Monday, 24 December 2012

"I'm sorry ... not evasion at all ... I'll sort it."



Stuck for a last minute Christmas idea? Why not buy an enamel Referism badge the profits from which will go to spreading the principles of Referism, thereby enabling the People to regain their power from the Politicians.

Click on the Referism logo in the right hand column and you will be taken to the Ebay listing.

And why not help the sales campaign by linking to this post or inserting a similar button on your blog?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Bomber Command Finally Honoured About Time



(Crown Copyright)

 At last our government has done the decent thing and awarded a Bomber Command Clasp to veterans of Bomber Command who undertook the longest campaign of WW2.

And it's about time that those who served on Arctic Convoys between 1941-45 will finally get a Star for their efforts.

 Butch will simply gaze down from his cloud, surrounded by his Bomber Boys and Girls, and just quietly remark, "About time, too," because he knew how bloody slowly the Air Ministry could work if it put its mind to it.

Two cheers, because it appears that the clasp will only be awarded to air crew and not the men and women who worked at all hours, in all weathers often for years on end in very basic accommodation on stations miles from anywhere, often risking their life and health to put the bomber boys in the air.  If the clasp is to be worn on the 1939-45 Star (just like the Battle of Britain clasp) and it is awarded to everyone who served in Bomber Command, rather than the Air Crew Europe or France and Germany Stars, then the recognition sought by Sir Arthur Harris for his ground crews as well has his air crews could belatedly have been given. They were all in it together and deserve more than the Defence Medal.

I hope Dave will amend this oversight. I have emailed 10 Downing Street to press this point.

It's not the time to criticise the well-meaning fools who attack Bomber Command's necessary area bombing policy by using the cowardly tactic of attaching all the blame on Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur Harris because people treasure the individual courage of the air crews and an attack on the many is an attack on the whole, whereas blackening the reputation of chief fits in with Alan Clark's lazy and inaccurate "Lions led by Donkeys" meme. But they are wrong.

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

PC Euphemisms

"Cultural differences" doesn't mean racist apparently, because English people aren't allowed them.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

I'm Puzzled About Keith Vaz MP

Keith Vaz, MP for Leicester East (and All India, apparently) has become the spokesman for the family of the unfortunate Nurse Jacintha Saldanha. She was working at a hospital in Central London and living nearby. The constituency MP for Westbury-on-Trym where her family live is Charlotte Leslie, who happens to be a Conservative.

Does this mean that one can one choose the MP to assist one according to political affiliation or, heavens forbid, ethnicity? I understood that ones constituency MP, whatever his level of incompetence, was duty bound to at least pretend to work for all of his constituents. If the convention has changed, I might get someone to represent my interests at last and my vote won't be wasted.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Bona Conjugalities

Scene: A bijou boutique in The Lanes, Brighton

Sandy:  Oooh, ello Mr Horne. My name's Sandy and this is my friend Julian. Come in and 'ave a vade at the first omi-palone and palone-omi wedding arrangers"Bona Conjugalities", will you? 

Julian:  He will, and all. We do all the hard arranging, sorting out the schlumph and the jarry,  picking the clobber and batts, getting the best riah zhooshers...

Sandy: We know the most fantabulosa crimper. And we're trying out all the bonaroo omi moon latties in bijou hotels for the nupts.

Kenneth Horne: Do you discuss  the church service with the vicar, get the marriage licence, publish the banns, pay the organist?

Sandy: No, we don't do that, Mr Horne.

Julian: How very dare you, nanti metza for trade, we have our pride.

Is Dave on a mission to wreck the Conservative Party a la Mulroney and Campbell in Canada in the early nineties? He claims he wants gay marriage in churches precisely because he is so firmly in favour of marriage. 

But Dave isn't really favour of marriage: if he was he would restore the old practice of joint assessment of income that was reformed away by fellow "Conservative" Ken Clarke. That would enable a married couple to minimise their tax bill and honour their marriage vows, ie "and with all my worldly goods I thee endow". When I wrote to Dave about this a minion replied with a PFO, adding that my letter had been forwarded to the Ministry of Justice despite my letter being a complaint about an agency of MinJus having an unfair policy on income when assessing charges for powers of attorney.

Dave's just chasing the Notting Hill dinner party vote. Loser.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Referism Badges - Buy Them Now



If you're interested in acquiring a badge like this please click on the link to the ebay listing. A circular metal safety fitting (as shown in the photo below) holds the badge on and protects you from the pin.  The badge is nickel plated and enamelled and measures approx 34 mm long.


Profits from the sale of the badges will be given to fund Referism. As I have gone out on a financial limb to pay for the tooling and production of these badges, I would appreciate the support of Referism followers, preferably by buying badges, but also by linking to the ebay listing on your own blogs.




The Press: Arbitration

I can't see why "statutory underpinning is needed for any press complaints scheme. Decisions of sharia and beth din religious courts and secular arbitration schemes are legally enforceable provided both parties agree to the arbitration process. What's wrong with that? The arbitration could be funded by a levy on newspaper sales.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Recently, I have mostly been eating Scotch Broth

I enjoy making soups because they are so easy and tasty. I found some diced lamb on offer and the weather being grotty (there's a Scottish word for it) I thought I'd make Scotch Broth or my take on it.


A bit of cooking oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 leek, washed and cut into discs
4 oz carrots, peeled and cut into pound coin discs
4oz parsnip or swede, peeled and cut into pound coin discs
10 oz diced lamb, or about 1lb of neck of lamb or mutton
4 oz red lentils, rinsed and soaked in cold water overnight
4 oz pearl barley, rinsed
2 bay leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1/2 tsp crushed black peppercorns
4 pints lamb stock or water if using neck - add salt to taste

Put the oil in a large lidded pan on a gentle heat on the hob. I use a maslin pan bought in Chorlton-cum-Hardy twenty odd years ago.

Add the onion, leek and celery, stir and replace the lid. Allow to cook for a few minutes.

Repeat with the lamb, root vegetables and lentils and pearl barley.

Add the thyme and bay leaves and pepper and stock. Lid on and allow to simmer very gently for two hours until the pearl barley is tender. Season to taste.

This broth tastes even better reheated the next day and doing that gives you an opportunity to easily remove the lamb fat that will have set on the surface overnight if you have used neck of lamb.

You can add finely chopped parsley if you wish.



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Friday, 30 November 2012

Press Regulation Backed By Statute

Ooh that will work. If only the banks and financial services industry were regulated by a statutory regulator, the credit crunch and mis-selling scandals could have been avoided.


What? The Bank of England and the FSA regulate those industries? Something must be done.....








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Friday, 16 November 2012

How Wonderful, What An Honour

So I disagreed with Peter Hitchens' description of Coventry (I'm a Coventry Kid) as a sad city on Mr Hitchens' Mail Online clog. Mr Hitchens replies to my comment and refers to me as "Brian" from Coventry. That's ironic when in today's Daily Mail the following article from Michael Seamark and Sam Greenhill appears. If one scrolls down, one finds the emboldened words

The ‘prestigious’ Trust-administered Orwell Prize for political writing was handed to a journalist [Johann Hari in 2008, actually] who turned out to have made up his ‘award-winning’ articles;

Isn't that the same prestigious Orwell Prize that Mr Hitchens deservedly won in 2010? I feel honoured to be accorded similar quotation marks around my name by him.

One question remains (and what is wrong with asking questions?):

If someone was a member of the International Socialists between 1969-75 when the International Socialists had a policy of unconditional support for the IRA, does that mean he supported that policy at a time when about 400 members of the British security forces were murdered by the IRA and its allies as part of the Northern Ireland "Troubles"?



Monday, 12 November 2012

BBC Funding - A Radical Alternative

Instead of the £145.50 colour television licence required to watch television in the UK and NI, I propose that the BBC will be funded by the National Lottery - still run on its behalf by Camelot.

