Revealed: why Britain did not reach the Moon first

As the Space Race began, the British Empire still dominated the Earth. Inter-service rivalry stopped the British Moon programme before it started. The Queen would be Queen of the Moon had rivalries between the services not sunk the whole programme before it took off.

The roar of a rocket from the Woomera Range could have begun a golden era leading swiftly to British voices being heard in orbit and eventually on the Moon. The first words of a man stepping out of a capsule on the Moon would not have been Neil Armstrong’s famous One Small Step, but “No – after you!”

Who was to control the space programme though?  The Royal Navy as the senior service naturally spoke first and insisted that these space ships are vessels for navigation and so naturally fall within the purview of the Navy, and would fly the white ensign.  The Royal Air Force objected however that rockets fly and therefore must be a matter for the RAF, under the RAF ensign.  The Army then weighed in with irresistible force as is their wont, to point out that rockets fall within the Army’s remit, and furthermore that the aim of the programme was for a man to land on and occupy the Moon, which could only be the Army. The Navy suggested a compromise that the Navy should sail the rocket but the Royal Marines could land. No agreement could be found.

Each service had its friends in Parliament and friends in the nooks and crannies of Whitehall; everyone who had served in the War in one service or another or whose son or father did, and the battle raged in forthright memos and boozy lunches eaten in dark corners wearing regimental ties.  On it went, and up went Yuri Gagarin while they still argued.  They were still at it when an American man, Neil Armstrong, stood on the Moon on 20 July 1969.

Armstrong was of a Cumberland family, not a good family but a most notorious reiver clan. Had he followed family tradition, then at once he had captured the Moon he would have driven it off before the Lord Warden’s men arrived, but this scion of the Borders was a thoroughly dutiful American.

The race, for Britain, was lost.

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Fiction:

The doctor and the silent usurpers

Something struck me about the latest jeremiad for free speech.  The Archbishop Cranmer blog does an excellent job recounting the persecution of those who are open about their Christian beliefs, and I know it is difficult to say “persecution” when elsewhere in the world that word takes on its full horror, but in the genteel malevolence of the woke class there is a relentless attack which is aimed squarely at driving dissentient voices out of public life and Christians in particular.

Still, there was something that struck home in today’s post, “If a Christian doctor can be forced to deny biology, there is no hope for theology”.

– but also an opportunity to strike to resist

It was not the involvement of the egregious Piers Morgan – anyone who appears on his show must expect to be shouted at and insulted as that is his only approach. No, it is the ability to locate the enemy position.

In brief, Dr David Mackereth worked as a benefits assessor in the Department for Work and Pensions, and in the course of his employment he was required to attend a diversity training course.  Most of us in the course even of a long career have no occasion to encounter these courses but somehow Government departments have been persuaded that they are a requirement.  On the course the trainer asked Dr Mackereth ‘If you have a man, 6ft tall with a beard, who says he wants to be addressed as “she” and “Mrs”, would you do that?’, and he replied in all honesty “No”.  We has sacked at once. He had not actually encountered a six-foot bearded man insisting on being called ‘Miss’, but the hypothetical approach was a sacking offence.  Never mind that Dr Mackereth is a doctor who presumably knows more about biology that the whole DWP personnel department put together.

There is no Act of Parliament that refuses employment to those who disagree with a set of doctrinal formulae, not since the repeal of the Test Acts in 1828. Someone though is exercising power over the livelihoods of a great many men and women as if they had authority to impose such a statute.

Dr Mackereth’s case may be a rare example someone in a position to find out who is exercising the power. The diversity trainer exercised this pretended power, except that she or he did not effect the sacking as her formal authority does not go that far.  Presumably she, or he reported the incident to a diversity officer, who used his or her influence.  The personnel department actually issued the dismissal – either they agreed with the diversity officer or they were terrified of her: we ought to know.  We can be pretty sure that such actions were not authorised by the Secretary of State, notwithstanding that he takes ultimate responsibility for his department.

It has got more murky though:  first the Department seem to be saying that he was not sacked at all and simply disappeared from work, while in the middle is an agency, also being sued for discrimination.  Getting any truth out of these cases is well nigh impossible, it seems.  Somewhere though, in some corner there are names, names of those forcing their own opinions into the powers of the state, and someone with less integrity or intelligence than an experienced, Christian doctor.

