 litres of water to produce a 150g hamburger.

* Nine out of every ten drivers who shop at a supermarket say they always use a car to do so. http://www.robedwards.com/2008/02/supermarket-foo.html

 

'I'm still looking for love.'
2008: Competition Commission publishes final report in groceries market investigation

The Competition Commission published its final report in its market investigation into the supply of groceries in the UK.

It has concluded that there are various features of local markets, in particular, for respectively larger grocery stores, mid-sized and larger grocery stores, that are preventing, restricting or distorting competition.

Such features include high levels of concentration at a local level, the operation of the planning regime and the control of land by incumbent retailers (which acts as a barrier to entry).

In addition, the exercise of buyer power by certain grocery retailers by transferring excessive risk and unexpected costs to their suppliers is a feature of the market for the supply of groceries that prevents, restricts and distorts competition.

To remedy the concerns identified, the Competition Commission will seek undertakings from supermarkets to requiring them to release restrictive land covenants arrangements in high concentration areas and not to enter into new restrictive arrangements of this kind.

It will also require the creation of a new Groceries Supply Code of Practice (to apply to all grocery retailers with a UK turnover in excess of £1 billion).

In addition, the Competition Commission is recommending that a “competition test” be included in planning decisions, that the Competition Act Land Agreements Exclusion Order be amended to remove agreements relating to grocery retailing from its scope and that an Ombudsman be established to arbitrate on disputes under the new Code:  http://uk.practicallaw.com/1-381-4028?source=relatedcontent

 

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Comment:

A report which having identified major control difficulties brought forward a set of voluntary recommendations for supermarkets to observe.

Toothless legislation which the big four have ignored, until now preferring to allow market forces to do the talking for them.

Also of interest is the turnover threshold of £1 billion meaning that the report does not apply to any supermarket chain outwith the big four.

The major error committed by the Big Four in 2014 was their unqualified support of the Unionist Party’s, “Better Together” with implicit threats of price increases in an independent Scotland and the high profile bullying of the Scottish electorate.

Unforgiveable betrayal of their customers who up to that time had been loyal to the brand of the Big Four they had chosen.

 

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The Scottish government should bring forward proposals allowing introduction of legislation requiring the Big Four to downsize in Scotland so that no supermarket chain is able to corner business exceeding £1 Billion per annum.

This would result in a major expansion of market providers many returning to the high streets and shopping precincts of our towns and cities

 

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Civil Service Mandarins Plot Against Scotland – Scottish Labour MP Sits On His Hands – Welsh MP Fights For Scotland Remember This Come The General Election

 

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was awarded a knighthood the day before he took up his postSir-Nicholas-MacPhersonScreen-Shot-2012-09-16-at-20.39.42

6 May 2014: Paul Flynn Welsh Labour MP walks out in protest against attack on Scottish independence

The entire two-hour-long Westminster Committee investigation into impartiality in the Civil Service was one long, concerted attempt to obliquely – and sometimes blatantly – attack the integrity of the Scottish independence referendum, the Scottish government, and Sir Peter Housden Head of Scotland’s civil service .

 

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The clip shows the astonishing – and humiliating – spectacle of Lindsay Roy, Scottish Labour MP, sitting silently while a Welsh Labour MP Paul Flynn, excoriates Sir Bob Kerslake for failing to censure Sir Nicholas Macpherson for ‘leaking’ his advice on currency union, and for attacking the Scottish independence referendum. Then walks out of the Committee.

 

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This is a UK Government that has lost control of a situation and the confidence of a country it never understood, and never tried to understand. As for the Scottish Labour Party – they are beneath contempt.

 

* The committe inquiry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EHDN7FMKJA

* A follow up interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Pl1IalnNI
December 16-2014; Westminster Civil Service, “Devolved Countries Unit”, (Dirty Tricks) campaign team wins “special” Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award

The three amigo’s who actually run the UK: Sir Jeremy Heywood, Sir Bob Kerslake and Sir Nicholas McPherson collaborated and plotted against Scotland marshalling the full resource of the civil service attacking the Scottish government and anyone in support of the “Yes” campaign. In the months after the referendum they expressed great satisfaction that their “Campaign of fear” had generated “fearties” in sufficient numbers so as to win the day for the Unionist coalition.