The money presently raised by the National Lottery for good causes will be allocated from taxation on a matched-funding basis depending on how much the National Lottery raises annually. But here's another radical change: on each lottery ticket tick boxes will be printed next to categories of causes, thereby enabling the ticket buyer to choose how the National Lottery matched-funding is to be allocated instead of the Great and the Good Jellabys  picking their pet guinea pig projects.

The £145.50 formerly spent on the licence will be available for spending and will more directly and efficiently boost the economy and employment.

BBC Management Changes



In a robust rebuttal of concerns about the year's salary payoff to the resigning DG, the popular Chairman of the BBC Truss said, "It's my money and I can spend it how I want."

The problem with the BBC, apart from its self-love and complacency, is one shared by all bureaucracies, namely the number of  people doing jobs they can't explain to their Grannies.

The BBC should get back to its core strengths, ie following what the the Guardian prints and cutting and pasting Labour Party press notices.  It should learn  that "investigative journalism" means more than reading the "Notes to Editors".  As everyone who has seen any film about journalism knows, facts have to be checked and confirmed from several sources.

I'm impressed that Tim Davie, the acting DG, has already displayed the ability to grasp the reins of the old donkey. Funny that he can do this without having a journalistic background.

Perhaps this classic song and dance routine from Mary Poppins should be renamed "Step Aside".

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Value For Money At The BBC

A corporate headhunter was paid a total of £189,000 inc VAT (how quaint of the BBC to pay tax) to identify as the best candidate for BBC Director General its former "Head of Vision". Incurious George lasted a mere 54 days in post, or £3,500 per day or 1,298 colour licence fees.

It's been the cheapest telly for the BBC for over fifty years. Certainly better VFM than £22 million for the The Voice "talent" programme.

Update: It has been revealed that George Entwistle will receive a year's salary (£450,000) for his voluntary resignation after 23 years at the BBC. Doesn't everyone?

What job is being lined up for him? Royal Opera House Chairman, National Trust Chair, Picker /Packer (must speak Polish)?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A Few Thoughts On The US Presidential Election

No change, but better than how the PRC does it.

I read a lot of comment articles which said that the Hispanic vote will be crucial in the 2016 election and after. Perhaps, but not for Puerto Ricans living in Puerto Rico who aren't allowed to vote for anyone. Just like every other resident of America's colonies or "territories" as the Washington Empire-haters describe them. Puerto Rico is allowed a representative in Congress who can only vote as long as it doesn't affect the decision.

I wonder if the US will admit Puerto Rico as the 51st state following its recent non-binding referendum on the question. If so, PR will have three or four Electoral College votes. On the subject of the Electoral College, it's possible for a candidate to gain the Presidency with only about 25% of the votes cast by concentrating on winning in several over-represented states with 50% + 1 votes cast. That's Democracy Folks! 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

What's The Difference Between

An ex-Nazi and an ex-Trotskyist? Both subscribed to equally loathsome, intellectually and morally bankrupt ideologies but only one sort is able to continue in public life. Guess which.

Im all for rehabilitation of offenders and forgiveness, but can we be absolutely safe from the propagation of pernicious dogma hidden in plain sight under another agenda?

Perhaps a better occupation would be drawing up lists of ex-Trotskyists in public life to enable their quarantine.

On Page 3 Of Today's Mail on Sunday

Was this article on the Garrison Girls who have posed for a nude calendar to raise money for treating post traumatic stress for those who have served on the front line. A great cause and nice pictures. If you want a copy, they cost £10 fom www.garrisongirls.com

I have a couple of questions:

1    Would the calendar be allowed to be displayed in the Mail on Sunday offices -isn't it sexual harrassment of female employees?

2     Is this the sort of article that an ex-Trotskyist columnist who resigned from the Daily Express when it was acquired in 2000 by Richard Desmond (whose other business interests included pornographic titles) because it represented a moral conflict of interest would want to share a newspaper with?

And a third, why was the above commented moderated by the Daily Mail when I attempted to post it?

Why Not Try The Badger Cull In Inner Cities?



It's all very well for the Centre for Social Justice to propose more intervention to tackle the problem of street gangs, but wouldn't it make more economic sense to reduce the numbers first?

(For the benefit of people "with reduced ability to see the bleedin' obvious", this is a satirical* post along the lines of Dean Swift's Modest Proposal).

Deference

Deference has a pernicious effect on society. Respect your betters, keep your head down, your nose clean, "Theirs not to reason why", allow the evil and the incompetent in positions of power over others to continue unpunished.

Deference must be replaced with assertiveness of the individual to create a healthy society  in which freedom can flourish. Sovereignty, ie power, springs from the individual and it is for the individual to grab it back from the adoptive hierarchies that stole it.

Destroying deference will not harm respect for others, it will increase it because equal individuals will only be distinguished by their achievements instead of their rung on the ladder.

With deference defeated, individuals will treat each other equally and fairly, simply because of their respect for the inherent dignity of every human being.

Why do care home staff mistreat vulnerable adults in their care? Could it have someting to do with care workers being paid the minimum wage with few employment rights - if they are treated unfairly, won't they attempt, wrongly, to offload their frustration at their status on anyone they perceive to be of a lower status?

And without deference there wouldn't be the willingness by organisations and their managers to protect high status talent from the effects of their wrongdoing by ignoring complainants or threatening them with career suicide.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

No2HS2: John Maynard Keynes

"Two pyramids, two masses for the dead, are twice as good as one; but not so two railways from London to York. "
The General Theory on Emploment, Interest and Money, 1935 Book 3, Chapter 10, Section 6, p. 131

And also two railways to Birmingham from London. H2S stinks. £32 billion would be better spent digging holes, burying wine bottles filled with £50 notes and filling them in again with wind turbine scrap and then auctioning off the commercial exploitation rights of the holes to the highest bidder.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

You've Got A Friend, Anna Raccoon



You've got many friends on the interweb, many, many more than those nasty trolly things, so stick in there until the sun shines again.



That being said, I hope you'll understand my reasons for remaining on the soap-using side of the English Channel.

You Won't Read This Dave Because I'm Not A Professional Lobbyist

But I know how to help people get the cheapest tariffs on their energy bills.

Every year, say 1 June, the utiliy bill contains a box with the kilowatt hours of gas and electricity used over the past twelve months. Based on this and the postcode, the next line will give the cheapest appropriate tariff of any energy supplier together with a website address or a phone number. It will be up to the consumer to switch.

Saying that everyone will be on the cheapest tariff simply means there will only be one tariff and that tariff will probably be the expensive standard tariff,. Tariffs are different because it costs different amounts to supply energy depending on volume supplied or the method of payment to name only two factors. Put simply, dual fuel direct debit medium to large consumers fixed duration in cities are the cheapest to supply hence their unit prices are the lowest. People who don't use much energy or want to pay in cash/cheque in arrears or by meter are more expensive to service because the costs of supply equipment are spread out over a smaller amount of product and because the cost of collecting payment is higher. But if we all have to pay the same then the prime customers will be forced to unfairly subsidise the sub-prime just like women will pay more for car insurance and men more for  life insurance or annuities.

Monday, 15 October 2012

I Don't Like Andrew Mitchell. However ....

The GateGate Saga boils down to he said, he said. The Official Police Log has been published and that appears to damn (or d*** to use the asteriskinessof the media) Mitchell. Mitchell claims he didn't use the word plebs (wish I'd been called that rather than some of the other four, five, six, or seven -letter words that have been directed at me).

