Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Robert Fisk and the New Contemptibles

From Brother Ivo:

It has begun. Our “liberal progressive” friends have embarked upon a scheme to shape the narrative for next year’s commemoration of the Great War.

As those who plan the year prepare their contributions, it is hoped that scholarship and perspective will be the dominant virtues, especially when it comes to the men who won the war. None bears the brunt of insult and disdain more than Field Marshal Douglas Haig.

His reputation remains controversial: all military leaders will - and should - have their actions scrutinised to learn the lessons of their successes and their failures. There is little doubt that Sandhurst will have studied such matters with care and proportionality, but Brother Ivo’s fear is that that the popular media may still be stuck in the Oh! What a Lovely War/Blackadder mode of leftwing agitprop.

Such is the shallowness of much popular culture, however, that Brother Ivo saw one young man asserting that he could not wear a poppy because it derived from John McRae’s famous poem, and had been selected as the symbol of remembrance by Douglas Haig’s wife.

That it had been hallowed and accepted by generations of heroes, and that McRae was a serving officer who gave his own life for his king and country seemed to have eclipsed all else. There was no suggestion that there was anything wrong per se with the field poppy symbolising the lost generations, or that there was a better one: the simple fact that it could be linked to the Field Marshal rendered all further intelligent consideration redundant.

Brother Ivo subsequently realised that the young man was parroting the line of Robert Fisk in a piece published in The Independent which had Yasmin Alibhai-Brown praising his “bravery” for writing it.

It is not in the slightest brave: it is weapons grade, highly self-regarding, pseudo-moralistic cant of the highest order. And doubtless it will not be the last.

If one has the stomach to read it to the end, it should be done, for it sets the bar for the level of ignorance and prejudice from the liberal establishment with which we shall have to contend in the months ahead, as we enter the time of commemoration.

When the relatively small British Expeditionary Force stopped the German Army in 1914, the Kaiser famously referred to them as the “Old Contemptibles” - a appellation they wore with pride for the rest of their lives.

In the likes of Mr Fisk and Ms Alibhai-Brown we have the ‘New Contemptibles”, who will tread on the sensitivities of the grieving, and who cannot allow remembrance and mourning to be untainted by political controversy as they impose their spiteful worldview upon an activity that most would prefer to keep open and inclusive.

Those who intrude into our remembrances and adopt a term like “poppycock” to describe the holy moments of honouring the sacrifice of our military are indeed beneath contempt.

There is neither time nor space to assess Haig’s military merits in depth, but there are a few obvious correctives to the popular view that are worth noting.

Haig pursued objectives set by politicians: all soldiers do. Despite the losses, the British public was determined not to lose its war with Germany after expending so much blood and treasure, and Haig delivered what was required of him. He, like so many others, discharged his duty.

At the end of the War he was judged well by those in a position to know.

Luddendorf saluted him as “Master of the field”; US General George Patton had high regard for him, having served in those conditions as a young officer before learning lessons and becoming a notable Second World War leader. Winston Churchill said of him: "If there are some who would question Haig’s right to rank with Wellington in British military annals, there are none who will deny that his character and conduct as a soldier will long serve as an example to all."

What is little known by the generations educated by left-wing academics is that his funeral attracted more mourners than lined the streets of London for the funeral of Princess Diana. His men respected him and honoured his passing. That is not insignificant, and ought to give pause for thought to those whose judgements are formed by their own prejudices or popular culture.

Not all of his alleged mistakes were irrational.

We need to remember that the Great War, above all, confirmed Napoleon’s dictum that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. That was especially the case in the first war fought with 20th-century firepower directed by 19th-century communications.

If Haig instructed his 1916 citizen army to walk towards the enemy it was as much to do with his concern that they might rush into their own barrage as over-confidence that he had mastered the artillery lessons from German successes at Verdun. Even when the very real possibility for the much-hoped-for cavalry breakthrough occurred at High Wood on the 1st July 1916, there did not exist the communications to exploit the planned opportunity in the time available. The war was fought on an unprecedentedly vast scale with command structures that no one could have directed significantly better.

On the frequently referenced issue of the executed soldiers, Haig commuted 90% of the 3000 death sentences passed, and 37 of the 309 shot at dawn were executed for murder which would have seen them hanged in a civilian Court. This generation may differ in its values, but the man was no Judge Jeffreys.

Because of his leadership, the British Army held its discipline and cohesion throughout the agony of the conflict. Unlike the armies of Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Turkey or Austria, the British Army never broke, and neither did it significantly mutiny. Every military professional of the time and since counts that a remarkable achievement.

Where his reputation is largely overlooked, however, is in his role after the war.

We are so habituated to our British way of Remembrance that we do not pause to think that alternatives existed. They may have been old style Imperialists, but men like Haig and Kipling ushered in a modern and very egalitarian approach to commemorating the sacrifices made.

All Commonwealth War Grave headstones are identical. Our war memorials list alphabetically and there is no greater respect given to the Major General or the Baronet’s son than the local rat catcher. The red poppy is for each and every one of them, and recalls the sacrifice of non-combatant Quakers and VC alike. It is the intrusion of the white poppy that imports difference and division to the occasion.

In all the traditional trappings of Remembrance, the Commonwealth soldiery from all nations, cultures and religions are accorded identical respect. This is easily overlooked by those who have never seen a segregated War Memorial in the USA.

