The UK’s film sector is booming and this is why – Film is GREAT


2014 saw a massive surge in film production in the UK, generating a total spend of over £1.4 billion over the course of the year – that’s 35% more than 2013 and the highest ever recorded. 36 international feature films and 22 high-end television productions chose to base themselves in the UK, these include titles like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, all three Hobbit films, Paddington, 007: Skyfall and Spectre and many more.

The increased investment into UK production has seen the growth of infrastructure throughout the country, with new facilities opening this year including Cardiff’s Pinewood Studio Wales and Church Fenton’s The Yorkshire Studios. In 2014, the creative industries sector employed 1.8 million people in the UK, meaning that c. 247,000 jobs have been generated by the creative industries since 2011.

HMS Queen Elizabeth hits the waves, kind of…


HMS Queen Elizabeth took to the waves yesterday at the Scottish Dockyard Clyde. The aircraft carrier is the biggest warship the Royal Navy has ever constructed and will most definitely expand on the nations global maritime influence. 

Earlier this month Her Majesty The Queen officially named the vessel. 

Britain Has Invaded Nine Out Of Ten Countries, From France To United States


Having done a bit of reading the other day i came across the rather fascinating revelation that Britain has invaded nearly 90% of the world’s countries during its history, with only 22 out of 193 not on the receiving end of a bit of Great British aggression. The findings are detailed in a book, “All the countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To” (should have guessed) by historian Stuart Laycock who found the time to research into the matter.

Some of the 22 countries that have escaped British ambition include Andorra, Luxembourg and the Vatican City. The issue with this research, however informative it may be is that it stirs the endless debate in Britain of “was empire bad? If so how do we rid ourselves of such foul play?” The fact remains that the very same British Army / Navy that built an Empire also helped oust the Nazi’s from Europe and the Japanese from Asia, if you want to date further back we also saved Europe from the ever growing hands of Napoleon. Conquest and colonisation have been around a long time, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians etc.

Hitler was responsible for a war where approximately 30 million lives were lost, Stalin supposedly 60 million, many of which were his own people – does russia continuously go on about its bad past, or Germany? Yet here in Britain we will kick ourselves over the fact that we have brought nations across the world democracy, the rule of law, infrastructure, education and masses of knowledge.

How does comparing what happened hundreds of years ago, in a world that none of us can actually imagine existing in grant us the arrogance to denounce what occurred? What Britain did was beat everyone else doing exactly the same thing but in a nicer way (where possible). Britain survived better than most because its people well understood the society in which the world existed at the time. This is yet another “in hindsight” that keeps the British in their place, but at least we stopped one of the most hateful fascist armies the world has ever known in the 20th century, so all those places previously invaded ensured that we could do so. Stop berating British history because its nonsense to do so in a world that is now nothing like it!

Happy 4th July America! Hope you have an Awesome Independence Day!


Happy 4th July to all the American readers across the pond! Newcastle Beer has come out with some risky but hilarious adverts just to celebrate, enjoy Stephen Merchant & Zachary Quinto below!

Imagine how great America would have been if Great Britain won the Revolutionary War. And imagine how much beer Newcastle would’ve sold.

Trooping the Colour, a history of the spectacle for the Monarch’s Official Birthday Parade!


Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies. It has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th Century, although the roots go back much earlier. On battlefields, a regiment’s colours or flags were used as a rallying point. Consequently, regiments would have their ensigns slowly march with their colours between the soldiers’ ranks to enable soldiers to recognise their regiments’ colours. Since 1748 Trooping the Colour has also marked the official birthday of the British Sovereign. It is held in London annually on a Saturday in June on Horse Guards Parade by St. James’s Park and coincides with the publication of the Birthday Honours List. Among the audience are the Royal Family, invited guests, ticketholders and the general public. The colourful ceremony, also known as “The Queen’s Birthday Parade”, is broadcast live by the BBC.

The Queen travels down The Mall from Buckingham Palace in a royal procession with a sovereign’s escort of Household Cavalry (mounted troops or horse guards). After receiving a royal salute, she inspects her troops of the Household Division, both foot guards and horse guards, and the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. Each year, one of the foot-guards regiments is selected to troop its colour through the ranks of guards. Then the entire Household Division assembly conducts a march past the Queen, who receives a salute from the saluting base. Parading with its guns, the King’s Troop takes precedence as the mounted troops perform a walk-march and trot-past.