But the Police and Labour hold that words of the Official Police Log are as if writ in stone, as unchallengeable as the particular religious text of any group of fundamentalist religious nutters. Excuse me, but I believe the Police tell the truth, but I also believe the Public tell the truth. Just as I believe that everyone remembers things differently. No group has a monopoly on the truth. It is a vital part of our judicial system that Police Officers may be cross-examined in court instead of the court simply reading the relevant page of the Police Notebook into the court record, case closed, guilty.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph:

"Chris Jones, secretary of West Midlands Police Federation, who will meet Mr Mitchell today, said the Tory whip was effectively accusing the police of lying about what he said.

“I accept the fact that he has apologised for the offensive language used. But the issue remains open that he in effect has intimated that those officers were untruthful. Their integrity now is not in tact. That extends to every police officer in the country because he has disagreed with their account.”

Mr Jones said police records of incidents could be increasingly challenged in criminal court cases as a result of Mr Mitchell’s stance"

Well, excuse me but Harwood forgot to write in his PNB that he had pushed over Ian Tomlinson. It appears that other members of his TSG serial alongside him had similar lapses of memory or writers' block. It was three officers from Hammersmith & Fulham Station that informed their Inspector of the incident a couple of days later.

I have no idea what went on during GateGate and make no judgement about either side but I am extremely reluctant to ignore the testimony of one party to the incident and give the other a privileged credibility status. The Police are the People and the People are the Police. If we abandon healthy sceptism and give the Police carte blanche, then we all might as well learn French and lose our freedom. We are not sheep.

Update 21:34 18 December, 2012 here

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Abebooks Satisfaction

An update on an earlier blogpost.

I have recently ordered two more books via Abebooks and am pleased to recommend Bookbarn's excellent customer service. The other book is making its way over the Atlantic and expected delivery is towards the end of this month. I hope I'll be able to report equally favourably on the American bookseller.

Update 18 October: Atlanta Books have come up trumps.

Fingers crossed, those two bad experiences were merely blips and Abebook sellers are back on their previous best behaviour. Like the Skibbereen Eagle, however, I won't stop watching them.

Instruction To Government

Hello Government,

I'm your Boss, the Taxpayer and Voter.  I've been reading again the works of Sir Robert Thompson, the expert on counter-insurgency warfare who set out five basic principles in his famous 1966 book Defeating Communist Insurgency: Experiences in Malaya and Vietnam. His first principle, that:

The government must have a clear political aim: to establish and maintain a free, independent and united country which is politically and economically stable and viable

can be expanded into the government developing a strategy addressing  every aspect of the insurgency, whether social, political, economic, government or law-enforcement and that the they must be tackled holistically.

My simple instruction to My Government this weekend is to imagine the strategy that you would implement to win the hearts and minds of the population and restore peace if an insurgency were to occur in the UK. To point you in the right direction, the golden thread running through all successfully concluded insurgencies is a shift of power from the Establishment to the People.

And then ask yourselves why you haven't done that already. Prevention is cheaper than cure.

How The UK Media Must Operate In Future

I'll keep this Press Notice short to ensure every journalist and editor reads to the end.

1.  Report on stories about Blair, Savile, corruption etc.

2.   Ignore Hugh Grant, Charlotte Church and X-Factor.

3.  You will then work for newspapers and news bulletins instead of cut-n-paste publicity advertorials and you will regain your status as the Fourth Estate helping to keep an eye on government for the benefit of the People. Isn't that better than scribbling the same inane tosh about Cheryl Cole? Don't you want to tell your grandchildren that your job was worthwhile?

The BBC and Savile

I'm not surprised that the truth about the vile man was ignored for so long. After all, a recent BBC4 documentary "Tales From Television Centre" chortled about stories of shagging in deressing rooms and pot-smoking so prevalent that Saint David Attenborough, then Controller BBC2, pleaded  "Look, please, don’t smoke that stuff openly so we can all smell it. Just be sensible.”  Er marijuana is and was a Class B drug.


Organisations don't like washing their dirty linen in public and will deny, deny, deny until the evidence buries them. Lord Leveson must reopen his Inquiry and haul the BBC before him, without coffee. This scandal is bigger than Fake Competition gate.



Sunday, 7 October 2012

Gap In Blogging

Sorry, but the news recently has been too depressing to write anything lately.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of PC Fiona Bone and PC Nicola Hughes.

And with the family and friends of April Jones.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Abebooks Disappointments

I used to be a great fan of Abebooks, however my two most recent attempts to buy books have soured my opinion of the site and its booksellers.

When I was able to buy a reading copy of a rare classic in July I was delighted - at least until after three weeks delay the bookseller said it was lost in the post (apparently the seller knew of many similar losses because of problems at his local sorting office) and immediatedly refunded my payment.  I would have given that explanation more credence if an immediate search to find an alternative hadn't produced books at prices at least £30 more expensive. So I'm still looking out for a sensibly priced copy of the book in question. And I'm still waiting to receive and complete the Royal Mail lost post compensation form ....

Then today I received an email from the seller of another book apologising that it was unavailable because it had already been sold. Surprise, surprise, the next availailable copy on Abebooks was £11.00 more expensive.

So in future I will consider that booksellers reserve the right to change their mind about fulfilling contracts if they find the book is on sale elsewhere for higher prices, that is if they agree to me returning the book for a full refund after I've read it. Fair's fair...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Treat Them The Same

Remember a few weeks ago when the world and his wife went diplomatically ape over a Foreign Office letter to Ecuador in which a threat to unrecognise its embassy in London in order to arrest a bail absconder wanted for alleged sex crimes in Sweden? Can't do that, Vienna Convention Article 22 states the embassy is inviolate. And then the Arab mobs storm American embassies and consulates because of a Youtube film clip they'd been told to hate. Do we get the leftocracy saying that mobs ought to obey international law? No, it's the fault of the West for inciting the rabid dog of muslim public opinion. How hyprocritical. Until these countries have proper revolutions and free themselves of the stupid shackles of religion in order to think for themselves, the people will hate themselves for their weakness and shift the blame onto others. Treat them the same. All the muslim/Arab ambassadors should be called in and told, without coffee, that they must protect our diplomats or lose their wives' shopping rights at Harrods.

Update 25 September: How can the Arab/Muslim world be offended about a silly film when they obviously have such a good sense of humour about Jews and Israel? Not.

Update #2 25 September: When I read of and see TV reports of the Syrian civil war and the contempt for human rights shown by both sides, I have two thoughts, firstly, contrast the extreme efforts made by the IDF to protect civilians during the 2006 Lebanon War against Hizbollah and Operation Cast Lead, and secondly, thank goodness for the IDF's protection of Israel's borders from genocidal tyrants like Assad. If that's what Arabs do to each other, what would they inflict on Israelis?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Topless Duchess of Cambridge Photo



Oops! More care needed to compose the picture. What did you expect to see?



I'm sure my finger wasn't anywhere near the lens.




I think someone nudged me.

(Actually, the original of the pictures is an excellent image found on wikipedia).

 Why a Froggy gossip mag considers photos that properly fall into the category of pervy voyeurism to be in the public interest is far beyond my comprehension.

I hope the magazine gets hammered in the libel courts.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Will HS2 Go With Justine Greening And Theresa Villiers?



I certainly hope so. They don't approve of airyplanes - choochoos are more their (19th century) idea of transport. Turn Heath Row into West London Regional Airport and develop Manston into South East Hub Airport. The Ramgate- Ashford link to the HS1 trainline could be upgraded. Then spend the £32 billion budgeted for HS2 on upgrading the intercity and local rail network in order to boost the economy outside of the South East.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Harrogate Agenda- An Elected Prime Minister

Another brilliant idea from EUReferendum that's discussed here.

I support the idea, especially because a national vote for that the PM and his cabinet increases the plurality of voting and diffuses power.

I consider that the House of Commons should be reformed by voters voting for policies and their Representative Advocates separately as I have proposed elsewhere.

