Friday, 5 August 2011

Libdem Infighting Goes Public

Sir Ming, that stalwart North East Fife Libdem MP, has launched an unprecedented attack on his party colleague Danny Alexander over the closure of Leuchars RAF base.

He has even suggested Mr Alexander interfered in the basing review to save his parliamentary seat. Surely Danny Alexander wouldn't use his position as chief secretary to the Treasury to influence vital decisions relating to the defence of the UK?

Sir Ming thinks otherwise and has accused the whipper-snapper of lobbying for the retention of Lossiemouth, which borders his Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency, to 'assist his political credibility'. Tensions are so bad within the Libdems that party bosses were forced to bring them together for a clear-the-air-meeting, but that appears to be unsuccessful and now Sir Ming has chosen to vent his anger publicly.

"It's a remarkable coincidence that these decisions should have been thought to assist the political credibility of the chief secretary to the Treasury. Or is it?

"The result of the closure of Leuchars is that the RAF has been banished to the north of Scotland. The army's preferences have been met at the expense of proper strategic analysis."

Of course Sir Ming's outburst is to assist his own credibility as he wants to be seen as fighting to the bitter end to keep the RAF in his constituency, but such infighting by senior government members forces me to consider whether anyone in the Westminster government has a clue about military strategy and to suggest that today's policies are being made on a wing and a prayer.

Alex Salmond welcomed the change of use at Leuchars from RAF to Army as 'a substantial consolation prize' for Fife and I can only agree it will benefit the area as much as the RAF's presence.

One important aspect of the changeover which hasn't been mentioned by Liam Fox, Sir Ming or Danny Alexander is the airstrip.  A couple of months ago Ryanair visited the base to check out the new £27m runway but nothing more has been said about its future - until now.

Alex Salmond is to ask the MoD to examine the possibility of the air strip being used for commercial airline flights and he hopes to convince the MoD to make it an 'embarkation point' for troops across Scotland.  If Scotland is to have a major increase is Army personnel, Leuchars would be the most sensible aviation base for them; thus avoiding the costs of using commercial airports such as Edinburgh and Prestwick.

The Scottish government also wants to investigate the base being used for commercial flights and this must be encouraged.  Leuchars is currently used for private flights - mainly for those visiting St Andrews - but it would be an act of folly to allow the newly refurbished air strip to lie unused.

Such a shame Sir Ming and the manny Danny couldn't put their energies into ensuring the MoD and Westminster government give this issue a high priority, rather than conduct an argument in public which is of little, or any, interest to the public.



Captain Haddock said...

I love it when the ferrets start fighting in the sack ..

The more damage it does to the Limp Dums, the happier man I'll be ..

Highland Cooncil said...

Charles Kennedy MP and the CIA.

He was a Fulbright scholarship student at the University of Indiana, USofA.
Many Fulbright students are recruited to the CIA.
Google : CIA fulbright scholarship

In September 2007 Charles Kennedy was unanimously elected President of the European Movement in Britain.
The European Movement

subrosa said...

Aye CH, it's interesting how Ming rushed off to the Courier to decry his colleague isn't it? (The Courier is the local paper just in case you don't know).

subrosa said...

Mmm HC, interesting. Many thanks.

Hamish said...

Searingly cogent article, SR.
Yes, it is a consolation prize that there will continue to be some military role for Leuchars.
I guess the accommodation and classrom training facilities are adaptable to any of the military services.

But, pardon the language, there's a bloody airstrip out there.
That's no good for practising tank warfare. It's no good for trialling submarines.

Well done to Alex Salmond and others for demanding we should use this expensively created facility for the purpose intended.
Whether that be military or civil. whether public or private.

JRB said...

This argument between the two Limp Dums (thank you Capt. Haddock) follows on well from an earlier post by Petem - Old Labour, Nu Labour, Nu Trendies.

This clearly shows the differences between the elder statesman, Ming Campbell, who has a career in politics and the young whippersnapper, Danny Alexander, who sees himself as a career politician.