That tone of Remembrance owes no small debt to the post-war efforts of Douglas Haig and the British Legion, over which he presided from its inception to his death. Haig refused a viscountcy until proper provision had been made for demobilised soldiers. He insisted that the Army stayed in reserve rather than become engaged during the General Strike. He was actively involved in securing housing for the returned soldiers, and the British Legion relief fund bore his name for many years.

We could do a lot worse that restore the original title “The Earl Haig Fund”, which was stripped from it by a subsequent generation more concerned with imposing its own trendy views than accepting and respecting the choice of those better placed to judge.

If Haig deserves no other credit, he should be honoured for his commitment to the establishment of the British Legion as an inclusive, non-political organisation designed simply to support the military folk who had done their duty and suffered so much.

Uniquely amongst European ex-service organisations, veterans in the UK retained their association as a meeting place of old comrades. During the depression years, every European country saw its old soldiers groups morph into nationalistic, fascist or communist quasi military bands, but the Royal British Legion stayed true to its mission.

For that alone we should remain very grateful to the Royal British Legion, and honour its leadership. How many today have ever been challenged by that thought from their history teachers?

We might also usefully remind ourselves that the First World War was recognised as a holocaust before the Holocaust. One wonders if our liberal commentators would feel quite so comfortably cavalier trampling over the memory or sensitivities of the Holocaust victims in the way they now feel able to sneer and pontificate about those who came out of the trenches and sought in some inadequate way to express their sense of loss and pity?

The simple poppy had grown profusely over the fields in which the survivors had served, fought and suffered. Since they accepted that symbol of Remembrance for their families and friends, why do puffed-up commentators like Robert Fisk feel the need to bray and disrespect? They have 364 other days of the year to pursue their progressive agenda.

And therein lies the paradox. Such self-appointed spokespersons for the common man are turning their backs on the judgements of the ordinary men and women who served. From the earliest days of the cynical Bloomsbury Set to its modern incarnation, our intelligentsia are more "sophisticated" than Joe Public. This is what sets egalitarians apart - their innate sense of superiority.

One suspects that none of the Remembrance rituals will have irritated Mr Fisk more than those surrounding the Unknown Soldier, who was accorded the highest honour and respect by all who laid him to rest, including Royalty, the Church, Parliamentarians and the Military High Commands. Doubtless Mr Fisk would describe them all as having contributed to that soldier’s death.

Such was the ritual surrounding the selection of this modern-day Everyman that he could have been Canadian, Australian, Indian, or from many other nations. He was not only escorted to his final resting place in Westminster Abbey by 100 holders of the Victoria Cross, but this occurred in the presence of nearly 100 women who had lost a husband and five sons to the war. The concentration of grief on that day is almost too sad to contemplate.

Those heroes and ordinary women were not deterred from paying their respects by the presence of the highest in the land. Doubtless, in later life, those widows wore their little paper poppies, which Mr Fisk loftily disdains to wear because he has a better perspective and superior judgement. If it was good enough for them, Brother Ivo is honoured to follow their example.

Their husbands and sons were those who made up the ranks of the Grimsby Chums, the Accrington Pals, the Glasgow Tramways Battalion, the Post Office Rifles, and many more groups of patriotic loyal friends. Whenever Brother Ivo comes to remember, he brings to mind these ordinary, uncomplicated folk, and stands before the Cross of Sacrifice in awe with thanksgiving, calling to mind another who shared their path.

Robert Fisk and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown don’t want to be associated with Pals and Chums: they prefer acolytes.

Brother Ivo is Christian enough to assume that Mr Fisk would not have stood before those 100 grieving widows in Westminster Abbey to declare their observance “poppycock”. There are still many grieving today, from both old and newer conflicts, for whom these rituals are their best and most comforting expression of inexpressible loss. If Mr Fisk would not say these things to their faces, he would be best not to say them at all.

Brother Ivo is the Patron Saint of lawyers


Blogger Len said...

What strikes me most about the first World War was the utterly senseless loss of life.
Men ordered to advance across lines of fire where they would be cut down by machine guns in their thousands to gain a few feet of land which would be lost the next day.
It is a testament to the courage of these men that they obeyed orders which sent them to a certain death.
The other thing that strikes me most is that the freedom these men gave their lives for is being surrendered without question by those who Govern us.

13 November 2013 at 08:59  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Your Grace,

A fascinating and alternative viewpoint to the usual heavily spun mush served up by our self serving broadcasters and leftist media, so thank you for that.

My grandfather was one of 200 from an original 10,000 that survived throughout the war. Despite being in lifelong intermittent pain from shrapnel lodged in inoperable positions, his cheerful fortitude never left him during his long, active life. One can only respect such dogged courage.

As Len says the freedom that previous generations sacrificed for, is now cast lightly aside with little thought by this so called, "highly educated" generation of leaders of the LibLabCon party.

I was happy to facilitate wreath laying from UKIP at our local memorials.

13 November 2013 at 09:22  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Bravo, Brother Ivo! I agree with every word. My grandfather fought on the Somme and Passchendaele and he too had shrapnel lodged inside his body for the rest of his life. He had nothing but respect for Earl Haig...

13 November 2013 at 09:37  
Blogger MacZio said...

When the war started the defensive technology - machine guns, barbed wire - was massively superior to that of the offensive (static artillery). Haig's victory came about through skilful and imaginative use of new technologies - tanks and aircraft - co-o-ordinated on an all-arms basis. He was a very good general indeed.

13 November 2013 at 10:20  
Blogger bluedog said...

A timely piece, Brother Ivo, coming as it does in the wake of Remembrance Day.