 

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An award, in recognition of the team’s outstanding achievement in making a difference on an issue of national significance, (the Referendum) was presented by the ”Cabinet Secretary and civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood. The proud team commented afterwards;

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* Paul Doyle; “This award is not just for the Treasury, it’s for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda. The reality was in all my experience of the civil service, I have never seen the civil service pull together in the way they did behind supporting the UK government in maintaining the United Kingdom. It was a very special event for all of us.”

* William MacFarlane, Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Budget and Tax Strategy); “As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”

* Shannon Cochrane; “we’ve learned that it is possible for civil servants to work on things that are inherently political and quite difficult, and you’re very close to the line of what is appropriate, but it’s possible to find your way through and to make a difference.

 

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* Mario Pisani Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Public Policy); “In the Treasury, everyone hates you. We don’t get thanks for anything. This is one occasion where we’ve worked with the rest of Whitehall. We all had something in common, we’re trying to save the Union here, and it came so close. We just kept it by the skin of our teeth. I actually cried when the result came in. After 10 years in the civil service, my proudest moment is tonight and receiving this award. As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.” http://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/news/hm-treasury-team-wins-special-civil-service-award

 

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*  ” Any mention of the team members in the New Year honours list would be the ultimate kick in the teeth. It was always my understanding that Civil Servants were strictly apolitical and deployment to duties such as described is forbidden. But Sir Jeremy Heywood simply ignores the rules as he sees fit.”
*  “As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign…” Isn’t that an astonishing and revealing comment. The productions of HM Treasury and civil servants at the Scotland Office were critically remarked upon during the Scottish independence referendum. That was a democratic political process in which the civil service should not have been interfering. This episode can be reasonably construed as ultimately to be greatly damaging to any concept of the supposed ‘apolitical’ claims of the UK civil service. Ann Doyle is quoted as saying, “This award is not just for the Treasury, it’s for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda”. In the interests of transparency and democratic accountability would it not be essential to hear more from them.”

 

*  “I hope they enjoy their ‘forty pieces of silver’ They killed the hopes and aspirations of future generations to protect their jobs and not offend the landed gentry. Shame on them! – No impartiality whatsoever.”

 

*  “I’m not sure that this article could be any more offensive to Scottish civil servants if it tried. The UK civil service does not end at Whitehall.”

 

*  “For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign” So, not really evidence based policy making then?”

 

*  “So these are the ones we have to thank for how Scotland is now being treated , removing one of our safety lines Kinloss rescue for all the children who are below poverty line and wondering what sort of Christmas the other people enjoy , I personally hope they enjoy their award After all are we not better together now pensioners wondering why they are the lowest paid in Europe with heating bills higher than ever. I could go on for ever even mentioning Trident. If, as Westminster politicians state that the UK needs nuclear weapons they should be moved nearer to where those who received the award live. Let them sit on the threat. Have a Merry Christmas I know loads of children that won’t.”

 

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Fracking Under The Forth – There Will Be Sink Holes In Fife – Clackmanan – Linlithgow And The Lothians – We Have A Problem Here

 

 

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The Dutch are sounding the alarm for a new threat: earthquakes linked to Europe’s largest natural gas field.

The independent Dutch Safety Board has accused the government and the field’s operators, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp, of ignoring the threat of earthquakes linked to the massive Groningen gas field for years. There are now questions about the future exploitation of the field that lies under the northern province of Groningen, with implications that reach well beyond its significance for Dutch state coffers. Lessons from Groningen, which lies far from any natural fault line, feed into a debate over the threat posed by hydraulic fracturing in the United States, China, Britain and elsewhere.

 

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On August 16, 2012, an earthquake with its epicenter under the town of Huizinge marked the beginning of the end for aggressive output from Groningen. It registered 3.6 on the Richter scale, larger than any predicted by engineers at NAM, the joint venture field operator between Shell and Exxon. “Until the Huizinge earthquake, we had 1,100 damage claims in 20 years,” said NAM spokesman Sander van Rootselaar. “After the quake we had more than 30,000.” Earthquakes caused by gas production are usually small, unless they happen near a fault line and can trigger a larger natural quake. But in Groningen they occur close to the surface, damaging stone and brick buildings never designed to withstand shaking.

