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The lies are getting silly

Governments are not know for being truthful, but it would seem sensible to tell lies that have a reasonable probability of being believed – and I do not agree that the “biggest lies are the most likely to be believed” (at least if by ‘biggest’ we mean thing that are most obviously false).

However, the British government seems to have adopted a policy of telling obvious lies. In the last few days alone we had (for example) the claim that “violent crime has fallen by 23%”. This was duly reported by the Independent newspaper (a newspaper that hates the current government, but hates truth even more – and so was glad to support the claim). This was brought out in support of the government policy of allowing “24 hour drinking”, I am not much interested in the policy (other than like so much ‘deregulation’ it has turned out to mean a lot more form filling and other such), but the claim of vast drop in violent crime was obvious nonsense.

If the government had said “contrary to people’s believe that violent crime is rising, it is actually saying much the same” that might well still have been telling lies (as violent crime is, most likely, on the up) but they would have been more likely to be believed.

But to say a “23% drop in violent crime”? They might as well have said a 123%.

Then there was the recent launch of a new navy destroyer – “The most powerful ship built since World War II”… actually it is an extremely expensive (£1 billion pound) grossly under-armed ship (part of the government’s ‘buy European’ policy – a policy exposed by Christopher Booker and Richard North). But why say “most powerful ship built since World War II” – an obvious lie even to people who nothing of Booker or North?

Lastly we had yet more claims of super educated school children “the best ever” – almost needless to say the Universities (hardly strongholds of free market people) reported today that the students they are getting are as ignorant as sin.

What is the reason for all these wild lies?

33 comments to The lies are getting silly

  • Noel Cooper

    Apologies for the pedantry but the type 45 destroyer is arguably the most powerful escort ship produced since World War II. Much of this is down to the inferiority of previous vessels rather than it being a particularly awesome class of ship but credit where it is due. As for being “grossly under-armed” I would like to request some more evidence for that statement, the Aster missile system is well regarded from what I can see, the Singaporeans wouldn’t have shelled out for it otherwise.

  • Much of what passes for journalism these days is simply the rewording of press releases. Those releasing the information know that, at least with the first iteration, the media will not bother to double-check the basic information. Once they have published a dubious claim they will be less likely to counter it later.

    The goal of most modern PR is to get your preferred view of a situation injected into the public discourse and then do any damage control later.

  • Julian Taylor

    I would hazard that we are seeing is the scrabbling by Tony Blair for his place in history in the sure knowledge that his time in office is now drawing to a close. These awful lies peddled to the media reek of his desperation to ensure that his ridiculous kneejerk measures for/against terrorism are “working” or that his core policy of “edukashun, edukashun, edukashun” is seen through and his claim that 50% of all children will receive a university education.

    Someone at Westminster recently commented that Tony Blair is like a character in some 1920’s silent comedy, who is so busy papering over the cracks in the walls that he has forgotten where the door and windows used to be.

  • RAB

    Wow what a long trial period before claiming another ficticious success (like Hunting!).
    How many months has 24 hour drinking been allowed? 6 is it? or even less.
    Most boozers arn’t open any more than they were this time last year, and what the Govt isn’t telling is that contiguous with the introduction, was a 40% rise in police on the street in city centre areas.
    So let’s do the sums. 40% rise in police on the street, 24% decrease in crime. About right for the useless bastards, but nothing to do with the Licencing Act.
    What it has to do with is what every Briton has been crying out for— Police on the streets!
    Over to you Sir Ian.
    As for education, well some of you must have seen the reality prog some time back where our current 15 year old GCSE A/B hopefuls are sent back to a 50’s Grammar school regime.
    First maths test they took, they thought was an old O level paper, and only three out of 40 passed.
    Well it was couched in old fashioned terminology like plus and minus and long division and esoteric stuff they had back then innit! no wonder today’s kids don’t get it — says a Roz at the local education Authority.
    Trouble was that the paper they sat was an ELEVEN PLUS paper!!!!
    Three out of forty of our 15year olds could pass the 11 plus maths exam!!!
    I rest my case.