The music is provided by the massed bands of the foot guards and the mounted bands of the Household Cavalry, together with a Corps of Drums, and occasionally pipers, totalling approximately 400 musicians. Returning to Buckingham Palace, the Queen watches a further march-past from outside the gates. Following a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop in Green Park, she leads the Royal Family on to the palace balcony for a Royal Air Force flypast.

Below I have attached two videos which I think show the best of the Trooping. The first is from the British Pathé of a Trooping the Colour parade from 1964, the second is from 1934 and the third from 1986.

#Budget2014 Introduces brand spanking new £1 Coin with a hint of tradition


The £1 coin is to be replaced with a new 12-sided version, shaped like the old “threepenny bit”, in a bid to tackle forgery, the government announced this morning.

Today Chancellor George Osborne will announce the replacement of the current £1 coin – which has been in circulation for over thirty years. The new coin will be the “most secure coin in the world”, the government says. With “advances in technology making high value coins like the £1 ever more vulnerable to counterfeiters, its vital that we keep several paces ahead of the criminals to maintain the integrity of our currency. I am particularly pleased that the coin will take a giant leap into the future, using cutting edge British technology while at the same time, paying a fitting tribute to past in the 12-sided design of the iconic threepenny bit”.

The Royal Mint estimates that 3 per cent of £1 coins, totalling £45m, are now forgeries – and in some parts of the country the figure is as high as 6 per cent. Around two million counterfeit coins have been removed from circulation each year over the past few years, the government says, at a “direct cost to the banks and cash handling centres, and to the economy”.

The new coin will be of a “bi-metallic construction” with two colours (as in the €1 coin), will be twelve-sided, and will include the Royal Mint’s new iSIS technology, (Integrated Secure Identification System), which incorporates three tiers of banknote-strength security and “can be authenticated via high-speed automated detection at all points within the cash cycle”. It is expected that the coin can be introduced in 2017.



World War One Centenary: who was to blame?

World War One Banner 01

In the space of exactly a month – from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914, to the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on Serbia on July 28th – Europe had gone from peaceful prosperity to a conflict zone that would bring down four empires and cost more than 15 million lives.

It would also lead to sow the seeds for a Second World War and in turn give rise to the Cold War. But what caused this war, who was to blame? Let us go through the significant figures of the time and ascertain there position.

Franz_Joseph,_circa_1915Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary

When Franz Ferdinand, his nephew and heir was murdered, Emperor Franz Joseph I decided that military action was required. It was not until July 23rd that Serbia was presented with a harsh ultimatum, the Emperor demanded the denunciation of separatist activities, the banning of publications and organisations hostile to Austria-Hungary and co-operation with Habsburg officials in suppressing subversion and a judicial inquiry.

Serbia agreed to almost all the demands. The only key issue was that the joint Austro-Serbian judicial inquiry would have to be subject to Serbia’s laws. The Austrians rejected the ultimatum and on July 28th began mobilising their troops in the Balkans.

Emperor Franz Joseph and his Vienna Government had reason to believe that Serbia was being complicit, and this in part was a justified belief.

More than two-fifths of Bosnia’s population was ethnic Serb, many of whom yearned for independence and union with a Greater Serbia. Some of the secret organisations dedicated to achieving that were based in Serbia proper, including the Black Hand, a group led by Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic, the Serbian military intelligence chief who had trained Gavrilo Princip and his fellow assassins.

An even more powerful reason was because many in the Austrian government and military felt the time was opportune. Unless Serbia’s intrigues were stopped, they felt their polyglot Empire – made up of 11 ethnic groups – was in danger of disintegration.

They feared a pan-Slav movement spearheaded by Serbia (and backed by Russia), and were determined, in the words of Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold, to “tear away with a strong hand the net in which its enemy seeks to entangle it”. Yet Franz Joseph was only prepared to risk a war with Serbia   and Russia because he knew he had the full support of his fellow monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

KAISER_WILHELMKaiser Wilhelm II of Germany

Just a week after the assassinations, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II responded to Emperor Franz Joseph’s assertion that Serbia needed to be eliminated “as a political factor”.

Wilhelm II assured the Austrian envoy, Count von Hoyos, that his country had Germany’s backing to “march into Serbia”, even if war with Russia resulted. A day later, the German Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, repeated this guarantee.

