The Navy Campaign
The Navy Campaign was established in the wake of the SDSR, as the consequences of political decisions became clear. As the naval community responded to the cuts, it became apparent that a focal point was needed in order to direct some of this energy. The role of the Navy Campaign is to make sure information gets to where it needs to be, briefing MPs, members of the press and talking heads within the community.
Behind the Navy Campaign is a not for profit company called Twenty Thirty Two, set up by Steve Jermy and Bethany Torvell for the sole purpose of running the campaign. As Director, Steve deals with many of the high level contacts in Parliament, the press and those still in service. Beth manages the campaign, overseeing the day to day work of sending briefings to the right people, arranging background briefings where needed and setting up comments and interviews in the press.
The Royal Navy is aware of our activities, but there is no official relationship nor do we seek official endorsement. Rather, our stance is independent so that we can speak out without being subject to fear of reprisal or pressure to follow a certain line because it is deemed political convenient. We aim to raise awareness of general concerns about the outcome of the SDSR for the Navy but also, more importantly, for Britain's long term security.
Because the decision to retire the Harrier, arguably the most significant cut to come out of the SDSR, impacted on the Fleet Air Arm, the Navy Campaign approached the Fleet Air Arm Officers’ Association for funding. This was very kindly been provided by the FAAOA and other organisations, and the money has gone towards paying the costs associated with start up. Beth has reported back to the Committee on the progress of the Campaign and recently spoke at the FAAOA AGM.
The aims of the Navy Campaign are threefold:
- Communication - relaying information between Parliament, the Press and the Public, so that the case presented is balanced.
- Aviation/Amphibiosity - campaigning to retain these two key capabilities, as they maintain and facilitate political choice.
- Personnel and People - campaigning to guarantee the retention of individuals and skills within the Navy, as well as bolstering morale and re-invigorating the Naval Community.
The first and last points are relatively straightforward. Over the past few months it has become clear that while many people want information, it is not always readily available. We aim to help improve that situation, although it is an uphill battle! With regards to personnel, we are working hard to explain that it is not as simple as putting someone in a uniform and giving them the tools – many of the roles are very complicated and nuanced and require a tacit knowledge that cannot be learned from books and in classrooms. We also do our best to boost morale wherever and whenever possible, something that you can certainly get involved in! Central to all of this is the naval and especially the Fleet Air Arm community, which we will return to shortly.
Aviation and amphibiosity are linked in their importance, and relating the two to each other helps to strengthen the case. The Government understands the past successes of our amphibious forces, and it is possible to make the case for a continuation of that capability without encountering too much opposition.
Making the case for maritime aviation is hard – there is a level of ignorance that has to be addressed before we can start to make the case for maritime aviation. Beth has frequently been called by journalists asking for quotes from the RAF, because many do not understand the difference. This is not new, nor is it isolated to the press and is certainly not their fault – this intellectual malaise has crept in to all corners of life, as certain narratives have dominated the public understanding of aviation.
Stemming from sea blindness, a disease that seems at times to be epidemic in this island nation, this maritime aviation malaise is very dangerous. It was this that enabled the decision to scrap the Harriers back in the autumn, it is this same confounding of logic that the FAA has battle for years. Indeed, it would appear that it may also have influenced those who put the Rt Hon Liam Fox in a position where he said about operations in Libya – “Why would we be using an aircraft carrier at the present time? Why would we be using fast attack jets? There have been absolutely no calls for either of those assets… There's a big red herring here … there's been no need for us to have a carrier there, there's been no need for us to use fast jets, and we have the ability to use them if required. Of course we have our sovereign base in Cyprus which we can use, and we can use them from the United Kingdom so there's not actually a problem there."
It’s interesting that the SDSR decisions were justified based on cost, but now cost isn’t a factor as this farcical and hugely expensive operation carries on. At the time of writing in early April, it is estimated that accommodation for the 800+ personnel comes to £40,000 per night, with allowances and food being additional costs. If the operation continues at the current level of flights, munition use, personnel costs, and so on, in the two months between this being written and you reading the words, the cost of the operation would be enough to keep a carrier with ten Harrier at FE@R for a year. Just ponder that for a moment.
