Thursday, 22 October 2009

Defence, continued - cosmic, comical timing

I am prompted by a contribution to the previous thread from my occasional interlocutor Indy to start a new one afresh.

"I can't believe you can have so many comments on this. The NATO issue does not, in itself, matter. It is one of the things that will be negotiated and decided on at the time.

What matters is the way it is spun in the here and now in the run up to the election.

That's the politics of it which you guys don't seem to understand."

Hmm. Let's see, shall we?

"Re the spending issue - this is a totally dead duck for you unionists. Scotland does not benefit from UK defence spending. There is in fact a massive underspend. You can bet the SNP will go large with that one."

(Metaphorically rolling up sleeves while trying to stifle a snigger and conceal a feral grin.)

First of all, this is a total misconception of the notion of defence spending. It's supposed to buy you defence and security - it's not supposed to be pork-barrelled up into spending in particular bits of the country for political reasons. The spending happens where the defences need to be for strategic reasons.

We don't need naval bases at Scapa Flow, Invergordon, Tobermory and Rosyth - or for that matter Harwich or Chatham - any more, so we don't have them. Similarly, East Anglia is no longer full of bomber bases sited for maximum proximity to the Soviet Union (or Germany, for that matter).

But even if you wish to pursue the "underspend" argument, it's so wrong it's comical. On this of all days. (Cough. Splutter. Hee!)

Defend And Destroy: Navy's Latest Ship Launched on Clyde

"Thousands turned out on the banks of the Clyde today to cheer on the latest ship to make up the Royal Navy’s formidable new Type 45 destroyer class. Defender sailed for the first time today.

Chief in Command Fleet Admiral Trevor Soar said:

“The thousands gathered here today to witness the launch of Defender is testament to the pride Scotland rightly takes in its shipbuilding industry which has seen a resurgence in recent times with the Type 45 build programme and the manufacture of the Aircraft Carriers that they will defend.

“Defender’s affiliation with her ‘home town’ of Glasgow will ensure these strong links live on and gives the Royal Navy the chance to give something back to the community that worked so hard to deliver her and her sister ships.

“The launch of the fifth ship is an exciting milestone as we draw nearer to the first of class HMS Daring entering into service in the New Year to begin her duties with the Royal Navy.”

Defender was launched amid a cloud of balloons and fireworks by Lady Julie Massey, wife of the Deputy Head of the Navy Second Sea Lord Sir Alan Massey, to the fanfare of the Band of the Royal Marines.

Chief of Materiel Fleet Vice Admiral Andrew Mathews said:

“The Type 45 class is a most formidable ship. Her world-class Sea Viper missile system which can defend against multiple attacks by the most sophisticated anti-ship missiles bears out the title ‘destroyer’, while Defender’s name hints to her main future role in providing air defence to the Navy’s new aircraft carriers.

"Defender will be capable of carrying out a wide range of operations, including anti-piracy and anti-smuggling activities, disaster-relief work and surveillance operations as well as high intensity warfighting.”

As versatile as they are powerful, the Type 45s will have a range of capabilities. They will be able to carry up to 60 Royal Marines Commandos and their equipment, and operate a Chinook-sized helicopter from the flight deck. The standards of accommodation are also able to exceed previous classes thanks to the ships’ size.

Defender is the fifth ship of six in the Type 45 destroyer class. Good progress is being made on the programme: HMS Daring (ship one) has been commissioned into the Royal Navy and is on her final trials prior to her entering service, planned for February 2010.

Dauntless (ship two) has recently completed two very successful sets of sea trials while Diamond (ship three) has just begun her sea trials. Dragon (ship four) was launched in Scotland at the end of 2008 and Duncan (ship six) is under construction in Govan."

Sorry Indy, you were saying?

Possibly you also missed the announcement that the Navy is moving all its submarines from Devonport to Faslane.

That's Faslane, the rather large naval base which really does employ 6500 people directly and another 3000 indirectly:

"The Base is the largest single site employer in Scotland with an integrated workforce of around 6,500 personnel – drawn from the Royal Navy, Ministry of Defence civilians, Babcock Marine (the MOD's industrial partner at the Base) and external contractors. A further 3,000 Scottish jobs are supported indirectly by HM Naval Base Clyde and more than £250 million is spent in Scotland on wages and contracts awarded each year, directly related to the Base."