 

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More claims are rolling in, including after a 2.6 quake registered in the town of Appingedam last week. But safety is the bigger issue. In January 2013, the regulatory agency tasked with overseeing gas production warned the government of a “linear relationship” between the rate of production and the chance of earthquakes at Groningen. It said it could not rule out quakes measuring 4 or even 5 on the Richter scale, with risk to human life. The State Supervision of Mines advised production be cut “as quickly and as much as is possible and realistic.” But that year, with the Dutch economy in recession, the Groningen field produced 53.4 bcm, its most in decades. “In 2013, when it was very cold in Europe, there was enough gas in Groningen to really run it hard,” said Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analyst Oliver Sanderson. The earthquakes continued.

 

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With bans on fracking in several European countries already in place, the concern about earthquakes will give gas opponents further ammunition. Public attitudes against gas production have quickly hardened in the Netherlands. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/international/bells-toll-for-europe-s-l/1688000.html?

Heros Or Cannon Fodder – Valued Or Abused – Easy Living Or Overstretched – Reduce Or Increase – Political Playthings Or Saviours of the Nation

 

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Observations of an old soldier

In my time I witnessed many hardships, policy disasters and tragedies visited upon British forces by the governments of Macmillan, Heath, Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron. It pains me that nothing ever seems to be learned by politicians,  perhaps since they and their kin are not required to shed their blood. This has been the  fate of many thousands of young men and women who, trusting in their leaders of government, go off to war to be killed or to return home maimed physically and mentally.

 

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The story never changes. The armed forces are badly paid, undervalued, poorly equipped, overstretched and badly led by officers who value their careers more than the welfare of the forces and their dependents whom they command.

Housing,  for forces wives and children are badly in need of repair and renovation in some places they are officially classed as sub-standard, but accomodation and rental charges are levied in full.

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Soldiers are routinely on duty for 45- 50 hours weekly when at their base. This rises to between 80-120 hours at times they are deployed to exercise, assisting the nation at times of internal strife, (fireman, local council strikes etc.) or away to war supporting the policy of the government in power.

 

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Forces are not protected by the minimum wage act introduced by the Labour government in 1997. The commitment was dropped after pressure from then Defence Secretary George Robertson, (now Lord George) who claimed that it would put the military and government into a “financial and legal straitjacket”. His intervention resulted in first level forces eg. private soldiers, being paid the equivalent of under £2 for each hour of duty under fire. And politicians are ever alert to remind the public that they value our forces highly. Twaddle.

In recent times implementation of a recent defence review completed by Con/Dem politicians and civil servants inflicted major damage to our forces at the time many were deployed on active service in Afganistan. On returning home significant numbers were issued with a, “notice of redundancy” and summarily discharged within a few weeks with little prospect of gaining employment in a declining job market. So much for loyalty and camaraderie.

 

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The level of the UK armed forces is now such as to cause many senior military officers and some politicians to speak out asking that the government reverse the policy of armed forces reduction, implementing change markedly increasing conventional weaponry and personnel so as to be able to meet new threats to the safety of the UK.

The Con/Dem  government is refusing a change in policy,  preferring to place the safety of the UK with the Trident nuclear deterrent.  This policy of,  “mutual destruction”  is hardly defending the UK.  In the event Trident would be launched the UK would cease to exist.

 

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NATO, of which the UK is a full member is comprised of the vast majority of European countries, none of which maintain nuclear weapons, all preferring to adopt official NATO policy placing their security under the nuclear umbrella of the USA. But, as usual the UK opted out,  our politicians, for no other reason than the wish to retain the right to remain a, “Big Boy” in the world.

The USA preference is that the UK should give up Trident, adopting NATO policy. Finance released would be  used to significantly increase conventional forces  a more sensible and effective use of available funds. In addition to answering the call for more conventional forces such a policy, if implemented would expand our economy and reduce unemployment.

