The Sun thinks killing a tropical fish will fund the armed forces

The paper's bizarre find-cash-quick scheme sinks - then plumbs the depths


Part of the humour to be found in this morning’s Sun scoop is at the expense of the paper.

The Sun 26 6 2015

‘UK taxes blown on lonely fish in Africa… But our military is cut to the bone’

As might not be clear, the paper is arguing the government wastes foreign aid money on silly things while the defence budget is being cut.

If the connection between the two things still seems strange, it’s worth bearing in mind that defence secretary, Michael ‘stab-in-the-back’ Fallon, has suggested the budgets for foreign aid and defence be blurred to reach NATO’s recommended 2 per cent of GDP spending target.

Helpfully, the Sun has launched a campaign – ‘Forces not Farces’ – to call on the government to do, er, what it was already planning to do.

But back to the fish. It seems the foreign office spent £3,400 to help protect and breed a rare tropical fish at risk of extinction. That’s £3,400 out of a total foreign aid budget of £11.7billion. 

Another case on the Sun’s charge sheet:

“The department also gave £2,042-worth of free tickets to children for a Hamlet production in the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean nation of Haiti.”

What a heartless newspaper this is! Let Nemo die and no Hamlet for the Haitian kids!

More amusing is the Sun’s ‘evidence’ this money could pay for more worthy things at home – the entire burden of their argument.

The Sun 25 6 aid money

It takes one of the most expensive of its cases, £51,564 on UK work experience for people from Serbia, and says this ‘could have bought advanced armour for 50 British troops’. For an army of 90,000 (and that’s just regular forces), this seems hardly worth ditching the Serbs.

And shouldn’t UK troops have the best armour available regardless?

It goes on:

“£30,000 spent ’empowering Indian museum professionals’ – could have paid a nurse on £21,692 for 15 months.”

One nurse! For just over a year! And on a starting salary at that. This is desperate stuff.

They only provide two more examples – £99,800 on shale gas drilling regulations in China ‘could have built five mini-roundabouts’, and £3,104 spent on English training for Uruguayan footballers ‘could have bought two lampposts’.

Some of this foreign aid spending is very odd indeed, and it would be fascinating to know what the FCO was up to. But the amount of money involved is minuscule in terms of the aid budget, let alone government spending generally. And the army should be properly funded regardless.

Meanwhile, the Sun’s attempts to show this money could buy us all sorts of goodies is laughable.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

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35 Responses to “The Sun thinks killing a tropical fish will fund the armed forces”

  1. stevep

    The Sun was purchased and set up to be a comic for the working classes. A poisonous right-wing comic that set about de-politicising the working class, blaming unions, foreigners, lefties and anything not on it`s far-right agenda for the supposed ill`s of modern Britain.
    As long as there was Sun Bingo, cheap caravan holidays to be had and tits on page 3, the re-educated masses swallowed the bait whole, luxuriating in their dumbed-down, selfish micro-world and newly-minted lower middle-classness whilst Thatcher laid waste to Britain.
    The Sun is still the main propaganda organ of the establishment, dedicated to maintaining as dumbed-down a right-wing view as possible for the working masses to swallow. The Mail is much the same but catering for the middle classes.
    The biggest tragedy of Labour`s defeat is that the Leveson enquiry will never be implemented in full. This would have led to at least a partial reigning-in of dubious press activity and tighter regulation.
    Objectivity and parity in the press will only be obtained through proper regulation.
    There is no such thing as a “free” press, only if you have a couple of billion to spare to set up your (hopefully) mass-market newspaper. You can then propagate any view that suits you. .
    Sites like this, although not mass-appeal, go some way to redress the balance, we should use them to bypass the press and formulate our own view of the future.

  2. AntonioSColon

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  3. jacko

    A common theme in left-wing writing is the gullible, working-class idiot who needs protecting from himself by a self-appointed liberal intelligensia who only have his best interests at heart. Which means controlling what he can watch and read. Not for us, you understand, because we’re intelligent enough to see through it all. Just the oafs of the country.

