Saturday, 17 March 2018

Fisheries protection

This is really a post that would be far better written by Richard North; I happily admit the complexities of defence procurement strategies are somewhat beyond me. But perhaps commentors with experience can add some light or correct any howlers. 

It seems we are to get our 200 mile economic waters back in a year's time, and with them the right to decide who fishes them and what and how much is caught there. It's also pretty obvious that the UK fishing fleet has been decimated, and it will take time to build new boats and above all to skill new crew in a highly hazardous industry, to upgrade shore facilities including freezing and processing and establish market and inland transport capacity. So it's pretty obvious that we're going to continue to licence, for a suitable fee I hope, at least for some time, both EU and and any other boats to take fish from our waters after 2019. 

The question arises as to how we are to patrol this - and to stop unlicenced boats from poaching our fish. This is traditionally the job of the Fisheries Protection Squadron; and here my first quote from the UK AF commentary blog:
The Fishery Protection Squadron is constantly out at sea around the UK, and has very little, if any time to wander far away from home. A 42 strong crew is embarked to work to a three watches mechanism. Each ship has an additional allocation of personnel used to rotate members of the crew to meet harmony rules. Personnel on the Rivers could be indicatively expected to spend four weeks at sea and two weeks on land, pretty much all year long. The River batch 1 ships each spend a minimum of 275 days out at sea, with maintenance to the vessels intended to ensure the capability of spending up to 320 days at sea. Normally there is a 9 days maintenance period and a longer one of 16 days, each year. 
  Combined, the three ships have to deliver at least 700 days of activity at sea, and Hunt minesweepers are used to complement the Rivers in fishery protection patrol task, but with no fixed target. Back in 2004, some three Hunt vessels could be routinely expected to be involved in supporting Fishery Protection.
This is a good point to introduce the Rivers - River class offshore patrol vessels, built in two variants; the Batch 1, which cost about £60m each, and the Batch 2, at a cost of £120m each, which are currently coming off the slipway. The difference is down to the fact that Batch 2s are being built to warship standards - with systems, magazines etc that can sustain damage and punishment from other warships, whereas the Batch 1s are pure 'constabulary duties'  vessels. More on the Batch 2s from Think Defence HERE

Now this is where the lying, double dealing and manipulation come in. These new Batch 2 vessels are also just about suitable as substitutes for the frigates and corvettes that we don't have, to maintain a global presence. But because of their reduced at-sea capacity, they would need to be forward-based - permanently stationed - in the Caribbean, Gibraltar, Falklands or Bahrain - meaning they would not be available for UK fisheries protection. Yet the MoD seems to be pretending that they could do both tasks at the same time. It's pretty obvious they can't. 

In summary, from next year we'll need a far greater fisheries protection capacity but are building vessels grossly overspecified for FPVs because we need to send them out of the UK. We will not have enough vessels even to maintain our existing FP capacity next year, never mind enhance it. To my simple mind we need more £60m Batch 1s, with a build time of less than a year, that can fly-off UAVs and watch large areas of sea. But we need to place orders now.

Batch 2 River class OPV HMS Forth - just launched and soon to leave for the Falklands ...

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

It's time to update the Birkenhead Drill

I can still recall the pages of the Annual from which, as a child, I lay on my stomach on the living room floor reading and re-reading 'The Birkenhead Drill'.  This was the story of the formalisation of 'women and children first' back in the 1850s. A troop transport going aground on a dangerous coast, not enough lifeboats, so the regiment drew up on the sinking deck in parade order and watched as their wives and children abandoned ship, facing death and sharks with courage and fortitude. It was one of those youthful lifelong lessons, like never pointing a shotgun at anyone unless you intended to kill them, or saying farewell to a dying pet. I mentally filed this one away; here was my role and duty when I became a man, an English man - to die selflessly with dignity and honour, if required. And certainly not to behave like some cowardly dago or frog. Oh yes I'm serious - this is how we absorbed enduring moral values back then.  