Where do you think those 6500 people live and spend their wages, Indy? What do they eat and drink?

I apologise for having to mention the construction plans for the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

"The ACA has approved the following decisions under the developing build strategy:

  • Lower Block 1 (the bow section) will be built by Babcock’s yards at Appledore and Rosyth;
  • Lower Block 2 will be built by BVT Surface Fleet in Portsmouth;
  • Lower Blocks 3 and 4 (the stern section) will be built by BVT on the Clyde;
  • The sponsons (the overhanging upper hull structure) will be manufactured by Babcock Marine;
  • and the two superstructure Islands will be built by BVT in Portsmouth.

Final assembly and integration of the two warships will be undertaken by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance partners at Rosyth."

I believe someone was saying something about "underspend in Scotland".

Let's look at the RAF at Kinloss, Lossiemouth and Leuchars. According to the RAF squadron list, we currently have 55 operational squadrons. A quick look at the station list shows that something like 9.5 of them are based at the three Scottish stations, going up to 10.5 next year as the Typhoons come into Leuchars.

9.5 / 55 = 17%. Got a problem with that?

I can't even be bothered to look at the Army's basing. It will be the same story.

So please, please, please let it be true that the Nats are planning to "go large" on the issue of defence spending in Scotland.

It will only prove the existence of a substantial Union benefit for Scotland from UK defence spending, and utterly discredit the idea that an "independent" Scotland could somehow sustain anything like it.

We were promised a "defence policy paper" from the Nats. Where is it?

Surely not delayed because they realise it will be a disaster?


Alec said...

We're doing this again? Y-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e ha!

Alec said...

PS The reason the post-count was so high was 'cos of multiple comments from Wardog. Some pruning this time, maybe?

sm753 said...

I know.

I said so in my last post on the original thread.

BTW, you've been pruned.

I did actually prune Muttley last time, but he is the Leylandii of repetitive, irrelevant, inane comments.

Observer said...

I don't think anyone will be coming out to play on this one.

Your fake is giving it laldy on the Hootsman. Don't really understand how the Hootsman let them get away with that nonsense.

See you on another thread.

Alec said...

I walked straight into that one, Smee.

Spoilsport, Observer.

sm753 said...


I noticed the faker a few nights ago.


Is this a new ID policy at the Hootsmon?

Could Hagbard Celine live again?

Wardog said...

"Leylandii of repetitive, irrelevant, inane comments"


I think Japanese knotweed would have been a touch more dramatic for Alec's censorship request......

Apart from that, defence again Smee?

Aren't you boxing yourself ina little here, is this really the main unionist dividend, the glee and pride of a few puritans over having ships with missiles parked off the coast of someone else's country?

sm753 said...

Yes, defence again.

Only because Indy made the startling prediction that the Nats are going to "go large" on the issue of defence spending in Scotland.

Please, oh please, let that be true.

Where is the Nats' defence "policy" paper anyway? Cold feet?

I have a few other posts on the slipway anyway, Knotweed. Let's see - one on broadcasting, another on the possibility of Nats lying to and in Parliament in 1997-8, and one on the personal hypocrisy of a certain cybernat.

Not sure what to do first. What do you think?

Stuart Winton said...

"Only because Indy made the startling prediction that the Nats are going to "go large" on the issue of defence spending in Scotland.

"Please, oh please, let that be true."

So does the story in today's Sunday Times mean your dreams have been fulfilled? ;0)

Wardog said...

Oh I'd got for the personal hypocrisy of a cybernat, nothing like a personal attack to get the unionists lathered up and in a frenzy.

Sail on O' Union!

Indy said...

Maybe to you defence spending is about buying defence and security but that is not the narrative that exists. It is very much about pork barrels, jobs and spending. You yourself defend the presence of nuclear weapons on the Clyde on the basis of how many jobs they supposedly provide, not on the basis that we need nuclear weapons to be safe.

So here are some more facts, from the House of Commons Library or parliamentary questions.

Since 1997 some 9,500 defence jobs have been lost in Scotland. There are 1,930 fewer service jobs and 4,570 fewer civilian jobs. 3000 additional jobs based on MoD direct spending have also been lost.

MoD civilian jobs have been cut by 44%,

If you look at the number of jobs (service, civilian, and jobs created through direct expenditure) Scotland would have if we received our population share of spending the shortfall is some 8,970 jobs.

