Friday, December 07, 2007


Reading through a few of the Police Blogs at Planet Police you get the feeling that some of them might just be a tad annoyed. Now if I was a Labour politician at this point in time, I would think twice before annoying anyone in the police, because they might have an easy route to annoying them back.

We have Facts and Figures, Songs, Stories about Dogs, Fiscal Prudence, Divide and Rule, Theft, Gore, Bending, Shafting and Smiles.

And of course BOHICA.

And that's just in one day.

And it goes on even the Police Superintendents are not happy.

The Police Federation have even manged to raise a complaint and a short film

Here are some possible links for you to try and rectify this wrong.

Have your say - lobby your local MP on Police Pay 2007/2008
Federation Letter to Home Secretary 6th December 2007
Police Federation pursuing a legal challenge
Home Secretary announces 42 day pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects
Absolute disgrace - Home Secretary’s letter of betrayal last straw for police officers
Federation response to 2.5% pay award
More news and information on Police Pay 2007/2008
Make your voice heard - show your support for Fair Pay for Police and sign the 10 Downing Street e-petition
The impartiality of policing - joint statement by PFEW, ACPO & PSAEW - 13th November 2007
Policing hit by widespread detective staffing shortages
Federation response to Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s Review of Policing, (Interim Report)
Click here to petition the Prime Minister for change to police widow(er) pensions
PFEW response to Tory paper - Policing for the People
Police Bravery Awards 2007

This is a disgrace and it is not just the police who should be complaining.

The general Public should be telling their MP's in England and Wales that 30 million is nothing to pay for a decent police force. Remember this is 1000th of how much we have lent Northern Crock!

Planet Police

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nimrods are Still Safe to fly

Des Browne says Nimrods are safe to fly Beau Bo D'or disagrees and so do I.

Pigs fly over the Ministry of Defence - New animation for Channel 4 News.

Report and link to video report here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Board of Inquiry- Nimrod MR2 XV230

Today in Parliament Des Browne acknowledged what anybody following the story of the crash of XV230 and the loss of 14 British lives could have told you.

According to the Times

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, in an extraordinarily contrite statement to the Commons, said: “On behalf of the MoD and the Royal Air Force, I would like to apologise to the House of Commons, and most of all to those who lost their lives, and to their families. I am sorry.”

Gordon Brown sat next to him as he revealed the shortcomings that were at the heart of the worst fatal incident to be suffered by the Armed Forces in either Afghanistan or Iraq. The families of the victims are now due to receive substantial compensation.

Coming after attacks on the Government by five former defence chiefs who complained that the MoD’s budget was inadequate, the Nimrod affair was seized on as another illustration of the Forces having to depend on ageing and unreliable equipment.

The following condemnation from the same article reveals some of the problems.

The most damning condemnation of what had gone wrong in the general maintenance of the Nimrod fleet came from Air Chief Marshal Sir Clive Loader, Commander-in-Chief Air Command. Sir Clive said: “I conclude that the loss of XV230 and, far more importantly, of the 14 Service personnel who were aboard, resulted from shortcomings in the application of the processes for assuring airworthiness and safe operation of the Nimrod.”

The attached link takes you to the full report of the Board of Inquiry into the loss of Nimrod MR2 XV230 and the loss of 14 British Lives.

A quick scan of the report brings out that the likely cause of the crash was a fuel leak after air-to-air refueling and the subsequent ignition of this fuel by a pipe at above 400 degrees centigrade. What is staggering is that despite a seven fold increase in the number of fuel leaks and general knowledge of this problem no action had been taken to properly sort out the problem.

The graph shown here shows the number of leaks per 1000 flying hours and show that the rate increased from about 0.5/1000 hrs in 1984 up to 3.5 in 2006. This was apparently missed as being a problem and was not fully investigated.

A brief report is available here with the 33 recommendations it makes.