Of course it's now completely out of date. Our priorities today are very different. Today's Birkenhead drill would be something like:-

1. Persons with protected characteristics in the following order

- LBGT BAME female
- LBGT BAME male
- BAME children
- LBGT differently abled
- BAME females
- BAME males
- Other LBGT
- Other female
- Other differently abled
- Other persons who identify as females or gender fluid, multi genders

2. Non-BAME males in the following order

- Graduates, those that work in the media, academia, public sector workers except Armed Forces
- Cyclists
- Those under 25 and the children of the above
- Remainder of white males, inc. armed forces

3. Non BAME children

-  Children of unprotected-characteristic non-BAME or non-LBGT parents enjoy no protection and the lowest possible priority in evacuation.  

We'll have to change the name of course; how about the Rotherham Drill, or perhaps the Telford Drill?

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Russia must be taught its limits

At the risk of sounding like a weary headmaster whose rogue prodigy has yet again let him down, I'm very disappointed with Russia. I've defended Russia (whilst happily admitting that Putin really is just a ruthless thug) and still believe that Russia is Europe's natural ally in a global alignment  of Enlightened North against primitive barbarous South. Personally, I was even prepared to forgive Litvenenko's murder. But this latest affront is an outrage too far.

It's easy to understand why we are the target. The UK is an attractive destination for Russian defectors, ex-spies and refugees from Russomafia thuggery; we have one of the world's best intelligence capabilities, a capable anti-terrorist capacity, a legal system largely free from bribery and corruption and easy access to Europe's best shops. If Russia can make defectors feel insecure in Britain, Putin must think, they will not feel safe anywhere.  

Economic sanctions against Russia are merely cosmetic whilst Europe is dependent on Russian gas. Russia's breach is not so grave as to demand military retaliation. Something in between, I think, would suit; perhaps a cyber attack shutting down Russian transport, broadcasting or banking for 72 hours would make the message clear. Something of that sort. Without any direct link to the UK yet clear to Putin from whom the retaliation came.  

Let's wait and see. 

Wise comments and Tillerson's sacking have led me to believe I've made a right arse of this, and that Russia's guilt is very much more remote than I've assumed above.

Mea Culpa. 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

In the UK, hating Islam is quite legal. It's protected by law.

Brendan O'Neill in Spiked has quite properly analysed popular newspaper reports that Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding were imprisoned for 'hating Islam'. It's not true of course - but it's exactly what the police and the establishment want us to believe is true.  

As Brendan points out "The judge’s actual words were that Fransen and Golding had ‘demonstrated hostility’ to ‘people of the Muslim faith’ in their harassing, obsessive campaign around that Kent rape case. That is, to Muslims." And yes, intimidating, harassing, assaulting, abusing people of Islamic faith or people of no faith is a crime and yes they were rightly convicted. What they were explicitly NOT convicted of, because it is not a crime in Britain, was 'hating Islam'. 

In fact, 'hating Islam' is protected by law - specifically by Section 29J of the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act:-

29J    Protection of freedom of expression

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.
However, in questioning whether crimes should be punished more harshly because they were religiously, or racially, or sexually motivated, Brendan O'Neill raises a cogent and compelling point - has the law got this wrong? If I get the shit kicked out of me because some thug thinks I'm an arse, should he be treated more leniently than if he was triggered because I was a white arse, or a Catholic arse? My injuries are no different, but the law says that if I have no protected characteristic, my body, my safety, my protection is less worthy than another citizen - how can this possibly be right?

What is of equal concern is that police, councils, schools, MPs and journalists are misrepresenting the law in order to convince the public that hating Islam is thoughtcrime. It really isn't. Personally, I regard the Muslim faith as an empty, primitive and worthless belief system, with no redeeming features, that hinders people from progress and from betterment. I think the world would be a better place without it. And I can say all that quite, quite legally. And since British law on these things had to be made in line with all relevant European rights legislation, I can say it quite legally anywhere in Europe. So there.  

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Election Fraud - Yes to ID

I freely admit that when national ID cards were mooted some years ago, I was at the forefront in opposing the idea. I still believe that freedom in the UK to walk about without carrying compulsory ID and to live where you wish without the requirement of registering your address with the police are fundamental British freedoms.

I have also long deprecated the degradation of the probity of our electoral system to a state that Michael Pinto-Duschinsky described to a select committee as 'third world'. Three million were on the roll who should not have been, and three million missing who should have been. Our Electoral Quotient - the number of voters per MP - was beyond all first world standards. We can't even achieve the second-rate standard of  + / - 5% let alone the + / - 3% achieved by advanced democracies such as New Zealand. Postal votes, Blair's corruption of democratic integrity, remain a joke mired in fraud and personation. The dilettante fool Cameron failed to correct the EQ issue when he had a chance - sold out no doubt to Clegg's self interest. Liberals will always put party before country. 

