Navy Veteran Bowie promoted by the Tory party as the champion of the armed forces
This article brings to the attention of readers of this blog information exposing the bloody awful treatment by the Tory Party of the armed services and the abject destruction of the capability of the Royal Navy to defend the UK from attack. And all of this appalling mess stoutly defended by their military veteran Bowie
29 Jan 2016: British warships need multi-million-pound refit to stop power failures
The Royal Navy’s most advanced warships, once described as the best in the world, will need multi-million-pound repairs because of repeated power failures that leave the Type 45 destroyers unable to navigate or activate weapons systems. Admiral Lord West castigated the MoD who had pretended it was a case of teething problems. He said
“they must have known three or four years ago that this was more than that. There’s no doubt this is extremely worrying. It’s an intermittent fault which has quite clearly caused a lot of problems. You don’t expect suddenly to lose all power when you’re steaming along normally. Repairs will cost tens of millions because you’ll have to cut a hole in the ship, get into it, fit something else into it, button it up and get it out. And even more worrying is we only have 19 destroyers and frigates. That is a national disgrace. Someone needs to look at why did we arrive at this position.”
MPs and peers asked questions in parliament about the power failures. Conservative MP Nicholas Soames commented:
“This is an unmitigated disaster and a huge cock-up by the MOD and Royal Navy. The ships don’t work. The secretary of defense, I am sure, will be outraged by this. We should never have got ourselves into the situation where the entire Royal Navy has just 19 frigates and destroyers. It is a disgrace.”
The ever-spiraling costs of the Type 45 destroyers was criticized by the House of Commons defense committee as early as 2009. The Royal Navy had originally requested 12 ships but the cost of the advanced ships meant the force ended up with just six. The ships are powered by integrated electric propulsion, using very high-voltage electrics. Warships with electrical failures are unable to navigate or operate defensively will drift at sea until power is restored, and weapons systems may be unable to function.
At least one new generator is expected to be needed on each ship, requiring a major refit of the vessels where internal space is already very tight. The work will be furthered hampered by a shortage of marine engineers, which has led to the Royal Navy being forced to recruit from the US Coast Guard. It has been estimated that the Royal Navy is short of about 750 engineers, despite recruiting many from Canada and other Commonwealth nations. Peter Roberts, a former naval commanding officer now a senior research fellow at RUSI said:
“You cannot be in the Strait of Hormuz, where things can be tense, with the risk of a power failure. The upgrade is about adding resilience to the ship, it was always thought to be a risk when a ship depended on a high voltage but it is a risk that has come home to roost.” (The Guardian)
Jul 2016: Build of a new fleet of Type 26 global-combat frigates indefinitely delayed.
The National Audit Office heavily criticized the MOD over a backlog of huge financial and technical problems facing the navy’s surface vessels.
Delays in contracting the building of new frigates – a project promised by David Cameron before the 2014 Scottish independence referendum – is threatening shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde in Scotland.
There are even more serious mechanical failures in the navy’s new fleet of Type 45 destroyers, which cannot operate anywhere south of Gibraltar due to the overheating of key systems. The main task of the new frigates and destroyers (which they are incapable of completing) include protecting two new large aircraft carriers as well as Trident nuclear weapons submarines approaching and leaving their base on the Clyde. Tony Douglas, the MoD’s top official responsible for military equipment, when asked by MPs on the Commons Defense Committee said, “I can’t give you a time or a date when the frigate design will be approved”
The number of planned new frigates was reduced from thirteen to eight and the project might yet be abandoned (a costly option) in favour of building five smaller and cheaper general-purpose vessels equipped with quiet engines making it harder for them to be detected by Russian submarines.
Westminster MPs approved the building of four new Trident submarines at an official cost of £28billion (but this has since been adjusted upwards to £167billion) and experts expect further increases over the period of the contract.
The Tory Party Chairman of the all-party Defense Committee warned that further delays could lead to even more money being spent on a new frigate fleet and on extending the life of the existing frigates. He reminded the MoD of many previous navy “disasters”, including those involving the Astute class of nuclear-powered submarines.
The navy’s new fleet of destroyers, (cost £1.5 bn each) has also encountered serious and embarrassing mechanical failures. It is disappointing that the destroyers had been designed to be fully operational in hot climates, their resilience had “degraded catastrophically”, with problems over the high summer in the Red Sea and the Gulf.
