Thursday 12 February 2015

Two Scenes from Britain in 2015

Scene One: The House of Commons

The UK's interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan (both begun by Labour) cost more than £30 billion according to the Royal United Services Institute; the two aircraft carriers commissioned by Gordon Brown in 2008 were expected to cost more than £6 billion in 2013, a figure which can be expected to rise still further by the time the two ships go into service in 2017 and 2020. The Trident replacement is expected to cost more than £100 billion.

£136 billion and rising, and there are plenty more examples of bonkers military spending by Tory and Labour governments determined to maintain the fiction that Britain is a world power with a place at the top table.

Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens called a debate in the House of Commons on 20th January calling on the Government to scrap plans to replace the Trident submarine system, with the Labour Party boycotting the event and describing it as a "little stunt".

A week before, Labour joined the Tories and LibDems in voting for another round of spending cuts to come after the election.

In the event, the SNP, Plaid and Caroline Lucas for the Greens were joined by a smattering of rebel Labour MPs, a handful of LibDems and a couple of Tories. Thirty-seven votes in all, with the massed ranks of the Tories and Labour turning out at the end of the debate to veto the call with 364 votes.

Interestingly, one of the Tory rebels was Crispin Blunt who had a distinguished military career before going into politics. He has said that he cannot conceive of any circumstances in which Britain would ever use its nuclear weapons.

In his speech, Jonathan Edwards pointed out that the decision to renew Trident would be the biggest single spending decision to be made by the next Parliament:

Due to the sums involved in the Trident renewal programme, it is vital that this House debates whether or not it is a justifiable use of public money...... It will be the biggest spending decision made by the next Parliament, and with an election in just over three months the electorate deserve to know where those seeking election stand on this issue.

You can read the full text of his speech here.

The only Welsh Labour MP to join Jonathan Edwards, Hywel Williams and Elfyn Llwyd for Plaid was Paul Flynn.

Scene Two: The Hilton on Park Lane, London

There was a rather more enthusiastic turnout of Tory and Labour MPs for the annual parliamentarians' dinner on 2 February hosted by the ADS Group (one of the world's largest arms manufacturers). According to ADS, the event was sold out, with tickets priced at almost £250 a head.

If you are worried that our politicians will be claiming the cost of these exclusive tickets on expenses, don't: they all went as guests of various arms companies and defence contractors.

Thanks to Blog Menai for a list of those who attended, including Owen Smith (Pontypridd), Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) and Ian Lucas (Wrexham) for Labour.

As you can see in Cai Larsen's piece, the event featured an unscheduled speaker in the form of Anne Marie O'Reilly. Anne Marie O'Reilly is four months pregnant, and she managed to point out to the assembled worthies that while they were snuggling up to those nice weapons manufacturers and enjoying a swanky dinner, one million people in the UK had used food banks in the last year.

She was then drowned out by the hubbub of the guests before being bundled off stage.


Anonymous said...

As you mention both wars again which is pretty common for Plaid Cymru supporters I thought I would share something I heard on Radio 4 which I thought was an interesting perspective on this. He said that people mourned the killings in France but take no notice of ISIS genocide or other jhadists all over the world. Most people, he said, live in a selfish bubble and as long as it doesn't effect them directly then they can preach about 'unfair wars' etc. In the end, he said, the human race should wake up and realise that all human beings count and do something about it.

Anonymous said...

"Crispin Blunt who had a distinguished military career before going into politics. He has said that he cannot conceive of any circumstances in which Britain would ever use its nuclear weapons."

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Given he was still at university in 1984 and resigned from the army in 1990 and rose to the dizzy height of captain, serving in Cyprus, at that point does his 6 year military career become distinguished????

As a member of the army, where would the interest in Trident, or its replacement be? What is his expertise in the matter?

Who then is responsible for management, maintenance and delivery of Trident?

Without these weapons we do become less of a force to be reckoned with. I cannot deny the expense and whilst they are the 'broom in the cupboard' we do need this sort of thing for assurance.

What is more worrying is the rise that potential dirty nukes pose and the irrational minds controlling them.

Like it or not we need Trident, if only to know, understand, control and be cognisant with the whole subject matter.

Cneifiwr said...

Anon@08.57 I think you've got your history in a muddle. Blair and friends intervened in Iraq and Aghanistan to stop Al Qaeda etc. The results speak for themselves.

Unknown said...

£100bn on Trident over its lifetime. What a total waste.

£5bn to Wales (roughly). Think of the difference that could make. During a time of hardship, with 200,000 children in poverty, 15% of children in severe poverty in Wales, spending money on weapons of death is totally wrong.

Let's spend on life not death. Improving the life opportunities of all our people - especially the young.

There's £100bn better ways to spend that money - it's a shame Labour and the Tories LOVE Trident so much.

Anonymous said...

I am not in a muddle of all. The premise of a 'selfish' bubble is a fact. Hindsight is a glorious thing one side will say that the problems today were caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another side will say that the UN should have intervened in Syria and the ISIS, Jhadist problem would have been avoided. One is for sure whatever the truth of the matter the people of both countries have far more rights especially woman and girls. The young lady who won the Nobel Peace prize has a valid view on this - the right for her to have an education. Admittedly lessons should be learned following the reconstruction of Iraq and I think they were in Afghanistan. Nobody made a huge fuss when we intervened in Bosnia which was basically the start of all this. All I know is that our fathers and grandfathers had a much better view on looking after people suffering wherever in the world they were. I have a great frustration with people who are prepared to leave 1000s on a mountain side in Iraq and just turn a blind eye to 50,000 kurds being gassed by chemical weapons in Iraq or genocide in Rhuanda. This is a world community not a NIMBY one.