Monday, January 22, 2007

Dereliction of duty

The revelation in today's Telegraph that defence spending as a proportion of GDP is at it's lowest since 1930 demonstrates only too well how this Labour government has wasted the precious economic revival and stability that came from the foundations laid down by the Conservatives under Thatcher.

Remember, this is happening at a time when tax take as a proportion of GDP is close to 40% and is expected to rise over the next 50 years to close to 50%. This is the Treasury's own projection.

If this were happening at a time when the world was relatively free from threat and we were a nation at peace, this could be, at least in part, justified. But the world is not free from threat and we are not at peace. We are already at war on two fronts and our armed forces are on active deployment in a number of other places where conflict has been recent and could break out again at almost anytime.

As well as this there is the growing threat of Islamist extremism and there are potential conflicts that could break out in other areas at any moment which may require our intervention - either as part of the UN, NATO or the EU. Maybe even on our own. When I think about the capability of our armed forces I like to apply a test which I call the Falklands test.

If the Falkland Islands were invaded and captured again, would we be capable of liberating them?

I'm not asking whether we should or shouldn't, just whether we could. It was a close run thing in 1982. Today it would be impossible.

The test fails on the first hurdle. With no aircraft carriers (or to be exact, no aircraft to go on our aircraft carriers), any fleet we did assemble to transport an expeditionary force would be without air cover. Even before you start to consider whether we have the ships to compose the fleet, the ships to defend the fleet, the troops to make up the force and the helicopters to transport them into the battlefield - it all becomes academic. We could not even begin to liberate the Falklands.

With tax at record levels and expected to rise further over the next 50 years it would be reasonable to expect that our nation would enjoy the best of everything. Do we? Is our education system really that good? Is our healthcare so wonderful? I don't believe that either are very good. In fact, I believe that both education and healthcare were better 50 years ago than they are now, but these are secondary issues.

The first duty of government is to ensure that the nation is secure. Before anything else - education, health, welfare, anything - the primary issue for government is national defence. Even at a time of peace, there is the need to be prepared for war. To be at war and still find our government derelict in their first duty as a government is nothing short of treason.


Drew said...

Quick question.Do you think that Blairs signing of the one-way extradition treaty (US) is an example of forward thinking. re loans affair.

Stan said...

Presumably you are wondering if Blair deliberately made the policy one-sided to prevent his eventual extradition from the US back to the UK?

I don't think so. I doubt that his mind - or that of any other mainistream politician - is capable of thinking much beyond the next headline or the next soundbite.

As a conservative, I'm quite used to being called "reactionary" and yet I've never known any group more reactionary than socialists.

Sure they all have this grand vision of a utopian society where everyone is equal and everything is snug and cosy, but they have no idea how to achieve that, because it is impossible - a perfect human existence would require perfect humans and they do not exist.

So what they do is react. To any issue whether it be a real problme or merely a perceived problem. Because they are so reactionary this leads to proposed solutions which are not based on sound principle, proven methods or studied observations but a "gut feel".

More often than not, these "solutions" create more problems than they solve - so they react again.


That is why the extradition treaty was so one sided and pretty much sums up the whole legacy of the Blair administration.