  • Noel, whilst I think the Type 45 is not a bad bit of kit (though I could think of better ways to spend one billion quid) I cannot see how it is truthfully more “powerful” than a late batch II Arleigh Burke with 90 VLS missiles that can be configured for pretty much any mission. In truth the Type 45’s anti-ship capabilities are only “virtual” (i.e. will only be fitted after whatever crisis causes it to be needed).

  • Noel Cooper

    I take your point, I thought it was only R.N ships that were being considered but can see how the government hyperbole suggests otherwise. If it’s a worldwide choice I would go for the Kirov class……..

    On your other point, the R.N appears to be concentrating anti-ship capability in the type 23 frigate so I’m not sure it’s lack in the type 45 is such a major issue.

  • The Last Toryboy

    The Aster missile system is well regarded, ineed, however it is the Type 45s sole armament pretty much.

    It has no ASROCs and no torpedoes, so if a submarine comes prowling its f*cked. Anti ship armament consists of 8 Harpoons, which is pretty pathetic by modern standards. No Tomahawks make it worthless against land targets.

    All this can be dug out easily just using Wikipedia, compare it to an Arleigh Burke class destroyer and just compare the armament.

    While a highly effective antiaircraft escort ship its not multirole by any stretch, and as we have a smallish navy nowadays we likely can’t afford one function warships.

  • Anti ship armament consists of 8 Harpoons, which is pretty pathetic by modern standards.

    Ah no… Provision for Harpoon. At the moment they will have exactly zero Harpoons. They will not actually be fitted until a few months after crisis x comes along and they are needed for real.

    How about “the Type 45 could be the most powerful BRITISH warship since WWII if it was actually fitted with all the weapons it has been designed to have”. Better? I think Paul does have a point.

  • Noel Cooper

    It has no ASROCs and no torpedoes

    It’s a fleet air defence destroyer designed to protect aircraft carriers, not an ASW ship, that’s why the navy has type 23 frigates, ASW helicopters and a comparatively large submarine fleet. The R.N has determined it will operate on a fleet basis with specialised ships which can form a highly effective combined force. Such a strategy can give better value for money as you are not duplicating sophisticated weaponry on multi-role ships. It’s a different strategy to other navies but not necessarily worse. As such making out that a ship is weak because it can’t do what it isn’t designed to do seems like a points scoring exercise.

  • Noel Cooper

    Ah no… Provision for Harpoon. At the moment they will have exactly zero Harpoons

    I’m sorry to bang on but we have a dozen type 23 frigates with 2 quad harpoon launchers on each plus half a dozen trafalgar class boats equipped with harpoons and tomahawks. Whether or not our air defence destroyers are equipped with an anti ship capability is not a major issue. This seems to me finding fault where there is none for alterior motives, otherwise I wouldn’t be ranting on about it so much……..

  • Julian Morrison

    When someone’s lying, ask who they’re trying to convince. Often enough, that would be themselves.

    Living in la-la land seems to be a consistent characteristic of socialism. “Thanks to Comrade Stalin, the five year plan for production of tractors has been an unqualified success!”

  • Julian Morrison

    “HMS Blogger: we’ve got your embedded journalism right here! You may have the guns, but we pwn your fire control computer.”

  • Noel, I own no dog in this fight, but the statement was “this is the most powerfull ship since WWII” and a slick SAM system doth not “the most powerful ship” make.

    One billion quid for a highly specialised cruiser (and it is a cruiser) does seem a tad excessive. And if it is just an anti-air picket ship, why the gun? Truth is they know full well that it will be used as a multi-role warship in restricted waters where that SAM system (though last time I looked, it did not actually have Goalkeeper or Phalanx actually fitted either) will be very nice when some mullah’s lads launch an exocet at it off the back of a truck in the straits of Hormuz. But it does not yet have the weapons it will need to be “the most powerful warship since WWII”.

  • What “launch” of a ship was that then ?

    The hull which slid off the slipway does not yet even have any engines fitted, let alone weapons systems.

    It will be at least another 3 years before it has finished its sea trials.

