Category Archives: Defence

Grayling put in charge of intelligence committee – we live in an age of Orwellian doublespeak

Chris Grayling: He’s as clever as he looks.

This announcement makes it extremely unlikely that we’ll ever see the so-called ‘Russia report’ on interference by that country’s government in UK politics:

Chris Grayling has been named as Downing Street’s choice to head the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), that is responsible for publishing the report.

It’s further proof that the Conservative government has adopted George Orwell’s concept of “doublethink” – the acceptance of two diametrically-opposed concepts at the same time.

Why else would they put a dimwit of Grayling’s magnitude in charge of an intelligence committee?

The Russian interference report has been ready to be published since the end of October 2019, but was delayed when the election was called, and then subsequently delayed again until the ISC reconvened.

So it’s already five months late.

With Grayling in charge, that report may never see the light of day.

The choice has provoked fury, even from Conservative MPs.

But here’s a thing: If they kick up a fuss that delays the committee from reconvening, won’t that set publication of the ‘Russia report’ back even further? Is that what Boris Johnson wants?

Source: Chris Grayling set to head up committee in charge of releasing Russian intelligence report | Latest Brexit news and top stories | The New European

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Williamson sacked as defence secretary over Huawei leak – but was it really him?

Tight-lipped: But will Gavin Williamson have something explosive to say about Theresa May’s decision to fire him as Defence Secretary?

Theresa May has sacked Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary, saying she has “lost confidence in his ability to serve in the role of defence secretary and as a member of her cabinet”.

It appears he is to take responsibility for an embarrassing leak from the National Security Council, stating that Huawei is to take a contract to help provide the UK’s 5G network, despite concerns over spyware funnelling information to the Chinese government.

But was he really to blame?

Mr Williamson himself is on the record as swearing on his children’s life that he had nothing to do with the leak.

But it seems an inquiry run by Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill has found that he was responsible for the leak, which has angered the United States government, which has banned Huawei from government networks and pressurised the UK to do the same.

Alternatively, some have suggested that the US is simply protecting its interests, saying Huawei provides better service than American firms.

According to The Independent, Mr Williamson is said to believe his firing was “politically motivated”.

He may now face prosecution and the loss of his Parliamentary seat if a by-election is triggered.

According to The Independent:

In a damning letter to Mr Williamson, she wrote that “no other credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified”.

Ms May said the leak inquiry had “been conducted fairly, with the full co-operation of other NSC attendees”.

“They have all answered questions, engaged properly, provided as much information as possible to assist with the investigation, and encouraged their staff to do the same,” she wrote, adding: “Your conduct has not been of the same standard as others.”

Ms May continued: “In our meeting this evening, I put to you the latest information from the investigation, which provides compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure. No other credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified.

“It is vital that I have full confidence in the members of my cabinet and of the National Security Council. The gravity of this issue alone, and its ramifications for the operation of the NSC and the UK’s national interest, warrants the serious steps we have taken, and an equally serious response.”

And now she says she considers the matter closed. Is she protesting too much?

Source: Gavin Williamson sacked: Theresa May fires defence secretary over Huawei leak | The Independent


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There is a better way for BAe Systems – but will the Tory warmongers understand?

A member of staff works in the cockpit of an aircraft on the Eurofighter Typhoon production line at the BAE Warton plant near Preston [Image: Phil Noble/Reuters].

https://twitter.com/AaronBastani/status/917694135041216513

The article, to which Aaron Bastani links in his tweet (above), makes interesting reading – although it is a bit long-winded.

It proposes a future for the company in which it won’t have to cut jobs, but may devote them away from building weapons and into peacetime technological pursuits. For the UK’s biggest exporter, it seems this is far preferable than the collapse and ruin presaged by the announcement of 2,000 job losses today (October 10).

The Tory government will do nothing, of course. Tories no longer understand industry, if they ever did. Their industrial strategy, from the mid-1970s onwards, has been to destroy industry in order to impoverish working people and undermine the trade unions.

Here’s the relevant part of the Open Democracy article:

BAE Systems should be taken into public ownership, with tens of thousands of engineers and fixed capital re-directed towards renewable energy industries, automated civilian avionics and vehicles, space transport and climate change solutions – specifically around flooding and desertification.

