Author Archives: Steve Coltman

Labour and Trident

I would have thought it almost impossible to come up with a Trident policy dafter than the one the Liberal Democrats were saddled with at the last general election, but Jeremy Corbyn and his trade union colleagues seem to have done just that. They are seriously proposing buying the submarines but no warheads. The submarines are to be a job-creation scheme to satisfy unions who care more about their members’ jobs than about the overall national interest. These giant submarines are the main cost of the Trident renewal program, £16bn for the four of them? Who knows exactly?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 29 Comments

Opinion: It’s not just Britain and France

 

At Conference Nick Clegg mentioned that the only European powers with any worthwhile military capability are Britain and France. Apart from the fact that we are just one more round of defence cuts away from that not being true in Britain’s case, it is also a very WESTERN European world-view. It is true that so far as expeditionary warfare is concerned, only Britain and France have any great capability to send troops to the far corners of the globe, but it is not just expeditionary warfare that matters in this world.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Opinion: All for one and one for all

flag-russiaRussia has been busy in the Baltic recently – they have been harassing their neighbours and it seems to me they are acting as if the Baltic is their ‘mare nostrum’ as it were. The Polish Defence minister noted that Sweden seems to be the main object of Russian attention.

How do we help Sweden, and Finland for that matter? Finland and Sweden are in a slightly odd position – they are members of the EU but not members of NATO. In the Cold War they were ‘neutral’ but whatever that meant then it means even less now. What does Britain and other EU/NATO countries do if Finland and Sweden are threatened or even attacked by Russia? Finland and Sweden not being in NATO, Britain is not bound by Article 5 of the NATO Treaty (an attack on one is an attack on all) but it seems inconceivable that we would stand idly by if these two countries were in danger.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

Opinion: What is HAMAS’s game plan?

On the face of it, for HAMAS to simply fire its unguided rockets into Israel, in the hope some may hit something important, or kill someone, is stupid. Nothing HAMAS can do will inflict any serious damage on the state of Israel, they are just annoying Israel (a lot). So why are they doing it, assuming their actions are rational? Their actions may not be rational of course, they may be so consumed by hatred of Israel that they are striking out any way they can. But assuming they are acting in a rational manner, what can they hope to …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 58 Comments

Opinion: Thoughts about Europe

European FlagAll political parties have their blind spots. When policies are not particularly close to their hearts, parties can afford to be critical – examining, debating and ‘stress-testing’ those policies before approving them.  But some policies are too close to the heart; they are ‘Articles of Faith’, not to be questioned or examined too closely. Articles of Faith sometimes do not get exposed to critical examination, and when contrary evidence is unearthed, it can be pushed aside. It is not surprising that when ‘Articles of Faith’ are put under the spotlight, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 38 Comments

Opinion: Prince Charles has gone too far this time

Prince CharlesIt was ironic to watch the news today. Two politicians who (I suspect) do not much care for Prince Charles’s views in general  were speaking in his defence, whereas one who might be expected to be more sympathetic was being more critical. It was the latter, Nigel Farage, who was right. He said of Prince Charles’s comments, likening Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, that there are some things the Prince should leave to the professional politicians.

Nick Clegg and Ed Milliband, on the other hand, were arguing that the Prince had a right to have his views and express them, or words to that effect. Prince Charles does indeed have a right to have his own private opinions, and he is not the first to have compared the actions of today’s Russia with yesterday’s Nazi Germany.

BUT, Prince Charles does not have the right to drop a bomb into the middle of British-Russian relations like this. It’s not just indiscreet, it is downright dangerous. There is no knowing what sort

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 35 Comments

Opinion: Chris Huhne on Fracking

chris_huhneChris Huhne, former Energy and Climate Change Secretary and member of ALDES, has written this critique of Fracking in the Guardian.

Personally, I don’t like the abrasive and sarcastic tone of it but he makes some very valid points nonetheless. In particular he points out that the USA is disconnected from the world’s gas market allowing a local surplus to cause gas prices (and coal prices) to drop in the USA. The UK, in contrast, is very connected indeed and even if we did produce masses of Shale Gas at reasonable …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Don’t waver on energy policy

The recent debate on energy prices was kicked off by Ed Miliband’s declaration that a Labour government would freeze energy prices for a while. Understandably this is attractive to some who are struggling with household bills but the proposal will not in the long run benefit anyone (except perhaps the Labour party). Energy companies can only control the prices they charge to a very limited extent; they would put up their prices in anticipation of a price freeze then raise them again when the freeze is over. Labour are attempting to bribe the electorate with their own money.

It now looks …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Opinion: It’s not just about Nuclear, it’s about Finance

Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant - Some rights reserved by John O DyerIt’s been a week since Ed Davey announced the deal to build a new nuclear power station. After a week’s reflection the financing of this deal, especially by the Chinese, has become the biggest talking point. The cheapest way to generate electricity is with coal-fired power stations fuelled with open-cast coal from North America. Cheap, that is, if you ignore the environmental cost. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Opinion: Where does the Trident debate go from here?

In the Spring of 2011 I submitted a motion to conference. It was not selected for debate:

Conference notes that:

(i) The Coalition agreement states: “We will maintain Britain’s nuclear deterrent and have agreed that the renewal of Trident should be scrutinised to ensure value for money. The Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives.”

(ii) Conference in September last year resolved, among other things, to: “Press for the extension of the SDSR to allow a full review of the alternatives to ‘like-for-like replacement of Trident.”

(iii) The final decision on a replacement for the Vanguard-class submarines has been deferred to

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments

Opinion: Derby, Bombardier and lessons for Government

The award of a £1.4bn contract to Bombardier’s rival Siemens seemed to threaten the existence of Britain’s last remaining train-maker. 1200 workers were being laid off by Bombardier with more losses in the supply chain. The award to Siemens was all the more galling as it followed statements by politicians of all parties saying how important it is that we boost our manufacturing sector.

Two salient points have emerged regarding the Labour Government’s tender process. Firstly, they set this up as a ‘Private Finance Initiative’ and secondly that they used the ‘Utilities Contract Regulations’ rather than the ‘Public Contracts Regulations’. Both …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 7 Comments
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