AN artist has taken a cheeky swipe at the government’s cuts to the Royal Navy.
Roger Holman has painted ‘HMS Pennypincher’ – depicting what he sees as the future fleet flagship.
The small fishing boat, which is commanded by an officer who clings to a basket of eggs and armed with a French gunner, attracted a lot of attention while she was being painted in front of HMS Warrior at The Hard, Portsmouth.
‘There were lots of people coming up to me and talking to me about it,’ said Mr Holman, who spent two days on the piece.
‘It was interesting to hear what people have to say – most people seem to fear we are not going to have a navy soon.’
The 49-year-old artist from Leigh Park added: ‘I think it’s just crazy. There is just too much cutting going on too quickly.
‘We’re relying on other countries more and more.
‘That’s what I wanted to say with this piece really – we should not be putting all our eggs in one basket, which is what this country tends to do time and time again.
‘To me, they do not invest back in the country and their own people. The money is always going out of the country.’
The artist said he was sad to see former flagship HMS Ark Royal leave the navy last week.
‘The number of people who queued up for hours to see the ship just goes to show how important she is and how people feel about her,’ he said.
Mr Holman, who served briefly in the army and comes from a family steeped in military service, added: ‘In my mind, the armed forces are about training people to get them into shape so if a crisis happens they are there and in a good position to do a good job.
‘Without investing in our armed forces, we’re going to find ourselves in trouble.’
The government has stood firm on the decisions it took to try and fill a £38bn black hole in the Defence budget.
Defence secretary Liam Fox maintains the coalition got the balance right. But critics have called for a rethink on the cuts in light of political uncertainty in North Africa and the Middle East.
Former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Ashdown, has added his voice to those questioning the reductions to our military. The former Royal Marine, who served in the elite Special Boat Service, called last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review a ‘flawed process’.
In an interview, he said: ‘It lacked political leadership, it descended into an unseemly squabble between the heads of the services to hang on to their most expensive toys instead of a proper result which addressed the defence needs of the country.’
Lord Ashdown said the decision to axe the Harrier jets, which went along with Ark Royal, was ‘completely illogical’. Last October’s review may not be the end of the cuts, with defence ministers last week admitting the armed forces face another £1bn of cuts this year, which could impact further on the navy.
Around 3,000 sailors will be made redundant in an announcement on April 4.