Departmental Policy branches should become part of the independent House of Commons Library to provide statistics and research for all MPs.

Departmental Permanent Secretaries must be approved by a House Appointments Committee.  They will be appointed on short term contracts to manage their departments and deliver the policies set out by the Cabinet. Ministers and Permanent Secretaries will be regularly examined by committees to ensure they are performing satisfactorily.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Thank You Olympians

Thank you all, medallists, competitors, volunteers, servicemen and women, organisers, even the BBC (for avoiding another Golden Jubilee River Pageant fiasco) for a splendid Olympic Games.

I was sceptical before the games but I've been bowled over by the ceremonies and the sport and the sheer niceness and joy of the competitors. And, I must admit, by the superlative Twenty Twelve.

It's proof that Britain can do it, that British people are great and that Britain has not declined but other underachieving countries have caught up and progressed towards their own potential.

I like the idea at Heathrow of treating the departing athletes like VIPs. Memo to airports, treat everybody like VIPs, smile at your salarypayers, don't make them queue for ages.

And all the Churchillian stuff in the ceremonies ought to be balanced with a very modest yet capable chap during whose administration the 1948 Games took place. Clement Attlee. It's worth listening all the way through.

Why?

This evening I thought I'd have a look at my statcounter stats - it's been at least a couple of months since I last looked.

My eye was immediately drawn to the very odd google search term "is there something wrong about peter hitchins" (sic) which linked to my post last month on Sir Arthur Harris. It was tenth in popularity on the list. I have amended the title of original post because I want people to discover my opinions on Sir Arthur Harris and British area bombing policy in WW2 directly (those terms put my post fifth on the search list) instead of via a search about a journalist.

Why would anyone google that question? Beyond the usual concern for another person, who cares?

If Peter Hitchens is concerned about the identity of the searcher, I tracked the IP back to a Mac user whose ISP is Be Un Limited and who lives in Oxford.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Improving Local Democracy

The peerless EUReferendum has an excellent campaign for putting political power where it should be, with you and me. The Six Points of its Harrogate Agenda are being honed into razor-sharp perfection. I suggest that you click on the link above and search in via the Archive  to read up while I finish writing this blogpost.

I'm writing about local democracy today. Did you know that the Local Government and Rating Act 1997 enables you and like-minded citizens to organise a petition (50% of local electors in the area for civil parishes smaller than 500 voters or 10% of voters for larger parishes) to request that the local authority organises a referendum for the creation of the civil parish (which can be as small or big as you think suits your democratic needs). Click on this link for more information about creating a council.

What sort of council is best? Well you could have a parish council or a parish meeting. The latter gives all electors the right to speak at meetings (with Parish Councils the Chair has discretion to allow non parish councillors to speak), and section 109 of the Local Government Act 1972 enables district councils to give parish meetings some or all of the powers of a parish council.

The next step is to press for more of the powers of district and unitary councils to be given to civil parishes because the closer power is to the individual elector the better.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Spend More Public Money On Sport?

How dreadful that independent schools have bagged a disproportionate number of medals at the Olympics - more than 50% from 7% of the school population - chant the usual idiots ( mainly guilt-tripping  independent school educated mouths).

Something must be done to make things fairer (or unfairer) - spend more money in state schools, pay teachers more, buy more kit to be nicked and burnt. Looking after what's there already or joining non-school sports clubs isn't considered an option. There must be growth everywhere.

Or, if the children want to be Olympic champs they could modify their discretionary leisure spending. The UK video games industry turnover in 2011 was £3.266 billion. In other words, every four years the UK could pay for the Olympic Games if its video games players so chose.

And those grants paid to "elite" sportsmen and women. Why not introduce a Sports Loan system on similar lines to the Student Loans. Unfair? On which, games or education?

And compulsory competitive sport in school. Right, reintroduce competitive exams and testing to provide a worthwhile education. Select the brighter children with potential and spend more time and resources educating them. I don't expect a state funded performance coach to mentor my fifteen minute mile so why should athletes who can barely write their names in the longjump pit expect top class academic teachers?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

‘We have a moral obligation to help people in other countries even when times are tough’ David Cameron



Photo with thanks to the excellent http://www.defencetalk.com/

So that's why you are bunging India £300 million a year that it doesn't want,you stupid boy.

The Tory Party, and every other Jellaby party, are "toxic" because of the £12 billion international aid splurge.

If David Cameron, Andrew Mitchell and Baroness Warsi want to make themselves feel good helping foreigners they are free to use their own money - and not money claimed to pay for housing costs.

British money for British people. Simples

Monday, 6 August 2012

Read Your Coalition Agreement, Nicky Clegg

You and David Cameron agreed to it, I didn't want a coalition, but I'm only a voter and taxpayer, not a professional politician so my job is to pay my taxes and mind my business util the next election time when all you pollys are my BFFs.

Anyway, Nicky, remember this bulletpoint in your Coalition Agreement?

  • We will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. We will whip both Parliamentary parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.

As far as I am concerned Alternative Vote (you lost the referendum) is linked to constituency reform.and not to House of Lords reform. You apparently agreed to that as the next two bulletpoints are:

•We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.

•We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

It appears your schoolgirl cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face logic holds that if you can't have the House of Lords reform exactly as you want it for your party's interests then the House of Commons can't be reformed so that one person's vote has the same value in every constituency when it comes to electing MPs. Very mature of you; it seems the cactus arsonist has not grown up. 

What are you doing about recalling MPs and introducing a statutory register of lobbyists that you also agreed? Is gay marriage really more important than those reforms?

Is it any wonder most thinking people despise MPs and most politicians when you lot play narrow party interest games while the useful sector of the nation doesn't have the luxury of your perks? Grow up and do a proper job of sorting the country out. Then, as Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation:

"You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."


Saturday, 4 August 2012

How Much Does It Cost To Post A Letter?

Since 30 April 2012

First Class                            60p

Second Class                       50p

First Class Large Letter         90p

Second Class Large Letter     69p

That's the same whether you use  traditional adhesive stamps, online postage or SmartStamp®


Unless you have a franking machine, in which case the prices are:

First Class 44p


Second Class 31p

First Class Large Letter 66p

Second Class Large Letter 53p

That's a saving of  16p, 19p, 24p and 16p respectively or savings of between 23 -38%.

Now franking machines cost between £1,250 at entry level -£20,000 to buy or £150 to rent a year and there's the cost of consumables, but the same baseline costs apply if one prints a label on one's printer at home. And if you post out masses of post the average cost of using a franking machine falls to a couple of pence per letter.

 It seems that Royal Mail reckons that a square inch of sticky paper costs between 16 - 24p (that's Speaker's wallpaper pricing) if it's selling to Mugs R Us. It can apparently make a profit delivering a second class letter from a large volume mailer anywhere in the country for 31p, provided you and I subsidize them by 19p for every letter, every Chrismas and birthday card we send.

Royal Mail is having a laugh at our expense. Why don't they offer the same discounts to online postage users and reduce the price of stamps? Answer: British people are there to be overcharged for the benefit of business. What's the chance that when the Royal Mail is part-privatised to satisfy EU dogma, its new foreign owners will increase the discounts to business at our expense to "remain competitive"?

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Arthur The Cat

Well, that what we call the ickle fluffy bird-torturing  toxoplasmosis-carrying puddy-cat that wanders across our garden to his favourite crapping place, just like the other half-dozen wandering felines we are plagued with.

You see we are dog-sitting an eleven year-old Labrador retired guide dog who sometimes forgets her arthritis when a cat appears ten yards in front of where she's relaxing. The other day we heard a yowelling screech followed by a very happy dog wandering in doing the canine equivalent of a victory roll. No blood on her but later on that evening a mograt claw fell out of her thick fur onto the carpet.

