Tag Archives: armed forces

Defending Britain: A call for preparedness, inclusion and investment

As I reflect on the current geopolitical landscape and the looming possibility of conflict, I can’t help but feel a sense of urgency for Britain to be ready to defend itself. Recently, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing Chief of the General Staff, issued a stark warning about the potential for war with Russia, sparking a crucial conversation about our nation’s preparedness and the necessary investments to safeguard our future.

The need for preparedness echoes loudly in today’s uncertain times.

The consensus is clear – we must be ready to repel any potential misadventure from Russia. History has taught us that readiness is not a luxury but a strategic necessity. From military leaders to concerned citizens, the call for preparedness emphasizes the need for a robust defence apparatus.

However, preparedness alone is not enough. General Sir Patrick Sanders, a vocal critic of troop cuts and military spending reductions, urges substantial investments in our armed forces. He emphasizes the urgency of expanding the size of the army and highlights the importance of well-trained, well-equipped soldiers who are adequately compensated for their service. Our strength doesn’t just lie in numbers but in capabilities and resilience.

Amid discussions of military strength, we must also recognize the unique power embedded in Britain’s diversity and inclusion. Our nation’s strength extends beyond military might to the unity forged by individuals from diverse backgrounds who call Britain their home. To harness this strength, it is imperative that all citizens, regardless of their origins, feel included and valued in matters of national defence. Inclusion is not only a moral imperative but a strategic advantage.

True national strength is not solely measured in the might of our armed forces but in the collective will and resilience of our people.

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20 September 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Latest inflation figures will be “of cold comfort”
  • Liberal Democrats call for increase to apprenticeship pay as dropout rates soar
  • Davey: Sunak is trashing the economy of the future
  • Over 1,000 sewage leaks in armed forces’ accommodation
  • Davey: This is not leadership from Rishi Sunak, this is putting the UK at the back of the queue

Latest inflation figures will be “of cold comfort”

The latest inflation figures show that inflation has fallen slightly to 6.7% from 6.8% in August. Responding to the news Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP said:

This news will be of cold comfort for families across the country still struggling with sky high prices and mortgages because the Conservatives have crashed the economy.

Ministers still simply haven’t got a clue how to protect hardworking people’s wallets during the cost of living crisis.

Rishi Sunak should not pat himself on the back whilst this crisis carries on, the Government must do more.

Liberal Democrats call for increase to apprenticeship pay as dropout rates soar

Apprenticeships in shortage occupations have fallen by up to 73%, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats reveal, while in some sectors three in four apprentices are dropping out before completing their course.

It comes as the party is set to adopt proposals to increase pay for apprenticeships to at least the minimum wage, as part of a new industrial strategy being unveiled at its Autumn Conference this weekend.

A collapse in new apprenticeships is contributing to the crippling skills shortages affecting British businesses, making it even harder for them to fill vacancies. House of Commons Library research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats shows that sectors listed in the Government’s official “shortage occupation list” have seen particularly stark falls in apprenticeships.

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Only 40 armed forces paramedics are qualified to work in the NHS

Embed from Getty Images

There are only 40 paramedics in the armed forces who would be qualified to work in the NHS, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The government has admitted in response to a parliamentary question that the armed forces have 107 paramedics, of which 40 are confirmed as meeting the qualification requirements set out by the Health and Care Professions Council. These are the qualifications needed in order to practise as a paramedic in the UK.

The figures were uncovered through a parliamentary question tabled by Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP.

It comes as the government has set out plans to bring in military personnel to drive ambulances and support the NHS during the strikes due to take place this month.

Daisy Cooper said:

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The army should not be called in as strike breakers

The government is mobilising the army to deal with civil problems. It is not the first time. Think back to the London Olympics. And the army’s Green Goddesses that were used in the fire strikes of 1977 and 2002.

Armed forces were also used during the epidemic, but that was a national emergency and all hands were needed. But we are not now facing a national emergency. We are facing strike action because the Conservatives have been in power too long. They have lost what little understanding they had with the gritty realities of life for many people. They have lost any sympathy for health workers who have to use a food bank or are stressed out about paying the rent or the mortgage. They have lost have empathy with paramedics whose working conditions have become intolerable.

Cobra meets this afternoon to discuss the wave of forthcoming strikes. The meeting of the government’s emergency committee is to be chaired by Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden, not the prime minister. There are echoes of Boris Johnson here, who failed to attend five Cobra meetings at the start of the pandemic.

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What are the UK’s Armed Forces for?