The figures on defence spending are equally poor. As you are aware GERS estimates ‘non-identifiable’ defence spending in Scotland on the basis of population share. However answers to parliamentary questions on defence spending in Scotland demonstrate that there is a considerable shortfall. I’ll give you the actual figures on this one if you like.

GERS estimate defence spending in Scotland in 2002/3 as 2.309 billion whereas the actual expenditure was 1.560 giving an underspend of 749 million.

In 2004/4 the GERS estimate was 2.442 billion but the actual expenditure was 1.720. Underspend 722 million.

In 2004/5 the GERS estimate was 2.544 but the actual expenditure was 1.630. Underspend 914 million.

In 2005/6 the GERS estimate was 2.589 but the actual expenditure was 1.720. Underspend 869 million.

In 2006/7 the GERS estimate was 2.729 but the actual expenditure was 1.620. Underspend 1.109 bullion.

This gives an accumulated underspend of almost four and a half billion pounds.

That is your Union benefit Smee.

The political context here is important. At the same time as we have seen the conventional defence footprint in Scotland scaled right down, Westminster is planning a new generation of nukes.

This is happening at a time when there is a widespread public perception (whether right or wrong) that our conventional armed forces are overstretched, underpaid and insuffiiciently equipped for the job they are asked to do. This has caused widespread public concern - as has the nature of the conflicts the UK has become involved with over the past years. Most people simply do not believe the justifications given for Iraq or Afghanistan.

Add to that the certainty of looming budget cuts which threaten public services set against the costs of renewing Trident.

You personally may well favour spending the money on a new generation of nukes and you may support military action in Iraq and Afghanistan but I am sure you are aware that your priorities are not shared by the mass of voters.

It is for those reasons that I think the SNP is going to be in very solid ground in the forthcoming election. As I said earlier the defence priorities adopted by the Tories and Labour are out of tune with mainstream Scotland and the financial arguments simply don’t wash any more.

sm753 said...


Hadn't seen that Sunday Murdoch story.

“There are fewer aircraft and helicopters based in Scotland than in any of our neighbouring Nordic countries, we have virtually no conventional ships, while our nearest neighbour, Norway, has 70,” he said. "

Robertson is an idiot and/or liar.

I've nailed that 70 number before:

"According to the Royal Norwegian Navy:

"Important materiel in the Navy:

2 Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates
6 Ula-class submarines
14 Hauk-class missile torpedo boats
1 Skjold-class missile torpedo boat
4 Oksøy-class mine hunters
4 Alta-class mine sweepers
1 Vidar-class mine layer (supply vessel until 2008)
Coast guard ships

New materiel:
5 Skjold-class vessels and 4 Nansen-class frigates (within 2010)"

I make that 2 (with 4 being built) "ships", 6 (small, slow and short-ranged) submarines and a bunch of what amount to wee boats.

And the total comes to 30-odd, not 70, George."

26 October 2009 16:22

Indy said...

I am afraid that simply saying Angus Robertson is an idiot or a liar isn't good enough.

You see the SNP get their defence stats either fron PQs or the House of Commons Library, as opposed to google.

Toodle pip

sm753 said...


They didn't get the "70 Norwegian ships" from there, or indeed from the Royal Norwegian Navy.

Which you could have checked from the link in my earlier post.

"Important materiel in the Navy:

2 Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates
6 Ula-class submarines
14 Hauk-class missile torpedo boats
1 Skjold-class missile torpedo boat
4 Oksøy-class mine hunters
4 Alta-class mine sweepers
1 Vidar-class mine layer (supply vessel until 2008)
Coast guard ships

New materiel:
5 Skjold-class vessels and 4 Nansen-class frigates (within 2010)"

So, Robertson is either an idiot who can't tell the difference between 30-odd and 70 (and indeed the difference between a "ship" and a "wee boat"), or he is a liar.


sm753 said...

Now, Indy, as for you wider
"underspend" point.

It's hilarious. Possibly OK for you to make, but not for a supposedly "mature", "serious", "senior" polly like Robertson.

You and he are conflating defence operational spending with procurement spending, and MOD jobs with jobs in defence companies.

Why? To try and make a silly political point.

The point is silly because MOD can only spend procurement money where the defence kit-bashers are located, and it has NO control over where they choose to locate.