Right now BAE has 33,000 employees across the UK, 70% of which are engineers or work in engineering-related areas. That is an immense amount of talent that is currently deployed to, among other things, build weapon systems to be used against civilian targets in one of the poorest countries in the world. As well as Saudi Arabia, other BAE clients include the UAE, where the company sells surveillance systems and, potentially Qatar, which is still looking to buy Typhoons despite recently purchasing a large number of French Rafales.

Rather than create weapons for some of the most authoritarian regimes in the world, while also depending on British defence budgets only set to shrink and the renewal of a nuclear deterrent ill-suited to the modern world, the resources and skills of BAE Systems, especially given its comparative edge in avionics, vehicles and energy architecture, would be instead be deployed in fields of importance to Britain and the wider world. New flooding solutions, crucial as Britain adapts to climate change, would not just be for the domestic market but for export too. The same is true for dealing with desertification, a major issue not only for North America, the Middle East and Africa, but Europe and Australia.

Then there are the fields of renewable energy, automated transport, AI and robotics.

Contrast this with the bleak news of the company’s announcement today:

Britain’s biggest defence contractor, BAE Systems, is to cut nearly 2,000 jobs in a significant blow to the UK’s manufacturing sector and the government’s industrial strategy.

The company, which makes the Eurofighter Typhoon jet and Britain’s nuclear submarines, said on Tuesday that up to 1,400 jobs would go at its military aerospace business over the next three years, along with a further 375 in maritime services and 150 at its cyber-intelligence business.

BAE aims to achieve the cuts, which are due to be implemented by 1 January, through voluntary redundancies where possible. It employs 83,100 people worldwide, including 34,600 in the UK.

There is a way forward.

If these job cuts go ahead, then you will know that they are happening because BAe – and the Conservative government – have ignored the opportunity to open the company up to new markets. For the Tories, that would be an unforgivable crime.


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Here’s how Labour voted on Trident renewal, based on the Tory lie that it works

The vote on renewal of the American Trident nuclear weapons system was an attempt to put Labour on the back foot, by a Conservative Party that had no idea how to implement Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn was already facing a rebellion by a majority of his MPs, stirred up with a false accusation that he had been ineffective in the EU referendum campaign (in fact his campaign was hugely successful. It is notable that, while he was pilloried for getting more than 60 per cent of Labour voters and supporters to vote Remain, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was revered – for achieving almost the same result).

The hope, it seemed, was that a defeat for Mr Corbyn’s views on Trident (he opposes renewal) would put the final nail in the coffin of his tenure as Labour leader.

Perhaps that is why the Conservatives hid evidence that Trident is faulty. One wonders what they expected from a nuclear deterrent that uses an obsolete version of Windows – Windows XP or ‘Windows for Submarines’.

Mr Corbyn evaded criticism by making Trident renewal an open vote, meaning MPs could vote according to their consciences. At the time, he had no way of knowing that they were also basing their decision on a Tory lie.

The final House of Commons vote was 472 votes to 117 in favour of renewing the nuclear programme.

Considering what we know now, some of you who have Labour MPs may wish to discuss this matter with them.

The cost of Trident renewal is currently more than £200 billion, for a country that is constantly being told it cannot afford to fund the public healthcare system properly. That’s the NHS, which is currently in its worst-ever Winter crisis.

The total number of UK jobs safeguarded by keeping Trident is around 500 – all of whom could be given other work if the renewal had not gone ahead. The UK still needs to be able to defend itself, and cutting out Trident means more people would have to be employed on such work, not less.

So perhaps you might want to suggest the time is right to demand that the Trident renewal vote be revisited, in order to allow MPs to vote on the facts, rather than the lies?