Please permit one small act of pedantry, it was in fact Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, not Napoleon, who first said 'No plan survives contact with the enemy'. Writing as early as 1843, von Moltke also had the foresight to envisage the role that railways might play in future wars. It was of course the great tragedy of 1914 that once mobilisation was begun by one potential combatant, the rest were compelled to follow suit or risk being overwhelmed. Thus was von Moltke's earlier thinking validated.

That apart, your warning of a revisionist deluge is just as prescient. It is amusing to read that the Germans have been pleading for sympathetic and non-jingoistic treatment. It only gets worse for them as even more contentious centenaries loom. Not a bad thing either, one suspects.

13 November 2013 at 10:25  
Blogger Gareth said...

The UK went to war in 1914 for broadly the same reasons as we did in 1939, to discharge our treaty obligations. The difference is that by 1918 Belgium was a free country, yet in 1945 at the conference of Yalta we threw our treaty with Poland in the bin and allowed them to be occupied by communist Russia for the best part of half a century. There was little else Churchill or anyone else could have done about that, and yet the Second World War is the one we are generally proud of and the First World War is the one we are generally ashamed of. Strange.

13 November 2013 at 11:22  
Blogger Corrigan said...

In fairness to the Kaiser (and there's a phrase which hasn't been used in a long time) he always maintained that the word he used in reference to the BEF was contemptuous, not contemptible. As he was half English and spoke the language with perfect fluency, he would certainly know the difference. If he spoke the truth, it means the manipulation machine was in high gear from the off.

In my journey from left to right (and I only look like a leftie compared to the curmudgeons around here) one of the common themes of both groups I have noticed, is the propensity to put a human face on the thing they despise. For Ivo et al, that face currently belongs to Robert Fisk; for the Fisks and the Polly Toynbees and the Alan Rusbridgers of the world, Haig is the exemplar of evil. One could, of course, argue that Haig actually did send men to their deaths by the thousand, but if my righward trajectory has taught me anything, it's that we were not put into the world to avoid danger when right and principle are at stake, and simply sending men to their deaths in the cause of what you perceive as being right does not make you a monster.

That said, however, there is a case for Haig to answer regarding how he sent so many thousands over the Jordan. One of my heroes is a little known WWI general, Julian Byng, whose greatest achievement militarialy is probably the victory at Vimy Ridge. I consider him a hero because, unlike so many of Haig's generals, Byng sat back, thought about what the Allied forces were doing wrong, and then came up with an effective counter, in this instance, the rolling barrage. He did not merely keep sending more and more troops out in the hope that the Germans would bleed faster than he did. It is unfortunate that Haig was incapable of such flexibility, and his inablility to demonstrate such a mindset is what really gets up leftist noses about the man, more than what he actually fought for.

Ivo, Cranmer and others here should cool their jets a little and realize that while what they believe may be radically different from what Fisk and his coterie believe, they came to those beliefs by the same emotional and instinctual processes as the lefties, and reason and rationality had as little to do with it in their cases as it did with Fisk.

13 November 2013 at 11:32  
Blogger Corrigan said...

When the relatively small British Expeditionary Force stopped the German Army in 1914...

I'm away from my references at the moment, Ivo, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that there may have been one or two French soldiers present at the first Battle of the Marne. Possibly that was just Gaulic propaganda.

13 November 2013 at 11:38  
Blogger John Wrake said...


I confess to disliking the lofty tone of your comment, as though you are capable of dispassionate thought, unlike Ivo. Cranmer and others here who, like the lefties, are moved by emotion and instinct and are incapable of reasoned thought on the matter.

What qualifies you to state that Earl Haig was incapable of flexibility? What experience do you have in the responsibility for and control of armies, either now or in the early 20th Century?

Whether labelled left or right, self-opinionated people get right up my nose. A little more humility from you would be more appropriate in the consideration of these matters.

John Wrake.

13 November 2013 at 11:56  
Blogger IanCad said...

This'll be good!

13 November 2013 at 12:15  
Blogger Gareth said...

Corrigan -

There were many generals who came up with 'solutions' to the deadlock on the western front, both tactical (e.g. the creeping barrage, tanks) and strategic (e.g. Gallipoli). Most of these innovations merely ended up failing abysmally. Those that did work most often were not an unqualified success, the rolling barrage included, which when first practiced ended up killing more friendly troops than it protected.

What is better: to be an innovative general or a victorious one?

13 November 2013 at 12:19  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Brother Ivo, hello. Happy Jack has read the newspaper article by Mr Fisk and Jack is confused. Mr Fisk tells us men who were killed in other wars were simply forgotten and during the Napoleon War were used as manure in Lincolnshire. Is this true? How horrible if it is. Then he tells us off for burying them properly and remembering them once a year by wearing a poppy.

To Happy Jack he sounds like a man who wants to have his cake and wants to eat it. Jack thinks he is having a go at religion and at ceremonies that express sorrow. Or he is having a go at God? He said this, "Only when you move into religious ecstasy can the long dead touch our souls." Happy Jack believes the "long dead" should touch our souls or would he prefer it if we all forgot?

13 November 2013 at 12:32  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

There is an incredibly cruel logic in referenced article by Mr Fisk. He begins with the a priori assumption that war is meaningless, and draws the logical corollary that those soldiers who die in war have died meaningless deaths. Remembrances however serve to envelope those deaths with meaning - which given his a priori starting point is at best illusion and at worst cynical manipulation. And so he would push the survivors relentlessly towards despair in service to his cause. He wants no other alternative but hopelessness. He wants pawns of grief and misery that may be deployed in his political campaign.