 

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There follows a number of articles justifying the aformentioned approach to defence favoured by increasing numbers of the public led by the Scottish, Welsh National and Green Party’s

 

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1914-1918 World War – military and political jurisdiction enforced

A total of: 5,952 officers and 298,310 other ranks were court-martialled in the period of the war. Of those tried, 89% were convicted; Of those convicted, 30% were for absence without leave and 14% for desertion. 3,080 of those convicted were sentenced to death. Of these, 346 were actually executed. http://www.1914-1918.net/crime.htm

 

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November 2006: British forces overworked, understrength, underpaid and undervalued

The National Audit Office (NAO) released a report detailing a series of critical difficulties faced by the British Armed Forces in recruiting and retaining sufficient numbers to carry out ongoing military operations. it depicts an army, navy, and air force struggling to cope with the demands placed on them, specifically by the intense military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It cites as reasons for a recruitment crisis, “demographic changes, changing attitudes to careers, and negative publicity affecting public perceptions of the Armed Forces.” The report estimates that the Armed Forces have been operating beyond planned levels of operating strength for the past five years, primarily to keep troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The study cites the figure of at least 5,000 fewer men and women than are needed to meet Britain’s current “defence commitments” around the world.

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In a comment suggesting the situation is even worse than official figures indicate, the report adds: “Manning requirements have not been adjusted to reflect the current levels of activity.” The report also reveals that disillusionment among servicemen and women has increased to such an extent that 10,000 personnel are quitting the armed forces each year before their period of engagement is up. The main reasons given for leaving early are the pressures soldiers face and the effects on family life. Fewer than one in seven British soldiers are getting the rest between operations that Ministry of Defence (MoD) official guidelines say they need. As a result, service personnel are working longer hours and spending more time away from their families. As many as 14,000 army personnel (14.5 percent) had been forced to breach MoD guidelines in the past 30 months, and in some areas, where the shortages are most severe this figure has risen to 40 percent. A survey of those who had recently left showed that up to 70 percent did so because of the impact on family life. Forty percent also cited low pay and too many deployments, and 32 percent blamed poor quality of equipment.

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Pressures are greatest where troop shortfalls are the biggest, and these include key posts. The NAO report revealed that there are 88 different specialities, or “pinch points,” where staffing shortages are seen as critical. The report cites 70 percent shortages in medical staff (including intensive therapy nurses) and a 50 percent shortage in weapons systems operators (including vehicle mechanics, armourers and recovery mechanics). There is also a shortage of “nuclear watch-keepers,” who are essential for maintaining nuclear-powered submarines, and Royal Marine commandos. Shortages in the Royal Navy have meant ships sailing with crews, on average, 12 percent below strength. The three forces are now officially 5,170 under strength, a shortfall of almost 3 percent.

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But this should be measured against successive cuts in official “manning requirements” over the past two years, the report adds. It also says that the military has deployed troops at higher levels than in defence assessments in overseas operations in each year since 2001. More than 8,000 troops are at present in Iraq, around 5,200 in Afghanistan and more than 900 in Bosnia. In addition, there are 8,500 British troops deployed in Northern Ireland and approximately 14,000 stationed in Germany. A senoir civil servant at the MOD admitted to the Commons Defence Committee that having 13,000 troops in two long-term campaigns breached the government’s own policy on the “maximum commitment” of the Armed Forces to overseas operations. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2006/11/army-n22.html

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November 2006: UK military faces recruitment and retention crisis due to over stress and low pay

The most graphic expression of the crisis facing the armed forces, is the levels of troop desertions and soldiers going absent without leave. Up to June of 2006, at least 1,000 UK soldiers had officially deserted since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and an average of 3,000 soldiers had gone AWOL every year since 2001.

In return for facing the prospect of a horrible death or injury in wars of occupation that many soldiers don’t agree with, those serving in parts of southern Afghanistan and Iraq are actually being paid LESS than the UK national minimum wage according to their hours of service.

 

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The base salary of a private soldier in the British army is just £13,421. According to calculations by Mike Warburton, a leading accountant at Grant Thornton, if soldiers were working 12-hour days in a combat zone, this would mean their base pay would be £3.07 an hour. But they are more likely to be working 16-hour days at least, which takes the figure down to just £2.30 an hour, less than half the UK national minimum wage of £5.35 an hour.

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An additional payment of £6.02 a day, known as a Longer Separation Allowance, is paid to those in a war zone, although there is a qualifying period for this. But even if this additional payment is taken into account, to be paid the minimum wage soldiers in a war zone would have to be working just 62 hours a week—about 9 hours a day. Unlike their coalition counterparts, British soldiers also have to pay income tax on their earnings and the rent on their barrack room back in the UK even when they are engaged in operations abroad.

