Friday, May 11, 2007

Column, May 8, 2007

I WONDER whether Churchill had to put up with this sort of thing.
In the midst of the Blitz as he contemplated the desperate battle to save this country from the jackboot did letters of complaint alight on his desk in the bunker.
When RAF aircrew on exercise occasionally ploughed into a hillside losing their own lives and taking several sheep with them, did anyone dare to protest at low flying back then?
The latest calls for an end to low flying over Wales come after a Hawk jet broke up on landing at RAF Mona, forcing the pilot to eject to safety.
This, opponents to low flying claim, is yet more evidence to show that we’re all at risk. Never mind the fact that it wasn’t low flying at the time, it was landing let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good old moan eh?
When did the British public decide that the RAF had enjoyed enough gratitude for saving our necks in the Battle of Britain and we could return to being a nation of whinging NIMBYs every time a jet passes overhead?
When on holiday a couple of weeks ago we were by Lake Windermere one day when the peace was shattered by two Harriers barrelling down the lake. Low? So low you could count the fillings in the pilots’ teeth.
Their sudden appearance was greeted with alarm and then disgruntled murmurs by the other visitors there. Banks junior, however, was dancing up and down shouting at the top of his lungs: “It’s the RAF, it’s the RAF” having been taught by yours truly that while the scream of the jets overhead might be a bit of a shock, the brave men and women who fly them are there to look after us.
Just in case anyone should suggest that my enthusiasm for low-flying jets is a luxury I can afford because I don’t see many of them, let me assure you that my home is slap bang on the flight path of both the RAF and the USAF too, so in the past month or so I’ve had Tornados, Hawks, a solitary Red Arrow, Tomcats and Eagles low enough to rattle the slates, as well as the occasional Hercules and multiple military helicopters too.
The Hawk crash last month was the fourth in nine years in or around Anglesey. Lest we forget, the RAF has seen higher attrition rates than that in living memory and the freedom of people to moan about the RAF was bought with the lives of young men who took to the skies in defence of their country.
If they hadn’t been prepared to make that sacrifice then the outcome of the war would have been very different and the whingers today would be trying to complain about the Luftwaffe, not the RAF, and they wouldn’t get very far doing that now would they?
Plaid Cymru’s Elfyn Llwyd wonders whether, in an era of modern warfare, whether low flying training is necessary any longer.
On balance, if I were a pilot going into battle, I think Mr Llwyd’s words would come as small comfort if I were shot down in flames because I couldn’t fly low, because Plaid Cymru, from the comfort and freedom of Wales had deemed it unnecessary in modern warfare.


THE coverage of the abduction of Madeleine McCann puzzles me a bit.
One can only hope that she is found safe and well (indeed, between the time I write this and it appears in the Daily Post that might well have happened).
But I do wonder that had she been the daughter of a single mum from a sink estate, rather than a GP and a cardiologist, whether the press would have been quite so understanding of the decision to leave her with her two-year-old brother and sister while they went for a meal, albeit checking the children every half hour.
The presumption seems to be that because they are educated, wealthy professional people, their actions are beyond reproach.
“We’ve all done it,” said one commentator of the decision to leave the children.
Well, I beg to differ, most of have not all done it, nor would we.
But remember this the next time some poor, less articulate, mother or father is caught leaving their kids home alone and see how they are hung out to dry.
The media coverage of this sorry story has more than a whiff of hypocrisy about it.

SO the Assembly elections produced not quite the defeat Labour were fearing and not quite the sweeping victory Plaid Cymru hoped for and we get not quite a government as a result.
A coalition beckons which will limp on and how popular it is will, I reckon, depend on how decent a fist of being Prime Minister Gordon Brown makes.
Alec Salmond’s SNP may dream of independence, but with no overall majority and Labour and the Lib Dems opposed, it looks like it will remain a dream.
Here we’re still wedded firmly to the fortunes of England and so we’ll rumble on, tinkering at the edges of being a proper government, but always beholden to whoever is in Number 10.
The Assembly electoral system is such that results like last week’s are more likely than not, which might be what Labour wanted when they set the whole thing up.

1 comment:

oscar said...

thoughtsofoscarb.logspot.com
Any chance of you linking it up?
Ta