  • Julian Taylor

    Geoff Hoon removed the Mauser BK27mm cannon from the new RAF Typhoon fighter on ‘cost-cutting’ grounds. Of course BAe Systems then got blamed for this by Labour when it was discovered that one truly effective way of bringing down an Al Queda-hijacked 747 at close quarters is to rake its engines with cannon fire.

  • rosignol

    It’s a fleet air defence destroyer designed to protect aircraft carriers, not an ASW ship, [...]

    I hope nobody in the UK expects the other side to respect your sportsmanship and refrain from going after your ship with submarines.

  • No, Noel makes the correct point that the Type 45 is designed to be part of a taskforce and other assets would be used for ASW. ASW in particular is a job best left to specialists.

    As I said before, the Type 45 is a very impressive bit of kit and it they actually allocated the funds to equip it “as designed”, it would be world class.

  • llamas

    rosignol wrote:

    ‘It’s a fleet air defence destroyer designed to protect aircraft carriers, not an ASW ship, [...]

    I hope nobody in the UK expects the other side to respect your sportsmanship and refrain from going after your ship with submarines. ‘

    and I laughed so hard that stuff came out of my nose.

    Indeed, when some shoeless jackanapes looses off an anti-ship missile (purchased under the table in a former Soviet republic) from a sandy berm along the Straits of Hormuz, or from DwarsInDeWeg Island, I hope that the installation plans for the anti-missile kit are thick enough to stop it. And so forth.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Noel Cooper

    I hope that the installation plans for the anti-missile kit are thick enough to stop it. And so forth.

    The Aster missile system can take out exocets and other anti-ship missiles at the drop of a hat so I’m not sure what your point is.

  • llamas

    Noel Cooper wrote:

    ‘ hope that the installation plans for the anti-missile kit are thick enough to stop it. And so forth.

    The Aster missile system can take out exocets and other anti-ship missiles at the drop of a hat so I’m not sure what your point is.’

    Indeed. But the Aster missile system (never tested in combat) is all it has. And the Aster is one of those wonderful weapons systems that can do everything – long-range, short-range, ship defence, zone defence, and make a nice hot cup of tea with two sugars. Anything that can do so many things at all is virtually certain not to do any of them exceptionally well.

    After reading about this wonder-ship and its specifications, I’m pretty sure that it’s another product of a business-planning-based, systems-engineering model – designed to a specification based on relative risk analyses, cost-effectivity models and all the other tools of business planning. But war is not like that, and the enemy is virtually certain, not to do, whatever it is that you think he is most-likely to do.

    The basis for my thinking is Edwin Luttwak’s book ‘The Pentagon and the Art of War’, published in the 1980s but as relevant now as it was then. Any single-weapon system is inherently weak, and business-like considerations about commonality, cost-effectivity and all the rest of it, only weaken it further. What works are muti-layer systems, preferably using a wide range of different techniques, which provide gloriously-inefficient and wonderfully-wasteful overlapping layers of defence – or offence.

    The US military has started to learn this lesson, and is being gradually weaned away from its one-plane, one-ship, one-rifle, one-size-fits-all mentality, which was born of the 1960’s influence of Robert McNamara and his ‘whiz-kids’. They thought that war could be seen in business terms, and it cannot.

    JMHO, your mileage may vary.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Aster does appear to “do exactly what it says on the tin” and that is why as a picket ship strictly tasked with anti-air/anti-missile, the Type 45 will probably do rather well in a fleet defence posture, particularly as its low signature design makes it quite a hard target to “do a Sheffield” on.

    But the fact the close-in point defence guns are not going to be fitted right from the start is pure madness because, as llamas quite correctly points out, the more modes and systems you can put between yourself and the incoming ‘vampire’, the better. Type 45 has some rather good EW defences and some other innovations that even the USN has not fielded yet but a sky full of cannon rounds is both less susceptible to ECCM and is the perfect solution to a leaker or unexpected close range missile launch (by NO MEANS an implausible scenario in the Gulf).

    But you may rest assured that the Type 45 will not just serve as a picket ship and that is why they really do need to fit and work up all the other ‘designed’ systems and not make daft claims of amazing powerfulness until they do. Launching your own surface-to-surface attack rather just relying on airpower in what are often highly time sensitive situations is a capability not superfluous even for a ‘fleet escort’ out on the edge of a carrier group (why else do you think the capability was even included in the design specification?) So if that is the case, actually FIT THE BLOODY SYSTEM!

