Not content with denying their troops live ammo, seems now the opposition Tories have hit on the possibility of abolishing the RAF if they get in at the next General Election.
Considering the incumbent Labour Party & PM Gordon Brown are about as popular as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party, that may well be highly likely...
Will the Tories axe the RAF?
By Iain Martin
The idea of a Conservative government closing the Royal Air Force sounds unthinkable, doesn’t it? And I am sure such a suggestion would be dismissed by the Tory defence team and the party’s campaign HQ.
But we live in an age when ideas which seem outlandish to the political class one minute become mainstream orthodoxy just a few months later. Today talk of spending cuts is suddenly everywhere in Britain. A year, or 18 months ago, they were advocated by just a handful of commentators. We were told we were being alarmist.
Members of the Royal Air Force Regiment’s 63 Squadron march through the streets of Uxbridge, west London, in August.
Now, take the question of defence spending. Hawks are going to have to face up to reality. There are going to have to be cuts and it is inconceivable that they can be avoided in defence. Even though David Cameron has ring-fenced spending on the NHS and overseas aid (a mistake on both counts, in my view) he has given no such a guarantee on spending related to the defence of the realm. Instead, the question is where cuts in the £36.9 billion defence budget (2010-11) will fall.
It has long been the dirty little secret of the U.K. defence establishment that a way to streamline the command structure, reduce duplication and slash costs is to close the RAF. There are two options for how it could be done:
1) Abolish the traditional three services and switch to a single marine corps model, with all three services effectively merging under new leadership. Or, 2) Split the RAF’s capacity between the two remaining services, giving the army the lift and delivery components and the navy responsibility for the strike capability, meaning fighters etc.
A thoughtful Brigadier of my acquaintance, who favours option 1, says that inside the MoD there is a growing acceptance that the existing three service model is too expensive and unsustainable. Not a soul will say this in public, yet.
Into this horror show of difficult choices and media traps will step an incoming Tory government (if they win next year’s election). What can they do?
Will Cameron opt to axe large programmes, such as Trident? Perhaps, but I cannot envisage him wanting to be remembered as the PM who abolished Britain’s nuclear deterrent, especially not with Iran on the prowl. It is more likely that there will be a robust focus on costs and backing for a patched up version of the existing Trident hardware.
First, however, there is bound to be a defence review, involving a back to basics examination of British capabilities and requirements. Eliminating waste on procurement will save a bit, but nothing like the cuts of between £3 billion and £4 billion required. There is already overstretch and appalling pressure being put on Britain’s fighting forces. It will be worse after cuts, unless a way can be found to redesign the services structure. This is where the RAF might come in to the equation.
To any patriot it is an upsetting thought. Just try to imagine the public reaction to such a decision, all of it stoked behind the scenes by those currently in charge of the RAF. No doubt there would be a vigorous campaign. I can see the newspaper headlines: “Tories blitz brave pilots”, “Battle of Britain aces scramble to save RAF”, “Vera Lynn dresses down Cameron at Downing Street reception” and “Appalled Queen summons PM”.
It’s enough to give those in the Tory leadership nightmares, and probably persuade them not to be so radical. But if they don’t cut something of that order it is difficult to see how the circle can be squared on British defence spending. If it is not to be the RAF, then what goes instead?'
Will the Tories Axe the RAF? - Iain Martin - WSJ
I dunno...whatever happened to the glorious Few? I mean, New Zealand did scrap their Air Force...but I think it might have been fairly pointless to start with lol