It has not been a great week for the government. Arguments over the banking scandals that are rocking the financial services sector, a rebellion over Lord’s reform and Cameron’s attempts to convince people that he truly is a Eurosceptic in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary are all heaping extra pressure on a coalition that is looking increasingly devoid of ideas and riven by warring factions.
In my eyes the most startling indictment of this government and it’s short term outlook has been shown, however, by the scandal surrounding the security arrangements at the London Olympics.
London 2012 – An indictment of poor decision making
Security firm G4S, who have the contract for security at the games, announced last week that they did not have the staff to sufficiently carry out their duties which has led to the Government drafting in 3700 troops to sort out the problem.
All well and good,I hear you say – After all,our armed forces are still amongst the best in the world despite years of chronic underfunding and cuts to some of our most famous regiments.
Herein lies the rub – Earlier in the month, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond laid out a blueprint for the armed forces which included cuts to 17 regiments and the loss of twenty thousand soldiers by 2020. This would leave The British Army with 82,000 full time troops, despite the continuing instability around the world that has led to successive governments committing our armed forces to overseas campaigns.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has recently been making bullish comments about Syria despite our forces already being involved in the campaign in Afghanistan and the ever present threat of belligerence from Argentina over The Falklands. With this in mind, surely having to commit 3700 troops at short notice to protect our capital during the games shows just how out of touch our government is to the realities of troop levels?
Once again, our army will be expected to do a job at short notice at the behest of the politicians whilst the threat of redundancies and cuts to equipment budgets hangs over them like the sword of Damocles. It is a testament to them that they will no doubt carry out their duties with the efficiency and good humour that is a hallmark of the British armed forces – It is also a testimony to the short term thinking of their political masters.
The privatisation of the Metropolitan Police
London Mayor Boris Johnson (above) recently spoke of privatising parts of the Metropolitan Police to ‘cut costs’. Since Home Secretary Theresa May imposed a 20% cut in Whitehall grants to the Police as part of the government’s austerity measures, a number of forces have looked at how they can best reduce costs without affecting service.
Amongst these are the Surrey and West Midland forces, who put out a ‘Joint Business Programme’ to tender for private contractors for a range of services. Amongst the six firms tendering for the contract – None other than G4S!
In the face of the negative publicity garnered by the inability of G4S to carry out the Olympic contract, Surrey Police have put the tender on hold. We are yet to learn if Boris will do the same in London with the Met, although he has already shown himself to have a pretty loose grasp on the dynamics of policing in the capital with his ‘nine point plan for London’ which he ran to get himself re-elected recently. Point four promised 1000 extra officers on the street, yet Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) have stated that there will be a 4% loss of officers in London caused by the cuts and that ‘The Metropolitan Police will have a lower share of officers on the front line than other forces by March 2015’.
After the riots of 2011 and the failure of G4S to deliver on their £284 million Olympics contract, both the idea of privatising parts of the Met and the government imposed cuts on our Police forces show up the short term thinking of Cameron, Clegg, Boris and Co.
RAF Northolt – Victim to the cuts?
In January this year, both the BBC and The Guardian reported that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) was looking at selling off RAF Northolt as part of the cuts imposed by the Strategic Defence Review.
During the Olympics, Northolt will be home to a squadron of RAF Typhoon fighters (Picture above, at the 2012 Farnborough Air Show) who will be tasked with keeping the airspace over London safe.
RAF Northolt has been an integral part of England’s air defences for many years, and was an active Hurricane base during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Currently, No 32 (Royal) Squadron operates from the airfield and flies the Queen in and out on a regular basis, whilst many foreign dignitaries (including US presidents) have been welcomed there.
If Northolt is being used as the RAF’s main base for The Olympics, then surely any idea of selling it as a ‘cost-cutting’ exercise in the future would be a violation of one of the Government’s main functions, that of providing defence for the people of England and the UK? Again, the Olympics shows the short term nature of government policy.
England needs both a strong military and a strong Police force to defend our national interest, our borders, our people and the rule of law. The current government and that before it have ignored their duty to those to whom they owe their position. They call on the professionalism and dedication of both the constabulary and our armed forces on a regular basis whilst denying them the funding and equipment to do their job properly. David Cameron and his coalition have no idea of the real world and have shown it in the run up to the Olympic games – Remember this when it comes to the next election and show them how you feel about their warped sense of priorities.