    Bolting sophisticated weapons on when things are already going pear-shaped and the shooting has already started (a time honoured tradition in the cash-strapped RN, I assure you) just means nothing works quite right just at the time when lives depend on everything working as intended.

  • Julian Taylor

    Well, since the Aster is made by a division of the same company that makes the Exocet missile system I sure as hell hope that MBDA would make sure they can shoot down their own missiles.

  • llamas

    For some reason, this story reminds me of a wonderful anecdote – probably apocryphal – about the application of business-analysis methods to war.

    During WW2, the British did some suprisingly-successful applications of non-traditional methods to the art of war-fighting. Naturally, since it worked well, they looked to see whether there were advantages in wider arenas.

    One thing they did was to plot the location and nature of damage to the returning bombers. Although they could not know all about all of the defence mechanisms being used againt them, they felt that they could statistically analyse the results, and from that, determine the best and most cost-effective countermeasures – where to put the least-amount of armour to get the most-amount of protection, and so forth.

    Until some bright young spark in the back of the room piped up and said “er – gentlemen – should we not be considering that we’re looking only at the data on the ones that made it home?

    To quote directly from Edwin Luttwak’s book mentioned above:

    ‘If we are ever to improve the relationship between the dollars we spend and (what) we actually get, ways must be found to elevate strategy and all of the other intangibles above the book-keepers’ ideas of what is important’.

    llater,

    llamas

  • rosignol

    The Aster missile system can take out exocets and other anti-ship missiles at the drop of a hat so I’m not sure what your point is.

    At absolute most, it’ll take out the first forty-eight.

    The question you need to consider is “If someone seriously means to sink a Type 45 (or, more likely, what that Type 45 is protecting), how many shots are they going to take?”

  • Midwesterner

    Aster is made by a division of the same company that makes the Exocet missile system I sure as hell hope that MBDA would make sure they can shoot down their own missiles.

    Couldn’t one as well switch the systems and say the same thing?

  • Julian Taylor

    Midwesterner,

    With France’s somewhat odd view of international alliances (USA supplied the UK with AIM-9 Sidewinders during the Falklands War ergo sum the French saw no problem in supplying our enemy with improved versions of the Exocet) it would not surprise me in the least to learn that they have some kind of security code for defeating the Aster counter-missile systems.

  • John K

    The Type 45 seems to be a decent enough anti-air warfare destroyer (if the PAAMS missile and associated radar works as advertised). However, it is a limited ship. It has no close in weapon system such as Goalkeeper to provide close anti-missile defence; it has no anti-ship missiles; no land attack missiles; no anti-submarine torpedoes. It does have a helicopter, and a 4.5 inch gun, but so did the Amazon class of simple frigates launched 30 years back.

    What we are seeing here is our old friend spin in action. NuLab wanted to emphasise that they are supporting defence, so they are hardly going to mention that a 12 ship class of destroyers is going to end up as a 6 ship class, that they are extremely underarmed for their size, and that they are about 5 years late. Much better to issue some bullshit about them being the most powerful warships for 50 years, and let the ignorant hacks do the rest. So long as the Navy does not get into a shooting war there’s no problem, and if it does, the spin doctors won’t be on board. Win win!

  • Midwesterner

    Julian Taylor,

    I’ve wondered about that. I don’t know much about defense technology, what do you think the odds are that opposable systems from the same manufactorer have ‘pecking order’ codes in them as shipped to various countries? ie If an Argentine anysystem went up against a British opponant system in combat, the British equipment would have been issued a higher priority code?

    Is this plausible?

  • DJINAZ

    Leme get this straight, A guy…busting the chops of the Gov. and certain press co’s …….winging about this and that. Not one iota of fact and detail spewing forth from said winger about the theoretical deficiancies claimed by self proclaimed pro’s?……………mmmmm?….sounds like the state of the last century or the leftist world to me.

