Friday, 30 July 2010

The UK Nuke Fleet

Our current Chancellor George Osborne has said the following regarding his idea to add the bill for our new Nuke fleet into the MOD "All budgets have pressure. I don't think there's anything particularly unique about the Ministry of Defence."

That’s 110% Wrong you idiot. The MOD is Unique. Firstly the main reason we agree to government at all is for the defence of our people. It works the same way in any country or political system in the world. We don’t have politicians for the country to have Diversity Outreach co-ordinators, a Green Transport policy, to stop 8 Ace from starving to death by giving him welfare checks or even streetlights. We have a government so we have the ability to organise collective defense, the ability to stick a bayonette in the neck of some foreigner who wants to walk away with all our stuff. That is the only role of government at the end of the day. And if you can’t do that George, then you are no fucking use and should piss off now.

Secondly the Nuclear weapon is unique in that it is a political weapon. All other weapon systems are under the control of the Armed Forces. Once the politician says go, the army decides how to use every weapon in its inventory. David Cameron doesn’t get to say which Eurofighter drops which bomb on the enemy. Nukes are entirely different, it is only Civilians who ultimately get to push the button that changes the weather of its target by 10,000 degrees. Granted it is manned by Navy Personnel, but then so are the gates of the British Embassy in Berlin. This doesn’t mean that the MoD has to pay for the ambassador's Ferrero Rocher out of its budget.

Thirdly, in case you missed it, the MOD is unique because your predecessor government made it so. Whilst it fire hosed money at everything else, the Armed Forces have been fighting for 7 years on a peace time budget. Not your fault of course, but then their incompetence was the reason they were thrown out at the last election. There’s no reason why you can’t be thrown out too in under 5 years.


Nigel Sedgwick said...

Well, that is a nice clear expression of a very large proportion of the basis for national government.

Best regards

Andrew said...

Military power ultimately has to reflect economic power. The UK has since WW2 been running a military establishmnet too large for its economy. Its time for this to stop.

A not insignificant advantage of down-sizing would be that our idiot politicians would not be able to commit us to any more useless foreign wars.

Is this safe to do? Yes, I think we could work on the basis we are unlikely to be invaded in the next 10 years. If western europe is invaded, we are the last country to be at risk.

So, I think we could moth-ball for 10 years, perhaps also being able to skip a generation of technology. Currently, we only need to keep a small military cadre which could be expanded rapidly in time of crisis plus ant-terrorism units.


Nigel Sedgwick said...

Andrew writes: "The UK has since WW2 been running a military establishmnet too large for its economy."

Here is the actual information, as a percentage of GDP. It is also worth remembering that the UK is one of the largest economies in the world, is a great trading nation (still), and that world-wide peacefulness (in the regions that matter, directly or indirectly, to the UK) is a definite benefit to UK prosperity.

First, plots since 1900 of UK total debt, annual government total expenditure and annual defence expenditure. This shows the defence component has been falling since the end of WW2 and has spent a period below 3% of GDP (which is usually reckonned to be the appropriate non-war level). Don't forget that much of the total debt builds up during wars and is paid off afterwards (often over decades) and, IIRC, as part of the ongoing defence expenditure.

Second, there is a plot just of UK defence expenditure since 1960, as I was having trouble seeing it in sufficient detail at such a low level on the other graph.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Of course, seeing as the country has already been pillaged there's nothing left to defend. We're completely safe

Nigel Sedgwick said...

At the risk of adding considerable confusion, I must clarify my comment above at 0835 on 31st July.

Capital repayments on government debt are, I believe, not chargeable to departmental budgets in the year of repayment (except and perhaps as mentioned below from complications with gilts). However, ongoing interest payments (and their equivalent for gilts) are chargeable.

Thus, if we take the year of 1960 (after UK involvement in the Korean War), defence spending was 6.76% of GDP, while total interest was 3.99%. Given that a very large proportion of total government debt was that from WW2, with ongoing debt from WW1 (and doubtless a bit of new debt from the Korean War), we can safely assume that around 67% ((107-35)/107) of the 107% of GDP that is total debt in 1960 is down to war loans. Thus interest on war loans in 1960 was around 2.68% of GDP (67% of the interest of 3.99% of GDP). This leaves approximately 4.08% of GDP (6.76% minus 2.68%) for defence expenditure that is not interest on war loans.

[Aside: there are further complications, which I think we have to note and then discount as material to the current discussion. Firstly, the interactions between inflation and GDP do complicate these calculation. Secondly, government debt is often raised by gilts, which lump interest and repayment and can raise initially less (or more) than their nominal loan value. Gilts effectively smooth the effect of inflation and interest changes over the loan periods (which can be long; often decades); they also confuse the difference between principal and interest and the timing of repayment of the principle.]

Thus, from 1960, UK defence spending excluding loan interest, has not exceeded around 4.08% of GDP. It has been as low as 2.62% (in 2003 including, I assume, very modest interest payments). In (the financial year to April) 2010 it was 3.02%, again including presumably modest interest.

Apologies for not being strictly accurate in my earlier comment.

Although a more complicated view, the above still very firmly challenges Andrew's point.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Well said TG; forgive the pun, but your post is fully on the money.

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