Since the founding of the ConDem coalition Ming Campbell calling on his lifetime of experience has remained true to his convictions as a man of principle and as a politician. He was totally against the ‘Tuition Fees’ debacle; he was totally against the ‘North Sea Oil Tax’ fiasco; he was totally against how the Defence Review would effect the RAF bases in Scotland and, yes, in his constituency.

On the other hand young Master Alexander quickly dropped the promises he made on tuition fees in order to gain a few plaudits from his fellow ConDems; he even wished to claim the glory (?) for the ‘North Sea Oil Tax’ thinking it would advance his political status within the cabinet; he gave not two hoots for the future of the RAF in Scotland until he realised that the loss of both bases on the Moray Firth coast could have an adverse effects upon his parliamentary seat.

We need more conscientious people to have a career in politics and fewer shallow and facile career politicians.

Brian said...

"Alex Salmond [] hopes to convince the MoD to make it (RAF Leuchars) an 'embarkation point' for troops across Scotland."

A good idea, although why duplicate the facilities at RAF Brize Norton? Will the runway be long enough for the RAF's big new PFI Airbus A330 Voyagers (the least best version of the MRTT)? I'm sure their owners won't want to risk scratching the underside on the perimeter fencing when taking off with a full load. :) I just hope Leuchars never has to be used as a repatriation airbase for Scottish soldiers.

John said...

"anyone in the Westminster government has a clue about military strategy" Events suggest not. Those with service experience do not wish to rock the boat or upset the Whips. The rest are so full of own importance that the military ethos is beyond their comprehension.

Captain Haddock said...

@ Hamish ...

"But, pardon the language, there's a bloody airstrip out there.
That's no good for practising tank warfare... "

A fact which hasn't prevented the basing of 1 RTR at RAF Honington, Suffolk, as part of Joint CBRN (along with the RAF Regiment) ..

And if rumours are to be believed CBRN is a role which the RAF are looking to make uniquely their own ..

Equally, the presence of a runway, didn't prevent the basing of Royal Marines at what used to be RAF Chivenor ..

Strathturret said...

Lovely to see Lib-Dems fighting like ferrets in a sack.

To me it was obvious that Leuchars was doomed as an RAF base once it became clear that either an English base, Leuchars or Lossie had to close. A Tory Government was never going to close an English base to save a Scots one. So one of ours had to go. Closing two bases in Moray, after Kinloss's demise was too much in a small area even for the Con-Dems.

I'm sure a man as smart as Sir Ming could work that out.

Captain Haddock said...

The "rumours" to which I alluded in my previous post were confirmed as being true this morning ..

The RAF have successfully campaigned for the sole committment to UK CBRN (the only way in which they could justify the retention of the RAF Regiment at its current levels) ..

My trusted source thinks it likely that upon conversion to an Army base, Leuchars might well see the arrival of the RSDG (and others) on their departure from British Forces Germany ..

Therefore, I doubt that the local economy will suffer overmuch ..

cynicalHighlander said...

'Pistols at dawn' save the voters wasting their votes next GE.

subrosa said...

Hamish, what has annoyed me is the attitude of the Leuchars community when so many say they don't want the army. 'They're all drunks and will cause problems' I've heard often.

I'm tempted to go there and say I've worked with all the services and I found the differences so minimal - particularly where drinking was concerned.

subrosa said...

It does rather JRB but I wasn't trying to steal petem's idea. Just that the Mind element is very local to here.

I doubt if many entering politics these days will remain true to convictions. Toe-the-line matters far more and also personal bank accounts.

subrosa said...

I don't think there would be duplication from Brize Norton Brian. Most oversea troop arrivals come into there and then those resident in Scotland have to either get here by train or plane - usually into Edinburgh or Prestwich. Makes sense to have one central destination without paying private airfield owners money.

subrosa said...

You're right Strathturret. Leuchars was the better political move and I don't think the withdrawal of the RAF will make much difference to the local economy.

subrosa said...

Ah CH, that's very good news. Thanks.

subrosa said...

I was wondering if Ming would stand again CH. He's getting on really.

cynicalHighlander said...

Who know SB as those with ministerial posts have morphed into Tories as they are neither liberal or democratic in action.

subrosa said...

Very true CH. I've never understood libdems.

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