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.



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).

Chuka who chucked ChUK chuckles and swallows the bird

The great Chuka Umunna national tour of politics continues. Labour – TIGgers – ChUKers – RA – New TIG – now playing in the Liberal Democrats, and each gig less successful than the last. We have to ask: where will his tour take him next, and isn’t it time to hang up his guitar and retire?

Fresh out of Labour he formed a new band, The Independent Group, and within two days killed it stone dead. The dying band renamed itself after him as ChUK – ‘Change UK: keep the status quo’, then Remain Alliance, and even its logo was crossing itself out. After destroying his new party, he created a new TIG, chucking ChUK just s it was taking on yet another name (don’t ask me – it could change again before the weekend is over). The newer band trashed, its a flit to see what he can do to the LibDems.

They took him in, readers – they actually took him in. Vince Cable swallowed the poison and is happy with it. The Chuka ex-ChUk Chuckle Brothers are grinning like Cheshire cats in publicity photos.

He is just in time to enter the contest for the LibDem leadership, but he is out of luck: under the current party rules he is ineligibility as he is not called Jo Swinson.

When the LibDems crash and burn and he looks for another stop on his nationwide tour, will he come for the Conservatives? Could he be diverted to the SNP?

Ten new Constituencies now under offer

Ten Constituencies now under offer: prime seats for the discerning would-be statesman.  Aberconwy, Rushcliffe, Huntingdon, Putney, Beaconsfield, East Surrey, Bracknell, West Dorset, Eddisbury and Meriden. All have become available just this week, due to an unfortunate outbreak of Brexit Derangement Syndrome.

These add to our existing range, still available in South Cambridgeshire, Broxtowe and Totnes.

This is an exceptional range of parliamentary opportunities for ambitious customers.  The current holders remain in occupation until the next election but then the way is open for any actual Conservative willing to take the seat on.

This portfolio covers much sought-after locations mainly in the Midlands and eastern Berkshire but with opportunities as far afield as the Devon Riviera, rural Surrey and Dorset:  just the sort of places to take your family, apart from Putney. All enquiries to the local Conservative Associations .