Author Archives: Nick Harvey

A longer read for the weekend…Sir Nick Harvey on NATO in the era of Trump, Putin, Brexit and Corbyn

At Spring Conference in York, Sir Nick Harvey spoke at a Liberal Reform fringe event asking what now for NATO in the era of Trump, Putin, Brexit and Corbyn. With his kind permission we reproduce his remarks. Please do share your thoughts in the comments.

Do Brexit, Trump and the rise of populism in Europe signal a disintegration of western institutions? Has NATO become irrelevant or do we need it more than ever at a time of Russian expansionism?

Two notable quotations are of relevance to these questions: Mao Tse Tung’s assertion that, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” and von Clausewitz’s observation that “War is the continuation of politics by other means.”

It is a sobering thought that the UK’s real defence spending figure is now below 2% of GDP, and across the EU it is much less. By contrast, Russia spends 5.4% of its GDP on defence. Be in no doubt that President Putin is now involved in a major power play on the global stage.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 13 Comments

Nick Harvey writes…Trident: The real gamble with the nation’s security is making a currently purpose-less weapon a financial priority

TridentFor some, there is no greater symbol of the United Kingdom’s enduring role on the world stage and continued military relevance than the Trident nuclear weapons system. For others, Trident is the last unreformed bastion of Cold War thinking. It is a symbol of a bygone era of fear, instability and sky-high defence spending to hedge against an unpredictable Soviet threat.

Despite the Cold War ending; Russia and the UK de-targeting one another; multiple treaties the UK has signed up to committing to a reduction in nuclear weapon stockpiles; and a £100bn price tag which will in time account for 10% of the MoD’s budget while our Armed Forces are in desperate need of updated kit; the Tories and Labour both refuse even to entertain the notion that the status quo might reasonably be questioned.

As evidenced by yesterday’s news, they instead choose to scaremonger and point-score over what might be traded in a future coalition. Top military chiefs have also expressed their disdain at the recent headlines. The two parties are prioritising the impressive feat of kicking around the country’s most expensive political football, rather than participating in a rational conversation about whether the assumptions upon which like-for-like replacement rests are logical or relevant to the threats Britain faces today.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 26 Comments

Sir Nick Harvey writes…Difficult questions for all parties on defence spending

Today in the Commons I sat through impressive speeches from across the benches echoing concerns about the UK’s expenditure on defence – principally, our predicted failure to meet NATO’s 2 per cent of GDP target on defence spending in the approaching financial year.

There was little expectation that defence would become a big election issue, but less than two months ahead of polling day all the parties share the headache that a commitment to maintaining the 2 per cent target looks frankly impossible. With the assumption that further cuts will have to be made across the board, there are serious implications for the kind of role the UK wants to play in the world and how we are going to defend our global interests.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 37 Comments

Nick Harvey MP writes… We mustn’t let eurosceptics spoil useful defence co-operation with our EU partners

Today in London the UK’s foreign and defence secretaries, Philip Hammond and Michael Fallon, will meet their French counterparts, Laurent Fabius and Jean-Yves Le Drian. Of course, there is nothing particularly out of the ordinary about this meeting: in reality, UK and French Ministers meet frequently at various EU and NATO summits.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 8 Comments

Tribute to Jeremy Thorpe

NPG x167152; Jeremy Thorpe by Walter Bird, Copyright National POrtrait Gallery, London some rights reservedJeremy Thorpe’s funeral was held last Wednesday at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster. It was attended by around 400 people including all five leaders of the Liberal party and the Liberal Democrats who succeeded Jeremy Thorpe: David Steel, Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, Ming Campbell and Nick Clegg. There was a gathering afterwards at the National Liberal Club. The following tribute was delivered at the funeral by Nick Harvey MP, and is reproduced here at his suggestion.

It is a great honour to be asked to say a few words today about the political life and times of Jeremy Thorpe, though I do so with considerable humility as many present here witnessed and lived the Thorpe era first hand, whereas I was still at school at the time.

To describe Jeremy’s footsteps as giant ones in which to follow in North Devon would be a huge understatement.

Posted in Obituaries | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Nick Harvey writes: Making free school meals work

school mealsYesterday in Parliament I joined with the Children’s Society to chair a roundtable to discuss the Government’s new free school meals policy.

Announced at last year’s Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference, from the start of the next school year (2014/15) all children at infant school in England will receive a free school lunch. The policy, which is projected to cost around £1bn over the next two years, will apply to all children aged 4-7 regardless of their family’s income.

Yesterday’s event brought together MPs with experts in the fields of education and nutrition …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Nick Harvey MP writes… Robert Gates poses stark defence question to UK: Do we want to be a real military partner or a nuclear power and nothing else?

Former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates was on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning decrying the UK’s defence cuts. He said the squeeze meant the UK could no longer be a ‘full spectrum’ military partner of the US, acknowledging that our relationship with the US has been fundamentally altered.

A sceptic would quickly dismiss the comments of a man currently promoting his memoirs, but Gates makes a wider point about what exactly we want to be doing with a smaller defence capability.

Both Labour and the Tories continue to cling to the idea that we should maintain a full-scale Cold War …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 31 Comments
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  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 24th Feb - 2:19am
    @Roland. Consultation Paper 134 on Tuition Fees does not, of course, represent party policy, which is yet to be decided by Conference, probably next September....
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    Roland, Predictions are difficult to make, especially about the future - so goes the quip. Keynes in the 1920s predicted that productivity and incomes would...
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    Peter, to be fair to the associate professor he does not claim that the UK will face insolvency. His argument is "the falling pound and...
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    @ Micheal BG, "bigger government deficits will bigger government deficits will everything else being equal produce a bigger economy in that economy produce a bigger...
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    @Joe Burke - "The conclusion notes “Keynes believed that aggregate real income would continue to increase as more and more capital is accumulated. This increase...
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    @ David Raw When someone makes an incorrect statement even if it is off topic others should rebut it. Like Laurence Cox did with me....