The SNP’s defense spokesman in Westminster, Brendan O’Hara, said: “the enormous cost of Trident is spiraling out of control – and it would be completely unacceptable and unforgivable if the Clyde yards had to pay the price for the Tory obsession with Trident, a weapon of mass destruction opposed by a majority of Scots.”
Jul 2017: Senior military veterans warn that the Royal Navy’s new destroyers sound like a “box of rattling spanners” to Russian attack submarines.
Highlighting growing fears defense chiefs incompetently ignored the threat from enemy submarines whilst investing in anti-aircraft and missile defense systems, wrongly concentrating too much investment on the war against terror whilst ignoring the resurgence of Cold War hostilities.
Rear Admiral Chris Parry (rtd) claimed the new build destroyers can be detected from over 100 miles away by Putin’s deadly new hunter-killer submarines. Amid damning claims of “huge gaps” left in Britain’s defense, Parry is reported saying:
“We used to put little wooden wedges between the hatch-clip and the hatches in my destroyer to stop them rattling so we could keep the noise down. We have forgotten all about it. It’s crazy. Noise suppression has been probably the biggest dirty secret since the end of the Cold War that people have been cheerfully ignoring. Ships currently in service are noisy as hell. He went on to say: “During the Cold War the ships I was in were the equivalent of a whisper. These ships now are the equivalent of someone shouting at somebody.”
The claims cover a wide range of complaints about bungling MoD chiefs leaving Britain wide-open to attack and making a number of costly equipment mistakes. (The Mirror)
Dec 2017: Britain has a navy that cannot put to sea.
Britain had no major warships deployed on operations beyond home waters in what has been described as an “unprecedented” absence of the vessels on the world stage. All six of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers were docked in Portsmouth, while twelve of thirteen frigates were docked at Portsmouth and Devonport.
HMS St Albans is the only frigate on duty at sea, as the fleet ready escort protecting home waters. The absence of naval warships at sea is attributed to major cuts to the defense budget contributing to a dangerous shortage of trained naval staff. Vice-Admiral John McAnally, National President of the Royal Naval Association, said:
“The scarcity of frigates and destroyers overseas is unprecedented and indicates the fleet is too small. I am distressed and alarmed. I do not see that it is easily remedied. The only answer is an increase in the defense budget. It is too small to meet what the government wants the armed forces to do.”
Fixed-wing carrier operations ceased in 2010 with the retirement of the last Harrier. This capability will not be restored until the Joint Combat Aircraft (F-35) and the first Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier become fully operational which is not expected to be until 2121 at the earliest. It also emerged during sea-trials that the new carrier (the largest and most expensive in the Royal Navy’s history) leaks. (defense-aerospace)
17 Jul 2017: Bowie’s contribution to the house of commons debate on the future of the UK armed forces
Bowie spoke on the importance of maintaining a strong Royal Navy and had this to say:
“I was proud to speak about how our island nation depends on safe waters and open seaways and therefore a strong Royal Navy for its safety, security and its economic growth. How I am proud that for the first time in many years, the fleet is growing in size, on the government’s commitment to Scotland and Scottish shipbuilding and how we must continue this trajectory, how we must never allow ourselves to become sea blind and how we need a strong and flexible navy, ready to fight the battles of the 21st Century.” Yes!! He really did say that. What a pillock.!!
19 Jul 2017: Armed Forces Debate in the Commons:
“I stand here proud that, for all we talk today about moving towards a more flexible, agile force, armed and trained to fight the asymmetric wars of the future, the Conservative Government have proven, in not only words but actions, that they do not suffer, as other Governments have, from sea-blindness.
Douglas Chapman (SNP):
“More account needs to be taken of the threats that face Scotland from the north. The fact that we do not have a surface ship based in Scotland to protect our coastline from increasing Russian submarine incursions into our waters needs to be addressed.”
“The hon. Gentleman says that there are no surface vessels based in Scotland, but that is patently untrue. The mine countermeasures squadron is based solely at Faslane, which if I am not mistaken is north of the border in Scotland.”
Douglas Chapman Shadow (SNP):
“What a tremendous example: one single minesweeper to deal with the whole of the North Sea and the North Atlantic. I am sure everyone in Scotland will sleep easy in their beds tonight.”
