LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Tories’ Royal Marine cut plays fast and loose with UK defence

It makes sense that Paddy should write for the Plymouth Herald on defence given the city’s strategic importance.

He took the Government to task for cutting the Marines – about which he knows more than most people:

For more than three centuries – from Gibraltar and Trafalgar to Normandy and Afghanistan – the Royal Marines have epitomised those qualities. They have fought in more theatres and won more battles than any other British unit. In our nation’s hours of danger, they have been, as Lord St Vincent predicted in 1802, “the country’s sheet anchor”.

So the news that the Government is cutting 200 Royal Marine posts – at such a volatile time in world affairs – should concern us all. They are committing this folly in response to a crisis of their own making.

The cost of Conservative foolishness doesn’t end with the Royal Marines. They’ve cut personnel numbers, breaking their manifesto promise not to reduce the Army below 82,000. Troops on the frontline are deprived of basic equipment and combat training has been slashed, putting soldiers’ lives in greater peril. Warships sit idle at quaysides. No wonder top generals have accused the Government of “deception” over defence.

The Tories are very practised at talking tough on defence in elections. But look at the history: it’s always Tories who cut most on defence in government. It’s now clear that Mrs May will get back in because of the hopelessness of the Labour Party. But it would be very dangerous to give her a big enough majority to ignore us again.

He then went on to talk about schools and the NHS:

The Liberal Democrats will reverse the cuts to our schools, investing an extra £7billion to make sure funding rises in line with both inflation and rising pupil numbers. We’ll also put an extra £6 billion a year into the NHS, funded by a 1p rise in income tax rates. With your support on June 8, our local MPs will stand up for the South West and for our schools, our hospitals and our armed forces.

The combination of Mrs May’s cynicism and Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to provide a proper opposition can be depressing. But they don’t represent Britain.

We are a wonderful country full of decent, hard-working people. Our future can be bright, but only if people vote to change it.

You can read the full article here.

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2 Comments

  • Dave Orbison 27th May '17 - 1:55pm

    I see so if the Tories get in it’s entirely Labour’s fault? Why? Because Labour will not have done well presumably.

    But the thrust of this article blaming Labour if the Tories were reelected begs the question what of the LibDems performance? Do they not share any responsibility at all if this were to happen?

    And what point is Paddy Ashdown trying to make here? On the one hand he seems to be blaming the Tories for cutting back on defence and links that to a threat our security. A point that Corbyn made in his speech yesterday. Yet Tim Farron seized upon this to attack Corbyn.

    Just what is the position of the LibDem leadership? It is all over the place.

    If you feel these Tory cuts do undermine our security and if you least want a Tory Government why on earth you you spend time attacking the one party that has a chance of beating them? Surely the focus should be on those who made the cuts you are so critical of and those you least prefer to be elected?

    Attacking Corbyn in a bizarre and muddled way is the surest way to bring about a Tory election. This makes no sense at all to me .

  • Alan Depauw 27th May '17 - 2:51pm

    The basic issue on which no-one seems to be challenging May, is why does her manifesto promise such misery? Why all the actual and relative cuts and threatened income tax rises? Why do the Tories wish to reduce corporation tax ever further?
    It’s because of the anticipated costs of leaving the single market and customs union. What are these costs? What are the treasury forecasts that so constrain the manifesto? Why do neither interviewers nor opposition politicians- apparently not even Lib Dem ones- constantly press the Tories on these questions?

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