Tom Tugendhat, RAF pilots and China

British Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel train Saudi air force pilots to bomb Yemeni civilians and civilian infrastructure including homes, schools and hospitals.  Their advice is a big earner for the Ministry Of Defence. 

Recently retired RAF personnel work in consultancy roles in Saudi Arabia to the same end of targetting civilians in Yemen; they are paid very well for their assistance.  They use skills acquired in RAF; all their training and experience was funded by the British public.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat is wholly and consistently supportive of publicly-funded British air force personnel (ex- or current) working for Saudi government to perpetuate genocide of Yemeni people.

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Remains of a funeral home in Sanaa, Yemen, targetted by Saudi air force with RAF assistance

Last week (18th October 2022) he had an article published in Murdoch’s Sun newspaper wherein he claimed he was responding to unverified reports that ex-RAF personnel were offered a quarter of a million pounds each to work for the Chinese air force.  It is reasonable to be sceptical of the veracity of the story.  However, whether true or not, Tugenhat’s and his colleague James Heappey’s absurdly phrased responses were a con trick to justify another extremely authoritarian attack on freedom via Tories’ National Security Bill.

In Tugendhat in The Sun he called the Chinese government “rivals [to the UK],” an appellation he repeated several times.  He chose “rivals” rather than “enemies” because he knows the threat to the employers of the Tory government from China is financial not military.  “We [the UK government] need to make sure we’re not teaching anyone skills or providing information that weakens our friends or damages our interests.”  By “our interests” he meant profits for British businesses and those based in “our friends’” countries. 

If countries in Africa, South America and Central America have trade arrangements with China then they are less likely to be victims of international corporations exploiting people and resources, as Heappey explained: “China is a competitor that is threatening the UK interest in many places around the world.”

Tugendhat knew he couldn’t present his argument entirely in a financial setting and so he added an invented comment that China “threatens [UK’s] allies such as Japan.”

His other concern was he felt the Chinese government was hiring the pilots for a much cheaper price than if they had been trained to an equivalent level of piloting expertise in China.  His arithmetic might be correct but, as a keen supporter and participant in free-racketeering economics, surely he should approve of such opportunism.

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Tom Tugendhat smiles as he breaks the law having entered China illegally

National Security Bill, passing through parliament at present (late 2022), is fascism in action.  Framed by Tugendhat as “we are introducing new laws to keep Britain safe,” it is hundreds of clauses placing restrictions on access (to land, businesses, etc.), on inspection (of business activities), on reporting (of defence or business activities), on political opinion (of defence and political persons) and on protests (against, for example, military actions).  All such actions will be criminalised with severe custodial sentences for anyone found guilty.

The snippet below shows how authoritarian the bill is.

A person commits an offence if the person’s conduct involves coercion of any kind, including damaging or threatening to damage another person’s reputation by making a misrepresentation.  A misrepresentation may be made by making a statement or by any other kind of conduct, and may be express or implied.  A misrepresentation may in particular include a misrepresentation as to the [second] person’s purpose.” – Taken from National Security Bill, part I, section 13

Tugendhat’s theatrical response to pilots exercising their free market rights was a piece of propaganda for the bill.  Criminalisation of the right to knowledge, of the right to protest and of the right to express an opinion is a difficult sell.  As a performance he tried to depict a few pilots teaching other pilots how to fly a plane – a Chinese air force plane, not an RAF plane – as a horrendous threat to the UK.  “Some people are trying to exploit them [the pilots] and undermine Britain.  We need to be clear that serving our rivals puts our country at risk.”

His simplistic logic flow, demonstrated below, epitomised the lack of justification of all government policies and the contempt the Tories have for the public’s intelligence.

Civilians with skills or information they learned as researchers or engineers – and even some politicians – are proving attractive to other states who are willing to pay a high price.  That’s making trouble for the future.  Our rivals are learning how to defeat us.  That has got to stop.  We need to think again about the duties we all have.  That is why the Government’s new National Security Bill is so important.”

The story about the pilots is dubious.  If true, it is unlikely the pilots will give useful information to the Chinese government. 

Tugendhat’s little act was partly a reaction to China’s success is replacing UK’s and USA’s financial control around the world and mostly a means of trying to justify the horrendous National Security Bill.

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Tom Tugendhat, RAF pilots and China

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