The Tory government has ruthlessly cut funding of the Royal Navy reducing its capability well in excess of operational requirements present and forecast. Badly designed destroyers and frigates need to be replaced as a matter of urgency, but less than 50% are scheduled to be built and new weaponry has been abandoned. Add to this there was the ill-advised sale of the still excellent 72 Harriers to the US for less than £1bn, to be replaced with, as yet unbuilt 100+ US built F35 fixed-wing airplane, (costing around £2.0billion each).
And two new aircraft carriers scheduled for introduction into service will only be securely deployed to their role, protecting the Atlantic sea-lanes, plugging the “Greenland gap” if the US military loans the UK sufficient numbers of their F35 aircraft (which they haven’t yet built) together with American pilots and support staff. What a shambolic mess. And Bowie is effusive in his pleasure in the Tory government in its efforts.
Tax and Health and Welfare
8 Feb 2018: Universal credit all-party report raises fears over the workability of the system
The Commons work and pensions committee said the government had yet to produce a full business case justifying universal credit, seven years after the programme started, and there remained considerable uncertainty about its costs and benefits. Government ministers produced no evidence to back up the key, central economic assumption of the biggest reform to our welfare system in 50 years.
The committee warned that the improved job outcomes the reform promises are uncertain, while anticipated taxpayer savings rely on it becoming increasingly automated and “industrialized”, despite evidence that significant numbers of claimants find it difficult to access and use the digital-only system.
Universal Credit aims to roll six major working-age benefits into one monthly payment, including job seeker’s allowance, tax credit, and housing benefit. It has been criticized for design flaws and administrative errors that have left thousands of poorer claimants at risk of poverty, debt and rent arrears.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said that political uncertainties and problems with the design and implementation of the much-delayed project, currently around five years behind schedule, meant universal credit presented a “significant risk” to public spending. Many billions of pounds have been written off to this debacle since Ian Duncan Smith first muted it many years ago and still Bowie and his ilk insist it will all be for the better in time. But who’s betterment?
Bowie (a member of the cross-party Commons work and pensions committee) praised the universal credit (UC) roll out claiming it eased claimants into work mirroring the benefits of employed income. This from a man that has sponged just about all of his salary and expenses from the Scottish taxpayer.
23 Dec 2017: Scottish income tax – Army at war over SNP taxes
The Ministry of Defense is to compensate armed forces personnel stationed in Scotland who end up worse off as a result of the Scottish government’s income tax hikes. Tory MP Bowie, said:
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the SNP has charged ahead with their tax changes without thinking through the consequences. Armed forces are facing a ‘Scottish surcharge’ simply for living north of the Border. There is no good reason why anyone in Scotland should be forced to pay more in income tax than people elsewhere in the UK. It shouldn’t be up to the MoD to have to compensate those being forced to pay more. The SNP needs to think again.”
His assertion is abject nonsense. The reality is that 14,000 military personnel stationed in Scotland are better off when income tax is set against health and welfare benefits provided solely to those who reside in Scotland. The Unionist rag and those who support it are lying through their teeth in yet another disgraceful attempt to smear the Scottish government. Benefits exclusive to armed forces based in Scotland comprise:
Free provision of 600 hours per year of (16 hours weekly) early learning and child care for all 3 and 4 years old’s as well as vulnerable 2-year-olds. Increased further in 2018/19.
Free prescription charges.
All school children from primary one to three entitled to a free school meal.
12,000 forces personnel will pay less tax, (but the Unionists are not complaining that similar personnel based in England will pay more).
1,500 will pay between £0.50p – £1.50p more tax weekly.
The residue, around 500 personnel, will pay around £14.00p weekly. Hardly onerous when set against their minimum salary band of £50k plus.
Noteworthy is that the bulk of the 500 highest earners are married with children and gain significant benefits, (not available to English based armed forces through the earlier mentioned family orientated provisions)
Bowie (the Blimp) Cocked up Theresa May’s Campaigning Visit to West Aberdeenshire
5 Jul 2017: At Prime Ministers Questions Bowie seized the opportunity to thank Mrs. May for taking time out from her busy schedule during the general election campaign to campaign in his constituency. But the reality was that her visit had been botched from the time of its conception by Bowie. He should have been best advised to keep his mouth shut on the matter. A look back reveals the following debacle
30 Apr 2017: Theresa May faces fresh accusations of ‘hiding’ after Scotland rally publicly listed as child’s birthday party
Theresa May faced fresh accusations of “hiding” from voters after a campaign event held in Scotland was publicly listed as a children’s birthday party. Bemused locals in Aberdeenshire were sent on a “treasure hunt” but were unable to find the location of Mrs. May’s visit, which had not been advertised in advance. It was only after Mrs. May spoke to a small audience of specially selected assembled supporters at Crathes village hall that locals discovered it had been booked by Bowie as a “child party”.