  • Steven Den Beste

    Midwesterner, it’s more than plausible, it’s public policy. American F-16’s are sold to a lot of nations, but most of them get degraded versions with less capable avionics. They know it, too; it’s stated policy up front. The same is true for a lot of other kinds of weapons sales to countries that are less than sterling allies.

    So far as I know, when the US and UK sell to each other, it’s top-of-the-line equipment with no deliberate degradation. The Brits buy Tomahawks and Sidewinders from us, for instance, and they get the same missiles our own people fire.

    When I read “most powerful ship”, I found myself comparing this purported super-destroyer to a Nimitz class carrier and to an Ohio-class boomer, and it comes up way short. IIRC, the RN has a couple of Trident subs loaded with ICBMs, which would mean these destroyers aren’t even remotely the most powerful ships in the RN.

    As for them being dedicated defense systems for carriers, what carriers?

    The current three are nearing end of life and are to be retired soon. Originally the two new ones were supposed to be building now, and were going to be reasonable ships — about 40,000 tons, carrying about 40 joint strike fighters. But the plans have been changing, and last I heard there was only going to be one, and it was going to be built in a shipyard in France, and it was going to carry some variant of the Euro-fighter.

    And no one seems to know exactly when it’s going to be launched. At least five years from now, but maybe as much as ten.

    So there’s every reason to believe that for a few years the RN won’t have any working carriers at all. So here’s today’s quiz: what’s the value of a carrier-defense ship in a navy which has no carriers?

  • Steven Den Beste

    Sorry, a clarification: It’s not the case that there are “pecking order codes” as such. It’s rather that the systems sold to countries like Egypt and Argentina have reduced performance. But they still work.

  • Noel Cooper

    But the plans have been changing, and last I heard there was only going to be one, and it was going to be built in a shipyard in France

    There are going to be two, around 60,000 tonnes each and built in the UK. There may be confusion as we have sold the design to France who are planning to build one of their own (in France naturally) and equip it with CTOL aircraft. You are right about the delays and it may be 8-10 years before the UK carriers are finished, however most of the type 45 fleet will not commission until around 2012 (and will probably be delayed too) so there won’t be any carrier defence ships without carriers for very long.

  • Paul Marks

    Just to go through things again.

    The destroyer is an underarmed and overpriced ship (part of a “buy European” scandal that Christopher Booker exposed, yet again, in the Sunday Telegrah yesterday – indeed the Booker half page is the only thing worth reading in the Sunday Telegraph).

    As for the “most powerful ship built in Britian since WWII” – well the others must have been really crap then.

    Dr Richard North wrote a pamphlet (Centre for Policy Studies – at least I seem to have dim memory that was the publisher) explaining the current nonsense in defence.

    I do not have a link to type – but both Booker and North can be reached (just type either name into a search engine).

    A 23% fall in “serious violent crime” – pull the other one it has got bells on (how anyone can fall for this one is beyond me).

    “Best results ever” (said every year). Students now well rounded individuals – supposdely “well rounded” does not mean that they are fat, it means that they have a proper underdstanding of various subjects and how these subjects interconnect.

    The trouble is (as the Universities pointed out last week), it is not true.

    Students have less understanding than students used to have.

    What happens (and I am typing this from a staff room in a school) is that the teachers have to coach the students (what were once called pupils) to pass the examinations – and modern examinations are about trotting out certain key points.

    No doubt there was always a bit of this, but “A” levels (i.e. the examinations that English and Welsh students sit at, normally, the age of 18 – to see if they are fit to go to University) today have been transformed so that understanding of a subject is not needed to pass (indeed, in some subjects, a good level of knowledge can actually be a DISADVANTAGE in the examination).

    The above all sounds like the ravings of a grim minded middle aged man. Well I am a grim minded middle aged man – but, sadly, the above is not made up of ravings (things really are as I have stated).

    Finally I still do not think that the government’s policy of wild lies is sensible. I think a policy of telling lies that are closer to the truth would do them more good in terms of being believed.

    Of course there was a time when the newspapers would expose blatent lying by a government with great glee. But most journalists do not seem to bother any more – it is an attitude of “of course government people tell lie after lie, but it is not worth making an effort to find out the truth”.