However, all credit to Theresa May in acting now, with a wafer thin margin in Parliament, to correct our constituency boundaries. And all credit for the electoral reform that has introduced IVR - individual voter registration. The hurdle that now remains is electoral fraud and personation. 

Electoral fraud is not confined to the Labour Party. Remember Bob Spink. But it is stories like that below that one meets most frequently; they are not myth, even though they may not be as widespread as supposed. 

It is also not confined to lowly fraud in the constituencies; The Telegraph reports how Corbyn's head of social media, Marsha-Jane Thompson, has been convicted of a mass voter registration fraud.  

So, albeit reluctantly, I now support the requirement for secure photo ID at our polling stations before voting papers are given. This system is already in place in Northern Ireland, where free photo ID cards are made available to those without other secure ID. It is an erosion of part of our national congruence, part of the trust that used to prevail when the vast majority in these isles gave great respect to the notion of 'fairness'. That has now passed. Fairness can only now be assured by ID.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Martin Selmayr: Corruption at the heart of Europe

That the EU is institutionally corrupt is not news. The organisation has been known for many years to be riddled with fraud, peculation, dishonesty, misuse of funds, nepotism and an utterly obscure, secret and bent system of chumocracy appointments. Auditors cannot close its accounts, financial records are so incriminating and so embarrassing that they are kept in locked rooms with no public access. Parliamentary expenses are no more than a thin cover for naked theft and fraud, and all this crooked, bent, corrupt filth is hidden from press and public by common consent between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. The midden stench from the Berlaymont chokes honest breath, and each and every Eurocrat is mired in the putrescent feculence that flows from Brussels. 

So it is simply astonishing that even these slime-dwelling creatures of the eighth Malbolge should find an act so corrupt, so blatantly devoid of any shred of probity, that it evinces a protest. But such is the appointment of Martin Selmayr to the Secretary-General's job - running all 33,000 of the EU's officials. 

Politico.Eu carries the detailed story - the French are fuming because it is alleged the Germans have bribed widely to secure their man in post, a man without any senior Brussels civil service experience. It's as though Jeremy Corbyn appointed Owen Jones as Cabinet Secretary. It also appears that Selmayr was aware he'd got the job before the selection process even started. 
"(Liberation journalist) Quatremer led the charge on Monday as the midday briefing turned into a veritable uprising, with reporters demanding that Selmayr himself come to the podium to answer questions about how he got his new job, whether the vacant positions were properly advertised and if other procedures were followed according to EU regulations.

“These institutions don’t belong to you,” Quatremer snapped at (Margaritis) Schinas in response to his assertion that all questions on the matter had already been asked and answered. “They belong to the European citizens, and it is our perfect right to ask you questions, to repeat the questions as often as we want, without you giving us lessons in morality,” Quatremer said before asking yet more questions.

“You say it was legal; the rules were respected,” he told Schinas. “It doesn’t look legal to me, and as a representative of French public opinion, I tell you there’s a problem here."
Right now they're all flinging enough ordure to ensure widespread coating. Well done, chaps.   

Update 17.27
Details of the German bribes are now beginning to leak ...


Monday, 5 March 2018

US steel tariffs might mean UK CO2 emissions fall ...

One of the great construction cons, as I've posted previously, is the way in which we account for CO2. This isn't an argument about AGW or the effects of CO2, it's a matter of crooked accounting. Bloomberg's new 'eco' building in London actually cost something like 250,000 tonnes of CO2, but if the steel was made in China and the cement in Thailand (as is very common) only a fraction of that CO2 cost will appear on the UK's national CO2 total.  CO2 is accounted for at place of production rather than consumption.

The result of increased steel tariffs imposed by President Trump will doubtless be Chinese steel producers with a surplus of steel, which they'll seek to dump on world markets, including the EU. The more steel the Chinese dump on Europe, the lower Europe's CO2 emissions under the crooked accounting system.

Every cloud has a silver lining - that Mr Trump will allow us to claim a significant reduction in CO2 emissions will no doubt be of great pleasure to those who believe such measures have any worth at all.