Michael Smith writing in his Blog in the Times has the following
The scandal of the deaths of 14 servicemen on board Nimrod XV230 continues. I am bound to say that I believed long ago that there couldn't be any more bad information coming out. But the release under the Freedom of Information Act of a report by QinetiQ, the defence company, on the extent of the leaks on board the Nimrod fleet and in particular the six aircraft flying over Afghanistan and Iraq simply beggars belief. The leaks represented a "critical" structural problem. Civilian contractors at RAF Kinloss were not only not required to pass on the substantial information they had on the leaks and how to deal with them to the Integrated Project Team which oversees how the Nimrod fleets is run, they were not required to tell the RAF technicians working on the aircraft at Kinloss that the Air Publications they were working to were out-of-date and of "little, if any, value". The problems with the leaks dated back ten years but were exacerbated by the "intense" schedule flown by the six Nimrods equipped with special video surveillance equipment fed back directly to commanders on the ground. Since these leaks were largely being caused by pressure from the aircraft's air-to-air refuelling system, never part of its original equipment and fitted as an emergency measure during the Falklands Conflict, they could not be replicated on the ground. "QinetiQ were unable to establish a clear impression of how these non-detected leaks are addressed," the report said. Or put another way, they couldn't be found so they couldn't be fixed. But so essential was the real-time video surveillance equipment to troops on the ground that the RAF had to keep the aircraft in the air quite literally, and tragically, at all costs.
The Times reports here on the release today of the report.

All I can do is express my sympathies to the relatives of the dead and hope that lessons are learned, in particular by this Government and the MOD, that penny-pinching results in the death of our Armed Forces. Let us hope that Des Browne did not lie when questioned in the house about the 15bn defence cuts that have been rumoured.

Ministry of Defence | About Defence | BOI Nimrod MR2 XV230

Kebabgate - Hain and the Fifth Man

Nearly a day went by without some more embarrassing revelations for Labour.

Now Peter Hain, the Work and Pensions Secretary, admits

that he had not registered all the donations to his unsuccessful deputy leadership campaign with electoral watchdogs as is legally required. Mr Hain said his failure to register the payments was "extremely regrettable" and apologised, while sources stressed the failure to declare the money was an "administrative error".
And a fifth man may be involved in the David Abrahams donation crimes.

George Crawford, a Newcastle-based lawyer, went to the police amid claims that his name may have been used to illicitly donate money to the party.

He is demanding an investigation after a man of the same name was registered as giving Labour £36,000 in 2004. Mr Crawford believes he may have been used as a secret conduit by Mr Abrahams to donate money to Labour.

The lawyer suspects that the money was given in his name and has now reported the matter to the police as suspected identity theft by someone trying to conceal their donations. Northumbria Police said they would be forwarding the complaint to Scotland Yard.

So just another day in the Sleazy Life of Labour in the Kebabgate scandal. I think they are trying to bore us with the number of scandals and are trying to make it seem like "normal" behaviour.

P.S. As suggested by James Burdett in a previous entry, I'd just like to say that our Wendy hasn't yet resigned despite admitting having committed a crime. Apparently 800 criminals in Barlinnie have asked to be allowed out early as they hadn't realised they were committing a crime either, Honest Gov.

Peter Hain caught up in Labour funding row - Telegraph

Monday, December 03, 2007

Worker reveals 'Nimrod problems'

This my 500th post on this blog and it's probably on the subject closest to my heart, the armed forces and in particular the RAF.

Tomorrow will see the publication of a report into a Nimrod crash in Afghanistan which killed 14 Military Personnel last year. It is likely to be bad reading for those in the RAF, MOD and this callous government. It will also confirm the fears of the relatives that their loved ones died because of known and fixable problems.

I have blogged before on the problems and still cannot believe that they have not been sorted out or workarounds put in place. The replacement for the Nimrod is still probably 5 years away and guess what it will be yet another Nimrod still using the current airframes.

This report reveals

An insider at Kinloss said that fuel leaks among the fleet were "perpetual".

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment ahead of the Board of Inquiry findings on Tuesday.

The BBC has learned that the aircraft which crashed in Afghanistan was being worked hard and flying sometimes twice a day.

