Category Archives: Security

Debating shale gas again . . . on the Daily Politics

Amazing. You wouldn’t know that in the whole country, all we have are just 4 exploration wells, only one of which has been partially fracked and all of them have been suspended from activity for over 18 months because of 2 tiny tremors that didn’t break a single teacup. Compare that to the USA where roughly, around 35,000 shale gas wells were drilled in the last 10 years and around 105,000 fracks were made.  So let’s not get ahead of ourselves – we wouldn’t need to do anything like that much.

People seem to be focussed on the making of a shale gas well which can be noisy and disruptive for a few weeks and completely ignorant of the total silence thereafter for up to 40 years while it is producing gas straight to the national gas network. Personally, I’d much rather live next to a shale gas well than a wind turbine !

Nevertheless, nearly everyone is very taken with the potential and the safety issues. And having looked at them closely in this paper for the IoD, I was more than convinced that shale gas is not only safe but an economic, environmental and energy security gain too.

Not everyone’s convinced though (and not just Gazprom and President Putin!) – here is a shot from me debating with Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party on the Daily Politics yesterday on a freezing December afternoon – still on iplayer here about 45 minutes in.



Latest radio interview on ACR and website update coming

Dear all, forgive me for being a bit remiss in updating this website – I have been concentrating my efforts on, and

Anyway, there are some changes coming shortly to because looking at it now, I realise quite a lot of it is out of date and I’m missing a large number of articles that I have written in the recent and distant past.

In the meantime, here is an interview I did at 3 in the morning a few days ago on American Conservative Radio with John Terry – about 40 minutes and despite the early hours, I really enjoyed it.  Both my hosts were very easy to talk to – real pros – and we covered the Euro crisis, shale gas, energy security and renewable costs.

It’s a shame we don’t really have talk radio in Britain – over here it’s all about soundbites, quick questions and answers and then it’s over in 3-4 minutes. So it was doubly nice not to be interrupted, be given time to make a point and think of something else on the hoof to say !

Thanks again to American Conservative Nation for inviting me on to their show. launches today

At last – after many months of difficult development, the Economic Policy Centre , the think tank which I am proud to be Chief Executive of,  is launching today a new ground-breaking platform –

UKCrimeStats is the UK’s only crime ranking platform for neighbourhoods, Police Forces and Streets with maps, analysis and reports – starting with this one here – Decoding the Crime Data Dec 10 to Feb 11.

I don’t know why crime isn’t researched by economists more – it’s so expensive. The last Home Office report in 2000 priced it at £60 billion a year and it’s a safe bet that it’s gone up since then.  At the very least, government should start measuring that cost. How can you start to deal with a problem without knowing the true cost of it?

UK Gas supplies – the pace and focus of change is far from enough

In the last 10 days, we’ve had a surprising amount of news about gas that requires some digestion.

Starting with yesterday’s discovery of shale gas near Blackpool by Cuadrilla Resources – the best news that town has had in a long time.

Then there’s the ongoing cold snap in the UK combined with a long acknowledge inadequate storage capability. As I wrote a year ago in Securing Our Energy Future Chapter 3: Don’t Bet on Gas – The UK Way, Continue reading UK Gas supplies – the pace and focus of change is far from enough

Yes, we need Aircraft Carriers and Trident

In the ideal world, everyone would share and practice our values of Liberal Democracy or at least feel unthreatened by them and in no way want to undermine our freedom. Unfortunately, only perhaps 1 billion people of this planet’s 6.8 billion live under liberal democracy,  a billion more  in India have elective government which is becoming more liberal and the remainder exist under various levels of autocracy.

So that’s why we have a defence budget and why I’m more than happy to picture an aircraft carrier on my home page.

Today Britain finds itself squeezed between Western Europe that has long lost the will to commit troops in scale to defend its own interests and Obama’s America, which has proven itself to be all too flattering to its enemies and at best, unsupportive of even its most stalwart allies.

So I’m very worried at the current spat on defence spending being orchestrated by the Treasury, which looks like a re-run of the outcome of the 1966 White Paper when everyone lost. Back then, the cancellation of the CVA-01 large carrier project eventually led to the invasion of the Falkland lslands by a dictatorship which a less forceful Prime Minister would have done nothing about.

And then of course, the disastrous cancellation of TSR-2, some say on American instruction which hobbled the RAF with sub-standard frontline aircraft for the next generation and a half.

And now the Treasury think they’re very clever by demanding Trident should be paid for out of the Defence budget which will lead to massive cuts elsewhere in the Armed Forces. Perhaps then the Treasury mandarins might share with us the cost-benefit calculation which shows that the UK would be better off succumbing to nuclear blackmail or a mushroom cloud over London?

My guess is they haven’t done one.

A pity because by and large, most of us might think that a weapon against which there is no defence is worth having and solves a problem we will never have to deal with. That, on the face of it, is the priceless value of Trident.

So writing today in the Sunday Telegraph, General Sir Richard Dannatt is mistaken to believe that without the hugely expensive JSFs, the carriers are doomed. As was picked up in the Sunday Times, the Royal Navy could easily switch to the much cheaper Super Hornet which the US Navy has pledged to keep using for at least another 10 years.

There are literally dozens of choices like this that can be made in the procurement budget. And it’s just not credible to suggest that “. . . The answers lie with more and smaller ships, and land-based planes whose range is enhanced by a renegotiated air-to-air refuelling programme“. I know of no future scenario where the RAF has more rather than less friendly bases to operate from. The only serious response to this reality are long-range large aircraft carriers that can work from anywhere.

There’s only one thing more expensive than fighting a war and that’s losing it. Deterrence through strong defence is the cheapest option of them all because it works like an insurance policy and we neither have to fight or lose.