The carriers is/was a much simpler story and at least we end up owning the assets. Not so the PFI tankers. I know that the RAF was told PFI or nothing and that we got a bare bones solution for a Rolls-Royce price. That’s a relatively easy story. But adding the aspects of the contract - a rather austere capability compared to the off-the-shelf option, the Draconian contract details which mean that we can’t acquire any other tanking capabilities, etc. - are probably too complicated for the mainstream journalists/media to bother with.Which appears to have beeen overlooked by the main stream media which preferred to bang on about the cost of the QE carriers.
Compare with ‘the carriers are running X years late and costing X more’. Simple, easy headline.
You also have to consider how unsexy (but essential) a support capability such as tanking is compared to front-end stuff such as warships, fighter aircraft, tanks, etc.. Tanking? Meh.
I did see one story which criticised the Airtanker PFI as disgraceful in concept and execution but that was long after McRuin had left office.
Quite simply, he got away with it - that and many other things.