We call the mograt "Arthur" because we reckon that only half a cat* jumped back into the neighbouring feline faeces-free garden, ie where the mograts get fed. Haven't seen a cat since. Dogs will be dogs, just like cats are cats.

I blame the inequitable Animals Act 1971 which formalised the free spirit legal prerogative of feline vermin to roam over others' properties without any responsibility attached to their owners for any damage they cause. I understand the Canadian's have a better system: there one can set humane feral cat traps in your garden, ring the local cat protection society to collect the full traps and the cat owners are then charged a $Can 100 release fee. It encourages responsible cat owners (an oxymoron unless they get the cats sterilised) and protects wildlife and reduces the tonnage of fly-tipped cat filth.

Anyway, as it is illegal to administer vitamin lead to feline vermin, click on this link to a very enjoyable game of skill. called Clay Kitten Shooting.

*actually, I found no trace of cat in our garden so the worst the mograt got was much, much less than what they give each other - we found clumps of ginger fur on our lawns the morning after two cats fought a few months ago.

Monday, 16 July 2012

The 1939-45 Naval Blockade of Germany

Despite the well-documented effects of the Naval Blockade on Germany in WWI, plans were made in secret from the late 1930's onwards for the creation of  a "shadow" Ministry of Economic Warfare and the Admiralty Contraband Control Service that would be activated in the event of another war with Germany. Those involved knew the human ramifications of blockade since 1918 as between 400,000-700,000 fatalities and a in 1940 a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace study estimated the number of German deaths from malnutrition in WWI at 600,000.

The Import Blockade was announced on 4 September 1939 as this Daily Telegraph reprint shows and was extended to German exports as well by Order in Council on 27 November 1939. Learning from WWI experience, neutral continental countries like Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway were soon presented with draft treaties forbidding any increase in exports to Germany over pre-war levels under threat of losing bunker facilities etc.

Many ships, yachts and trawlers were chartered by the Amiralty (trawlers for £366 per year) to augment Royal Navy destroyers and sloops on contraband control patrols. This was at a time when there was a shortage of escort vessels for merchant shipping convoys at risk of sinking from U-Boats.

The policy was popular with the British public because it involved little risk to the sailors and civil servants charged with implementing it. It fitted in well with the spirit of the "Phoney War". Newspaper articles describing the work of the Contraband Control Service in 1939 appeared in Picture Post and War Illustrated. Monthly totals of seized goods were published. The Powell and Pressburger film Contraband was released in  May 1940. Another, The Big Blockade, was released in 1942. Most interestingly, Life Magazine published an excellent and comprehensive seven page article on conraband control in January 1940 (pp44-51 in this googlebooks version). Note this section of the article:

"Few people know of the vast, carefully planned system that is not only blockading Germany but directingthe wealth of the British Empire against where it hurts most, attempting to choke the life out of the Third Reich. "Starving Germany out" is a phrase frowned on by London offialdom and is always deleted by the censor - in defence to the sensibilities of humanitarian neutrals. But that is the Ministry's job." 

And the effect of the naval blockade on Germany and Occupied Europe during WW2?  With the occupation of the Continent its worst effect was mainly felt by civilians in occupied countries as Germany grabbed the food it needed to feed its people. By December 1940, Belgium was already down to starvation rations - 960 calories per day. This is what wikipedia writes about the subject.

So, a policy to starve the enemy of all the means to fight a modern, Total War was implemented from day two onwards, months before a single bomb had fallen anywhere in the British Isles. It was very well publicised to boost domestic morale, something that opponents of Area Bombing use as another stick to beat the reputation of Sir Arthur Harris.

But anyone who knows the English/British way of war, ie we stop playing cricket when they stop bowling and start shooting instead, is comfortable with the use of overwhelming force against an enemy to get the war over with as quickly as possible. Doubtless the use of longbows at Agincourt was unfair because the French knights were only protected against blows from other knights.

Friday, 13 July 2012

S4B



The S4B Board

Is it just cynical old me or does everyone who doesn't trouser £200k as a CEO of our Mickey Mouse government agencies, local councils and companies who provide contracted-out services believe that the whole country is now being run by a company called S4B?

Problems recruiting security guards? Call S4B. Need to massage the jobless stats? S4B can help. Look, they must be better because the Civil Service can't do the same job description and make a profit.

Never heard of S4B? That's because it's still listed in the phone book under its old name of Sh&t For Brains; they're not on the interweb because they're not very good at computamabobs ( but they're cheap, so outsource your IT department to them).

Remember, it's only customers that get hurt if things go wrong and if you are unlucky enough not to operate a monopoly, you can always get new customers from other companies who use S4B.

News update: S4B has just been awarded a contract to run the NHS. Must rember to feed the patients.



(With thanks to the Monty Python team)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Protect Our National Heroes


I think of English History as a wood of mixed broadleaf trees, the heroes that tower above the rest of us, the equally necessary undergrowth, brambles, bracken, bluebells and other flowers. Marxist history passed me by; I'm an instinctive Whig viewer of history. Arguably, it's a romantic rose-tinted way of looking, an Our Island Story view with a good dollop of 1066 And All That on top. It's a good way to appreciate the overall span of progress - which, evey good Whig historian kno is not continuous but retreats and advances like waves on the beach as the tide ebbs and flows. I then plait onto that thread books on specific events, biographies and subjects until sometimes the original thread is as thick as a treetrunk (a thick one). And I can wander at will in the wood, looking around, sometimes at the canopy, sometimes at the ground. What a splendid, diverse heritage we have.

But some people believe that certain heroes should be cut down because they do not meet the moral requirements of the present day. Well I can find fault in everybody except myself, naturally, but I know that no person can ever be perfect and allow them to grow on upwards. Sometimes I revise my opinion on characters I hitherto thought little of, like Clement Attlee who has shot up recently in my history wood.

If our heroes are demoted then pretty soon we will be in a history version of that scene in A Man For All Seasons:

William Roper:So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!


Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Because, without our heroes of the past and present we have nothing to look forward to and the optimistic bluebell wood of our heritage that inspires us to do great things turns into the muddy wreck pictured at the top of this article and we might as well pull the duvet up and stay in bed or live in Belgium - only joking, I know about several famous Belgians.

Corporate Blogs - Ignore Them

Richard North, writing at Independent Bloggers doesn't like them and neither do I.

They are the professional in what is meant to be an easy access arena for amateurs. It's like the days of the pamphleteers after the monopoly of scribes and parchment was broken by Guttenburg. They aren't satisfied with writing for newspapers or appearing on TV but must muscle into the shallow end of the information/comment pool as well. They use their big brand names and high profile like inflatable crocodiles to swamp out the other bloggers.

I don't like the way they hide behind corporate websites and email addresses and criticise ordinary bloggers who wish to post anonymously. It's called privacy, a word the newspaper industry is slowly relearning. So what if they have their name and picture published at the top of their columns. Do they not think that many suppose those names are pen-names, like William Hickey, whoever they are or photos of models who speak the words of anonymous hacks (funny how that word has lost its popularity as a synonym for journalists recently). Either way,  I'm not bothered as I simply read what is written.

But Cloggers can discover the names and addresses of bloggers if they wish, using perfectly legitimate means, safe in the knowledge that their own trail ends at a London office block.  Woo hoo, how big, how brave of them. Like flying over tribesmen in a bomber.  Perhaps blogging by skype is the best option. But any choice must be voluntary and not driven by the cloggers.

I'm not saying they should be banned, that's not the way things are done in the blogosphere.

Just ignore them, they'll soon go away.

Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur Harris And Area Bombing - My Final Words



May I begin by apologising to Peter Hitchens for bringing up his former political convictions  and present religious beliefs in my first blogpost on the subject. It was wrong of me to attack him personally and call him names, he will appreciate from our private email correspondence that having experienced that myself I should not do it to others. Normally I don't, but an incorrect belief on my part that Peter Hitchens had claimed that David Cameron had never really been put through any major test in his life (despite him, his wife and children caring deeply for his late son Ivan, during his short life), stung me for personal reasons that he knows of and I over-reacted against someone I disliked. On searching the interweb, I have found that Peter Hitchens had admitted he was wrong and apologised. I hope he won't mid if I use a similar formulation when I write that I was wrong and I am sorry.

On 22 April 2013 Peter Hitchens wrote "I think 'Brian' of Coventry (who I believe has his own website elsewhere, to which he is very welcome) has now duly qualified for indefinite 'Background Noise' status, with added lasagne, attained by a number of other contributors." As a consequence of his incorrigibly boorish and arrogant attitude I have retracted the apology above. Anthony Howard was right about him when he wrote, "the old revolutionary socialist has lost nothing of his passion and indignation as the years have passed us all by. It is merely the convictions that have changed, not the fervour and fanaticism with which they continue to be held".

Now, on to "Rebuttal Redux"....

ACM Harris (as he then was) may have been called "Butcher" or "Butch" by his crews, but that was because they were an elite band of highly-trained volunteers who were aware of the risks involved, yet they still clambered over the mainspar or latched themselves into the rear turret for as long as they were able to. It was the black humour of comradeship in adversity. General Patton was called "Old Blood and Guts" despite losing fewer men than the rifleman's general, General Bradley. Harris was blunt, telling the gathered aircrew on a rare visit to a station at the height of the offensive, to look at the men to the left and right of them because in six months' time they would be the only ones alive, but two ranks higher. He was greeted with cheers and table-thumping.

Was Harris really so ready to sacrifice his aircrews' lives when, in 1940 as AOC 5 Group, he arranged with a local engineering firm, Rose Brothers, for the mid-upper gun position on the Hampdens in his command to be mounted with twin VGO machine guns in place of the standard single one? Harris raged against the manufacturer of the obsolete Hampden and inadequate early Halifax and struggled to have the too-slow and insufficient altitude Stirling taken off operations as soon as possible. Throughout his tenure he wanted the best aircraft for his aircrew, the Lancaster, and pushed for improvements in its self-defence. The story of the failure to adopt the .50 calibre Browning machine gun as the standard defensive weapon of RAF bombers is too complex to be told here, suffice to say that there was a shortage of these weapons until 1944 and problems with designing and producing suitable gun turrets due to competing priorities. Harris again put the problem to Rose Brothers, who eventually produced 400 of their Rose-Rice twin .50 tail turrets for Lancasters from late 1944 onwards. Hearing that a purchase order with the company was delayed, Harris said "Tell them to build them anyway, they'll get paid."The turrets enabled rear gunners to wear their parachutes in the turret and bale out more easily and, more importantly, Lancasters fitted with them were more likely to avoid attacks  because the gunner could see nightfighters sooner and were able to instruct the pilot to take evasive action.

As for the losses of aircrews, reading Bomber Offensive written by Harris in 1947, shows that he was painfully aware of the cost. Compare those 47,000 killed with the 30,000 killed suffered by the daylight 8th AC/AF. Bear in mind that its first mission over Germany, Mission 31, wasn't until January 23 1943, its first raid on the Ruhr six months later, and Berlin not until 4 March, 1944, and one realises the huge sacrifices that American airmen bore to uphold American principles of fairness during their shorter period of operations.

Turning to the question of the Area Bombing Directive (GD No 5), it was issued on 14 February 1942 as an amendment to General Directive No 4 of 5 February (the details are on wikipedia if you haven't the books to hand). Harris took up his post as AOC Bomber Command on 22 February 1942 after his return from America where he had been Head of the RAF Delegation.  Of course Portal picked Harris because he knew that Harris believed in the policy; they had been friends since the 'Twenties.  it's the sort of basic question I have asked and been asked at every recruitment interview I've attended. "And, tell me Mr Harris, why do you want to work for Bomber Command?" There were other candidates with a good CV for the job, AVM Bottomley, DCAS, for example, who actually drafted the General Directive, and would succeed Harris in 1945. Or AVM Slessor, or a host of other Air officers who had, as part of their career management, all taken operational and staff appointments in other commands. Harris, with his experience in the early 'Thirties of flying boats, could have headed Coastal Command. In addition, despite the war, the RAF continued its policy of alternate staff and operational postings. Thus, AVM Baldwin, AOC of 3 Group and temporary AOC Bomber Command after Peirse's sacking for high loss rates, was not considered (although the Channel Dash may have blotted his copybook) and was sent out to India in October 1942. Remember that Montgomery only became commander of the Eighth Army when General Gott was killed when his Bristol Bombay was shot down.
The Area Bombing Directive was superseded on 21 January 1943 by the Casablanca Directive or POINTBLANK. With hindsight, it is clear now that the surrender of Paulus at Stalingrad on 2 February was a turning point after which Hitler's defeat was only a matter of time. Yet German forces kept fighting fiercely up to the end of the war and were able to shock the Western Allies in December 1944 with the Ardennes Offensive. Indeed the Wermacht's genius for improvisation enabled a Medical Officer to organise from diverse support troops a very effective fighting retreat against the Red Army in Eastern Europe in early 1945. With 20/20 hindsight, and by reading Adam Tooze's masterly Wages of Destruction, one can convincingly argue that Stalingrad was not the turning point but the stopping of the German attack on Moscow outside Tula on 29 October 1941 was the "First El Alamein" moment that enabled the subsequent  "Second El Alamein" End of the Beginning.

Could the RAF have conducted Daylight Precision Bombing?

Well it did so on a smaller scale throughout the war. That was the job of 2 Group, which became part of 2TAF in the run-up to D-Day.  Although Whitleys were almost immediately restricted to night operations on account of their slow speed, Hampdens continued to be used in daylight as target practice for the Lutwaffe until Portal, then C-in-C Bomber Command, put them on nights as well after the disasterous Kristiansand raid against the German fleet on 12 April 1940. Blenheims and later Bostons, Venturas and Mitchells continued to be used in daylight despite suffering heavy losses. Even with fighter escorts to protect them, and other bombers such as Stirlings and Halifaxes on mainly port attacks at the behest of the Royal Navy, in raids called Ramrods and Circuses, they achieved little except hard won knowledge of what the Luftwaffe experienced in the daylight Battle of Britain. In addition, there were daylight low-level raids by Lancasters (Augsburg) and Halifaxes on rare occasions throughout the war. Despite the best efforts to be accurate, civilian casualties were often heavy.

But there was the de Havilland Mosquito. This unarmed high-speed bomber suffered 8% (ie about Blenheim levels) during its first 284 operational sorties in 1942. Consequently, the two squadrons which introduced the B.IV variant were transferred to the Light Night Striking Force by November. There were daylight raids by FB.VIs but these had armament  to defend themselves at the expense of reduced bombload (don't believe the Magic Mossies of 633 Squadron!).
Of course, after D-Day, and the virtual disappearance of the Luftwaffe over France, Lancasters were able to fly escorted daylight raids in areas of Allied air superiority.

Thus the RAF was not equipped to fly daylight precision raids with heavy bombers after its first experiments failed - Why was this?

