Monday, January 22, 2007

Labour let down the Armed Forces

Conservative Home links to a story in the Telegraph that UK defence spending is at its lowest level, as a proportion of national income, since 1930. This is an awesome failure of a Labour government which argues that Britain should remain a "war-fighting power" and which has deployed our military abroad liberally throughout its time in office. Those who give Blair credit for reconciling the Labour party to a robust foreign policy should note that military operations which are conducted without proper financial provision undermine the case for military action in future crises by giving the public the perception that Britain is not up to the task of war-fighting.

It is also an indictment of Brown's strategic vision which should cast doubt upon his suitability to become Prime Minister. That, while the other services have wasted large chunks of their huge influx of cash, the military has been forced to achieve so much without proper resources suggests that Brown was blindly following the Old Labour preference for welfare state services over security rather than attempting a more open-minded analysis which would have suggested that British foreign policy makes a substantial investment in our armed forces an absolute imperative.


Gracchi said...

I'm not sure about this post Matthew here are a couple of thoughts

Isn't it slightly shocking that until now we were spending more than we were in 1930 when we controlled a third of the world, Australia, New Zealand, lots of Africa, most of the Middle East, India and unofficially parts of South America. Shouldn't retreat have been accompanied by military retreat?

Just a thought- and of course the rest of the world has increased spending.

Matthew Sinclair said...

I agree that 1930 is a somewhat suspect comparison to today but I think the reason that it was the previous trough is that the country was a) facing a severe budget constraint and b) willing to let the colonial military wither on the vine.

I think that the modern problem can be seen from the fact that since 1930 includes eras in which we had comparatively small military commitments, the mid-90s for example. With all our current operations why is our spending not going up?

Gracchi said...

Yes nice answer.

I suppose the real question is to the role which Blair envisages for Britain in the world. At some point we are going to have to admit that we aren't a world power anymore.

Matthew Sinclair said...

Why? We have every advantage in being a world power: big economy, secure homeland, strong alliances, outward looking populace.