Here is how the Labour MPs divided:

Aye – in favour of Trident renewal

Heidi Alexander
Rushanara Ali
Rosena Allin-Khan
Ian Austin
Adrian Bailey
Kevin Barron
Margaret Beckett
Hilary Benn
Luciana Berger
Clive Betts
Tom Blenkinsop
Ben Bradshaw
Kevin Brennan
Chris Bryant
Andy Burnham
Liam Byrne
Alan Campbell
Jenny Chapman
Vernon Coaker
Ann Coffey
Julie Cooper
Rosie Cooper
Yvette Cooper
Neil Coyle
Mary Creagh
Stella Creasy
Jim Cunningham
Nic Dakin
Simon Danczuk
Wayne David
Geraint Davies
Gloria de Piero
Stephen Doughty
Jim Dowd
Peter Dowd
Jack Dromey
Michael Dugher
Angela Eagle
Maria Eagle
Julie Elliott
Louise Ellman
Bill Esterson
Paul Farrelly
Frank Field
Jim Fitzpatrick
Robert Flello
Colleen Fletcher
Caroline Flint
Yvonne Fovargue
Gill Furniss
Mike Gapes
Pat Glass
Mary Glindon
Kate Green
Andrew Gwynne
David Hanson
Harriet Harman
Helen Hayes
Sue Hayman
John Healey
Stephen Hepburn
Meg Hillier
Margaret Hodge
George Howarth
Tristram Hunt
Dan Jarvis
Alan Johnson
Diana Johnson
Gerald Jones
Graham Jones
Helen Jones
Kevan Jones
Susan Elan Jones
Mike Kane
Liz Kendall
Stephen Kinnock
Peter Kyle
Chris Leslie
Emma Lewell-Buck
Ian C Lucas
Holly Lynch
Justin Madders
Khalid Mahmood
Shabana Mahmood
Seema Malhotra
John Mann
Rob Marris
Christian Matheson
Steve McCabe
Kerry McCarthy
Siobhain McDonagh
Pat McFadden
Conor McGinn
Alison McGovern
Liz McInnes
Catherine McKinnell
Ed Miliband
Madeleine Moon
Jessica Morden
Melanie Onn
Chi Onwurah
Albert Owen
Matthew Pennycook
Toby Perkins
Jess Phillips
Bridget Phillipson
Lucy Powell
Jamie Reed
Steve Reed
Christina Rees
Rachel Reeves
Jonathan Reynolds
Geoffrey Robinson
Joan Ryan
Virendra Sharma
Barry Sheerman
Paula Sherriff
Gavin Shuker
Andy Slaughter
Ruth Smeeth
Angela Smith
Nick Smith
Owen Smith
Karin Smyth
John Spellar
Keir Starmer
Wes Streeting
Gisela Stuart
Mark Tami
Gareth Thomas
Nick Thomas-Symonds
Stephen Timms
Anna Turley
Karl Turner
Stephen Twigg
Valerie Vaz
Tom Watson
Phil Wilson
Rosie Winterton
John Woodcock
Iain Wright

No – opposed to Trident

Diane Abbott
Graham Allen
Paul Blomfield
Nicholas Brown
Richard Burden
Richard Burgon
Dawn Butler
Ruth Cadbury
Ronnie Campbell
Sarah Champion
Ann Clwyd
Jeremy Corbyn
John Cryer
Paul Flynn
Vicky Foxcroft
Roger Godsiff
Helen Goodman
Margaret Greenwood
Nia Griffith
Louise Haigh
Fabian Hamilton
Carolyn Harris
Kate Hoey
Kelvin Hopkins
Imran Hussain
David Lammy
Rebecca Long Bailey
Rachael Maskell
John McDonnell
Alan Meale
Ian Murray
Lisa Nandy
Kate Osamor
Stephen Pound
Angela Rayner
Marie Rimmer
Naz Shah
Tulip Siddiq
Dennis Skinner
Andrew Smith
Jeff Smith
Jo Stevens
Graham Stringer
Jon Trickett
Keith Vaz
Catherine West
Daniel Zeichner

Abstained

Rupa Huq

Absent

Debbie Abrahams
David Anderson
Jonathan Ashworth
Roberta Blackman-Woods
Lyn Brown
Karen Buck
David Crausby
Jon Cruddas
Judith Cummins
Alex Cunningham
Thangam Debbonaire
Clive Efford
Christopher Elmore
Natascha Engel
Chris Evans
Barry Gardiner
Lilian Greenwood
Mark Hendrick
Sharon Hodgson
Kate Hollern
Lindsay Hoyle
Gerald Kaufman
Barbara Keeley
Ian Lavery
Clive Lewis
Ivan Lewis
Fiona Mactaggart
Gordon Marsden
Andy McDonald
Jim McMahon
Ian Mearns
Grahame Morris
Teresa Pearce
Yasmin Qureshi
Emma Reynolds
Steve Rotheram
Cat Smith
Emily Thornberry
Derek Twigg
Chuka Umunna
Alan Whitehead
David Winnick

(Information from The New Statesman)

If you have a Conservative MP, or an MP from one of the other parties, please feel free to contact them and find out how they feel about it.

