Tag Archives: politics

Revenge is a pasty best served cold…. IDS vs Osborne

It’s the way the pasty crumbles for Chancellor George Osborne tonight after Iain Duncan Smith resigns as work and pensions secretary.

Mr Duncan Smith quit over disabled benefit changes just days after the Budget – although there are suspicions about whether the Tory infighting over Brexit could be an underlying factor as well.

But in  his resignation letter, Mr Duncan Smith wasn’t backwards in coming forwards when it came to having a go at Mr Osborne and the Treasury.

“Too often my team and I have been pressured in the immediate run up to a budget or fiscal event to deliver yet more reductions to the working age benefit bill. There has been too much emphasis on money saving exercises and not enough awareness from the Treasury, in particular, that the government’s vision of a new welfare-to-work system could not be repeatedly salami-sliced.”

“It is therefore with enormous regret that I have decided to resign.”

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg in her analysis tonight, said: “There has been animosity between the chancellor and Iain Duncan Smith for some time.”

For some reason, it reminded me of pasties and the now infamous pasty tax in the omni-shambles budget from a few years ago that quickly unraveled.

Mind you, it looks like David Cameron has lobbed one back at Mr Duncan Smith in his reply to his colleague’s resignation letter – oh and confirming a u-turn or at the very least a kick into the long grass over the disability benefit changes.

“We all agreed that the increased resources being spent on disabled people should be properly managed and focused on those who need it most.

“That is why we collectively agreed – you, No 10 and the Treasury – proposals which you and your department then announced a week ago.

“Today we agreed not to proceed with the policies in their current form and instead to work together to get these policies right over the coming months.

“In the light of this, I am puzzled and disappointed that you have chosen to resign.”

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Cultural bias? Nearly 98% of senior DCMS civil servants based in London…

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If UK quits EU, could it save up to “£102 MILLION’ on no more Euro elections?

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Cultural bias? Nearly 98% of senior DCMS civil servants based in London…

Capital also takes £26 per head of key arts funding – double the amount for the region with the next largest proportion of funding per head.

The figures released to parliament will reignite the debate about devolution, spending and whether the UK and in England in particular is over-centralised and focused on London to the detriment of the other parts of the country.

Sheffield Heeley Labour MP Louise Haigh uncovered the statistics about senior civil servants at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through a written parliamentary answer.

Ed Vaizey, a DCMS minister, responded: “On 1st March 2016, 97.8% of senior civil servants and 98.7% of core policy civil servants employed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport were based in London.”

Mr Vaizey also replied to a separate written parliamentary question from Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, with the Liberal Democrat MP asking how much per capita Arts Council England is spending in each region in 2015-16.

Mr Vaizey released the following table outlining ACE investment by region, and spend per head in 2015/16:

2015-16 YTD TOTAL Spend per head
East £35,558,838 £5.91
East Midlands £28,393,349 £6.12
London £222,182,958 £26.02
North East £34,153,682 £13.04
North West £65,878,044 £9.24
South East £45,263,359 £5.10
South West £45,805,668 £8.45
West Midlands £70,442,158 £12.33
Yorkshire £58,586,846 £10.93

He also said: “In May, Arts Council England (ACE) announced they will increase the percentage of Lottery funding distributed outside London from 70% to 75% by the end of 2018; and invest over £35 million in the Ambition for Excellence fund – over £31 million of which will be spent outside London.

“There continues to be a shift in spending on National Portfolio funding away from London. In London, £26.02 is spent per head in 2015/16 – compared with £29.74 in 2009/10, when the Hon Member’s constituents in Yorkshire received £8.00 per head, compared with £10.93 this year.”

Of course, London is the biggest city in the UK and is an important national and international cultural hotspot – and it may not be as black and white. But the figures are none the less interesting and raise questions about funding for the regions at the very least…

 

Britain may have spent £55 MILLION on RAF missiles attacking Daesh in Iraq and Syria

More than 1,000 missiles fired by Royal Air Force during action over Iraq and Syria, UK government confirms.

Here’s the breakdown from September 2014 in Iraq and from December 2015 in Syria up until 24 January 2016:

missiles 2016

The figures were provided in a written parliamentary answer by defence minister Penny Mordaunt in response to a question by shadow labour defence minister Emily Thornberry.

Cost of missiles

Various news organisations have come up with estimates of the cost of this weaponry.

Here’s what an article from The Guardian from 2014 put the costs at:

“The RAF Tornados, based in Britain’s base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, can fire radar-guided anti-armour Brimstone missiles, which are conservatively estimated to cost £100,000 each; heavier Paveway IV bombs, estimated at £30,000 apiece.”

A more recent article from Bloomberg Business reported a higher cost for Brimstone missiles from December 2015, reported:

“The missiles, which cost 175,000 pounds ($263,000) apiece, can be fired from seven miles away and are able to switch to another objective even after launch. Steerable fins guide the supersonic approach, with the impact detonating two warheads, the first of which overcomes so-called reactive armor so that the main charge penetrates the target.”