"War is meaningless. Your sons died for nothing. So let's make sure that no one else has to deal with that utterly hopeless meaningless grief that you will experience until you die."

The poppy is the symbol of meaning. That is why he cannot abide it. He wants instead the symbol to be the Widows Veil and nothing else.


13 November 2013 at 13:03  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

I suspect what really angers the Left about WWI is that:

1. It didn't result in the occurrence of the World wide Socialist revolution.

2. The two Socialist revolutions it did spawn were both disasters.

3. The only popular Socialist revolution it spawned was the National Socialist revolution in Germany.

That last point really hurts.


13 November 2013 at 13:29  
Blogger Frater minor said...

It is certainly true that war is a horrible and dreadful thing.

But it is also true that there are some things that are even worse than war. That is why armed conflict is sometimes justified. It is also why we need to remember the reasons for war, and not simply brand it as meaningless.

WWI was fought to resist German expansionary imperialism.

Although I have never held a weapon, and have no family tradition of armed service, I still recognise that those who fell in WWI and WWII died for something important and meaningful.

Frater minor

13 November 2013 at 13:36  
Blogger Corrigan said...

John Wrake, I'm sure we're all capable of dispassionate thought, but the problem is that thought follows emotions, it does not precede it. Ivo is a Haig man, that is his basic assumption; he then thoughfully accumulates the evidence which supports his case. Fisk is a leftie, that is his basic assumtion and he does likewise in support of his case. When people changed their positions on matters like this, it is because of some underlying emotional shift which the evidence then follows, and that dynamic is common to left and right. If this sounds lofty to you, it's probably because I am an intellectual gladiator of colossal proportions who makes you feel like you have a very small wedding appendage. I get that a lot. (I'm kidding, I'm kidding - I'm sure it's like a shire horse's)

13 November 2013 at 14:10  
Blogger Owl said...

One of the main pratices of the "progressive Left" is to manipulate Joe Public with emotional arguments. The end justifies the means.

It is not neccesary that the arguments be true. The general emotional response of someone sending men to certain death is one of horror.

Therefore "successful".

In this way history can "gradually" rewritten to their own political advantage.

It is a ploy, just the same as using children to get an emotional response which can be used to further restrict the freedoms of said Joe Public.

It fails when enough people realise what is really going on.

13 November 2013 at 14:12  
Blogger matt zx said...

Fisk is just the top of a very unpleasant elitist bunch who for some reason go mad at the sight of something as simple as a poppy ? I have yet to see anyone wearing a poppy get as angry and nasty as those who have to make a point of not wearing one! they remind me of to our breed of wet warrior atheists who cannot find anything better to do with their time then war against something they don't believe in? as an atheist my self I find them deeply insufferable and childish!

13 November 2013 at 14:19  
Blogger David B said...

Matt zx, who said ' they remind me of to our breed of wet warrior atheists who cannot find anything better to do with their time then war against something they don't believe in?'

It would be rather silly, don't you think, for people to oppose what they do believe in?


13 November 2013 at 14:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Hussell , your pomposity on behalf of ukip is sickening.

13 November 2013 at 14:50  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Nice piece of rhetorical trickery there, David B; reading Richard Dawkins does have some advantage after all.

13 November 2013 at 14:54  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

A great OP from Ivo. My only reservation is the suggestion to re-instate the logo Earl Haigh Fund on the Poppy.

That Poppy belongs to ALL in this nation who appreciate the sacrifices of life and limb made in times of conflict.

Haigh is an easy target for the likes of Fisk and the batty Alibai-Brown; no wonder it's The Independent (bottom place in the press circulation table) who continues to gives them a journalistic home.

However I feel we should not allow our justifiably heartfelt sentiment and colourful pageantry to blur the reality of how this Country continually treats it's retiring service personnel with deplorable indifference.

At the same time little comes to the public's attention regarding the squandering the millions on MoD refurbishments, accountability-free cock-ups, grotesque civil servants' and Top Brass' pay and pensions

James Clappison MP told the House of Commons "I hope that the ships have very great capabilities because we have only 19 of them.

Although our surface fleet may now be on the rather modest side, happily we are not short of commanding officers, because in our Navy we have 40 admirals and 260 captains. That is a ratio of just over two admirals per surface warship".

13 November 2013 at 15:08  
Blogger Old Blue Eyes said...

My father served in the army in France 1915 - 18. he suffered ill health for the rest of his life. He was proud to have served and had nothing but the highest regard for Haig and the British Legion and brought me and my brothers to wear our poppies with pride. He would hold nothing but contempt for the likes of Fisk & Co.

13 November 2013 at 15:24  
Blogger IanCad said...

Dreadnaught wrote:

"--in our Navy we have 40 admirals and 260 captains.--"

O, surely not!
You must be kidding!

Now, I know that at one time the Haitian army, numbering 9,000, had 308 generals, surely we have not declined to third world status.

13 November 2013 at 15:59  
Blogger David Hussell said...


Interesting comment ? No not really.

But I do suggest that you go outside and have a really big retch.

There, that does make you feel better?

However I, with many other patriots, will continue honouring the memory of those who died protecting freedom, through the organizations of which we are part. But I doubt whether you would understand that.

13 November 2013 at 16:37  
Blogger John Wrake said...


If your premise is correct, one has to ask which emotion sparked your comments on Earl Haig. Is there perhaps, a whiff of Irish Republicanism?

CAs for the rest of your reply, it seems to reveal nothing more than a dirty-minded schoolboy.