Therefore who is in the frame: a diversity trainer and a diversity officer, a terrified agency clerk, but terrified of whom?  It would be useful to hear their testimony.  The personnel department too:  did they make a decision, or do what they were told and by whom? Names are needed: names.

Next: if this goes to court someone will have to advise the Government legal service to pursue it, when they could easy say “Our mistake, welcome back, Doctor.” so who makes that decision?

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Treason, stupidity, recklessness or hypocrisy?

Or possibly all four.  Is there any evidence from signal intercepts that any members of Parliament have been taking instructions from a foreign power, whether the European Commission or a member state government?  Is there any evidence of paid collusion?  Voluntary collusion might be even worse.

There a more dangerous possibility, which I sincerely hope is untrue, but it is becoming an unavoidable conclusion.

Out across the Channel, the European negotiators are laughing.  With little effort from themselves, the British establishment appears to have torn itself apart, and even if it is a minority of the Conservative Party trying to stop Brexit, that is enough when allied with the Liberal Democrats openly trying to stop it and Labour just voting down anything Tory.  They can foresee a reversal, and end to Brexit, and a chance to swallow Britain into ever-closer union.  The actions of Parliamentarians must be seen in that light, and their logic judged by it, and this is where the worry surfaces.

Today, anti-Brexit MPs and those claiming to oppose only a no-deal outcome combined with Labour apparently to prevent a prorogation or suspension of Parliament, and with a view to forcing through emergency legislation to block Brexit from happening without a deal – but since the House has always voted against the deal put before it, that it essentially to block Brexit entirely. This evening it was revealed that leading anti-Brexit MPs are even planning to have the Commons order the Queen to bypass her own Government and ask for a Brexit extension, or cancellation, in person. That is astounding.

These Remainiac plans could not succeed, but they give a message to the European Commission to play hardball:  they will give no concession, because if they present an unacceptable deal they will not face the cliff-edge but the Commons will delay and possibly cancel Brexit.  If those playing games in the Commons were to belt up and leave the Government to it, the Commission would probably crumble at the last minutes, but now they need not.  They can be very few, if any, instances in history, of a powerful faction in the House of Commons actively conspiring with a foreign power to undermine the British Government and harm British interests; at least not since the Civil War.

The extreme rebels, with Grieve and Gyimah and Bebb and others, have at every step said that they oppose no-deal but at every step have voted for no deal and have at every step made no deal more likely.

This then brings me to the horrible conclusion. The reports from the Commons are that the Tory rebels believe that Boris Johnson actually wants a no-deal outcome. There is no way any sane man could come to that conclusion. In this Brexit debate though, sanity has been driven out of the window: ‘Brexit Derangement Syndrome is real.  I have to conclude, painfully, that members of the House of Commons once respected have lost their sanity.

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The Leadership election falls asleep again

The exciting news from the Liberal Democrat Leadership election is non-existent. Two candidates, head to head – Jo Swinson; Ed Davey, neither capable of finding more than two letters in their name nor finding more than one policy, nor any coherent reason for that policy.

Jo – Glasgow-born but sensible enough to have moved to Dumbarton, the one candidate honest enough to proclaim that a try-again vote was a fringe idea, but still supporting it. Ed – Nottingham-born and fled to Suburbiton, the one sensible enough not to mention a cry-again vote in his pitch.

Head to head, pitching identical platforms, defying that popular prejudice that holds that liberals have imagination – who will be chosen – who can tell when the voting membership are as mad as a box of frogs? Who indeed could care less?

In July, just as Boris is moving into Number 10, we find out which two-letter faces him across the Chamber, unknown until this moment, and unknown ever to remain. – Jo or (well actually it will be Jo).

Military coup in Westminster

The Civil War of King and Parliament is much in vogue today. It is not appreciated how at every stage the rebels in Parliament were staring at failure and how remarkable was their eventual, bloody success.  A parliament is a poor method of decision-making and at many points it should have failed.  Even the original Remonstrance of 1642 complaining, quite justly, of the corruption of the King’s ministers passed only by dishonesty and circumstance – so those far more radical resolutions made war on the King are all the more remarkable.

The recent BBC4 series Charles I: Downfall of a King, portrayed very well the tumble towards Civil War, but the events which followed were not inevitable.