What we do
We have been working in three arenas: Parliament, the media, and the naval community. In Parliament, we have been meeting with MPs and building up working relationships. With the media, we have been working to raise the profile of the issues that the Navy Campaign is fighting for. As part of this, Beth has been putting forward commentators for press, radio and TV interviews, as well as arranging background briefings and introductions. Within the community, we have been building up our network and facilitating meetings.
What YOU can do!
Without the support of those in the naval community, our work would be infinitely harder. This work is ongoing, and is an area where you can definitely get involved. There are several ways for you to do this:
Spread the word – tell your friends and family about the campaign. Host a dinner party, an afternoon tea or a session in the pub. Get your local community discussing the issues – as a taxpayer, you are footing the bill, and as someone that lives in this country, these decisions will impact on you! There is more information about us and our website at the end.
Get democratic – get in touch with your elected representatives and ask them to make your views heard. It’s never been easier to contact your MP. You can write to them at:
[Name of MP], House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
You can send them an email through the fantastic service offered by Write to Them (www.writetothem.co.uk). Many MPs list their phone and fax number on their website – why not call them up and arrange a meeting during their surgery hours to discuss the importance of maintaining the Fleet Air Arm?
Get vocal – get in touch with the Press. Write to the national papers and your local papers. If you see some incorrect reporting, let the editor know! Many TV and radio programmes are interactive these days, allowing their audience to call, text or email in – why not get involved with that?
When dealing with the media, it’s best to keep things short and sweet. Work out what your main argument is, dress it up in a snappy sound bite, and then fire away!
Sign up to the Action List –we have set up a mailing list that we call our Action List, which we use to alert supporters when a specific issue needs their support. (For information on how this has worked previously, please see the article on the Commando Helicopter Force). You can sign up online through our website, or by emailing ‘email@example.com’.
The Navy Campaign has been supported to date by very kind donations. The FAAOA has provided funding until June, which is fantastic. However, looking at the progress we have made to date in raising the profile of the Navy and the threats it faces, we believe this campaign will need to run beyond June. As such, we are looking to raise funds through contributions from individuals and organisations.
If you or anyone you know would like to make a donation, we will be very grateful. You can donate using a debit or credit card through our website (address at the end) or send a cheque made payable to Twenty Thirty Two to our registered address - 3 Holm Oak Apartments, Melvill Road, Falmouth, England, TR11 4AX.
The Navy Campaign website can be found at: www.thenavycampaign.com
Twenty Thirty Two, Ltd, is the limited company behind the Navy Campaign. It is registered in England and Wales, with the registration No: 07497546. Its registered office is 3 Holm Oak Apartments, Melvill Road, Falmouth, England, TR11 4AX.
Who We Are
Steve, known to many as Commodore Jermy, served as a naval officer in a varied military career which encompassed a range of naval aviation, sea command and high level staff appointments. His commands included HM Ships Tiger Bay, Upton, Arrow, Cardiff, the 5th Destroyer Squadron and the Fleet Air Arm. His senior staff appointments were in the MoD Directorate of Policy Planning, as Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Defence Staff, and working with the RAF at the Air HQ in High Wycombe. He saw active service flying from HMS Invincible in the Falklands War, and his last operational service was as Strategy Director in the British Embassy in Kabul in Afghanistan 2007-8.
He gained an MPhil in International Relations from Pembroke College Cambridge in 1992, and graduated from the Royal College of Defence Studies in 2008. He now writes, lectures, and consults on strategy and strategic leadership. His book on effective strategy making – ‘Strategy for Action’ – was released in February of this year to critical acclaim.
Beth is very proud to come from a Naval family and has worked in and around Westminster for the past couple of years. She studied Politics at Goldsmiths College and International Security at King’s College, London. Since graduating, she has worked on population engagement and transparency in development for a not for profit organisation, taught a class on conflict and intervention at Goldsmiths, and worked for an MP. She has yet to command a ship larger than a two person Laser.