Kevan Jones, a junior defence minister, said the decision, “is not intended to humiliate anyone. It is about getting value for money”.Of course it isn't about humiliation Kevan, Mrs Rigby is sure the thought never crossed your mind when you told Generals (***see P.S.) they must use 2nd Class rail travel.
For this cost-cutting, money-saving, financial exercise to be truly worthwhile there must be loads of Generals, there must be many, many, more Generals than MPs (some of whom who buy themselves fripperies out of the public purse) and there must be many more Generals than there are pen-pushers at either the MoD or the Met Office which, as you will remember, is funded by MoD and CAA, and there must be more Generals than there are top civil servants or Police Officers whose chauffeur-driven cars are funded by the taxpayer.
According to this site there are
now 65 generals in the Army, with 43 major-generals, 17 lieutenant-generals and five four-star generalsMrs Rigby can't confirm those numbers, but she notes this chart which says that, as of 1st January 2010, there were
OF-6 TO OF-10 (NATO equivalent from Brigadier through to Field Marshal and equal ranks in Navy and Air Force)Are Kevan Jones and his chums at the MoD trying to say that the solution to Britain's financial woes rests on the shoulders of around 120 individuals from only one branch of the armed forces?
Army = 120
Navy = 240
Air Force= 120
Total = 490 (total)
You see, Mrs R also noticed that officers of equivalent rank in the Navy and Air Force do not seem to be expected to make similar economies.(***see P.S.) So - in the same way that UOTC and Army Cadets suffered funding cuts whilst URNU and Sea Cadets (Navy) and UAS and Air Cadets (Air Force) were left unscathed - this is a highly selective ruling.
It's hard to understand why this is happening, and it's hard to understand how it is allowed to happen in these equality driven, equal-opportunity, times - but it is.
It's even harder to understand why the current government continues to expect our soldiers to risk their lives overseas when it so clearly despises the Army. It despises the Army so much that our Prime Minister was willing to lie to both the Chilcot Inquiry and Parliament about levels of funding. It despises them so much that it tried to keep the outcomes of military inquests secret, and it's now trying to humiliate military top brass by making them use 2nd Class rail travel.
The hatred felt by these powerful individuals must go very deep for them to put so much effort into such pettily, vindictive, rulings.
It won't work though.
The Generals didn't get to be Generals by being yes-men or women. They got to be Generals by passing exams and proving themselves worthy of the rank, and, right at the beginning of their military careers, not long after growing out of their short trousers, each and every one of these Generals will have passed through the tough initial training at Sandhurst. If their training and subsequent military service didn't break them, then travelling in a cramped railway carriage isn't likely to either. They'll just smile and start chatting to their fellow passengers - who could even be ex-squaddies - it'll be like water off a duck's back.
None of these Generals will be seeking counselling as a result of their transport hardships - after all, Britain's overcrowded trains are still probably more comfortable than a tank, helicopter or personnel carrier.
And that, you see, is something this government can't understand. It can't understand people who aren't cry-babies. It can't understand people who grin and bear it. It can't understand people who aren't dependent on them, and it can't understand people who follow rules without flinching, even though it might mean they die.
This government, you see, values hurt feelings much more than hurt bodies - and legislates accordingly. It puts more man hours and legislative muscle behind protecting 'us' from the imaginary effects of a single particle of third-hand tobacco smoke than ensuring our soldiers are protected from bullets and bombs.
So, government is going to have to work out yet another wheeze, it's going to have to try another way of attacking the Army and it'll be interesting to see what it will be.
Imagine all those civil servants having meetings and discussing ways to 'break' the Army. That thought should, at least, raise a smile on a damp Sunday in March 2010.
They really haven't a clue, have they?
P.S. @ 20:15 hrs
Times article now says
"admirals, generals and air chief marshals to travel second class to help cut costs.So this policy is not limited to the Army, as previous cost cutting initiatives have been, which meant that this government has decided to try to demean the armed forces as a whole - all of them, all at once.
All armed forces personnel must now sit in standard class on trains and planes, whatever their rank, under a new rule that has provoked anger across the political parties. "
The one who thought that one up will probably be elevated to the Lords in superfast time - and whoever it is will probably demand their own chauffeur driven car.