It also had seven fuel leaks on board which were not due to be fixed for several months.
Also having watched Newsnight tonight we were informed by an expert that basically the Nimrod is not airworthy and that the only reason it is flying is for operational reasons to support the troops in Afghanistan. Whilst I can understand that reasoning, the lack of money being spent to sort out the problem is nothing less than criminal.

Just listened to John Nicol on Radio 4 confirming that basically these planes would be grounded if there were not urgent operational reasons for keeping them flying. This is another example of where we are breaking the Military Covenant. Nowhere else would we put up with sort of situation and ask people to put their lives on the line.

BBC NEWS | Scotland | North East/N Isles | Worker reveals 'Nimrod problems'

UK 'failed to make Basra safe'

173 members of the armed forces have died in Iraq since the start of the latest conflict and now we here that the UK

"has failed to make Basra safe"
What does this say about the sacrifice made by these people, Was it all worth it, what have we achieved and are we running away with out tails between our legs.

The report on the BBC says
The initial goal of UK forces in south eastern Iraq was to establish the security necessary for the development of representative political institutions and for economic reconstruction. Although progress has been made, this goal remains unfulfilled."

It also suggested that the relative security of Basra did not mean that the root causes of violence had been tackled.

The report added: "There remain murderous, corrupt and militia-infiltrated elements within the police which must be rooted out as a matter of priority."It went on to speculate on the future role of UK forces in Iraq. The report said: "If there is still a role for UK forces in Iraq, those forces must be capable of doing more than just protecting themselves at Basra Air Station.
This basically means we have achieved little in our 4 years in Basra and that our continuing presence is pointless with the current level of troops.

The report also explains that
The relative security of Basra is said to owe more to the dominance of militias and criminal gangs, who are said to have achieved a fragile balance in the city, than to the success of the multinational and Iraqi security forces in tackling the root causes of the violence.
So basically we have the standard gang warfare of a disintegrating society. This is our gift to Iraq.

I can only point to the relative success that the US now seem to be having in other areas after intensifying its commitments to Iraq. Our problem is that we no longer have the capability to do this and also fight in Afghanistan, why because we do not invest in our Armed Forces.

Des Browne bleats on about how the Defence budget is keeping pace with inflation completely ignoring that most of the increase is for two ships and that inflation in the highly technical defence world runs at least twice as high as normal bread and butter inflation. This means that year on year we have been, and are, losing up to 5% of our capabilities purely to inflation never mind any other cuts this government foists on the armed services at a time when they are at their most stretched in nearly 50 years.

Makes you glad to be British.

BBC NEWS | Politics | UK 'failed to make Basra safe'

Kebabgate - Mad Party Disease claims another Labour Leader

Interesting article from Iain MacWhirter in the Herald.

Two pieces of the article stand out. Th first points out that it is Labours own Laws that may put them in prison. Labour have to remember that these are not rules as they keep saying.

What a desperate situation: was no-one in the Labour Party prepared to step up to the plate and defend their own leader? Labour appeared to be in denial, unwilling or unable to face up to the enormity of the situation. This isn't any old law we are talking about, but one of Labour's own flagship statutes: the Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. This makes clear that any attempt to conceal the identity of a political donor is against the law, as is acceptance of a donation from anyone who is not on the electoral register.

This is not some obscure piece of redundant legislation but a fresh and potent statute designed by Labour to drive sleaze out of politics altogether. Breaching this law carries an unlimited fine or one year in jail. The way things are going, a number of senior Scottish Labour politicians face losing their political careers and gaining a criminal record.

Then we have the following which indicates that someone out there really doesn't like Wendy (join the queue!) and that Labour have been in disarray since their defeat by the SNP.

We know that all is not well in the Labour leader's inner circle, since this story has been driven by a series of damaging leaks from people with access to the most sensitive inside information. The Sunday Herald document, for example, could not have been widely circulated within Labour, but it found its way into the public domain. Someone somewhere harbours a very deep grudge against Alexander and is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to settle accounts.