John Wrake

13 November 2013 at 16:41  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

13 November 2013 at 17:46  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Mr Clappison: ” I hope that the ships have very great capabilities because we have only 19 of them. I think that my hon. Friend will know from his military expertise that it is said in the Navy that three ships are needed for every one that is deployed, so at any time we can deploy six ships. Let us hope that they are indeed mightily powerful. As I said, other nations are not taking the same view as us and are increasing the size of their navies. I am pretty sure that some of those navies will have very good capabilities as well.
Although our surface fleet may now be on the rather modest side, happily we are not short of commanding officers, because in our Navy we have 40 admirals and 260 captains. That is a ratio of just over two admirals per surface warship. If one takes into account our submarine force and HMS Illustrious, which is due to be decommissioned next year, we will have one and a half admirals per vessel in our Navy. At least we can see that all possibilities will be well and truly covered. As for the 260 captains, one is tempted to guess that, although in the past the dream of a captain may have been to command a ship, today his dream may be to set foot on one”

13 November 2013 at 17:49  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Perhaps Fisk saw the same poppy last week as this man did in the high street. Well, not so much poppy as bejewelled bauble that glistened in the light. To think that some poor sod was blown to pieces so a woman could adorn herself so and think nothing of it, that’s the hard bit…

Haig, an able commander. ? Yes he was, but he was under tremendous pressure to show progress. It costing a fortune to keep an army in the field. So little actual progress was made, he was left with no alternative than to give the politicians a gain on paper. Which is just about all you can say for moving the line forward a hundred yards. But for that you have to send men over the top in the hope there are more targets out there than the Germans were capable of machine gunning. He should have put a stop to that and threatened to resign if pressed. He didn’t…

As for mutiny, the air stank with it, contrary to popular belief. All it would have taken was one regiment refusing to commit suicide in the aforementioned manner and it would have spread up and down the line. Command knew this and in many cases, the trench immediately behind the front one was packed with military police. Their job was to rush into the vacated trench and make sure everyone had gone over the top. Presumably if they found a fugitive, he would have been sent over at gun point.

The Irish regiments were no longer trusted from 1916. And accordingly, forced conscription never happened in Ireland. The idea being the British Army had enough potential rebels in the field as it was, without adding to them…

13 November 2013 at 18:01  
Blogger IanCad said...

Thanks Dreadnaught.

We're sunk.

13 November 2013 at 18:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I've stopped wearing poppies now, though I still donate the money. The symbol has been hijacked by the right-wing (if we're to blanket-assign simplistic political labels, as in the article) to link justifications for our modern foreign policy adventures with the almost universal respect of the public for the war dead in the two world wars.

13 November 2013 at 18:17  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The Royal Navy used to need 3 ships for every one at sea. This was due to the cold war and the vessels were packed to the gills with the high tech missile and detection equipment of the time. Stuff that needed a large room to be installed, the equivalent of which today can be put into a broom cupboard. Re-fits were long and expensive. Today, the ratio is 2 ships for every one at sea.

13 November 2013 at 18:57  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

At the end of the 1980s, the Royal Navy had two aircraft carriers, seven amphibious ships, 13 destroyers and 35 frigates.
Today, the like-for-like comparison sees Britain 'carrierless' - and left reliant on helicopter carriers for some years to come - with just 18 active major surface combatants, comprising of five destroyers and 13 frigates.

A recent report from Strategic Defence Intelligence predicted that Argentina's defence budget will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.87% over the period from 2011 to 2015, reaching a final total of $5.5bn. In respect of the Argentine Naval allocation, the authors forecast it will increase from the average of 25.3% of the country's total defence budget between 2006 and 2010, to 25.5% over the years to 2015.

13 November 2013 at 19:15  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dreadnaught, it is a poor show, but it’s like that to pay for the extraordinarily generous welfare benefits this country enjoys, while at the same time taking in immigrants to do what jobs there are that the feckless idle English should be doing...

No work, No eat. Works well in the rest of the world, and can work here too...

13 November 2013 at 19:26  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

You mean the 'feckless idle English' of the Portsmouth dock-yards of course. Rumour has it that if the balloon goes up we are 'prepared' to hire in warships from India or China who are tooling up as though they were Hertz or Avis-rent-Navy.

13 November 2013 at 19:37  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear dear DanJ0, the poppy has not been hijacked by 'the Right Wing.' It is worn with pride and in remembrance by the butcher, baker, unemployed, traffic wardens,the Mrs Snookses of countless Rose Cottages, council workmen and computer is worn by our fellow citizens of every persuasion. We are not all 'Right Wing,' and it's as daft as saying 'I won't have roses in my garden because a rose is the symbol of the Labour Party.' Mmmmmm hang on, where is my spade?

13 November 2013 at 19:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

No. Can UKIP count on your vote next election ? Or are you just a serial whiner, and nothing else...

13 November 2013 at 19:40  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness, Inspector! Feckless English? Why, shame on you sir! We English are the salt of the not join the gang of traitors who routine slander the English to further their Frankfurterish ends. Time to hit the madeira I think...

13 November 2013 at 19:45  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

All the old gentlemen at Hiram's Hospital wear their poppies with pride: Mr. Slope smokes his and Archdeacon Grantly sows them in his garden. Barchester is doing its bit.

13 November 2013 at 19:48  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Has anyone come across Dan Todman's book on the First World War, 'Myth and Memory' ? He argues that the war has been reinterpreted by every generation since it ended, each reinterpretation reflecting the values and morals of the time... I came across a copy in my Lord's library, tucked behind the tantalus...

