Sunday, 22 June 2014

Thank You and Goodbye

I started this blog in late 2011 as a response to the levels of debate which surrounded many issues impacting on Defence and wider UK security policy. I felt a keen frustration that all too often the debate quickly descended into poor reporting, tired clich├ęs (e.g. more admirals than ships) and a general sense that the UK was a declining nation with good armed forces who were being betrayed by the MOD.

In starting it I wanted to try to address some of these myths, try to put across an alternate viewpoint  and suggest that actually the UK remains a relatively influential nation with capable armed forces and that there is often very logical reasons why things have been done as they are. In other words, I wanted to put across that it is possible to be very positive about Defence in the UK and that there is a remarkably good story to tell. In the intervening two and a half years, nearly 200 articles, over 2600 comments and over 650,000 page hits later, I feel that hopefully some of this has been achieved.

That said, I’ve now reached a point where the decision has been made to close down this blog. There are several reasons why I feel this is the right time to do this: Firstly, from a career perspective, it is increasingly difficult to balance holding down busy jobs as both a civilian and a reservist, and be able to comment objectively here. Recent changes to both commitments mean I don’t think I can continue to be able to post material here without having a conflict of interest in my professional roles. It also fair to say that the next 12 -18 months will see a lot of substantial changes in UK politics which could impact on Defence. The Scottish referendum, the General Election, the next SDSR and so on. There will be intense scrutiny of these debates, and particularly as this site has grown in popularity, the ability to comment discretely goes. There is a danger that in seeking to comment on the story, you run the risk of becoming the story yourself.

There is also the realisation that while there will be developments in Defence; I am often challenged to find new and fresh things to say on them. There is only so many times you can comment on a story or subject before you rehash material, and increasingly I feel that I’ve run out of things to say that add new perspective to the debate. You know it is time to start thinking about stepping away when you feel obliged to put an article out, rather than wanting to put an article out. The challenge of sustaining a blog over any length of time is the ability to put out fresh and interesting content. I’ll be honest here and say that this is becoming particularly challenging.

Finally, there is an issue of how much time it takes to keep the blog updated and credible. Even with the best will in the world, as my real life has grown busier, my ability to get regular and relevant updates out has diminished. I don’t want this site to become something which I feel I am obliged to do, not that I love to do.

I have genuinely loved writing here, and really enjoyed the debates and arguments which have followed. I’ve been flattered by the extremely kind praise I’ve received from other sites, and the way that others are kind enough to link or comment on what has been posted here. The participants in this site have really made it what it is, and  I’m hugely grateful to everyone who has posted here to express their own views – particularly Ianeon, Derek McBride, Mark Colllins, Think Defence, Not a Boffin, Phil, GNB, JediBeeftrix, Challenger, Mike, Angus Maclellan, and many others including the denizens of the DBB…

What happens next?
The site will remain up, and all the articles will remain here for anyone to view, but I will not be posting directly here as ‘Sir Humphrey’ anymore. The site will not be updated (except for occasional spam pruning) for as long as I remain in HMG service. But, in the event that I do leave, then I would certainly plan on restarting it at some future point (‘PinstripedLine 2 – he’s back and this time the stripes just got a whole lot thinner’).  It’s fair to say too that having realised how much I enjoy writing and commenting on Defence matters, I am now actively considering how I could make a career out of it outside of HMG service, although I’m not too sure where to start looking (any tips gratefully received!). So if I can find the opportunity I am seeking, then this site may well come back online in the future.

In the meantime I will remain out there on the net, observing in the background what is going on, and generally enjoying the excellent plethora of defence websites out there – one thing this experience has taught me is that there are some superb defence related websites on all manner of issues – do make time to go and read them!

Finally, if you do wish to contact me offline, then the site email address is pinstripedline@gmail.com, or message me via the Twitter account (@pinstripedline). All that remains now is to say thank you for reading, and goodbye – it’s been a blast, and I hope we all meet again very soon. 

56 comments:

  1. A great pity, but not entirely a huge surprise. I think the signs were there and you refer to them.
    However, you have illuminated many a dark corner of the MoD to civilians like myself and I am extremely grateful. I have learned a lot.
    I have one suggestion, at the appropriate time, hang up the pinstripes and buy yourself a Navy Blue Blazer.
    Good Luck and God speed.
    Aye

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  2. Hear, Hear. All the best and thank you for providing an alternate, realistic and objective view of defence in the real world.

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  3. Thanks - you made a rather narrow infantry orientated reader think much more widely about defence matters. I hope you enjoy whatever the future brings.

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  4. Gutting - you added some real value to my professional development. I Sincerly will miss these posts.

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  5. I hope either your HMG career prospers or...the blog re-emerges from the bureaucratic depths (heights?).

    Very best and thanks for mention,

    Mark Collins
    (Bureaucrat, ret'd)

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  6. It's always been an engaging read - thank you for your posts over the years! I hope to see something else from you once circumstances change.

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  7. My goodness, only seems a short while ago I started regularly checking this site.

    Thank you for your insightful posts, attempts at cooling initial reactions and explaining the truth behind the media headlines.