A local said he was shocked to find the listing on the venue’s website hours after attempting to put “serious questions” to the Prime Minister. He said: “There was a whole load of us who wanted to go and question her on a lot of important policies and issues. It’s been so secretive, they are supposed to be holding these big rallies but all she’s doing is hiding in little village halls, not saying they are going to be there. So there’s no one apart from local Tory activists standing there boosting her ego. It’s quite pathetic really – for the Prime Minister of the UK to be hiding in a village hall in rural Aberdeenshire.”
29 Apr 2017: Just for the press, Theresa May (accompanied by Andrew Bowie) attempted to deliver leaflets to four terraced houses…no one answered their door!!!
2017-18: House of Commons – Contributions to debates and other relevant business
Bowie is very active in the Commons and is determined to establish his place in the Tory Party protecting his future employment should things go pear-shaped in Scotland and he needs to find a constituency in England. He has been on his feet on around 127 occasions and often asks loaded questions of ministers. I extracted a few examples for browsing but his parliamentary record is best followed here:
4 Dec 2017: affordable house building
Bowie: A loaded question. What steps is the housing minister taking to ensure that more homes are built in England?
Sajid Javid: In the autumn Budget, we announced further reforms and financial support to increase housing supply in England. This includes more than £15 billion of new financial support, at least £44 billion of funding to 2022-23, and reforms to ensure that more land is available for housing.
Bowie: The work of his Department and the pledge in the Budget to build 300,000 new homes in England are very welcome, and will go some way to address growing inter-generational unfairness when it comes to getting on the housing ladder. Will he join me today in calling for the Scottish Government to match the Scottish Conservatives’ pledge to build 100,000 new homes north of the border so that young people in my constituency can have the same opportunities to buy as those in constituencies in England?
Sajid Javid: He is right to highlight this issue. The Scottish Government, have been failing consistently on house building, especially affordable house building. I commend the ideas, energy, and ambition shown by the Scottish Conservatives in challenging the Scottish National party to build more homes in Scotland.
Alison Thewliss (SNP):
The Scottish Parliament has delivered more than 69,500 affordable homes since 2007, during the period of SNP government, and the new-build social sector completion rate is at 72 per 100,000 population, compared with just 49 in England. And why exactly was there no commitment to increase social rented housing in the Budget?
Sajid Javid, the Tory Minister was remiss in his answer – The fact is that house building under the Tories is at its lowest level since the 1920s. An analysis of house building going back more than a century shows the most recent years of Conservative rule has seen the lowest average house build rate since Stanley Baldwin was in Downing Street in 1923. A political commentator said: “These humiliating figures show that Ministers’ promises on housing have been nothing more than empty words. Official statistics confirm that since 2010 not only have Conservative Ministers built many fewer homes than claimed and after seven years of failure the Tory’s have no plan to fix the housing crisis. (Huffington Post)
12 Sep 2017: Questions to Mundell – Decommissioning of Oil Platforms Scotland
Bowie: Does the UK Government have plans to develop an ultra-deepwater port on the East Coast of Scotland? Without such a port the bulk of the anticipated multi-billion pounds work will be awarded to contractors outwith Scotland.
Mundell: The Government is committed to supporting the development of a world-leading decommissioning industry. But no UK port currently has the ultra-deepwater facilities needed to directly accommodate the fully-loaded heavy lift vessels commonly used for decommissioning large platforms. So! No plans in place. The work is destined for foreign shores.
