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Depressing (re-) read - Defence under Thatcher

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Depressing (re-) read - Defence under Thatcher

Old 11th Feb 2022, 15:38
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Depressing (re-) read - Defence under Thatcher

I found my copy of Andrew Dorman's 2002 book and had a re-read.

I'd forgotten how depressing it was.

A constant 10 year succession of fights and plots by each service, the MOD, the politicians and the constructors against each other and all against the Treasury all the time with the 3 month exception of the Falkland's War.

What comes through is the inevitability of gross overstretch in tasks, appalling overspends and total lack of recognition about what they could actually deliver and what the country could or would actually spend.

I wish I could think that things were better now but I have my doubts.
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Old 11th Feb 2022, 16:43
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I would imagine it is worse - Brexit and Covid dampening the economy, not enough money for levelling up, tax increases to try to cover the spending on Covid, and Liz Truss trying to stand up to Lavrov and Putin. How much is available to fill the coffers if hostilities break out?
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Old 12th Feb 2022, 00:10
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It's a prisoner's dilemma, isn't it? Any player in the Whitehall funding game naive honest enough to tell the truth about the cost of their wish-list (or, alternatively, the limits of the capability deliverable within their budget) risks whole programmes being scrapped, or in extremis their whole organisation being sidelined. So everyone is incentivised to lie and backstab be "creative" in their analysis; optimism bias and failure to deliver to time and cost are therefore fundamental characteristics of the system. Note, this applies across Government, not just within MOD. Occasional attempts to play it straight tend to work out disastrously for those brave enough to try.
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Old 12th Feb 2022, 07:46
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Correct Easy - a couple of times one service or another was doing well and offered up something to help. The Treasury and/or the other services took what was offered and then still fought like crazy for their own agendas - so any idea of mutual assistance went by the board.

One thing that is interesting is how Mrs T appointed people she thought could be trouble or a contender to the MOD - it's a busy department, there's a lot of back bench flak and things often go wrong - Pym, Nott & above all Heseltine where trapped like this. Also each Minister had very different interests- Heseltine wasn't interested at all in strategy - only in platforms and industrial policy, Nott was much more a strategic thinker and Younger a "don't rock the boat" administrator.

No wonder it s a mess.
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