Monday, April 10, 2017

The Defence Budget.

Not been near my blog site for a while and how I would like to write about the turbulence involving the Welsh Conservative (and Independent) Group in the Welsh Assembly. But serving as PPS in the Wales Office tells me that I should hold my tongue. Refused more media interviews in the last few days than I have since being elected an MP seven years ago. My time will come though.

So tonight I will write about the UK's commitment to defence. Read an article by Roger Bootle in today's Telegraph which linked well with reflection on the Trump military strike on Homs Airport and Boris pulling out of his trip to Moscow. Since I've been an MP, I've thought the UK does not spend enough on defence. I've been very much a member of the 2% club - those MPs demanding that the UK Government spends 2% of GDP on defence. I accept this is more 'symbolic' percentage than a carefully worked out demand-led figure. But it makes the point. Every Government, since states identified defined territories, has a first duty towards the protection of its citizens from external threats.

Over recent decades, there has grown a view by many that external threats have lessened, largely because there have been no major wars between European countries. This is true. The reasons are disputed. Some think it's a consequence of the establishment of the European Union, while others point to the development of nuclear weapons and Mutually Assured Destruction. It doesn't really make much difference. The external threat today is not from other European countries, but from well armed states like Russia and Korea. And China is investing mega-money in defence. Others are upping defence spending as well.

I suspect I'm in a minority. Most public demand for increased spending is for health and social care, the welfare state and education (even when our debt and deficit are at eye-watering levels). The UK is the world's 5th largest economy, with significant global interests, likely to become more global, post Brexit. And defence spending underpins technology development in the UK, career development, soft power across the world and a strong British element in European defence. I think I may have talked myself into joining the 2.5% club.

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