13 November 2013 at 19:58  
Blogger bluedog said...

Dreadnaught, one needs to draw a comparison between two naval concepts, sea control and sea denial. The RN was for centuries configured for sea control, as is the USN today, being a capability to provide freedom of the seas by virtue of overwhelming force applied on the sea surface. Sea denial implies the ability to frustrate that use of overwhelming force on the sea surface, and is usually effected by a submarine force. The Battle of the Atlantic was a classic example of a conflict between combatants attempting to maintain sea control on the one hand, through the convoy system, versus another trying to deny that process, the German U-boat force.

The RN has been allowed to atrophy to the state where it could scarcely escort one single convoy across the Atlantic while simultaneously supporting a BEF within 1000 nm of the UK. The nuclear subs would however be able to neutralise most surface threats, unless themselves overwhelmed; in itself not impossible, there are only seven SSNs. The Japanese navy is now twice the size of the RN.

Today the Chinese are trying to develop a new weapon for sea-denial, the anti-ship ballistic missile. Signs are that the USN is taking the Chinese threat very seriously and is looking for additional bases for its Pacific fleet in areas outside the estimated range of these missiles. Another Pearl Harbor resulting in loss of the US Pacific carrier fleet would be a catastrophe for Western interests.

13 November 2013 at 20:13  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Hello again Mrs Proudie. How are you? Happy Jack sees that Mr Slope is behaving very badly smocking poppies. And you should must the Bishop's tantalus alone. Jack hopes he keeps the contents secure especially if you're thinking of doing some digging.

Happy Jack always wears a poppy and he doesn't know or care if he is left wing or right wing or what others make of it. Jack knows what it means to him and that's what counts.

13 November 2013 at 20:43  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack got a bit mixed up there, Mrs Proudie. He meant to say you must leave the Bishop's tantulus alone.

13 November 2013 at 20:45  
Blogger David Hussell said...

DanJ0 ,

"modern foreign policy adventures" - do you mean military adventures ? Presumably yes ?

Now whilst I'm not at all sure that vague terms like right wing or left wing mean much anymore, if my assumption, as to your meaning above, is right I'd like to say this.
Whilst the Conservative led coalition seems to be keen on foreign military adventures, as was the Blair led government of course, UKIP is not. Yes, you read that correctly, UKIP is not. Indeed we put a very high value on the lives and welfare of all our service people, who should be kept well housed and well trained, in reserve for if and when we may really need them, to defend these islands, our dependent territories, all our genuine interests, and of course cooperating with our allies in their defense. So it is very keen on rebuilding our services, regaining our previously strong military capability, for all these vital purposes, including of course defending places like The Falklands and Gibraltar.
To keep the peace, prepare for war, that's always true, I think.

13 November 2013 at 20:51  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear dear Happy Jack, how lovely to hear from you! Well, Mr. Slope is indeed very naughty, but bachelors do get up to all sorts of tricks - Mr. Slope tells me he is always looking after new tricks, usually around the Eros Statue in Piccadilly. To be honest I haven't touched my Lord's tantalus in has done one's duty of course. As to politics, why, Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan do say that every little boy and girl born alive is either a Liberal or a Conservative. Perhaps these days it is more like 'Every child who drives a jalopy is brought up to sneer at the poppy.' I am minded to form a focus group to press for conservative who would I ask to join? I have hobnobs...

13 November 2013 at 21:10  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

The real insult to the ethos of the Poppy Appeal was on display at the Cenotaph from the Poppy wearing politicians who really don't give a shit for post-service welfare.

In the first Armed Forces Covenant Report published last December 2012, the External Covenant Reference Group, made up of respected veterans agencies the Royal British Legion, COBESCO, SSAFA, WWA and military historian Professor Hew Strachan state:

"... Planned reductions in the size of the regular forces have inevitably led to compulsory redundancies even those on the threshold of retirement are being cynically denied of their pensions and many more are yet to be announced. Some personnel have been made redundant mere days before they would have been entitled to immediate pensions by virtue of length of service. This has .....led to a sense of betrayal of the spirit, if not the precise terms, of the Armed Forces Covenant among those affected.....the government should carefully examine how it can avoid a repeat of such circumstances in future rounds of redundancies...." They go on to call on the Government to " review how it can restore pension rights to those who have been disadvantaged so far"

Fisk and Alibi-Brown are minor irritations to our sensitivities compared to the actions of damned politicians. While happy to put on the mask of faux-grief at PMQs for the recently dead - they say nothing and do even less about of the number of maimed and traumatised; some reduced to rough sleeping and others given a low priority place housing registers.

13 November 2013 at 21:20  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mr Proudie, Happy Jack suggests you find a good wife for Mr Slope and soon. Think of the scandal. As for your focus group, Jack recommends the Inspector. He has a few rough edges but your capable hands will soon smooth these out. Jack is certain hobnobs will attract him and he might even strike up a fruitful rapport with Signora Madeline.

13 November 2013 at 21:26  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Happy Jack, such excellent suggestions...I will scribble some invitations immediately. You are right of course, I am always able to smooth wrinkles with a vigorous tug, but a wife for Mr. Slope? Well now, that has got me thinking... I have heard of a Lady Gaga who might just do - is she one of the Herefordshire Gagas, of Doolalley Court?