Scottish Tories expected to vote as a bloc to protect Scotland’s interests
Leader Ruth Davidson ordered Scottish Tory MPs to champion Scotland in Westminster. The instruction included fighting for the devolving of additional Scottish powers and spending on fisheries and agriculture during and after the Brexit negotiations reinforcing Holyrood’s existing powers in both areas under devolution. Davidson and other senior figures in the Scottish Tories also considered options to reinforce or indeed increase their independence from the UK party after clear differences emerged between the group and Tory headquarters in London over the style and tone of the election campaign. The baker’s dozen Tory MP’s ignored Ruth the Mooth which is the true cause of her resignation as leader of the Tories in Scotland.
17 Dec 2017: Brexit – The Scotland Act and the infamous Henry the VIII Act
The EU Withdrawal Bill was the subject of a heated debate in the Commons. There were 11 divisions all requiring a vote on amendments submitted by the SNP. Every single amendment was voted down by the Tory Party assisted by their Scottish MPs and DUP cronies resulting in the retention of draconian powers being retained at Westminster.
A key amendment submitted and rejected was one which, if accepted would have prevented Tory Government ministers from using Brexit as an excuse to modify the Scotland Act reducing the powers granted to the Scottish Parliament. This means that the SNP Government in Scotland and any future governing body are hanging their coats on shuggly pegs. Westminster can now remove some or all powers on a whim and remove all devolved authority back to London. The 13 Scottish Tory MPs all voted against the amendment which is astounding. In acting against the best interests of Scotland the Scottish Tory Party revealed its true agenda. Well knowing it will never become the elected government of Scotland it’s Scottish MP’s have no wish to retain the Scotland Act. (the guardian)
17 Oct 2017: debate in the Commons on devolved powers in Scotland
Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling had called for the debate and spoke first:
“Twenty years ago, I was in the minority. At the referendum in 1997, I campaigned against the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, not from party loyalty but from the starting point that any dilution of the Union could lead to its ending. I urged the people of Scotland to think twice and vote no. They did not; instead, they voted yes to a future with a devolved Parliament in Edinburgh. However, I now realize that I was wrong. With the zeal of the convert, I have trodden my own road to Damascus and now I stand here today to extol the virtues of the Scottish Parliament and devolution. The Scottish Parliament has helped and is helping to create a better Scotland, and a more comfortable and confident Union, too; but more than that, I firmly believe that devolution is a principle worth arguing for. I am not talking about devolution in the sense of the establishment of a Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly, but about the concept of devolution. It is core to my credo that politics should be and is local. It is personal to communities that decisions that impact on people’s lives should be made as near to them as possible. Edinburgh is not the end of the road; Holyrood should just be the beginning. Politics should be local and we should seek to localize decision making.”
Bowie: It is right that we in this place—the place that passed the original Scotland Act 1998—consider the use of devolved powers. It is a fact that thanks to the actions of this Government, the Scottish Parliament is one of the most powerful devolved legislative Assemblies in the world, with powers over justice, education, health, transport, the environment, and now taxation and elements of social security. That is a good thing. However, for the people of my constituency, and indeed for the people of the wider north-east of Scotland, far from the renewing or revitalizing experience promised in 1999, the reality of devolution has been cuts, tax rises and the perception of a central-belt bias in all decision making.”
What followed was an acrimonious slagging match with each of the Scottish Tory MP’s, in turn, attacking the performance of the SNP Government on just about any minor grievance they could muster. It fell to Tommy Sheppard to set the record straight and to remind those present of the inappropriate nature of the so-called debate which should never have been permitted. He said:
“It is customary when I rise to make the third party submission, to thank the Member who has brought the debate. On this occasion, I will decline to do that. The Scottish Government is accountable to the elected Members of the Scottish Parliament, who are elected by and accountable to the Scottish people. It is not a matter for this Westminster Parliament—indeed there is an explicit constitutional convention that forbids it—to try to hold to account the Scottish Government, so I wonder why Stephen Kerr has chosen, among all the things he could discuss that affect his constituents, to bring this motion here today. I conclude that the only possible reason for this debate is not to try to advance or develop public policy but purely and simply political point-scoring and to have a go at the SNP. It is a matter of some regret that he has been aided and abetted in that endeavor by the Labour party. It seems that contributors to the debate cannot make up their mind about whether the problem is that the Scottish Government are not using the powers they have, or whether they are using their powers, as some speakers have complained. The truth is that the Scottish Parliament and Government use their powers every day and in every way to try to make things better for the people of Scotland, but they do so within considerable legislative and financial constraints, which have seen Scottish public funding cut by almost 10% in real terms in a decade.”