    I am saddened to see this go, but its certainly the right thing to do, given what I presume your career encompasses. Who knows, maybe years down the line, when you retire, you may want to venture into the madness of defence... then again, looking at what major decisions are coming up, reflecting on them would be a full time job!

    Thank you for your time! Kickback and have a pint :)

    Mike

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  8. All the best, Sir H!

    Your posts have been informative, and your responses to 'Anonymous various' appropriate.

    Maybe a special revival after SDSR 2015 is done and dusted? ;)

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  9. Thanks for some very good reads. It's been a very well written blog, it will be missed. Jonathan

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  10. What a fucking lightweight :)

    You know the saying, can't means won't, won't means jail

    I had a wobble a while ago one of the commenters reminded me of that, made me chuckle anyway.

    Good luck and God Speed Sir H, will miss this site, genuinely some of the best defence writing online

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  11. I don't suppose you could persuade a few admirals to follow you into retirement...

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  12. Honestly, good riddance. You always came off as a smarmy, arrogant wanker who thought the only correct defence policy lay with you and no one else. Anyone who disagreed with you and brought up legitimate complaints about defence cuts and the decline of British power was immediately castigated as an uneducated shrieker who read the (Gasp! Horror!) Telegraph.

    I’ve seen a lot of guys like you in London and DC. You guys and gals are a dime a dozen. Just because you are a mid-level officer who has a couple of deployments doesn’t make you a wise sage when it comes foreign or defence policy. And sadly, your writings became just knee-jerk attacks on anyone who dared to critique the MoD.

    You really didn’t bring anything to the debate, and it is nice to know you will only be able to pollute the ears of your fellow co-workers (who are no doubt growing tired of your so-called “expertise”) instead of putting it out on a blog.

    Not surprised you see this blog as just another bullet point on your resume.

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    1. Why do you find it so hard to disagree with someone without resorting to personal insults. Do you do this when face to face with people!

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    2. As my mother always said " if you can't think of anything positive to say keep your mouth firmly shut, it stops yup looking like an idiot" jon

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  13. Poofter hey? Well I am sure it is for the best!

    As for anonymous @ 21:58, your post is bitchier than a queen drunk on gin. Which is a nice way of calling you a c*nt.

    Phil

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    1. Only one being a c*nt is you Philly boy. And lighten up, Francis. Stop being so thin-skinned and such a flunkie of Sir H.

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  14. Best of luck in your future career and family life (I recall you got hitched a while back - do they do pinstriped pampers?) - much enjoyed the blog, which has always seemed to me to take a thoughtful and balanced view. Hope to see your perspective popping up at Think Defence now and again; I'm pretty sure the Boss over there would take a guest post now and again if you have thoughts you want to share...

    @Phil - Nicely said...short, to the point, 110% accurate...

    aka GNB

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  15. Shame. This blog provided an interesting alternate view and attracted ahem, "lively" debates. Know the problem well myself with finding time to write. Good luck in other endeavours Sir H.

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  16. Thank you for putting your head above the parapet and publishing your point of view.

    As "The man on the Clapham omnibus" and an elderly ex "Brown Job" I found it refreshing to read your opinion of life in the hot house.

    While I can never agree with you I found it very stimulating trying to understand your mindset and how you see the the UK defence world.

    I feel that we must be doomed if MOD is populated by people like you.
    "Rats leaving a sinking ship" was the first thought which came to mind when I read your article.
    But then I said to myself "how uncharitable to condemn the bringer of stimulating thought"
    So I will just wish you well in next venture, and hope that you live a long and happy life.

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  17. You've given me plenty to think about, for which I am grateful. I hope you'll be far too busy enjoying life to have time to come back to blogging. All the best!

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  18. Thank you for such an original and engaging defence blog Sir H, i for one will certainly miss your musings. All the best!

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    Replies
    1. +1

      Will be looking out for anyone called Bernard on other blogs....

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  19. Very sorry to see you depart. Didn't always agree but you certainly sharpened up my thinking and enhanced my perspective. Fingers crossed that you get your mojo back.

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  20. Sorry to see you go. You brought a touch of reasonable and well-reasoned sanity to a niche often populated by armchair critics full of fantasy, bluster or vitriol but all lacking the foggiest about the realities of Defence. I call it opinionated ignorance (viz the irrationally poisonous 'Anonymous' of 22 June 2014 21:58).

    Haste ye back.

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  21. Very sorry to see you go. I really like the positivity of what you have to say, even if I don't always agree with some of the detail. I just wish some others were not so negative, rude or even abusive when disagreeing, it is just not necessary and I hope this was not an aspect in you deciding to give up. All the best for the future and hope to see you return one day.

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  22. Our loss is HMG's gain ....

    Godspeed in the next phase of your life, "Humpy", and take care.

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  23. Thanks,

    Lots of negative thoughts out there already. It is always enlightening to see it from the other side

    Good luck

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  24. The suggestion for an "SDSR 2015 Christmas Special" style one-off is seconded!

    Take it easy Sir H and don't be a commenting stranger.