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Tories covered up – that means they LIED – Trident test failure to secure renewal of nuclear weapons


Any number of jokes could be made about this – the Americans have sold us ‘homing’ missiles that are more likely to obliterate their country of manufacture than an enemy, for example – but the fact is that Parliament’s vote was based on the lie that this system was reliable. Clearly, it isn’t.

Labour politicians who rebelled against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, must be feeling particularly embarrassed and exposed today.

He voted against Trident renewal but gave members of his party a free vote on the issue, which has been divisive among the Labour Party.

One wonders whether it will continue to be so contentious now that we all know Trident doesn’t work!

A Trident missile blasts out of the ocean, having just been launched from a nuclear submarine – probably in the wrong direction.

I will try to get you a list of the way Labour MPs voted on Trident renewal later. If you have a Labour MP, please use the information to request stronger support for Mr Corbyn from now on.

Downing Street has been accused of covering up a Trident missile malfunction weeks before a crucial Commons vote on the future of the submarine-based missile system.

The Sunday Times reports that a Trident II D5 missile test ended in failure after it was launched from the British submarine HMS Vengeance off the coast of Florida in June last year.

It was reportedly intended to be fired 5,600 miles to a sea target off the west coast of Africa but may have veered off towards America instead.

Source: Downing Street ‘covered up serious Trident missile malfunction’ weeks before crucial Commons vote

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Evasive Theresa May seems unable to answer any question – especially on Trident

This Writer has been a little unwell over the weekend so I wasn’t actually able to watch Theresa May’s car-crash interview on Andrew Marr’s show this morning (January 22). From the responses on Twitter I missed a classic display of attempted evasion.

From what she didn’t say, she appears to have colluded in hiding the failure of a Trident missile test from MPs before they voted on renewing the rubbish nuclear weapons programme for hundreds of billions of pounds:

Jeremy Corbyn had this to say about it:

And consider this:

It is now clear that she definitely wants to turn the UK into a tax haven – to your (and my) disadvantage:

And she tried to pretend that her party’s ‘divide and conquer’ rhetoric was “bringing the UK together as a country” (we know the Scots and Northern Irish are desperate to leave):

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War with Russia not likely next year, says Defence Secretary

Michael Fallon in the House of Commons [Image: PA Wire/PA Images].

Michael Fallon in the House of Commons [Image: PA Wire/PA Images].

Why is everybody getting all hot under the collar, then?

Is it as one Twitter user suggested – that all the fuss over Russia is to keep the population of the UK cowed, while not pushing us all to mass hysteria?

Suggestions that Britain could go to war with Russia next year are “too extreme”, the Defence Secretary has said.

In a hearing of the Commons Defence Committee Michael Fallon said while there had been “much greater Russian aggression” in 2015, a war next year was not likely.

Source: War with Russia not likely next year, says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon | The Independent

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Is Russian espionage really an ‘increasingly aggressive and covert threat’?

Vladimir Putin: He'll never be the West's favourite world leader but is he really the pantomime villain we're all being asked to believe he is? [Image: Barcroft.]

Vladimir Putin: He’ll never be the West’s favourite world leader but is he really the pantomime villain we’re all being asked to believe he is? [Image: Barcroft.]


Provable or propaganda?

Russians have been spying on the West for decades – hundreds of spy novels have been written about it.

But is it really a threat that is becoming an increasing danger?

What would the Russians say in response? Would they not suggest that the West has been increasingly aggressive towards them and they needed to increase their activities in order to defend against our behaviour?

That’s the usual way of it.

All this sabre-rattling seems a little ‘staged’ to This Writer.

I wonder whether the intention is to distract us from something else.

Are we on the verge of an environmental disaster, perhaps?

Russia is adopting an “increasingly aggressive” approach to pursuing its foreign policy goals, including propaganda, spying and cyber-attacks, the head of MI5 has warned.

The Security Service’s director general Andrew Parker said Russia had been a “covert threat” for decades but there were now more methods available for its agents to use.