I'm afraid this has been the Scottish Labour story since devolution - factionalism, cronyism, incompetence and personal vendettas. They can't seem to help themselves. The party seems to have lost the will to live. Alexander was their best hope in years for a clean break from the old numpty machine politics, but it has broken her instead.

Mad Party Disease Claims Another Labour Leader (from The Herald )

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Scottish Kebabgate - The Elf Defence

Benedict Brogan in his article compares Wendy Alexander's defence to what a policeman would say to the same defence if caught speeding. I would compare it more to this story from last year.

The BBC reports the defence used in the following case:

A man accused of a stealing underwear from a shop in a knifepoint raid believed he was a female elf at the time, Belfast Crown Court has heard.
It went on to say:
Robert Boyd, 45, from Broadlands in Carrickfergus, is accused of holding up staff at the Orchid shop in Belfast disguised in a wig, hat and glasses.

He told the court he had been involved in a role-playing game at the time, and his character was an elf named Beho.

He denies robbery but says he may have blurred reality and fantasy.

He also said it "could be right" that Beho had intended to rob the shop - although he told the jury he could not remember what was going through his mind at the time.

I can think of a few other people in our government who might need to use a similar type of defence shortly.

By the way the defence failed!

Benedict Brogan's political blog

Scottish Kebabgate - Scottish First Ministers Questions

An interesting exchange in Scottish First Ministers Question Time on Thursday (edited highlights only)

The First Minister: In passing, I congratulate Wendy Alexander on her success in dominating the news agenda in Scotland.

Ms Alexander: I will return to the issue of domestic violence shortly, but let me make an observation. I have asked for the permissibility of the donation to my election campaign to be checked, and we await the outcome of the Electoral Commission’s investigation.

In the meantime, Presiding Officer, given the First Minister’s remarks, let me make a further observation. When my team began compiling the information for our campaign return, we asked the Electoral Commission about the previous major party leadership contest held in Scotland, by the Scottish National Party, in 2004. Following a three-month election campaign—which involved the publication of personal manifestos, websites and campaign literature, and attendance at hustings—Alex Salmond, Roseanna Cunningham and Alex Neil, and the candidates for the deputy leadership, Nicola Sturgeon and Fergus Ewing, did not between them submit a single return or report any donations to the Electoral Commission. I find that an odd state of affairs for a party that is now lecturing us on transparency.

The First Minister:
Wendy Alexander’s elaborate remarks on the leadership contest surely just prove that SNP members spent less on fighting elections than Wendy Alexander managed to spend on not fighting one.
Later On
Alex Neil (Central Scotland) (SNP): On a point of order, Presiding Officer. During her questions to the First Minister, Wendy Alexander said that she had checked with the Electoral Commission and found that I did not spend any money in the SNP leadership contest in 2004. The reason for that is that I was not a candidate for the leadership in 2004. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

Alex Neil: For the record, I publicly backed Mr Salmond. I have no doubt that that was a major factor contributing to his success.

The Presiding Officer: That is not a point of order, but it is now on the record.

Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Lab): On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Mr Neil is, of course, right. The candidate was Mike Russell. Perhaps we might be forgiven on two counts. First, it is so difficult to tell Mr Neil and Mr Russell apart as they sit together right on the shoulder of the First Minister. Secondly, everyone in the chamber knows that Alex Neil has pretensions to the throne.

However, the key point, Presiding Officer—

The Presiding Officer: Do you have a point of order, Ms Baillie?

Jackie Baillie: Indeed I do. The SNP needs to confirm that, in a three-month election leadership campaign, every candidate was entirely self funded—

The Presiding Officer: This is not a point of order for me, Ms Baillie.

Jackie Baillie:—and that each of those candidates, including Mike Russell—

The Presiding Officer: This is not a point of order for me. I ask you to close.

Jackie Baillie:—received no donations and no support—

The Presiding Officer: That brings us to the end of First Minister’s question time.
Hat tip to Mark McDonald.

