Defence & Security: A Current Electoral Issue

Of immediate concern in Parliamentary circles is the Defence Budget as part of the Conservatives’ “electoral platform” for 2015.

At issue is David Cameron’s refusal to commit the Party formally to a Defence Budget equal to 2% of GDP in conformity with NATO policy. At the same time, he maintains that he does not necessarily see a need not to commit but wants flexibility.

This seems to me to be ill-advised. Firstly, from a public-relations point of view it can serve as an example to other NATO members to drag their feet. Secondly, it has alarmed our American ally, already concerned by cuts in our level of military spending.

From a practical point of view, present cuts of 20,000 men in the Army, 5000 in in the RAF and 5,999 in the Navy have been met with criticisms from our Defence chiefs that we have fallen below the level of our commitments.

This seems to me to be a very dangerous time for instituting economies in our Defence Budget. The international scene has taken on a more threatening aspect than we have seen for some years: again an increasingly threatening attitude from Russia, a Middle East engaged in increasing turbulence, an as yet immeasurable threat from terrorists.

This is a time not for Mr Cameron’s ambivalence but for the strengthening of our defences and a firmer attitude from our political leaders.

Michael Webster
BCiP Member