In 1648, the war was over and the King was captive on the Isle of Wight in Hampshire, and commissioners were sent to negotiate with him.  Here was the danger for the radicals: there had possibly never been a majority in the Commons for the war, and certainly none in the Lords, and whatever the King proposed might achieve a vote in favour. The Commons would never have voted to try and to execute the King. The war was begun by and fought in the name of the House of Commons, but by the end, Parliament was powerless: the real power lay in the New Model Army, who were too steeped in blood to see all they fought for handed away.

The most learned commentator at the time the war raged was Thomas Hobbes himself in his classic work Behemoth:

But Cromwell marched on to Edinburgh, and there, by the help of the faction which was contrary to Hamilton’s, he made sure not to be hindered in his designs; the first whereof was to take away the King’s life by the hand of the Parliament.

Whilst these things passed in the north, the Parliament, Cromwell being away, came to itself, and recalling their vote of non-addresses, sent to the King new propositions, somewhat, but not much, easier than formerly. And upon the King’s answer to them, they sent commissioners to treat with him at Newport in the Isle of Wight; where they so long dodged with him about trifles, that Cromwell was come to London before they had done, to the King’s destruction. For the army was now wholly at the devotion of Cromwell, who set the adjutators on work again to make a remonstrance to the House of Commons, wherein they require:

1. That the King be brought to justice;

2. That the Prince and the Duke of York be summoned to appear at a day appointed, and proceeded with, according as they should give satisfaction;

3. That the Parliament settle the peace and future government, and set a reasonable period to their own sitting, and make certain future Parliaments annual or biennial;

4. That a competent number of the King’s chief instruments be executed.

And this to be done both by the House of Commons and by a general agreement of the people testified by their subscriptions. Nor did they stay for an answer, but presently set a guard of soldiers at the Parliament-house door, and other soldiers in Westminster Hall, suffering none to go into the House but such as would serve their turns. All others were frighted away, or made prisoners, and some upon divers quarrels suspended; above ninety of them, because they had refused to vote against the Scots; and others, because they had voted against the vote of non-addresses; and the rest were a House for Cromwell.

The fanatics also in the city being countenanced by the army, pack a new common-council, whereof any forty was to be above the mayor; and their first work was to frame a petition for justice against the King, which Tichborne, the mayor, involving the city in the regicide, delivered to the Parliament.

At the same time, with the like violence, they took the King from Newport in the Isle of Wight, to Hurst Castle, till things were ready for his trial.

Hobbes does not name Captain Pride, attributing to Oliver Cromwell the authorship of this military coup, but it was Pride who entered the Commons and expelled from Parliament those who would not serve the Army’s intentions, hence the name “Pride’s Purge”.

The rump of members we call “the Rump Parliament”.  Hobbes continues to describe the Rump’s next actions:

The ordinance being drawn up was brought into the House, where after three several readings it was voted, “that the Lords and Commons of England, assembled in Parliament, do declare, that by the fundamental laws of the realm, it is treason in the King of England to levy war against the Parliament.” And this vote was sent up to the Lords; and they denying their consent, the Commons in anger made another vote; “That all members of committees should proceed and act in any ordinance, whether the Lords concurred or no; and that the people, under God, are the original of all just power; and that the House of Commons have the supreme power of the nation; and that whatsoever the House of Commons enacteth, is law.”

All this passed nemine contradicente.

Pride’s Purge, the army’s exclusion by force of members of Parliament to hand power to those favoured by the army, is the only military coup in English history. This is coup is celebrated by fashionable commentators of our day. Heaven help us all, as they have actual power, through their own, silent coup.

“They had, in their anger against the Lords, formerly declared the supreme power of the nation to be in the House of Commons; and now, on February the 5th, they vote the House of Lords to be useless and dangerous. And thus the kingdom is turned into a democracy, or rather an oligarchy; for presently they made an act, that none of those members, who were secluded for opposing the vote of non-addresses, should ever be re-admitted. And these were commonly called the secluded members; and the rest were by some styled a Parliament, and by others the Rump.

I think you need not now have a catalogue, either of the vices, or of the crimes, or of the follies of the greatest part of them that composed the Long Parliament; than which greater cannot be in the world.”

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