13 November 2013 at 21:47  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

Poppies have been hi-jacked by the right wing to justify our two recent wars? Good gracious how fortunate we have Banjo here to correct all our mistakes. There I was thinking that Tony Blair's Labour government had sent in the troops...
By the way if anyone share HG's misgivings about the proposed new law that will make almost every behaviour in public a crime (apart from wearing a burka) here is a petition against it:-

13 November 2013 at 21:53  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack does not know the exact titular nature of Lady Gaga though she does openly display her credentials. Jack heard she may be a bit of both but she is most probably Dooalley. Is there no good widow in Barchester who might be more suitable?

13 November 2013 at 21:58  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Well of course there is Signora Neroni, though rumour has it her husband is alive and well and running a timeshare in the Algarve: Mary Bold is a widow, but is as exciting as Theresa May doing a lap dance. Of course, in these more enlightened times when Civil Partnerships and SSM is all the rage, it might be better to point Mr. Slope in the direction of Barchester Barracks. On that are you fixed?

13 November 2013 at 22:07  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack is fixed very nicely, thank you. Jack avoids all matters of the heart as likes a peaceful, uncomplicated life and has a guitar and pet hamster to support.

13 November 2013 at 22:18  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

Hello Corrigan,

You are almost right.
Kaiser Bill was quoted as saying that the BEF was
"Eine veraechtlich kleine Armee"
A CONTEMPTIBLY little army -
which, by the standards of massive, continental, conscript armies, it was.
This was mistranslated ( maybe deliberately) as
A CONTEMPTIBLE little army
which is why I got to know a few old gentlemen who were so proud to call themselves "Old Contemptibles" - honoris causa.
Talking of POPPYCOCK, there is an excellent book called "MUD, BLOOD & POPPYCOCK" , demolishing the Joan Littlewood myth. If I remember right , it is by one GORDON CORRIGAN, a now retired British Officer. That wouldn't be your dark secret, would it, Corrigan?

13 November 2013 at 22:24  
Blogger David Hussell said...


I agree.

Whilst not claiming inside knowledge myself, hearsay received from seemingly reliable types, ex-military or their relatives, tells me that what you say is indeed, sadly all too true.
So the post service conditions of discharged armed services personnel, sometimes injured, is often, well, just parlous. Additionally they are being denied their pensions, sometimes by underhand means, and troops are generally being treated appallingly. I don't possess any hard evidence myself, but I am far more inclined to believe ex-military types, who are generally a pretty straight forward reliable lot, than the leading representatives of the LibLabCon Party.

The depth of cynicism in our political leaders is awful to behold. We need nothing short of a clean out in Westminster.

13 November 2013 at 22:25  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Dear Happy Jack, I understand the actor Richard Gere also has a pet hamster...are we talking turkey here?

13 November 2013 at 22:27  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear dear Mr Spalton, you are naughty! Be advised that Corrigan bites...or so Mr Slope tells me.

13 November 2013 at 22:40  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Ah yes indeed, our covenant with the armed forces. In the hands of today’s politicians, absolutely worthless. Not worth the paper it isn’t written on...

13 November 2013 at 22:41  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack is speechless and most upset! He has just asked Jeeves about this - and wished he had not. Jack had no idea such perversions existed. My hamster is my little friend and companion. The very thought.

13 November 2013 at 22:41  
Blogger Manfarang said...

I bought a poppy once for Veteran's Day (3rd February) The Veteran's organisation in Thailand sells them but it is mainly service personel and their families that buy them.
Thailand declared war on the Central Powers on 22 July 1917.

14 November 2013 at 06:59  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Calm yourself dear Jack - it is as well to be aware of the wicked ways of the world and what must be shunned.

14 November 2013 at 08:14  
Blogger David Hussell said...


Forgive me, I forgot to offer you my congratulations on your recent reincarnation. Your new "image" looks a splendid chap, mature but still amply dashing. Gloucester, your home town I understand, is indeed fortunate to have such good examples of manhood. Long may the bells of its small Cathedral ring joyously. The short cloisters walk is lovely. I used to be in touch with the, "Surveyor to the Fabric", as the quaint term describing its Architect in Charge, is still known.
Best wishes.

14 November 2013 at 08:26  
Blogger Len said...

One can only be Christian if one belongs to Christ through the spiritual rebirth.
This is the 'real' identity change which is so transforming that Jesus gives us a new name, a new heart, and a new nature.
Any other 're inacrnation is transitory.
Why not go for 'the real thing'?.

14 November 2013 at 09:43  
Blogger Len said...

're- incarnation' I can hardly bear to say the word(let alone spell it.)

14 November 2013 at 09:44  
Blogger bluedog said...

Manfarang @ 06.59 reports, 'Thailand declared war on the Central Powers on 22 July 1917.'

Do you think they noticed?

14 November 2013 at 11:11  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Hussell @ 20.51 declares, in the context of whether or not UKIP would favour involvement in a small war, 'Yes, you read that correctly, UKIP is not. Indeed we put a very high value on the lives and welfare of all our service people, who should be kept well housed and well trained, in reserve for if and when we may really need them, to defend these islands, our dependent territories, all our genuine interests, and of course cooperating with our allies in their defense.'

Sounds a bit like the Grand Old Duke of York. UKIP is in favour of splendid isolation but then it's not if that means letting down our allies. Path dependency is term to consider, and the UK is locked into a defence posture that includes but is not limited to its membership of the UN Security Council, NATO and sundry Commonwealth commitments such as the Five Power Agreement.

So before UKIP announces that it won't be getting into any foreign military adventures, the brains trust may need to read the fine print.