In many ways, Germany had the most to lose from a general war. “In the previous round of wars,” noted a leading historian of the period, “it had humbled Austria and France and expanded its territory: its economy was one of the fastest growing in Europe.”

But after the forced retirement in 1890 of the Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, the young Kaiser Wilhelm II became the dominant force in German politics, exerting great influence over diplomacy and in military and naval matters. It had been he who authorised the world policy in the 1890’s of conducting an naval arms race against Britain, something that Germany could not win, this only pushed a resentful Britain into the arms of its former enemies France and Russia.

But Austria was its only “dependable” great-power ally. And Germany feared that a huge increase in Russian military expenditure would jeopardise its secret strategy of avoiding a war on two fronts by first defeating the French army before dealing with the less sophisticated Russians. As a result, Germany’s political and military leaders became convinced that the sooner a European war began the better.

tsar-nicholas-iiTsar Nicholas II of Russia

There was no treaty stating that Russia had to come to Serbia’s aid and it didn’t have any economical stake in the region, however it did have a strategic interest there – notably the passage of its trade through the straits of Constantinople.

Responding to Kaiser Wilhelm II’s belated attempt to mediate, the Tsar replied on July 29: “An ignoble war has been declared on a weak country. The indignation in Russia, fully shared by me, is enormous. I   foresee that very soon I shall be overwhelmed by the pressure brought upon me and be forced to take extreme measures which will lead to war.” The Tsar was referring to troop mobilisation: the calling up of reservists to increase the size of the European standing army by three to four times.

Germany’s plan to defeat France before turning on Russia depended upon the latter not getting too much of a head start. If they allowed that, they risked defeat in the east before they had victory in the west.

The Kaiser’s warnings simply convinced the Tsar, his third cousin, that German and Austrian policy was one and the same. He believed that Austria had secretly mobilised against Russia (it had not) and that full mobilisation against Austria and Germany was now necessary. The relevant telegrams were dispatched from St Petersburg at 6pm on July 30. The German’s reaction on July 31 was predictable. Having ordered an intensification of its own military preparations, it sent the Russian government an ultimatum to cancel its mobilisation within 12 hours or face   the consequences. Russia refused and on August 1, the same day it and Austria-Hungary began their own mobilisations, Germany declared war.

Poincare_largerRaymond Ponicaré, President of France

Poincare had made it clear to the Tsar that France would back Russia’s support of Serbia even at the risk of war with Germany. Following a summit meeting in Russia between the two nations a statement was made confirming that the two governments were “in entire agreement in their views on the various problems which concern for peace and the balance of power in Europe has laid before the powers, especially in the Balkans”.

This crucial backing by Poincaré was what gave the Russians the confidence to stand firm behind Serbia. When this, in turn, resulted in a Russo-German war, there was no possibility that France would stand aloof (as Germany had requested on July 31).

Poincaré was convinced that if France wanted to remain a great power, the preservation of the Triple Entente (with Russia and Britain) “was a more important objective in French foreign policy than the avoidance of war”. Not least because he feared that the loss of Russia as an ally would make France extremely vulnerable to German aggression.

France duly rejected Germany’s ultimatum and began its own mobilisation – though the army was ordered to keep 10km back from the Franco-Belgian border. Germany declared war on France on August 3.

Ed_GreySir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary

Traditionally Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary has been portrayed as a peacemaker. On July 29th he told the German Ambassador Prince Lichnowsky that “mediation was an urgent necessity if those concerned did   not wish to have things become a European catastrophe”.

Yet the message was mixed. On the one hand, he warned Lichnowsky that Britain might be forced to take precipitate action if Germany and France were drawn into the war; on the other, he said Britain had no legal obligations to its French & Russian partners. The Kaiser, encouraged by this mixed message made a clumsy attempt to ensure Britain’s neutrality by offering to guarantee both France’s and Belgium’s territorial integrity in Europe – but not the former’s colonies nor the latter’s neutrality.

This Grey would not agree with. His counter offer, made without any authorisation from the Cabinet, was not just for Britain to stay neutral if Germany refrained from attacking France, but to vouch for French neutrality as well. The French would not have agreed with this however because of their agreement with the Russians.