In an unprecedented newspaper interview, Mr Parker said his service was working to disrupt the activities of Moscow’s spies who were “at work across Europe and in the UK”.

He told the Guardian that at a time when much of the focus was on Islamic extremism, covert action from other countries was a growing danger, with Russia the biggest concern.

Source: Russia is an ‘increasingly aggressive and covert threat’, MI5 spy chief warns – Mirror Online

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The jingoism that betrayed MPs’ ignorance over Syria – Corbyn


From Jeremy Corbyn’s Huffington Post interview:

The UK’s recent decision to join the US and other states in bombing ISIL in Syria was fiercely opposed by Corbyn – and still is. The House of Commons voted by a big majority to join the coalition, and 66 Labour MPs backed military action after an impassioned speech by Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn.

But the Labour leader makes clear he unhappy at the reaction on the night. “What I was appalled by was the end of that debate, with mainly Conservative MPs waving their order papers around, clapping and cheering,” he says.

“Sorry, we were voting to send bombers in to bomb targets, putting servicemen and women at risk, civilians at risk, you can’t cheer when you’re going to war. That is 1914 Jingoism, that is past.”

Corbyn adds: “I think we rushed into something without enough thought. I made my point in my own speech to Parliament, very carefully. I asked a series of questions and I don’t believe I had proper answers to those questions. Even the Daily Mail said that the questions I’d put – which we thought about very carefully in my office – were relevant questions and have not actually been answered.

The Sun newspaper has reported that not a single one of the RAF’s much-hailed Brimstone missiles has been fired in Syria because of a lack of targets. Does that help his own case on Syria?

“It proves something doesn’t it? The Brimstone missiles I was told never miss a target, sorry if you get a target wrong and we all make mistakes.”

“I quote in my speech a Syrian family who live in this constituency. They are not lovers of the regime, they are not lovers of the Opposition, they are lovers of their family and life and they said our family is at risk.”

Source: Jeremy Corbyn Interview: On His First 100 Days, Leadership, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton And Tyson Fury

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Propaganda and lies characterise dud UK airstrikes on Syria


RAF warplanes have carried out their second raid on a Daesh/IS target in Syria – the same oilfield that was said to have been destroyed on October 23, using Paveway bombs rather than the Brimstone missiles David Cameron said would be employed.

These are important distinctions. Firstly, if the RAF is hitting a target that was already destroyed just over a month ago, then the best that can be said about it is it is likely to be under reconstruction, involving civilian workers. David Cameron promised us blind that the UK would not attack civilians.

Claims that the attack was successful are less impressive when you know where and what the target was.

Secondly, the Paveway bombs are not as precise as Brimstone guided missiles. They come with selective fuse options to adjust blast radius and shrapnel, in order to cause minimal collateral damage, but we have no evidence that any such adjustments have been made in the two operations carried out so far.

The fact that the RAF has attacked a civilian target, rather than any terrorist military base, is also significant. David Cameron has, so far, avoided engagement with the people who are actually causing harm. He wants his war to last a long time.

And Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited military personnel at RAF Akrotiri to feed them a lot of nonsense about support for their operations among the UK public. Considering the huge amount of protest against air strikes, he was wrong to say that they had the backing of “the people of Britain”. They don’t.

All in all, David Cameron’s war is turning into a dud.

RAF jets have carried out their second set of air strikes in Syria since MPs backed military action against so-called Islamic State in the country.

The Omar oil fields were targeted for the second time, using two Tornados and, for the first time, two Typhoons.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who is visiting the British base for the Syria mission in Cyprus, said: “Last night saw the full force of the RAF.”

During his visit to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, Mr Fallon thanked military personnel.

He made no assurances about the length of the campaign, telling them only it was “not going to be short or simple”.

“You go now into this full-bodied mission with your orders and with your training. But I want you to know also you go with the backing of the government and the people of Britain.”

The Ministry of Defence said the Tornados and Typhoons used Paveway IV guided bombs to hit wellheads in the oil field on Friday night, “thus cutting off the terrorists’ oil revenue at the very source”.

Eight attacks were carried out, and early reports suggest that they were successful, an MoD statement added.

Source: Syria air strikes: RAF jets in second wave of strikes – BBC News

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