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A British officer who recently returned from Helmand province in Afghanistan was quoted in the London Independent as saying: “The wages paid to the privates is well below the minimum wage. Frankly, they would make more money emptying dustbins. They are being treated appallingly.”

Anthony Bradshaw, who saw combat as a private in the Pioneer Regiment in Iraq in 2003, said, “Our take-home pay during training was £650 a month after the deductions. When we were in Iraq it rose to £800 a month. Being a current or ex-soldier hardly makes you rich.”

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The armed forces were to be brought into the minimum wage structure by the incoming Labour government in 1997. But the proposal was dropped after pressure from then Defence Secretary George Robertson, who claimed that it would put the military into a “financial and legal straitjacket.” http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2006/11/army-n22.html

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April 2013: Fit for Purpose” Cannon Fodder: Recruiting for Violence in the Military

Has the creation and maintenance of an underclass always been deliberate. After all governments need scapegoats and sin eaters and, given their propensity for waging wars, where else would they get their cannon fodder?

To disentangle the facts it is necessary to identify where so many of the raw recruits come from, the boys and young men that make up the INFANTRY. Often living in the poorest city neighbourhoods, many from single-parent families and broken homes, in foster or local authority care and with lives already full of violence, these are the children who constantly truant from school to roam the streets and form gangs. The truancy, gang culture and a failing social system mean they miss out on the things that might get them out of dead-end lives – education and employment.

 

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Many youngsters, facing a future with no job then, as a last resort, get off the street corner by going into the Army. But oh, how they are cheated. With little experience of the world beyond their small territory, and with parents as ill-informed as them, they believe all they are told by the recruiting teams about how wonderful a career in the army will be – an exciting life, foreign travel, lots of sport and the rest. The Army will train you, they are told; you’ll come out with a good qualification, something that will get you a good job when you leave the army. No one tells them that if you want that kind of training you may have to sign up for perhaps an extra three year’s service, just to get on a three month course.

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Almost a third of new soldier recruits are under 18; and the educational attainment among soldiers is much lower than the national average (in 2008-09 only 8.9% of new soldier recruits with recorded grades for English GCSE had passed at Grade C-A*, compared with a national average of 61% in England in the same year). In 2007 the Basis Skills Agency said, “It is a fact of life that up to half of the British Army’s soldier recruits enter training with literacy or numeracy skills at levels at or below those expected of a primary school leaver.” That is, recruits are accepted with a reading competence of an 11 year-old or under. However, this is rapidly being altered due to the large numbers of soldiers leaving the Army due to the UK’s involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theatres of discontent. In an effort to recruit enough replacements, the accepted literacy level was dropped to 7 years old.

 

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Think that’s bad? Then think again. INFANTRY recruits tend to be younger and from more disadvantaged backgrounds than those joining most other branches of the armed forces. Their educational attainment is also lower: provided that potential infantry recruits are fit and healthy, they need only the literacy skills of a five year-old to join. But those eager young lads are ever hopeful. They think maybe they will be trained as a motor mechanic (after all, they’ve probably been driving illegally since they were twelve). So when they’re asked what regiment they’d like to go into they get ambitious and ask to join the Royal Engineers or some such. Only to be told that there are no vacancies there “but we’ve got places in the INFANTRY. Why don’t you go for that?” Could they, with their lack of any real information, understand the difference and just how that difference matters?

 

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So with literacy and numeracy abilities of a 5 year-old and probably emotionally underdeveloped as well, they sign up to the INFANTRY and enter a world that, even with their experience of violence within their former life, is beyond their imagining. Much of the induction training involves bullying and some leave within the permitted first 6 months of training but many stay on and bond. This is now their ‘gang’, their replacement family. They are all in it together, whether suffering or getting drunk. The Army depends on that bonding. It means they won’t let their mates down, they’ll follow orders – and they’ll hide the fact that they are mentally distressed. But in any other sphere except that of the British Forces, these are considered to be children.

Although serving in the front line puts them at a greater risk of being killed or wounded than any other soldiers, a far bigger risk is that of psychological damage. Taken from a poor background, already angry and violent, bullied into making use of the violence then given a gun and put into the front line – what comes home is a young man even more angry and ready to explode. There’s a stigma attached to seeking help. It’s seen as weakness. Nor does the Army do much of a job, or any job at all, of teaching them how to deal with their anger, how to fit back into civilian life when they leave the Army. Depression, PTSD, drug and alcoholism, all go untreated. The great career descends into homelessness, addiction, more violence and prison.

