I shed a tear a few minutes ago, only a small one, but an item on the lunchtime news really moved me. It was the report that said it was time to say farewell to a great servant of this country: HMS Illustrious.
Lusty, as she was known as been home to hundreds of seamen and sea-women for 30 years or more and is now to retire having travelled nearly 1 million miles around our world and taken part in several conflicts and rescue operations. But now, as the BBC reporter said: “the Navy is moving to a new era”.
The reality though is that it’s not just the passing of a ship nor the loss of a home for so many volunteers. it is the passing of a military capability that this country no longer has. We are losing the capability that an aircraft carrier offers, flexibility and the ability to project power across the globe. This is a significant loss to a nation that has been willing to use power wisely in order to protect those in need of protection on so many occasions.
For the time being however Britain can no longer play the part it has played in global affairs, we are no longer a major seafaring nation and sadly it appears that we are prepared to slip down the pecking order of great countries prepared to do the right thing at the right time for people in need. HMS illustrious did that so well and now is gone. Which nation will be the first to miss her now impossible intervention?