Defending the UK

The world is a dangerous place. Russia is in dispute with the European Union to our east. The Middle East is gripped by a series of civil wars and by a more general regional conflict between Sunni and Shia forces. Islamic extremism and terrorism stalks many streets around the world, with enclaves of terrorist rule in Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

In the last Parliament I supported the UK maintaining its commitment to spend 2% of national income on defence, as we promised NATO we will do. This commitment enabled orders to be placed for new ships, planes and army equipment, where real increases in the budget have been promised for future years. I also supported the maintenance of a nuclear deterrent, which entails building new submarines to preserve our continuous at sea capability which is central to the style of nuclear deterrent we own. I did not support all of the planned missions for our forces, disagreeing with intervention in Syria and  speaking out for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

For the next five years I will want the government to keep to the NATO pledge. We need to spend more on ships and personnel for the navy, more on maintaining a slimmed down army following recent cuts, and more on airforce capability. As the economy grows, so if we keep to the 2% target so we can spend more on our forces. I will remain sceptical of the wisdom and need for us to send troops into difficult Middle Eastern civil wars.

I also think ordering four new submarines for our deterrent is essential. The Liberal democrats hope there is some cheaper means by owning cruise missiles or fewer boats. Experts agree there is no cheaper effective substitute for our current deterrent. Nor does Labour’s suggestion that we only need three submarines pass muster. Repairs, refits, resting crews all requires four boats to ensure and guarantee continuous at sea capability. The extra cost of the fourth boat is not great over the lifetime of deterrent, given the extra costs of adaptation and repair if relying on three boats. At least all three main parties of the last Parliament agree that the UK does need a deterrent, in an age when many more states and political movements gain access to nuclear weapons.

This is not a time to relax our guard or walk away from our NATO commitment.

 

Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both at 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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8 Comments

  1. Tad Davison
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    You are absolutely right John, but the more enemies we create, the more money we need to spend on defence.

    Diplomacy is a far cheaper option both in terms of money and human lives. That diplomacy has failed, and that military adventures have brought about a far more dangerous situation than existed before, is a damning indictment upon our foreign policy, and we must never again trust these warmonger politicians with our nation’s security.

    We’re struggling to find our 2% commitment to NATO. In the US, defence spending is something like 50% of all tax dollars. They see themselves as the world’s policeman, bringing democracy and stability to all. At least that’s what they want us to think. The reality is entirely different, and I harken back to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about ‘The Military Industrial Complex’. Creating wars and frightening the people so they can justify the enormous spending, and the CIA are always complicit in these illicit actions.

    After the Bay of Pigs disaster, and upon learning that they were effectively out of control, John F. Kennedy wanted to ‘smash the CIA into a thousand pieces’. etc ed But things have got far worse since then, and it is self-evident that wars are created so that powerful people can make a lot of money. It is best for the UK not to hang onto their coat tails.

    We need deterrents but it is worth noting what the former US Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara, says about nuclear weapons – they are only useful for deterring your opponent from using nuclear weapons. They have no military value whatsoever.

    I am in favour of keeping a nuclear deterrent, but one we control, not a dual-key system that others have a say in. And I doubt if we could ever use a nuclear missile to fight terrorism, or a warped and dangerously perverted religious ideology that says death is preferable to life. And speaking of which, Pakistan is now developing battlefield nuclear weapons to compliment its stockpile of ballistic missiles.

    Diplomacy is the real key to it all, and if the diplomats can’t deliver, or they are acting on some hidden agenda on behalf of a duplicitous political master, then we need to get rid of them as a matter of the utmost urgency for our very survival may depend on it.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  2. Peejos
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    How is it considered necessary to have four submarines to provide the necessary defence role, when apparently the Navy can manage with just two aircraft carriers. Will they not require repairs and maintenance as well as time out of active service for training.. Perhaps by the time that they are ready for service we shall n’t rule the waves ever agin

    Reply. We can only afford 2 aircraft carriers, so that means they cannot be continuously at sea. In order to have an effective deterrent you do need a boat continuously at sea, so you cannot manage on 2 or 3 boats.

  3. Gumpy Goat
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Most sensible thing you have said for a while, Totally agree that we should not get mixed up in others peoples wars in the middle east, often non of our business, unless it is a direct threat to us or our allies. Nuclear is an important deterrence as sadly nuclear weapons expand into unstable regimes. Pakistan is a potential nightmare. But also non nuclear weapons are important. Having nuclear weapons did not stop Argentina invading the Falklands. it was conventional weapons that removed them and lives of our armed forces

    But I have to take issue with this government commitment to defence. Our armour is now ancient , when is the Scout FRES element to be ordered? We have no maritime patrol aircraft, we had to rely on others when a Russian submarine was spotted of Scotland. It took days when a Russian frigate parked itself of the Scottish coast for the RN to get frigate up there. We do not have enough F-35 ordered to provide a air group for the carriers. The RN will have only 13 type 26 frigates on order Sadly defence has been the easy choice budget choice to cut whilst other budgets have been ring fenced.

    • DaveM
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      “Sadly defence has been the easy choice budget choice to cut whilst other budgets have been ring fenced.”

      Quite right. I work in defence and it makes you want to cry sometimes.

      Unfortunately, we make a rod for our own backs because generally speaking we deliver the same capability with what we’ve got. We don’t cry, demonstrate, or whine. We smile nicely and are polite when politicians make official visits. We CAN’T go on strike. Many of us haven’t had a non-incremental pay rise for 5 years.

      It’s not, however, as bad as some make out. 13 Type 26s and 6 Type 45s, along with Carriers and Subs, present a formidable capability. The Army is suffering badly though, not necessarily from equipment deficiencies, but from lack of funding to train.

      My PLEA would be that the Defence Budget is ringfenced at an absolute minimum 2% of GDP (not including other parts of the UK Security Forces) – Mr Colville is pressing for 3%, but 2.5% would be OK.

  4. Dennis
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    What is making the world a dangerous place?
    Look no further than US foreign policy since WW2 and the UK in recent years following their paranoid, defence industry profits upkeep etc.

    They and the UK are very efficient in making enemies, one of our productive exports.

    It’s amusing that US is now taking Cuba off the promoting terrorism list when the US is the prime promoter!

  5. Dennis
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that Costa Rica, all African countries, Mongolia and many more are not quaking in their boots because they have no nuclear weapons?

    I have heard that as Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons (were they operational?) it has left them open to aggression. Does anyone think that they would have used them, if possible, against Russia and committed suicide for everyone including probably many neighbours? Ukraine having those weapons would have deterred nothing.

  6. Dennis
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Why do we and particularly the US not want Iran to have a bomb? Because we think they would use it on Israel or some other place? Iran knows it would be wiped out pretty quickly.
    No, because it would deter the West from doing any invading or other action. The surest deterrent to US action is a functioning nuclear arsenal.
    Same for N. Korea I suppose.

  7. Dennis
    Posted April 12, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Well I seemed to have put the kibosh on this – is everyone in catatonic shock?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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