The facts of the matter are that most of the defence operations of the likes of BAE, Rolls-Royce, AgustaWestland are outside Scotland. The MOD can't change that.

You're asking for more operational spending to be in Scotland. Already happening; we established above, for example, that 17% of the RAF's 55 squadrons are based here, and that the Navy is moving the SSN fleet from Devonport to Faslane.

On the procurement side, we also established that the biggest defence programme over the next decade - the CVFs - will largely happen in Scotland, so that keeps you happy too, no?

But here's the question which kills your "argument" stone dead:


BAE, Rolls-Royce and AgustaWestland will stay located exactly where they are, thanks. So all that would happen is that Scottish defence spending (if there was any; we all know at least half the Nats want to do an Ireland and not have any) would happen in a foreign country.

The future of the BAES shipyards at Scotstoun and Govan would be under threat, of course, since there would be pressure in the remaining UK for it to spend ITS defence money at home and not in a foreign country; i.e. future UK ships would be more likely to be built at the likes of Appledore and Barrow.

So, again, please please "go large" on defence; it will only show up the Nats' naivete and incompetence.

Indy said...

Again, Smee, you fail to grasp the point.

If the SNP could set the terms of the debate it would be about what is actually required to defend Scotland and fulfil international commitments and how we will pay for it.

The narrative that exists however - and which you subscribe to, even as you deny it - is that Scotland needs to remain part of the UK in order to benefit from UK defence spending which sustains jobs which we would not be able to afford if we were an independent country.

The reality however is that Scotland does not benefit. We pay in more than we get back. There may well be sound reasons for that as you say but that isn't the point.

Either Scotland benefits from UK defence spending or it doesn't. If it doesn't then defence spending is not an incentive to remain with the Union and that argument will have to be put away in the drawer marked 'crap unionist arguments that no-one believes any more'.

The Aberdonian said...

Paddy has no defence industries!


Paddy is even supplying us apparently.

Paddy lives a charmed life. And it makes SM mad!

The Aberdonian said...

Of course Paddy has 9 infantry battalions, the equivalent of 1 calvary regiment, 1 signals regiment, 1 logistics regiment etc based in the Republic.

Surely that produces a lot of support jobs supplying the Irish Defence forces. What would the Kildare economy be like without Curragh camp for a start?

sm753 said...

"Either Scotland benefits from UK defence spending or it doesn't. "

No, I'm afraid it's you failing to get it, Indy.

Scotland gets more benefit from UK defence spending now than it would if it were "independent".

Fact. Got that yet?

Conan the Librarian™ said...

Smee old chum, will you STOP saying "Got it yet?" or something similar at the end of your posts.
I know you take your Navy stats seriously and want to get your ideas over.
But patronising people who do not have the same viewpoint as you will not make them any more receptive will it?
Or do you just wish to grandstand to an audience with the same beliefs?

sm753 said...

Sorry old fruit, just finding it difficult to resist emphasising what anyone should find obvious.


Current situation:

RAF doesn't buy much in Scotland but deploys 9.5 out of 55 squadrons here.


"RSAF" still doesn't buy much in Scotland - there being no plane- or helo-makers - but deploys, er, 5 out of 5 squadrons here.


And hey, I have a feeling you're guilty of similar yourself. Much as I enjoy your "Hootsmon" pastiches, have you ever tried going back to before May 2007 and comparing how much of the content then was "Labour accused.." ,"McConnell guilty.." etc etc?

I suspect the proportions were no different.

Conan the Librarian™ said...

I googled: scotsman, labour and accused
and counted the first twenty hits.
Either Salmond or the SNP were the object of the "accused" in seven of them, and individual Labour members in three cases.
Substitute SNP for Labour and I got nineteen "SNP accused" and one "UK Government accused".
I rest my case M'lud.
I'm glad you like my Hootsmons by the way.

Indy said...

What a bogus argument Smee.

Scotland does not get any benefit from UK defence spending if we contribute more than we get back.

Looks to me as though you are trying to change the terms of the argument because you realise you are on shaky ground.

sm753 said...

"Scotland does not get any benefit from UK defence spending if we contribute more than we get back."

Laughably fallacious.

One more time, from the top:

A) we get defended. I'd call that a "benefit".