1  It was never foreseen that France would  surrender in 1940. Bomber Command was therefore equipped with aircraft that would attack Germany from French airfields ( provided the French agreed, which they didn't because they lacked an integrated detection/command/interception system akin to the RAF's.)
Bomber Command thus started the war with aircraft similar in size and capability to Luftwaffe bombers, none of which were strategic in capability. The Lutwaffe discovered that its bombers, even with escorting fighters on the relatively short return trip that was contested from the Channel coast to London, were no match for well-handled fighters.
2  The RAF had trained its bomber crews to fly individually at night to bomb targets. Hence the all over NiVO dark green camouflage inherited from the O/400s of WWI was replaced on aircraft built after Munich by a scheme with matt black undersurfaces. Unfortunately, pre-war Bomber Command lacked Fighter Command's boffins and neglected to develop electronic navigation aids, despite Lorenz and American technology being available. It was assumed that good eyesight was sufficient to allow map-reading, something disproved by the hundreds of aircraft that crashed at night pre-war on training exercises.
3  It was assumed, based on reports from the Spanish Civil War, that a formation of bombers with nose, tail and perhaps ventral turrets would be able to bring sufficient combined firepower on attacking enemy fighter aircraft to drive them off. The relatively high speeds of bombers, it was believed, made interception a fleetingly difficult task for fighter aircraft, hence the concept of the turret fighter which could bring its guns to bear for longer on each pass and also allow nil-deflection shooting was developed. Indeed, the Defiant was intended to supplant the Spitfire in squadron service as an interceptor (facepalm). The armament of .303 calibre machine guns was selected, a) for convenience, and b) because someone had done the sums and worked out that they delivered the most kinetic energy on a target in the time available.
4   The RAF never ordered the B.1/39 Ideal Bomber because the war and non-availability of suitable engines and working 40 mm gun turrets) got in the way. They would come too late to be useful.  Existing designs like the Stirling, Halifax and Manchester/Lancaster were used instead. These lacked the higher service ceilings of the B-17 and B-24 partly because their engines were not turbosupercharged.
5   The Wellington Mk V high altitude bomber with pressurised crew compartment was unsuccessful because Bristol were unable to get its turbosupercharged Hercules engine variant to work properly at altitude. Consequently, it was replaced by the Mk VI with Merlin 61s. These were never issued to squadrons because by the time they were built the much better Mosquito B.IX and later B.XVI were available. The Avro 684 high altitude version of the Lancaster with an extra Merlin to drive the turbosuperchargers and the Vickers pressure cabin was not proceeded with because of shortage of drawing office capacity etc.

Why didn't Bomber Command use those Mosquito B.IX and B.XVIs with bulged bomb bay doors and 4,000lb blockbuster bomb payload to replace its heavy bombers?

After all, they could fly to Berlin and back twice faster than a Stirling. In theory, and this theory dates back to R A Volkert's  1937 paper for the RAF on an unarmed high speed Handley-Page bomber, by dispensing with gunners one reduces the number of aircrew at risk. However, both the B.IX, which was quite short-legged with its full payload, andthe B.XVI, with range improved by underwing tanks, were significantly more difficult to handle than the "above average pilot only" ordinary Mosquitoes. There would have been a shortage of suitable pilots. In addition, switching production from Lancasters and Halifaxes to Mosquitoes would have caused supply disruption for Mosquito nightfighters, fighter- bombers and Halifax maritime patrol and glider-tug production at a crucial point in the war (Pre D-Day).

Why didn't the RAF develop a long-range escort fighter to protect its bombers on daylight precision raids?

A good point. The cliche is that British fighters have always been short-range interceptors because gaining altitude quickly is more important to meet attackers raiding our small island. The two pre-war aircraft that are put forward as escort fighter types are the Bristol Beaufighter and Westland Whirlwind. I'll ignore the Gloster "Reaper" because, like the TSR2 it would never have worked for several reasons. The Beaufighter was an excellent heavy, long-range fighter-bomber but no match for single-engined fighters. The Whirlwind was nippy at low altitude and carried a heavy cannon armament, but was slightly too small (plus it used under-developed engines) to be developed further, even with drop-tanks.

The trend for twin-engined fighters was due to the relatively limited power to weight ratio of aero engines before higher octane fuel, improved metallurgy for engine components, developments in turbosuperchargers and general reliability improvements (derived from experience with the huge numbers of engines in use) allowed horse power per cubic inch capacity to be increased by 60-70% in the case of the RR Merlin. This meant that a single-engined aircraft was able to lift the additional fuel needed for extended range.

In addition, the increased length of runways also enabled aircraft to take off at higher weights than obtained on 300-400 yard grass strips common pre-war and during the Battle of Britain.

Why couldn't the Spitfire have been developed as an escort fighter? After all, a Spitfire PR.IV flew over Berlin in daylight on 14 March 1941. Unfortunately, Pho-Reconnaissance Spitfire wings were essentially petrol tanks with no room for guns. But what about those two Spitfire MkIXs that flew across the Atlantic non-stop from St John's Nova Scotia to Ballykelly in Northern Ireland? Well, there were problems with drop tank separation, but they could be engineered away with time. Unfortunately, by the time of the Atlantic flight the ideal P-51D escort fighter was available. .

It can be argued that the RAF developed the P-51 escort-fighter for the USAAF. The NA-73X prototype was designed and built to fulfil an RAF requirement for a fighter because North American Aviation didn't want to build its competitor's Curtiss P-40. The USAAC didn't use the first Mustangs as fighters but as A-36 dive-bombers.  And then in 1942, Rolls-Royce swappd the low-altitude Allison engine for a Merlin 61 engine to produce the high altitude-capable Mustang MkX. Eventually, it was accepted for testing by the pro- P-38, P-39, P-47 USAAC and produced as the P-51B/C. And then using the blown bubble canopy idea first used on the Miles M.20 to improve visibility, the superlative P-51 wa created.

The P-51D's advantage over the Spitfire in speed and range was due to two factors, more effective use of the Meredith effect to generate thrust from radiator heat , and its laminar flow wing. It was five years newer than the incrementally-improved Spitfire. The laminar flow wing profile was only partly good because it obtained reduced drag at the expense of poor stall characteristics. Thus pilots preferred "boom and zoom" combat, relying on straight- line speed instead of turning fights where possible. But The P-51D was good enough to more than hold its own when in large packs with its far better-trained pilots against the dwindling Luftwaffe, which had been steadily attrited and restaffed with steadily more inexperienced pilots since the Battle of France in 1940, such was the fuel shortage and the losses in the East, Mediterranean and Northern European theatres . It was akin to the use of Sherman tanks in Normandy against Tigers where superiority of numbers won.

So why didn't the RAF adopt the P-51D/ Mustang IV as a long range escort fighter for its heavy bombers? Simples, despite the phenomenal manufacturing capacity of the US, there was a shortage of them and 8th AF took priority for re-equipment over other US air forces until well into 1944. So why not build P-51Ds under licence in the UK? The production disruption caused by stopping production of Spitfires at Castle Bromwich say to switch over to Mustangs, would have meant that 2TAF lacked the supply of ground support aircraft vital after D-Day.

Digressing slightly, the RAF used nightfighter Mosquitoes as escort fighters, in the proper sense, in support of its night-time raids from August 1943 onwards, first with Serrate-equipped fighters and then after March 1944 with its latest AI radars and other black boxes. From the start of Operation Flower in June 1943 to April 1945, more than 270 German nightfighters were shot down as they took off or landed and the fear of surprise attack by a Moskito had a significant deterrent effect on German pilots which saved countless bomber crews.

In conclusion, however, some of the technology for extending range was available and the tactics of escort fighters had been learned at short range in 1941 in Ramrods ands Circuses as Bernard Boylan's excellent Development of the Long-Range Escort Fighter, 1955 (a pleasure to re-read it for thiis post) shows. Click on No.136 to download here.

But, by dividing the air offensive between night bombing and daylight escorted  precision bombing as laid down in May 1943's Combined Bomber Offensive plan, the effect was all the greater because the threat of round-the-clock air raids disrupted the Germany war economy more than otherwise. As General Ira Eaker OC of the 8th Bomber Command put it "The devils will get no rest."