 

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For all that, life in the Army is great, very satisfying and it’s a wonderful career. Not true. Compared to 35-36% of civilians highly satisfied with their jobs, only 13% of soldiers are. Soldiers are not good at making their complaints known, at least to their superior officers, but some do. Even so, according to a report, released by the Service Complaints Commissioner the complaints process is “still not working efficiently, effectively or fairly”. MPs want the Commissioner to have more powers. The military powers do not want outsiders poking their noses in. As one senior officer said, “We have the highest ranks spending a huge amount of time with the Adjutant-General looking at problems brought to their attention from relatively junior personnel.” The ‘relatively junior’ bit is telling. It probably means that the young soldiers aforementioned are not heard at all.

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Much of the violence that is caused by PTSD does not manifest until perhaps 15 years after the bloody reality of the front line experiences. It is twelve years since the invasion of Iraq, even less since the bloody fighting in Afghanistan. The incidence of violent crime committed by ex-soldiers is rising. Account of the waste of lives, not just the terrible toll inflicted on Iraq and Afghanistan, but on our streets by the too-young men Westminster politicians sent to war.

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Politicians and Generals like sending armies off to war. But young men and women uninformed about their personal responsibility in killing an enemy or their right to refuse to do so, are not educated enough to know the complicated politics behind any conflict they fight in, or to understand the culture and mores of those who, they have been told, are ‘the enemy’, they will do what they’ve been trained to do without question – kill. And they might die, or come home with shattered bodies and minds. And the politicians who loudly called them ‘our brave boys’ when they were on the front line, will not care when they end up homeless or in prison. The country deserves better than this. And so do the young lads who, for want of any better life, enlist for the front line. http://www.globalresearch.ca/fit-for-purpose-cannon-fodder-recruiting-for-violence-in-the-military/5329282

 

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April 2009: Armed Forces In Scotland In Crisis

Figures released by the MOD under the FOI act revealed that 122 staff from a total establishment of 3000, based at the Faslane Naval base were either AWOL or medically unfit for duty. Enough to staff a nuclear submarine.

It was also revealed that in 2008, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, strength about 2500 (deployed frequently to Iraq and Afganistan) had a total of 615 soldiers (approx 25%) AWOL or medically unfit for duty. A figure evidenced in years before and after. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/ONE+OF+OUR+NUKE+CREWS+IS+MISSING%3B+Scandal+of+AWOL+sailors.-a0197328724

 

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21 April 2010: AWOL soldier loses sentence appeal

A soldier who went absent without leave as he was about to be deployed to Afghanistan lost a Court of Appeal challenge against his nine-month sentence today. Joe Glenton, from York, who was handed the custodial term and demoted to private from lance corporal after admitting the AWOL charge at a court martial last month, was present for the ruling by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and two other judges in London.

The military court in Colchester, Essex, heard Glenton was discovered missing on June 11 2007 and was absent for 737 days before handing himself in. The 27-year-old had performed a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006, serving with the Royal Logistic Corps. The judges heard that he was promoted to lance coroporal because of the “exemplary” way he carried out his duties during that operation. Only one year later he was about to be deployed with his unit to Afganistan once more but went AWOL.

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Glenton, who has so far served 75 days of his sentence, said he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his first stint in the war zone. It was argued on his behalf today that because of a diagnosis of PTSD it had been “wrong in principle” to have imposed an immediate custodial sentence on him. The court was urged to either suspend it or reduce it to allow for his release. But the judges, sitting in London, ruled that his sentence was neither excessive nor wrong in principle.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/awol-soldier-loses-sentence-appeal-1949878.html

 

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August 2013: New Armed Forces chief warns government defence cuts could damage soldiers’ morale

Defence cuts risk soldiers becoming “cynical and detached”, the new Armed Forces head has warned. General Sir Nick Houghton, has admitted he faces a “huge challenge” keeping morale and capabilities up as services are slashed. He said: “We have to recalibrate our expectation of the level of capabilities we can field on new operations from a standing start. “We have got to get back into an ‘expeditionary mindset’ where we will not have the perfect capability for every scenario.”

