Yesterday Welcome to My World wrote a post on a subject which should give us all some concern - the Strategic Defence Review.
John is obviously a paid up member of the Times pay wall, but he was good enough to quote part of the article:
"Britain gave a direct promise to the United States that it would keep its nuclear deterrent and maintain special forces after the Pentagon expressed alarm at the scale of the spending cuts. Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, made the pledges in Washington after talks with his US counterpart, Robert Gates."
If that's not worrying enough there is more:
"Dr Fox promised that Britain would retain the ability to mount medium-scale operations overseas, but not, in the future, those at the level of the Afghanistan mission, in which 10,000 British Service personnel are involved. He envisaged that the review would provide manpower for any future operation involving about 6,000 troops in a campaign sustained for a reasonable length of time."
There can't be any question about our military bosses now surely. Our bosses are those in the United States and, as many of us have suspected, it's been that way for some time. Fox realises he cannot break the apron strings so has decided to reduce the contribution. His comment shows where expenditure will be saved - manpower. The continuing existence of Trident would appear to be assured.
This week the four leaders of Scotland's main political parties did their best to show unity when they displayed a joint document sent to the MoD in connection with the building of the aircraft carriers on the Clyde. In part I understand the reason for the protest - breaking contracts isn't 'British' and halting this shipbuilding contract would cause serious problems for the Scottish economy. Our shipbuilding industry doesn't seem able to win large international contracts anymore and is now dependent upon defence contracts but are we wise to be relying upon war to provide us with so much employment? Where are the job creators of yesteryear?
This week I was talking to a now-retired engineer who sold his business (which had no connection to military procurements) recently for a tidy sum. He was of a firm opinion that he would never consider starting a business today. "Far too much interference from government. Bureaucracy has completely run out of control. The firms who do make money are those connected with military contracts because the remit changes regularly and they can charge whatever they like for each change. Small businesses are ignored these days since our politicians decided the UK would be a service and financial centre." (I've paraphrased).
Perhaps these comments do answer part of the reason Scotland no longer has a sound manufacturing base but another is surely our education system. Young people can no longer study engineering or craft skills in any depth at school. Our comprehensive education system leaves no room for the training of our future craftsmen and women and they are relegated to waiting in the wings until they can leave school and find a college or university which will provide them with the skills they want - that is if they can find one since so many excellent technical colleges were closed.