Precision Bombing versus Area Bombing

All airforces were aware that, except in ideal test conditions, precision bombing was not. It was calculated that in order to achieve a 96% probability that two 500lb bombs fell within a 400 x 500 ft area, 648 bombs would have to be dropped. Bear in mind that the 500 lb bomb dug a crater two feet deep and nine feet wide (Wordsworth in an age of human madness) and had a blast effectiveness against buildings of sixty to ninety feet.

It is obvious that the idea of precision bombing, ie aiming at a military or economic target but accepting that bombs will miss and kill civilians relies on legal sophistry for its legitimacy. There is no mens rea to kill, just as the use of explosive .50 calibre shells and tracers avoid the strict Hague Convention prohibitions on using explosive bullets and chemical warfare on soldiers is excused by aiming at the equipment or airframe. It's the sort of military logic lampooned in Catch 22 and The Good Soldier Schweik.  In the end innocent people die and are maimed.

Area Bombing is, I argue, a more honest concept. It was accepted that bombers were inaccurate so instead of aiming for a small target, aim for a larger area and trust that the target will be obliterated. Rather like the difference between aiming for the bullseye with an an inaccurate air rifle many times or once with a shotgun.

Here's an excellent article on Daylight Precision Bombing. Remember that bombers were flown in combat box formations that could be over a mile in width and that much daylight precision bombing was done through cloud by ded-reckoning or radar. In addition, for most raids, bombs were dropped by a "toggler" "on command of the lead bombardier" to  produce a carpet of bombs over the target.

Was bombing Cities Illegal?

The law lagged behind technology so the Hague Convention 1907 Articles 25 and 26 which are specifically about naval bombardment of land targets was stretched. Note that only bombardment of undefended cities was forbidden. The German cities were protected by flak guns and fighters and ARP precautions (better than for British civilians, ironically) were available.

Thankfully, the law has developed since WW2 as weapons delivery precision has increased. But that was then and this is now. If we are to apologise for area bombing, why not apologise for a host of other things that we view as crimes now or, conversely, crimes then and legal now? It would become an endless Blair apologohorrrea that would rake up animosities when a simple, practical moving onwards would be better.

Are Civilians Ever Legitimate Targets? 

Take the case of a butcher in the Army Catering Corps, never likely to meet the enemy in combat, but still eligible for a campaign medal. He is a target on account of his status as a soldier. Or an armourer in a bomb dump whose job is to fit fuses and load the bombs onto bombers. He is also a target. But what about the woman munitions worker filling shells or even the Girl

"that makes the thing that drills the hole

that holds the spring that works the thing-ummy-bob
that makes the engines roar.

And it's the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
that oils the ring that works the thing-ummy-bob
that's going to win the war" ?

Apparently, civilian workers in oil refineries, railway marshalling yards etc are fair game and to that could be added shipyard workers, steel workers, aircraft workers, ball-bearing workers and off course the unfortunate civilians living in the working class areas around the factories who catch the 646 precision-dropped bombs that miss for every two that hit the target. Not even  the  "Not a bomb on private property*" policy requested by President Roosevelt and kept by the RAF until the day after the Luftwaffe bombed Rotterdam in May 1940, would have saved civilian lives.

* I used that phrase because a suggestion in the Cabinet during the Phoney War to drop incendiaries on the Black Forest was met with a shocked "But that's private property!"


The Civilians Didn't Vote For Hitler

Not all Germans were Nazi voters and so, the argument goes, it was wrong to bomb them. I suggest, in that case that it was more wrong to bomb targets in the occupied countries - what about the 140 Dutch civilians killed in the daylight raid on the Philips factory in Eindhoven or the German civilians killed in the bombing of Wesel in 1945 to enable the Americans to cross the Rhine there with fewer than 50 casualties. And what about the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in the crossfire of the ground war on the continent? Did they suffer any less because their killers wore khaki not RAF Blue?

And weren't most German soldiers conscripts? How many Social Democrats did our armies shoot and shell? It's odd how fiercely those opponents of the Nazis fought in the West (given the nature of the atrocities in the East, I can understand the incentive to keep the Red Army from the Homeland) right until the end of the war.

Was There  An Alternative? 1

There was the Naval blockade. This was very successfully imposed and within a few months all German merchant ships had been driven from the seas, with the exception of the Baltic.  This policy was carried out despite the knowledge that when practised in WWI it had resulted in some 600,000 civilian deaths according to a recent study by the Carnegie Foundation. It was only the collapse of France and the occupation of neutral countries that provided Germany with sufficient food at the expense of their civilians, many of whom in the East were expected, as a Nazi policy, to starve to death. The blockade in the Mediterranean and German food requisitioning, caused the Greek Famine which led to the setting up of Oxfam. But nobody criticises our Admirals, indeed admitted naval war crimes like the renunciation of the cruiser rules for merchant shipping are ignored. And whilst a U-Boat captain was hanged after the war for killing survivors, a similar Royal Navy VC was simply given a "we don't approve,don't do it again" letter.


Was There An Alternative? 2

The navy camp claim that the build up of the bomber force diverted aircraft away from Coastal Command that would have been better used to hunt for submarines that were sinking our merchant shipping. A fair point, but remember that the greatest threat to the UK was in the first "Happy Time" as the Uboat captains called it from July 1940 to May 1941. If we look at Coastal Command's Order of Battle in November 1940 it's clear that only four squadrons of long range Sunderlands and a mixed bag of twenty odd short to medium range Ansons, Bothas, Beauforts, Blenheims, Hudsons and Stranraer was inadequate, given their inefficient maintenance schedules, to meet the threat posed by Uboats now operating on the French Atlantic coast. Perhaps Bomber Command's twenty odd Wellington, Whitley and Hampden squadrons could have been withdrawn from bombing channel ports and retrained for maritime reconnaissance? Either way, the threat to Britain's survival was lifted by the end of Spring 1941.


Should Britain Have Gone To War In 1939?

We didn't go to protect Poland which was no different to Czechoslovakia. Britain and France declared war then on the basis that they would never be stronger against Germany which was rearming just like them. People forget that Appeasement and Rearmament were a twin-track policy from 1935 onwards. People forget that the German Navy was smaller than the French Navy but that the Kriegsmarine's expansion Plan Z would have provided five super-Bismarcks and four aircraft carriers by 1945. It's now a cliche to say that Hitler didn't want to invade Britain; indeed he wanted a negotiated peace in which Britain could keep most of her Empire in return for ceding the bulk of the Royal Navy to Germany. And how long would a maritime nation dependent on imports survive independently?

After Germany occupied the continent and Britain was safe from invasion, ie our national security was not threatened, we still had a moral duty to liberate Europe, for if we were prepared to let 300 million plus people be enslaved under Nazism, isn't that more of a moral slip than area bombing allegedly was?


Summary

This rambling post is evidence, I would claim, that I have read and considered the arguments for and against Harris and Area Bombing. I have always taken it as an obvious fact needing no expansion that war is wrong. By fate and career choice I have not travelled the world and experienced war, but listening to my Grandfather when he was alive, disabused me at an early age of any thought that there could be glory in war. I do not need to be told the obvious.

I do not mind that other people can hold different opinions to me despite having studied the subject in depth. There are no right and wrong answers here. Putting forward one book as containing the definitive answer merely prompts the opposing side to counter with an alternative and so on.

I hope that the reader will agree with my conclusion that the cases for and against precision and area bombing in WW2 are evenly balanced and if WW2 was repeated many decisions should be altered (to make different, unforeseen errors) but I'm reminded of the old joke about the best way to Dublin, "But I wouldn't start from here."

Postscript:

I recommend David Edgerton's excellent book Britain's War Machine.

And it goes without saying that Bomber Offensive by Harris and Bomber Harris: His Life And Times by Probert are worth reading before issuing judgement on the man. Or google what Lord Cheshire VC said about Harris on the unveiling of his statue.