 

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General Houghton promised an “honest, straight-talking approach” and said he would do more to listen to the concerns and worries of Armed Forces personnel. He added: “I think we’ve risked people becoming cynical and detached from what defence is trying to do.” He also admitted the outcome of the Afghanistan war is still up in the air. He said everything invested “in terms of blood and treasure and effort over the past 12 years” had helped transform security there. But he added: “The enduring outcome for Afghanistan still sits in the balance.” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/new-armed-forces-chief-general-2207986

 

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December 2014: Osborne’s cuts could reduce Army to virtually useless

If George Osborne is to be taken at his word – and if the Conservatives are returned to power in May – the public spending cuts he is planning will trigger the biggest downturn in Britain’s defence capability we have seen in modern times. In short, the British Army could be reduced to around 63,000 personnel – so small it would be classified by Nato as a gendarmerie. Responsible commentators, including two leading BBC programmes, Newsnight and The World at One, are forecasting between 30 and 40 per cent cuts in the budgets of the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. That means reducing the current military defence budget of £36 billion to somewhere between £20 – £25 billion.

 

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The cuts have to be this severe because the budgets for health, education and overseas aid are to be ‘ring-fenced’. (The aid budget, managed by the Department for Foreign Investment and Development, will run at £12bn, and will rise as the economy grows.) In a worst-case scenario, sketched by several leading commentators, the MoD will be asked to lose a total of at least 50,000 military and civilian posts. The Army, already reduced under present policies to 82,000, is likely to lose a further 19,000 soldiers.

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Osborne’s pledge to have Britain in the black by the end of the decade makes the undertaking given by David Cameron at September’s Nato summit in Cardiff – to spend two per cent of GDP on defence – sound like sheer whimsy or a cynical deception plan. Estimates suggest that Osborne’s cuts would require the UK to spend only 1.2 per cent of GDP on defence – below that of France (1.4 per cent) and roughly equal with Italy. http://www.theweek.co.uk/uk-news/61710/osborne-s-cuts-could-reduce-army-to-virtually-useless#ixzz3T9dWoAQN

 

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Dec 2014: Defence review after the 2015 General Election – Trident for the scrapheap!!

The government recently announced that the Royal Navy is to open a new £15 million base in Bahrain, (the first east of Suez since 1971). And, of course, Cameron promised at Cardiff that the second aircraft carrier, the Prince of Wales, is to be commissioned after all. Further commitments are to be made to the training of friendly forces and the air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq. (This despite a letter appearing in the press from a disgruntled officer saying that the RAF’s force of Tornados operating over Iraq out of Cyprus are dangerously low on maintenance and spares.) Also this past weekend, a leak to the Sunday Times suggested that RAF planes and UK ground forces may have to return to Afghanistan to help the newly installed president, Ashraf Ghani, thwart the Taliban offensive on Kabul and in the south of the country.

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But in consequence of the, “Strategic Security and Defence Review of Autumn 2010” Britain is in no position to offer sustained help in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, eastern Europe or anywhere much else for that matter. An independent think tank and journal, “Defence Analysis”, suggests that within a few years the UK will be spending 70 per cent of its defence budget on equipment, meaning further savage cuts in forces manpower. In short, the three services will have a lot of swanky equipment, including two new aircraft carriers, but too few personnel to maintain or run that equipment properly. Already the RAF has something in the range of 140 Eurofighters on its books, of which it can man and use about 40.

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Now we get to the elephant in the room – Trident. If the projections of 30 to 40 per cent cuts are accurate, the replacement for the current Trident system of ballistic missiles, Britain’s nuclear deterrent, surely has to be written off for good. But already quite large sums have been spent on developing the weapon and the new submarines to carry it. The submarine order can be delayed – as the Americans have delayed their replacement for the current Ohio class of submarines carrying their Trident. But development of the weapon cannot be halted – it is already half completed. This is a huge political hot potato. The Tories will try to keep the Trident issue out of the election campaign, but the SNP and Lib Dems both want to scrap it and will argue the case for doing so. Labour is still sitting firmly on the nuclear fence. http://www.theweek.co.uk/uk-news/61710/osborne-s-cuts-could-reduce-army-to-virtually-useless#ixzz3T9dWoAQN

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