14 November 2013 at 11:24  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Hello, Edward,

No, Gordon Corrigan is, thankfully, no relation. I've actually read his book and while I found much interesting reading in it, it was marred by his whole 'I wuz in the army, I wuz' attitude to the reader; nothing is as fluid as the face of battle, and even if Corrigan himself has seen action (which I'm uncertain of), it would not have been in any way similar to what happened in WWI. Nor did it help that he was plainly determined from page one to show that nothing any British officer did at any time could possibly have been wrong.

14 November 2013 at 11:28  
Blogger Corrigan said...

This is the 'real' identity change which is so transforming that Jesus gives us a new name, a new heart, and a new nature.

I see the Church of Len is evangelizing again. I'm half tempted to join. We Catholics can confess our sins, be forgiven and even apply for indulgences to remit our time in purgatory, but we never know if our application has been granted, we can never expect the forgiveness of our sins to prevent us from committing more, and we always have to constantly examine our consciences to enquire if we need to confess again (which, of course, we always do). If I join Len's church, I'm awarded a 'get out of Hell free' card which covers all sin and exhonerates me from any future transgressions. Cool.

14 November 2013 at 11:34  
Blogger David Hussell said...


The "reincarnation" thing was a joke. Lighten up ! Jesus made wine, in bulk, and presumably drank some of it ! We are allowed to enjoy life.

I was not "doing" theology, it was personal banter.
Being "saved" , reborn is joyous, you make it sound grim - a tactical mistake, I'd respectfully point out.

Best wishes.

14 November 2013 at 11:53  
Blogger David Hussell said...


With great respect, Utter Unthinking Rubbish !

The usual mockery of a new boy on the block. How cheap. UKIP is not isolationist, quite the opposite. It argues for us taking us out of the parochial EU, a dated , narrow, 50's answer to a 30s problem. It is pro us taking our global trading stance more seriously, negotiating our own trade agreements without the going through the painfully slow processes of the ultra-bureaucratic EU.

Militarily, being loyal allies doesn't mean being a mute, with lapdog obedience to a naive, misguided, inexperienced US President. True allies point out alternatives, and negotiate, which is what Blair should have done with Irag. Harold Wilson, the old crow, didn't dutifully follow France and then the US into the disaster of Vietnam. We didn't have to enter Iraq. We with France led on bombing Libya. We pushed for bombing Syria, but luckily Putin showed that madness up for the shallow folly it was. Being an ally doesn't entail removal of your brain or your conscience ! The recent PMs do this, not for the security of this country, or for humanitarian reasons, but to strut the world stage, look good and set up future "career postures".

14 November 2013 at 12:09  
Blogger Hannah said...

Corrigan an Irish Republican? Is the Pope Catholic? I bet when he hears "Heil dir im Siegerkranz", it is the only time Corrigan likes the tune of the British national anthem...

14 November 2013 at 12:17  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hooray, OIG has gone back to his old avatar!

14 November 2013 at 12:17  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack is disappointed to see the Inspector is still without a hat. Jack believes all men should wear hats. He asks Len if he has one?

14 November 2013 at 13:26  
Blogger Len said...

Hello Jack, the only hat I have is a baseball hat(I wear it back to front to 'wind the wife up')

Corrigan ,there is no church 'of len' there is however the 'Body of Christ' which you cannot join because you have to be born into it.

David Hussel,
Salvation is no 'joking matter'I do tend to take it very seriously. considering the price that was paid to obtain it?.
There is a price to be born again many will not pay it.There is no rebirth without a death...hardly a joking matter although it will lead to a glorious life in eternity.

14 November 2013 at 14:52  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Many thanks for the encouragement, David Hussell. Gloucester Cathedral is a gem. One would quite happily move in and live there, were it allowed. Plenty of delightful Mrs Proudie types manning the money changing tables, or ‘gift shop’ as they like to call it. And not a dog collar to be seen on them. Rather like going back a long way in time, to the 1980s even, when men were men, and gals were gals, and everyone knew their place and harmony abounded…

(An old reactionary, eyes glistening, takes a sip of his single malt…)

14 November 2013 at 18:58  
Blogger bluedog said...

David Hussell @ 12.09 says, 'yada, yada, yada'.

Actually this communicant is a UKIP supporter, but alas, thinks for itself.

14 November 2013 at 19:29  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Len, Happy Jack says all men should have a warm pair of socks and a good fitting hat. None of those silly baseball caps! And teasing your wife could back-fire!

14 November 2013 at 21:55  
Blogger Len said...

Jack ,Iv`e tried a few hats ,last one was a sort of' trappers hat' I tried on in asda and my son was laughing so much he almost fell over.
Also found another one with a feather stuck in the side of it but my wife gave me one of those looks which said I had better take it off!.

15 November 2013 at 08:56  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Inspector, I am not one of type but quite unique...

15 November 2013 at 11:06  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack says to Len, you should have got with the one with the feather in the cap! Pinocchio's hat a feather too. As for your wife, all you had to do was say the feather showed the world his devotion to her. Women do like to be flattered. And if it makes people laugh, this is a good thing.

Inspector, Mrs Proudie sure is unique!

15 November 2013 at 12:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Agreed, my dear Mrs Proudie, you have something about you other ladies don’t...

One is recalling, some years ago, a motor charabanc trip to Barchester from Gloucester. The Inspector was awaiting the off with indecent glee, when he caught wind of the problems you have with razor gangs in your fair town, so he declined to visit...

15 November 2013 at 20:27  

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