Grey withdrew the offer, and from this point on Germany’s leaders must have known that Britain would not stand by from a European war. On August 3rd Grey told the House of Commons that the Belgian government had just been given an ultimatum by Germany to “facilitate the passage of German troops” through its territory or face the consequences.

The only option left for Grey and HM’s Government was to resist German aggression and at 11pm on August 4th Britain declared war on Germany. Another far more pressing reason for joining the fight was to prevent Germany from dominating the continent. HM’s Government also feared for the security of the British Empire and trade within it, if it failed to support France and Germany then its only option would have been an alliance with Germany.

So, who was to blame?

Blame tends to be mainly on the Kaiser and his chief military advisers and towards the Austo-Hungarians. In fact none of the major powers worked as hard as it could have done to prevent war, but the decision taken by Austria-Hungary, backed by Germany, to declare war and attack Serbia was the moment a general conflict became probable.

It was believed that if the Entente powers chose to fight, they would be defeated, and if they did not, their alliance would collapse. It was believed to be a win-win situation..

David Cameron’s speech on the United Kingdom in response to supposed Russian ‘Small Island’ remarks


“Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience.

Britain is an island that has helped to clear the European continent of fascism – and was resolute in doing that throughout World War Two.

Britain is an island that helped to abolish slavery, that has invented most of the things worth inventing, including every sport currently played around the world, that still today is responsible for art, literature and music that delights the entire world.

We are very proud of everything we do as a small island – a small island that has the sixth-largest economy, the fourth best-funded military, some of the most effective diplomats, the proudest history, one of the best records for art and literature and contribution to philosophy and world civilisation.

For the people who live in Northern Ireland, I should say we are not just an island, we are a collection of islands. I don’t want anyone in Shetland or Orkney to feel left out by this.

I’m thinking of setting this to music…”

Royal Navy set for Cougar 13 | Ministry of Defence

*In relation to the Gibraltar situation with Spain* 

A potent maritime force is ready to sail from the UK on Monday 12 August for an annual deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf region.

The long-planned Cougar 13 will see elements of the UK’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) hone their world class maritime skills thousands of miles from home through exercises with a number of key allies.

Four Royal Navy warships, the Lead Commando Group from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, and elements from a number of Naval Air Squadrons will be supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).

HMS Montrose

This is the third year the routine deployment has taken place, with its aim to demonstrate the ability to operate a highly effective maritime force anywhere in the world to protect UK interests.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

Since its creation under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Response Force Task Group has demonstrated its formidable strength and readiness to respond to emerging threats worldwide through a number of operations and exercises.

This now routine and long-planned deployment will demonstrate once again its ability to operate as a rapid reaction force on behalf of the UK and, importantly, underlines the global reach and flexibility of the modern Royal Navy.

Royal Marine in a Viking amphibious vehicle

The RFTG is able to simultaneously conduct a range of operations from deterring adversaries and maritime security to international engagement and supporting regional stability. Its units can operate independently on discrete tasks or as a single entity. Most importantly, it is an adaptable force that is able to work jointly with Army and Royal Air Force assets, other government agencies and partner nations when required.

After a number of planned port visits in the Mediterranean, the first major exercise for the force will be Albanian Lion, in the Adriatic. Personnel will work with Albania’s armed forces, building on a similar exercise last year, with the goal to put the Lead Commando Group ashore within a high tempo scenario and sustain it as it moves inland.

The Task Group will then sail through the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and the Gulf where the focus will transfer to the series of exercises with UK allies in the Gulf region; alongside Army and RAF units.

Commodore Paddy McAlpine, Commander UK Task Group, said:

Cougar 13 is a bespoke opportunity to enhance the Royal Navy’s enduring core skill – the ability to operate and project power as a task group at range. In so doing, it will also remind interested domestic and international parties of the enduring utility, employability and interoperability of the Royal Navy.

During Cougar 13 we will engage with our partner nations through a series of exercises, reinforcing our commitment and demonstrating our contribution to security in the Mediterranean and Gulf region.

A sailor polishes HMS Westminster’s ship’s bell ahead of her deployment on Cougar 13 [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Paul A’barrow, Crown copyright]

Commodore McAlpine and his staff will command from the nation’s flagship, HMS Bulwark. Joining Bulwark will be helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious and frigates HMS Montrose and HMS Westminster to provide escort duties, as well as undertake ongoing counter-piracy operations outside the exercise programme. They will be supported by 6 vessels from the RFA.