The Gray Review

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Blogg, Aug 10, 2009.

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  1. continues to ooze out in bits and leave a terrible sticky mess, rather like those Chinese takeaway sauce containers with crappy lids that are very carefully placed in a plastic bag that turns out to be full of holes. But I digress.

    The Financial Times has a good summary of the harsh reality which clearly show the current Government has fcuked up bigtime and the protestations of Quentin Davies (all the Tories fault) as utter rubbish

    Planned defence spending commitments are “unaffordable under any realistic scenario”.

    Procurement process: "hard-wired for cost-escalation and delay."

    Services have incentives to: "bid for as much kit as they can and underestimate the cost "

    The solution to this is not going to please anybody (painful cuts all round, capped spending limits and higher taxes to boot) but there appears to be no choice: Labour have run out of our money once again, no accounting tricks left to hide behind and racking up yet more debt can be no more than a shabby pre-election delay the bad news tactic.
  2. Good article. Although we would like the government to spend more on Defence, the Gray figures highlight that this would not fix the systemic problem in the MOD. We want new toys which are shinier than the old and battered ones that they replace. However, we are not willing to face up to the reality that although the new toy is 10 times more capable than the old one it costs 100 times more. Even my (young) children can understand that this is unsustainable but there will still be those on this site - a lot of them still serving - who trot out statisitics about how vital it is that we must have this latest ship, FJ or tank (take your pick) because the UK will be immediately invaded if we don't have it. It would be helpful if someone in the highest level of the MOD grew some and made a decision about what we are going to do without. This is why the Gray report has not been published; no-one is willing to make this level of decision because the politicians don't want to be blamed by the electorate next May and the senior military don't want to suffer the ire of their individual Service. FFS someone please make a decision.

  3. WHF, I agree that this is unsustainable, particularly given the current defence budget.

    We've got to recognise, however, that there is a wider issue around the way that the UK State raises and spends money. The fundamental role of any government is to uphold the rule of law, and to provide defence against external enemies. In the modern world only the state has the legitimacy to make and enforce law, and only the state has the means to fund armed forces.

    The Twentieth Century saw the transformation of the warfare state into the welfare state. The ability of Governments to raise, administer and spend large amounts of money in order to achieve an outcome is used increasingly to provide a social safety net. The balance has now shifted to the point where 87p in every pound of UK income tax is spent on Government activities other than defence. We've managed, in this recession, to achieve the sort of upswing in the National Debt only previously caused by major wars.

    So yes, the current situation is defence procurement is unsustainable. But so to is the British State in its current form. We've pushed the limits of what Government can pay for.

    We now have to ask what it should pay for.

    That may mean that we have to decide that there are things that the Government can not and should not do. Is the role of the State really to provide cradle to grave social, educational and medical services, or can this be done fairly, equitably and more cheaply by other bodies?

    There are only two things the State must do, and it makes sense to ensure that these tasks are properly resourced.

    This country needs a grown up debate on what governments can and should do. I don't expect anyone will enjoy it, but we have to be honest and accept that 100 years of more interventionist Government has been a mixture of success and failure which is no longer sustainable in the current fiscal situation.
  4. chimera

    chimera LE Moderator

    I am sure that a copy of the report will soon appear in full in one of the papers. Indeed since Mr Gray was a journalist on the FT for about 10 years isn't it an amazing coincidence that the FT seems to be leading with the details.

    We should also not forget that as Special Adviser to Lord Robertson when he was the first New Labour Secretary of State for Defence in 1997, Bernard Gray was one of the architects of the Strategic Defence Review 07/08 (and the much trumpeted "Smart Procurement" systems). So in writing this report he is, to a large extent, marking his own homework.
  5. If I read it right the thrust is that Gray does not want us to spend as much as we do on defense. If I am right then I disagree with those findings.
  6. DEFENCE - DEFENCE - DEFENCE for fcuks sake!!!!!!

    'Defense' is something the Americans have, allied with their inability to spell!
  7. "Suggestions to improve forward planning include giving the MoD a 10-year, ringfenced budget and forcing it to account annually to parliament for any slippages."

    What a soddin' sensible idea. If MoD knew it's budget was fixed over a decent time scale it wouldn't have to spend every year playing guess the cock up and it could actually place orders with suppliers that don't keep changing every year. Half MoD's problem is that it must be constantly pissing off suppliers by changing it's orders every time there's a budget flap. Try seeing how much you can piss off a supplier by messing around time frame of delivery and numbers required before they start making up phone number sized increases to piss you off...
  8. Very sensible, yes. But entirely unlikely in a situation where there has to be a General Election, with a potential change of Government, every five years.

    Equally, if, after 1998 we had had a ring-fenced 10 year budget, would things actually be any better now, given that in '98 Afghanistan and Iraq were not anticipated?
  9. 2 Options:- 1) 5 year budget or 2) Treat defence like an International Treaties, committment honoured until end of budget cycle. UNLESS expressly laid out in the Election manifisto
  10. Not a chance. No worthwhile Chancellor, or Shadow Chancellor, would ever want to have their hand's tied by something like this. It reduces HM Treasury's ability to deal with crises as and when they happen, and more to the point, it will lead to obvious calls for the NHS, DfID etc to have the same. It's a bit like hypothocated taxes - a great idea which will never fly politically.
  11. I don't believe that is what Gray is saying. Instead the thrust of his report says that the current approach and the introduction of planned equipment platforms is unsustainable. One of his points is that by 2025 (if we continue with planned programmes) we will be spending over 120% of the Defence budget on the RAF alone (approximately twice as much as on the other 2 Services combined). Therefore whatever the MOD does it has to take some tough decisions.

  12. " am sure that a copy of the report will soon appear in full in one of the papers. Indeed since Mr Gray was a journalist on the FT for about 10 years isn't it an amazing coincidence that the FT seems to be leading with the details."

    Good point - its also worth noting, that of all the papers out there, the FT is the one that has people leaking to it with very accurate, very well placed stories. 90% of the stories I see in the papers, I tend to ignore as chaff, or people pushing their own little empire. When its in the FT, its usually well placed, well sourced and worrying up to date - I have no idea who their source is, but they are bloody good!
  13. I agree with you, but note that both Tory and Labour Chancellors have all enthusiastically embraced the PFI construct. A PFI commits the Services (NHS or whoever) to paying a fixed price (usually) every year for 25-30 years. Although a nice idea for today's senior officials, PFI removes flexibility from the future.

  14. But it's nearly all 'off balance', so doesn't actually 'count'.....