  4. stevep

    Not at all. I`m working class and intelligent enough to know you are one of the right-wing trolls infesting this website to try and divert attention away from the real issues.
    I`m also intelligent enough to know that propaganda and ridicule are the weapons of choice to keep people under control. Goebbels understood that and so do you and the proprietors of the Tory comics.
    Politely ignoring the subject of your intelligence and whilst you are on the subjects of gullibility and idiocy, take a look in your mirror.

  5. dnspncr

    Utterly simplistic rightwing rhetoric. Having a basic understanding of the content, history and effects of mass media does not make a person a part of a “liberal intelligensia”, a term often employed by tabloids to attack celebrities who are critical of them – in such cases the term is always prefixed with “middle class”, your argument has been severely diminished by the forced omission of this prefix.

  6. Matthew Blott

    One of the few ‘progressive’ things Cameron can claim is his (stubborn) commitment to foreign aid. And now he’s seen off the Labour Party and can continue reducing the state and emasculating the BBC you’d think Rupe might lay off this one tiny ray of liberal sunshine. Alas even this is too much and if I were Cameron I’d be a bit nervous about what the Dirty Digger has up his sleeve for the upcoming EU referendum.

  7. Harold

    Nothing Liberal about me, any time any where, watch what you say or intelligentsia but even I can see the Mail is spiteful and full of hate, the Sun I think does try very hard to mislead and dumb down rather than inform. Assuming the owners and jurnos have some level of education, “A” level Geography perhaps, it is difficult to understand the agenda. As to working-class idiot, that is a life style choice.

  8. gunnerbear

    Where would I want the cash spent – you’re damn right on an English nurse – even one rather than on ‘museum workers’ in a foreign country that maintains a space programme and nuclear weapons. Fish or kit for the forces – kit it is. Lots of little bits of spending soon add up but clearly the author wants UK taxpayers funds spent abroad rather than in the UK. Is the author yet another sneering member of the Left that despises the UK? Not a penny above £2bn for emergency relief should be wasted on international aid.

  9. gunnerbear

    The BBC is the dominant media content provider in the UK – and it is inherently left wing. The Left hate the Sun and the Mail because the existence of such newspapers constantly reminds them of their own weakness.

  10. gunnerbear

    The Int. Aid policy is despised by the UK public – the overwhelming majority want it stopped… You want to donate cash abroad – use your own cash.

  11. Jimbo

    What an interesting specimen you are-somebody who’s actually taken in and convinced by The Sun. God help us.

  12. gunnerbear

    I was responding to the point made in the comment by the author – he wants UK taxpayers cash wasted overseas. The author would rather see UK taxpayers cash spent abroad instead of on UK citizens – with attitudes like that is it any wonder the Left got smashed in the election and the sooner David Cameron bins the aid spending – except for around £2bn in emergency relief – the better.

  13. dnspncr

    Cameron bin aid spending? Don’t make me laugh. The Foreign Office said today that it is “reviewing” how it spends overseas aid and will “check whether every penny spent represented value for money.”

    Gee, I wonder why a political party that is dedicated to limiting government interference, a party that has passed its responsibility to protect severely disabled citizens to cash-strapped local authorities, why on earth would they want to send money to foreigners..? FFS

    To quote Nixon; “Let us remember that the main purpose of aid is not to help other nations but to help ourselves.”

  14. stevep

    Utter right-wing tripe. Many citizens living in beleaguered regimes over the last 80-odd years have relied on the BBC to deliver an impartial source of news and information, often listening to it in preference to their own media and at great personal risk.
    Show some respect.

  15. stevep


  16. Matthew Blott

    I don’t want to pay for your hospital treatment or your education or a host of other things but I didn’t have a choice. And a good thing too or society wouldn’t function.

  17. stevep

    The left returned 290 odd MP`s to the Commons, Hardly “smashed”. The Tories Scraped in on a wing and a prayer.
    Give it a year or two, a few old Tory duffers snuffing it or getting caught with their trousers down and the resulting by-elections returning left-of-centre Mp`s, we`ll have `em sweating big time. No treacherous LibDems to back them up this time, just Tory MP`s in marginal seats shitting themselves, Tory backbiting, in-fighting and rebellions and a resurgent left waiting to deliver the killer blow.

  18. gunnerbear

    And UKIP breathing down your necks and Scotland gone forever…….

  19. gunnerbear

    And UKIP breathing down your necks and Scotland gone forever…….

  20. gunnerbear

    I want UK taxpayers cash spent on UK taxpayers. Why do you want UK taxpayers cash wasted abroad?

  21. gunnerbear

    I want UK taxpayers cash spent on UK taxpayers. Why do you want UK taxpayers cash wasted abroad?

  22. stevep

    Grow up.

  23. stevep

    UKIP won`t be a worry after the EU in/out vote, which ever way it goes. Not to Labour anyway. The Tories will tear each other apart, though.
    As for Scotland, time will tell. All they`ve done at the moment is exchanged a red left-wing vote for a yellow one. One thing`s for sure, they`ll never support a Tory government.
    A toxic UKIP/Tory alliance? No, Not even SunMail propaganda at it`s vilest would sell that bag of rusty nails to the electorate.
    No, I fancy the Tories are on their own this time, forced to drink from a poisoned chalice of their own making.
    I see a left-centre alliance loosely forming in the next few years, with proportional representation very much back on the cards, with the aim of winning the next election and keeping the Tories out of power for decades. After the next 3 or 4 years of austerity the electorate will be well up for it.
    So, sing while you`re “winning”, Tory Troll. Let`s see if you`re still holding the tune in 5 years time.

  24. stevep

    Ask UK business owners with registered addresses in Monaco, The Cayman islands or Bermuda.

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  26. Stephen Linstead

    It is wrong to suggest that £3104 spent on English language training for Uruguayan footballers ‘could have bought two lamposts’. English central defenders cost more than that.

  27. gunnerbear

    Yep and I’d stop that s**t as well….I’d make it ‘pay to play’ in the UK especially in terms of honours. Ask the members of the UK arms of the boards of the major companies if they want to keep their honours by stopping all and any attempts to reduce their collective tax bill or be plain Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. ‘X’ and continue to use tax avoidance schemes. I’d also ban any consultancy firm from working in HMG or providing support to HMLO or working on service delivery of a public contract if another arm of the same firm is providing advice to the public as to how to avoid tax.

  28. gunnerbear

    If PR was in use now, the Labour MP for my area would be Blue (based on the fact the that Blue + Purple vote share was greater than Red + Yellow – and that’s in an area that has been red for decades).

  29. gunnerbear

    Why the insult? The quotes come from people that were working at the BBC at the time – what possible reason could BBC staffers have for pouring booze down their necks at the election of a Labour govt. if they weren’t anti-Conservative (if not outright pro-Labour)?

  30. stevep

    Maybe so, but not across Britain and certainly not in the future.

  31. stevep

    That`s not an insult, it`s a compliment. Tory Trolls on this website don`t usually qualify.

  32. Lewys Hall

    If you think the BBC is left wing it probably says more about your politics which I’m guessing are to the right of Genghis Khan. Detailed broadcast research has demolished the myth that it is inherently left-wing. Look at some of its political presenters Andrew Neil, Nick Robinson, Robert Peston, James Landale ; all Tories! Look how many times it feels it has to have Nigel Farage on QT.

  33. stevep

    Well Said.

  34. Patrick Nelson

    The funny thing is that it was under Harold Wilson that censorship started to crumble and it was when Tony Blair was prime minister that we started to see hardcore porn in video shops, whilst the one word that comes to mind with regards Margaret Thatcher is Spycatcher, a fine example of Tory censorship.

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