B) If you insist on going to pork-barrel logic, we get more out of the barrel as part of the Union as we would under "independence".

E.g. 9.5/55 RAF sqns vs. 5/5 "Scottish" sqns.

T45s and FSCs on the Clyde and CVFs assembled at Rosyth vs. a few wee "Scottish" boats.


I note you're making to attempt to dispute that the Royal Norwegian Navy says that it has 4 "ships" and 30 wee boats, not "70 ships".

So, are Angus Robertson and George Kerevan idiots, liars or both?

Conan the Librarian™ said...

I had a wee look at wikipedia(oh how I have sinned)and the current strength of of Norwegian Naval personnel is
3,700; 32,000 if fully mobilised.
Presumably it means there are mothballed vessels for the 32,000?
Maybe with those it may add up to 70.

Wardog said...

"Laughably fallacious."

Indeed, your knowledge of ships and seamen is indisputable, now, where do you stand on Tory Euro Policy?

Would you rather be part of a Scotland that was in the EU and a non-nuclear member of NATO or a member of the UK Outside Europe and cutting our nuclear arsenal to make savings.?

sm753 said...


Why are you bothering to look at Wiki-Waki when the Norwegian armed forces have their own, English-language, website?

"The Armed Forces have about 16500 employees. Of these 11 500 are military employees and 5000 are civilians. "

"Presumably", the Noggie who wrote your Wiki article was trying to big up his country's navy by adding up all the people who've done National Service and are still of military age.

(What is the Nat policy on National Service, BTW? Most of the "small independent" countries they keep dribbling on about have it.)

There is no Norwegian "mothball fleet". Nobody bothers to keep those any more, not even the USN.

sm753 said...

Ah, Muttley comes back to his sick.

"Would you rather be part of a Scotland that was in the EU"

...and paying £329m a year more than we currently do into the EU budget...

"and a non-nuclear member of NATO"

...there is no such thing. We have done this - NATO members sign up to nuclear defence...

"or a member of the UK Outside Europe"

Sorry? The next UK Government is going to stay in the EU, but it's going to be a bit more assertive about protecting our sovereign rights. Just like the French do, and just like the Blessed Margaret did.

"and cutting our nuclear arsenal to make savings.?"

I'm all in favour of cutting the nukes to make savings. Four bomber boats with 8-12 missiles each (instead of the current 16) would do fine. I remain to be convinced that three boats could do the job, but let's hear the evidence.

Awfully sorry to give you a rational, reasoned reply.

Conan the Librarian™ said...

Thanks for responding...eventually.
Can the future UK(the one that still has Scotland in it)afford Trident *and* two large carriers?

Wardog said...

"The next UK Government is going to stay in the EU, but it's going to be a bit more assertive about protecting our sovereign rights. Just like the French do"

oh we'll see about that, your faith in the nasty party will be the undoing of the union. Unionism will be shown to be the right wing force of conservatism that it is with the BNP, orange order and all manner of fringe lunatics joining in the fray.

The wheels are coming of the hill billy unionist cart.

Wardog said...

Could it be that the airforce has decided to spend on the JSF rather than buy helicopters Smee?

Another case of bravado over reality, a mythology built upon imperial aggression.......


Wardog said...

PS Smee, is it me or have you became a rather 'fringe' character since the demise of AM2's blog?

I see 'forward' has also moved on, leaving only a few paid Labour Bloggers left and the gnarled husk of the right wing like you, bill and other hawish commentators.

Are we witnessing the death of unionist blogging?

Wardog said...

Your really struggling to fill AM2's shows smee.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

You're right. They would NOT maintain that level of AGRESSION spending (that it is "defense spending" is a canard--Or are you seriously saying that France or Germany is about to invade. Yeah, sure.)

They would actually spend most of the money on something PRODUCTIVE -- unlike the billions spent on the Trident.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

A) we get defended. I'd call that a "benefit".

From whom?

Wardog said...

Excellent, it appears that Smee has given up the ghost.

Unionism, at least the rather right wing exponents of it seem to have crumbled in the cyber world.

sm753 said...

Au contraire, Muttley.

Rumours of my demise have been much exaggerated.


"From whom?"

The Earth's orbit has just developed a slight additional eccentricity, due to the gyroscopic effects of Neville Chamberlain and President Benes of Czechoslovakia starting to spin in their graves.