Back in 2012, The Economist reported:

“The Hellfire, an air-to-ground rocket that weighs a mere 50kg, is $115,000 a pop.”

That equates to £79,651.20.

So, using these figures if 318 Hellfires have been used that equals £25,329,081.60

For 126 Brimstone missiles, the cost could be £12,600,000 (based on a unit cost of £100,000).

For 574 Paveway IV weapons, the cost could be £17,220,000.

Overall, that would be £55,149,081.60.

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Royal Navy officers still trained to navigate by the stars

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British naval tankers to be built using foreign steel

(Main image: By P. S. Burton [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Brits no longer own majority of manufacturing firms with 500+ employees in UK

61% of manufacturing companies with more than 500 employers in the UK are now foreign-owned, confirms Government.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, a UK minister, revealed the figure in response to a written parliamentary question from former Tory minister Lord Patten.

Foreign investment welcomed

In her answer, the baroness said there were 320 manufacturing enterprises in the UK with more than 500 employees that are foreign owned – which have more than 50% foreign control.

“This is 61% of manufacturing companies with over 500 employees. The UK welcomes foreign direct investment and enjoys the benefits of jobs and skills that it brings and UK manufacturing continues to be globally attractive and competitive,” she added.

The minister also said the Government was “not aware” of any evidence that indicated foreign-owned firms treated UK management any differently to British-owned businesses.

Government building up “indigenous” skills

She said that steps were being taken to increase indigenous management skills and capability, including apprenticeships.

Work by senior industry leaders to increase manufacturing productivity in the UK is also being supported by the government.

The Government is also supporting work being undertaken by senior industry leaders to examine ways to increase manufacturing productivity in the UK – including in leadership, management and employee engagement.

Poll: Does it matter if firms aren’t UK-owned

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If anything shows the contrary/polarised views on immigration in the uk… and Donald Trump, it’s this…

There’s a lance corporal who is a goat in the British Army

Royal Navy officers still trained to navigate using the stars

 

UK Google searches: “Who is the most scary: Trump or Palin?”

Top questions on Sarah Palin and Donald Trump in the UK in the last 12 hours since she backed his US presidential bid, interesting tweet from Google Trends.

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If anything shows the contrary/polarised views on immigration in the uk… and Donald Trump, it’s this…

There’s a lance corporal who is a goat in the British Army

Royal Navy officers still trained to navigate using the stars

‘Thousands’ of real and imitation guns seized at UK border

Some 1,163 real firearms are believed to have been seized by the Border Force in recent years.

That’s along with 6,737 imitation guns – including readily convertible and realistic imitation firearms – in the years between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

A further 8,047 seizures were made, which consisted of what’s listed as “other” type of firearms – which includes parts of guns, mace and pepper sprays, stun weapons / baton, air gas guns and silencers.

The figures were released to parliament by home officer minister James Brokenshire in response to a written question from Labour MP Keith Vaz about firearm smuggling.

firearms PQ

In his response, Mr Brokenshire added: “The figures quoted are management information, which is subject to internal quality checks and may be subject to change. These figures are not already in the public domain.”

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There’s a lance corporal who is a goat in the British Army

Royal Navy officers still trained to navigate using the stars

Royal Navy officers are still trained to navigate by the stars

Reassuring for those worried about over-reliance on technology, UK naval officers are still trained in celestial navigation.

The training extends to officers training with a view to navigating carriers and amphibious assault ships, according to British defence minister Penny Mordaunt.

The news comes after it was revealed that the US navy has returned to celestial navigation (also known as astronavigation) training amid concerns that computer navigation systems could be hacked.

Of course, it’s pretty difficult to “hack” stars… 

American naval officers reinstated lessons because of the escalating threat of cyber attacks nearly 20 years after celestial navigation classes were cut, reported the Capital Gazette news site in October 2015.

If you think about it, navigation by the stars has global coverage, can be used independently of ground aids, doesn’t give off signals that could be detected by an enemy nor can it be jammed – although clouds can get in the way.

In the UK, confirmation about the Royal Navy’s celestial training was set out this week in a written parliamentary answer to a question from former Labour defence minister John Spellar.

Ms Mordaunt said: “For new recruits, celestial navigational training is only undertaken by Royal Marine recruits in weeks eight and 10 of their training as part of the Royal School of Military Survey lessons.

“However, celestial navigational training (referred to as Astro(navigational) training within the Service) is taught to Naval Officers as part of targeted career training courses at the Maritime Warfare School at HMS Collingwood.”

The defence minister added: “These include: Initial Warfare Officers, the Fleet Navigation Officers Course and in a Specialist Navigation Course (for those officers undertaking specialist training in navigation at Lieutenant/Lieutenant Commander rank with a view to navigating larger vessels such as carriers and amphibious assault ships).”

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Main image: Earth within a celestial sphere (Photo credit: Tfr000 (talk) 20:06, 29 March 2012 (UTC) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons))