RICHARD ORD: Wanted! A turkey with a six-foot wishbone

While trying to find two-metre long crackers to ensure a socially-distanced Christmas dinner the other day, I spotted General Sir Nick Carter on the TV.

Coming to a World War near you soon. The gun-toting robot.
Coming to a World War near you soon. The gun-toting robot.

You may not be familiar with Sir Nick as he rarely appears on screen but when he does, he’s easy to spot. He’s covered in medals.

As the UK’s Chief of Defence Staff, he was on Sky News as part of the Remembrance Day build up, rightly praising the heroes of old.

During the interview he chucked a couple of, thankfully, metaphorical hand grenades into the conversation.

The main one being that the coronavirus pandemic could trigger new security threats around the globe and, potentially, a Third World War! (Like we don’t already have enough to worry about!)

There was a time, I’m sure, that such a claim from someone so high up in the chain of command would spark a faint murmur of panic among the populace. This time? Nothing. Barely a shrug of the shoulders.

Even the interviewer didn’t really follow up on the, thankfully, metaphorical bombshell (maybe there were adverts coming up).

I suspect, however, the portent of doom by Sir Nick was aimed not at the public, but the politicians.

Sure enough, less than a fortnight later and the PM is breathlessly (nothing to do with Covid, I’m sure) revealing a whopping £16bn defence funding bonanza. Nice timing Nick.

I guess the military always has the threat of a world war up its sleeve to squeeze out some extra government cash. Librarians and the like have less ammunition. A literacy timebomb holds little fear in the corridors of power (a Grammaggeddon, if you must). Hence a pay freeze for the public sector.

The second notable comment from Sir Nick was a throwaway observation on the make-up of the defence forces. When asked about personnel numbers in the future, he couldn’t be sure but said: "I suspect we can have an army of 120,000 of which 30,000 might be robots, who knows?” Well if he doesn’t know, I’m not sure who will. But it hints as to where a lot of that £16bn will be spent. Robot soldiers ... on mechanical horses, I wager.

We ought to be worried, but then we’ve got enough on our plates. Forget gun-toting robots, for a social-distanced Christmas I want to know where to buy a turkey with a six-foot wishbone?