The Scottish Parliament - Official Report

Kebabgate - Video Chart Top 3

At my wife's suggestsion I have put up a little chart of top Videos to do with Kebabgate. She has been listening on her I-Pod to Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac constantly for the last day or two and chuckling to herself.

No 1. Fleetwood Mac with Little Lies one of my favourites from my drinking, carousing and sporting years.

At No 2. Pink with Who Knew one of my favourite current artists, see her live her voice is remarkable.

At No 3. The Eagles with Lying Eyes, this is just for Wendy.

A few more songs to do with Wendy can be found here.

Please feel free to add any other ideas. The Spectator has a few here.

Nimrod crash puts No 10 on spot

This will be another problem that Gordon will have to face up to (Of course he might do a Macavity) this week. As usual with any story these days involving the Clunker it's not good news and will bring the Armed Forces sharply back into focus for this disastorous Labour Government.

As the Sunday Times says

GOVERNMENT culpability in risking servicemen’s lives will be thrust to centre stage this week by the inquiry into the causes of the RAF Nimrod explosion over Afghanistan that killed all 14 on board.

There is intense government concern over Tuesday’s RAF board of inquiry report, which is likely to raise new doubts over Gordon Brown’s support for the armed services. The aircraft, which dates from the 1960s, was flying only because its replacement was delayed until 2010 to save money and a number of warnings about the risks were ignored.

The aircraft had a history of fuel leaks in the bomb bay, caused by pressure spikes in the air-to-air refuelling system.

The inquiry believes that the catastrophic explosion, west of Kandahar, was brought about by fuel leaking into the bomb bay, where it was ignited by hot air from a fractured pipe. That led the No 7 fuel tank at the base of the starboard wing to explode.

“The lack of safety equipment is a direct result of a culture of poor risk management that is endemic among senior officers and MoD officials and is largely driven by lack of funding.”

The MoD and senior RAF officers ignored repeated warnings of fuel leaks and fires on board the aircraft.

Jimmy Jones, a former RAF engineering officer who worked on the Nimrod trials, said: “If the MoD had acted on BAE Systems’ recommendations, those 14 crew members would still be alive today.”

In November 2004 a hot air pipe in the bomb bay of a Nimrod fractured as the craft came in to land at RAF Kinloss, Morayshire, blasting hot air onto the No 7 tank. An inquiry into that incident found the hot air would have been at least 50C above the spontaneous ignition point of the Nimrod’s Avtur fuel, which had begun to boil in the tank.

Disaster was averted only because the aircraft was on its way back to base. In his report on the incident, the station commander at Kinloss warned of more “unexpected failures” due to the aircraft’s age.

XV230 was one of a small number of Nimrods used to feed crucial live video of the battlefield direct to commanders in Afghanistan.

Nimrod’s air-to-air refuelling system was fitted as a quick fix in the 1982 Falklands conflict.

In March 2006 a report by QinetiQ, the defence consultants, blamed the Nimrod’s age and the “intense” way in which the aircraft were flown for what it described as a “critical” structural problem. The warning was ignored – with fatal results.

I have blogged on this and other problems with the over 40 year old Nimrod on a number of other occasions, most recently last month, when a similar Nimrod almost had the same fate and yet still had not had safety updates fitted.

Clunker Brown keeps trying to tell us he is "Honouring the Covenant" but he never actually shows us how. Honour to him means dropping colleagues into the doo-doo and then turning his back on them in the vain hope the problem disappears.

Nimrod crash puts No 10 on spot - Times Online

Kebabgate - Times article - Secrets in his smile

A comprehensive review of a week in the "Kebabgate" scandal in the Sunday Times.

A point to note:

In the article Sigmund Sternberg is quoted as saying this about David Abrahams:

"I have come across him at various Labour party events. The last time I saw him was at the conference in Bournemouth. I knew him to say hello to. He’s very nice, very personable.”
He certainly had come across him as I revealed earlier this week as he sponsored him for membership of the London Rotary club.

This seems to be the general thought of everyone in an around the Labour Party, They didn't really know him and they certainly hadn't talked donations with him.

Secrets in his smile - Times Online