    TOC

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  25. Many thanks for this Blog, certainly made me reconsider some of my beliefs on our defence.

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  26. Thank you for some of the most thought-provoking and interesting articles I've read.

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  27. Astonished that you're leaving. When faced with the monstrosity of media "interpretation" of defence matters (for which read pedalling the government's message) I have always turned to this page to get the balanced view. I hope and wish you change your mind.

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  28. Sir Humphrey thank you for the articles and the discussions they stimulated in the comments. Your reasons for suspending the blog are easy to comprehend and I wish you success in your careers both civil and military as well as a long and happy marriage.

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  29. Sorry to hear the news, but your reasoning is impeccable. I will miss the in-depth, behind the scenes insights, but perhaps you will comment occasionally on some other sites or forums? I can but hope. The best of luck in both civvie and military life Sir H.

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  30. Good bye good bye.

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  31. Most of your articles support the Coalition cuts.

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  32. Will miss your blog, Sir H, though not entirely surprised on your decision. Seemed that one or two of your more recent drafts were getting a bit 'brave' for your long term health! Overall, though, you've undoubtedly benefited the MoD by giving them an 'unofficial-official' outlet for which they must be generally (admirably?) grateful. G

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  33. Hope to see you commenting on other blogs.
    Come back soon. In the meantime all the best!
    WW

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  34. Sir H. So sorry you are signing off. As and ex-blue job and Whitehall warrior for many years I found your blog hugely enjoyable - even when I didn't agree with you. You provided enlightenment and perspective at time when it was thin on the ground elsewhere. I haven't felt such a sense of loss since Terry Wogan finished.

    PS - Anonymous22 June 2014 21:58 is a cretin

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  35. MoD's cuts must be pretty severe if they can't afford their No.1 cheerleader/propagandist anymore! And I'll take Lord Richards' opinion over Lady H's any day of the week.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10928817/Britains-armed-forces-will-be-like-a-banana-republics-if-MoD-keeps-cutting-costs-says-ex-CDS-Lord-Richards.html

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  36. Very sad to see you stop. I've never commented before but wanted to add my congratulations and regards for writing such an interesting blog for so long. It was a pleasure to read your point of view. You always came across as informed, balanced and sober-minded. Well done and best wishes for the future.

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  38. You run an excellent blog and although I understand why you have decided to give it up, I hope you will return to the keyboard as inspiration strikes.

    Good luck!

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  39. You won't be the last switching to Rx only after Jon Thompsons rather petulant hissy fit last month. Keep your head down, its going to be a bumpy 12 months.

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  40. Sorry to hear, great informative blog.

    Best of luck.

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  41. First time posting here, but echoing many commentors above, I'm sorry to see you go Sir H, even if I understand your reasons.
    I found your perspective positive, backed by an optimistic and genuine belief, rather than spin. Perhaps we find it easy to root for our own team, but I'd like to think your perspective is not too biased with that effect.
    Good luck.

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  42. Careful chaps!

    44 posts - he might think we all love him and he may reconsider his decision :)

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  43. Interesting article in the Daily Torygraph on "soft power"which rather contradicts what Sir H was saying on the subject.

    Come back Sir H and defend your corner :)

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  44. Sorry to see you go. Your blog has always been an enlightening read with regards to the complexities of defence, particuarly revealing t the role of often overlooked administration in the MoD and why it is important to maintain.

    This blog is the one I have referred people to for a long time to dispel the tabloids generated myths surrounding issues regarding the UK's military. Your infightful input will be sorely missed.

    All the best!

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  45. UK may join the US in Iraq airstrikes...

    Here's what Sir H would say/is thinking:

    "Drrrr, We are still relevant because they can pitch in with a few Tornados/Eurofighters. Drrrrr. We have ISR. Take us seriously or else!!! Drrrr.

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  46. First time I have commented. Loved the blog for many years and sorry to see you go. Best of luck.

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  47. perhaps if we keep discussing things then Sir H may return to fight his corner ?

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  48. Where is our man now?
    Now that we need clarity, acumen and illuminating comment on the military shambles emanating from Whitehall, where is he.

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    1. I'm still out there Derek/Ianeon - but sadly circumstances mean it is just not possible to comment openly.

      The email address is still fully functional though ;-)

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    2. Hey - I am glad that you are well.

      Then we shall just frustrate you with our comments - lol

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  49. According to today's Torygraph our Dear Leader - no not Tony Blair but his copy - is going to start wars on two fronts before settling Afghanistan - all this at the same time as reducing the size of our Armed Forces & just before a general election. We do indeed live in interesting times.

    Still the Fish-heads will be happy, they get to keep the second aircraft carrier. Although I'm puzzled as to where the escort ships and crews will come from that's without thinking about aircraft for the carrier.

    Sometimes it must be nice to live in Cloud Cuckoo Land!

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  50. Page 7 of the Sunday Times on 7th September.

    Two very interesting articles about our M.O.D.

    They would have given Sir H lots to write about, and us rebels lots to comment on.

    No ships, no sailors and only 36 tanks - what a world to be in when our Dear Leader wants us to go back to war.

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