Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weather or not

One of the things that has always mystified me about government (and believe you me it's a hell of a long list) is why the Met Office is part of the Ministry for Defence. Now in the far past I could see a point for some control to be levied on giving away just what the weather expectations might be for the country if we were likely to be invaded or bombed from the air. The Met Office themselves played a crucial role in the D-Day landings by predicting the weather lull between storms that allowed the landings to go ahead.
However in peacetime? With satellite technology too? I can't see any need for weather forecasting to be under the aegis of the civil service.

Apparently the Tories have similar thoughts.
A Conservative government would consider privatising the Met Office, shadow defence secretary Liam Fox has suggested to the BBC.
The Tories are committed to reducing Ministry of Defence costs by a quarter and this could include selling assets such as the Met Office.
Mr Fox told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show there was a "very strong case" for looking at offloading MoD assets.
He disputed suggestions that 22,000 MoD jobs could go as costs are cut.
Mr Fox said the Conservatives' policy had to be "about giving things to the front line", adding: "We can't afford to have 16% of the whole civil service in the MoD."
The Conservatives have asked civil servants to draw up plans to cut MoD costs by 25% without reducing front-line troops.
Now this is fine in so far as it goes, though I doubt it goes far enough, unless they sort out the perennial equipment shortages and manpower problems too. Labours rebuff is as predictable as it is inane.
But Labour ministers have accused the Conservatives of undermining the morale of troops in Afghanistan by raising questions about funding.
Now I doubt troop morale is going to be affected by losing civil servants, hell some of the troops would probably volunteer to shoot them personally. Especially as the Tories have said that front-line troops will be spared any cuts (yes I know the caveat about trusting politicians)
So, is this a smart move, in all likelihood yes.

Still doesn't mean I'm going to vote for them though, not unless I'm promised a referendum on the EU.

2 annotations:

John M Ward said...

Yes, you are correct. It is a historic situation and is njow anachronistic — but, as we both know, the mandarins will try to keep control of it, which they can more readily achieve within a government department.

It will be a real battle to split this anachronistic relationship in a sell-off of the Met Office— but it needs to be done.

James Higham said...

Either a referendum or a drastic renegotiation of the terms.