NEWS IN BRIEF
14 Aug 08. Labour is facing the prospect of another catastrophic by-election defeat after the death of John MacDougall, the Glenrothes MP, put Gordon Brown’s plans for an autumn fightback in jeopardy. Mr MacDougall died early yesterday aged 60, having suffered from asbestos-related cancer for more than two years. The Prime Minister mourned the loss of a “personal friend” whom he had visited on Monday at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy. But even as tributes were coming in for the popular former leader of Fife Council, the Labour Party was preparing for a fresh crisis, with sources privately admitting it was a “personal tragedy and a political disaster”. Mr Brown has been plotting an autumn recovery plan, which will include a possible Cabinet reshuffle, a morale-boosting speech at the party conference in Manchester and a mini-Budget packed with giveaways. But insiders believe his efforts could be in vain if Labour loses a possible November by-election – and the SNP is 1/4 to win it. Defeat in a previously safe seat neighbouring Mr Brown’s own constituency would almost certainly precipitate a leadership challenge. It would be the third by-election lost by Labour in the past six months, following the shock loss to the SNP in Glasgow East and defeat by the Tories at Crewe and Nantwich. One MP, who did not wish to be named, said: “This could be the most futile recovery plan for Gordon. If he loses the election there is a high chance that he will step down voluntarily.” A senior Scots MP said if Labour lost the seat in the PM’s own backyard, the “game is up”. He went on: “He is going to make a big speech at the Labour conference in September to fight for his political life. If he then goes on to lose Glenrothes, he is stuffed. “If we lose this, Gordon will be the only Labour MP in Fife, which is just untenable. He has a massive test ahead of him, and he cannot afford to fail.” The Prime Minister has been hoping to launch an economic recovery plan at Labour’s autumn conference in September. A reshuffle has also been pencilled in for the autumn. (Source: Scotsman)
Aug 08. More money for CTA? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that BAE Systems has been persuaded by its land Systems segment to put money into the long-running and technically dubious CTA canon Programme. These sources also suggest that one of the reasons could be the added power requirements for the CTA canon in stabilising the trunnion in the MTIP 2 turret. Because the gun has a long overhang, the stabilising system requires constant and high power to keep the gun stabilised on the move and during firing. The current Warrior power system is not man enough to supply this power and requires a costly upgrade which we believe BAE is trying to obtain under a UOR which includes the installation of an air conditioning system. So, even if the MTIP turret works in isolation, the whole Warrior power system will need an upgrade to prevent any more slipring failures, of which we believe there have been two already. BAE Systems has been asked to give an interview on these and the reported ‘wobble’ of the round at 500m due to obturation, but has refused. The question must be asked, when will BAE and the MoD come to the same conclusion as the US GAO and stop pouring money into this doomed project? BATTLESPACE can email subscribers a copy of the GAO Report which gives full details of the problems. BAE has said that the Report is outdated but will not confirm whether the problems encountered in the USA have been fixed. BATTLESPACE understands that a flawed Consultants Report on CTA from a well-known source may be the reason for this continued wish to pour money down this black hole.
13 Aug 08. The Norwegian government has produced a new draft four-year development plan to strengthen the country’s armed forces. Significantly, the plan does not envisage further cuts but is geared toward reinforcing all five branches – Land Forces, Air Force, Navy, bord