Britain’s accounting watchdog has sounded the alarm over the military’s spending plans, warning the MoD’s ability to pay for kit and maintenance is “at the highest risk ever”.

The National Audit Office’s analysis of the MoD’s £178bn spending plans for 2016 to 2026 – which include projects such as the F-35 fighter, Dreadnought nuclear submarines and P-8 Poseidon spyplanes – warns of a series of concerns on the already stretched defence budget.

In the standard analysis of government the purpose of it is to gain those public goods that we cannot gain without it. And defence, against those marauding Walloons, is first on that list.

It’s true that MoD is not notably well run – but then nor is most of government. Yet here the argument is about whether government can afford to spend 2.4% of government revenue on what is government’s first task.

Hhhm, maybe we took a wrong turn at some point?

19 thoughts on “Interesting”

  1. But…but, Tim, the government pays for those bodies that tell us not to eat toast or roast potatoes, that ensures purity of expression on the internet, that sets targets for diversity and number of rubbish bins for councils…we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed without their oversight …and you’re worrying about defence of the realm?

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    I think the import of this story is something else. It is not about spending, it is about the boring, routine, bits of being a military power. Even of the second rank.

    Lots of Third World countries buy nice pieces of kit. But they cannot, or will not, or cannot afford to, maintain them. The Libyans bought at least 36 Mirage F-1 fighters for instance. They played almost no role in the Civil War because almost none of them were capable of flying. Despite paying the French to do so not that long ago.

    Britain is simply moving down that Third World path. Some money for glorious prestige projects. None for the boring job of maintaining the shiny toys or providing soldiers with the boring, basic items of kit they need. Like boots for instance.

  3. That article seems a tad confused. As far as I can make out, the entirety of the “risk” identified is about whether MoD can keep to budget.

    I know what I’d be betting on.

  4. “The concerns were played down by Harriet Baldwin, Defence Procurement Minister, who said …”

    CV according to Wiki:
    “Early life

    She was born Harriett Mary Morison Eggleston[1] in Watford, Hertfordshire, the daughter of a teacher. Her childhood was spent in Cyprus and in the village of Felsted in Essex. She was educated at the Friends’ School, Saffron Walden, Marlborough College in Wiltshire, and read Modern Languages (French and Russian) at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.[2] She earned an MBA from McGill University in Montreal.[2]
    Early career

    Baldwin joined the investment bank JP Morgan Chase in 1986, becoming managing director and Head of Currency Management at their London office in 1998. She left the bank in 2008 and served as vice-chair of Social Investment Business between 2008 and 2012.[citation needed]”

    Then politics

    Well, one supposes she’s an accredited beancounter. But one can’t help wonder what other talents she brings to defence procurement.
    Or what talents her predecessors contributed.
    And whether one’s looking at part of the problem.

  5. Bloke in North Dorset


    Well its better than PPE Oxford => party job => spad => safe seat or non-degree from failed poly => party job => spad => safe seat.

    The biggest problem facing MoD procurement is events, dear boy, events and how politicians react to them. Most big defence procurement is a 10 year or longer project from inception to completion and then whatever it is is expected to remain operational for another 20 years. Who can really forecast what the armed forces will need in 30 years?

  6. Trump may solve the F-35 problem – the bloody thing seems to be utterly dud. Then we could sell the aircraft carriers to India (or China), divert the “Aid” budget to Defence, and end up with armed forces suiting our needs i.e. ballistic missile-launching nuclear subs, other subs, patrol boats for fishery and border protection, soldiers, and whatever aircraft and anti-aircraft defences seem about right.

  7. Yes, dearieme. One does wonder the purpose of the carriers. Global force projection, presumably. But without an equivalent amphibious capability, that just gives a mobile airbase capable of hanging around off someone’s coast & bombing the shit out of them. They could be down to their last ground to air missile & with their capital city & military assets heaps of rubble or sunk but unless they choose to row out to you in a dingy waving a flag of surrender, there’s still bugger all you can do about them.

  8. BiS; the norms established at the end of the Thirty Years’ War would suggest that that is all you need to do. It’s the end of WWII and the notion of regime change that look a bit odd after 1648.

  9. @Mr McDuckface
    The Thirty Years War seems a good example of the wars, largely confined to Europe, which were over who ruled where & conducted on the principal – line your toy soldiers up & at the end of the day count how many are standing to decide the winner. This was an aberration. Previous wars & wars outside Europe had been about occupation of ground & supplantation & subjugation of peoples of peoples. It’s from the toy soldiers variety of war that “rules of war” the Geneva Convention spring. But WW2 saw a return to the occupy, supplant & subject model.on the eastern European front & in the Far East, at least. Hence the “rules of war” were largely ignored & inappropriate.
    And that’s very largely where we are today. Unfortunately our politicians & military are still largely wedded to the toy soldier model. They expect wars to be conducted with rules of “fair play”.

  10. @dearieme – if Trump does can the F-35B, doesn’t that leave our carriers with absolutely nothing that can fly off them? Unless we buy back some of our Harriers from the USMC, in which case we might as well have kept Ark Royal and Lusty.

  11. if Trump does can the F-35B, doesn’t that leave our carriers with absolutely nothing that can fly off them?

    What does Britain need carriers for, anyway? How are they supposed to help defend Britain from anyone who’s likely to attack the country?

    Just stop attacking other countries, and you can convert them into cruise liners and sell them off.

    As for defense against invaders, eliminate the last hundred years’ worth of anti-gun laws and there’d be an assault rifle behind every bush waiting if the Jerries decide to have another go. The state has made Britain far less safe.

  12. @Edward M. Grant, January 28, 2017 at 8:19 pm
    “The state has made Britain far less safe.”


    UK ‘s Bill of Rights – if it ever happens – should include Right To Bear Arms [without Police/Gov’t approval/license]

  13. @ Edward M Grant
    You forget that we are responsible for all the bits of Empire that were too small (or simply refused) to become independent states. We also have a very large mercantile marine that earns far far more than we spend on the Royal Navy that protects it when it hasn’t anything else to do.

  14. @ Chris Miller
    We could just build a few more Harriers and keep them. They are *still* better combat aircraft for the Navy than most of those in service.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “But without an equivalent amphibious capability, that just gives a mobile airbase capable of hanging around off someone’s coast & bombing the shit out of them.”

    Can’t even bomb the sh!t out of them. Even the bigger carriers have something like three dozen planes capable of shooting at people or dropping stuff.

    Even to bomb Libya, the US Navy had to use land based fighters.

  16. @john77
    Good plan, but it still renders the new carriers a pointless waste of £6 billion and counting. (No change there, some might think.)

  17. @ Chris Miller
    Not pointless, they have provided well-paid employment to thousands of Gordon Brown’s constituents

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