It may seem an obvious question, but I have never heard a frank and honest public discussion that fully defines the purpose of our Armed Forces. The current crisis in Ukraine has highlighted the stark contrast between our elected politicians wanting to talk tough and appear as a big player on the world stage versus the reality of what we have equipped and resourced our Armed Forces to actually do.

It would be easy to find a broad consensus that they should defend the UK, and it’s Overseas Territories and Dependencies. Most would agree that we have treaty obligations under NATO that we are obliged to meet, and few would argue against using their equipment and expertise to support disaster relief and respond to emergencies.

Beyond that however, should the UK maintain an expeditionary capability, able to conduct operations far away and intervene in conflicts that don’t directly affect UK territory or NATO allies?

It’s an important question in many ways, not least because the Armed Forces needed to do that look quite different to what is needed just to conduct defensive operations close to home. As a nation, we need to collectively decide what is our place in the world, then we have a duty and obligation to resource and equip our Forces accordingly. I suggest that we are currently failing.  Numbers of troops, tanks, warships and combat aircraft are at historic lows, having been cut again recently by the Conservative Government (while boasting of increased defence spending).

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Why we should support our armed services more

The NHS Nightingale Hospital shows us the value in supporting a properly funded armed services.

The UK currently has a target of spending 2% of GDP on the armed forces, however, that figure includes a lot of spending that doesn’t directly go on the armed forces.

Hopefully, the professionalism of the armed forces in getting resources from A to B and setting up the field hospitals will show why it is important that we increase funding on the armed forces going forward, to make up for spending cuts that have occurred since 2010.

As COVID spread across the country, it became clear …

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9-10 November 2019 – the weekend’s press releases

That’s rather embarrassing, in that I managed to fall asleep mid-edit. So, time to catch up…

  • Lib Dems respond to Conservative announcement on GP appointments
  • Lib Dems: Boris Johnson should call Cobra meeting over flooding emergency
  • Labour People’s Vote promise rings hollow – Lib Dems
  • Labour People’s Vote promise rings hollow – Lib Dems
  • Lib Dems: Manifestos must receive OBR scrutiny

Lib Dems respond to Conservative announcement on GP appointments

Responding to the Conservative Party’s announcement today on GP appointments, Luciana Berger, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, said:

This latest Tory announcement isn’t offering any real solutions to the current

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17 January 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: UK facing energy crunch
  • Cable: Corbyn determined to play party political games
  • Lib Dems: Outrageous that army reserves are on standby due to Tory Brexit mess
  • Lib Dems: Only way forward is through a People’s Vote
  • Govt back-payment for modern slavery victims is too little too late
  • Cable: Government wrong on People’s Vote timetable

Davey: UK facing energy crunch

Responding to the news that Hitachi have stopped work on the Wylfa plant, former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy Ed Davey said:

Japanese businesses have warned about Brexit’s economic consequences since the 2016 referendum, so this latest set back to the Conservatives’ energy policy is

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18 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Brexit is coming, the hedge fund’s growing fat, who will put a billion in Phil Hammond’s hat? If you haven’t got a billion, 3,000 troops will do, if you haven’t got 3,000 troops, then God bless you…

But at least we’re giving some opposition to this wastrel administration…

  • Lib Dem peers defeat Government to force Prevent review (this one arrived late last night)
  • Cable: Decision to ramp up no-deal is psychological warfare
  • Dropping migration target an admission Brexit won’t control immigration
  • Lib Dems: Putting troops on standby is simply scaremongering
  • Lib Dems table no confidence motion in Government

We’ve also received a press release from Tower Hamlets

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Airstrikes Alone Will Not Solve the Syrian Crisis

Given the last two decades of failed interventions it is easy to understand why the majority of Britain is opposed to the recent intervention in Syria.

As liberals we must do all we can, as internationalists, to maintain peace around the globe. But also as liberals we cannot allow such abhorrent crimes to continue to be committed by the Assad regime. The silence of our inaction would have been deafening; five years of ignoring the conflict has led us to where we are today.

The scars of the Libyan intervention are still in the recent memories of the West, and conflict still plagues the nation, but our failures there cannot deter us from upholding our moral commitment to prevent war crimes and holding those who commit them to account. The Pro-Assad propaganda, backed by Russia and elements of the Labour party, are toxic: they stand in the way of any meaningful resolution in Syria, and more civilians will die if their interpretation of the war enters the mainstream of political thought.

We must look to our past if we are to make sure that we leave Syria a better place than it is now. The airstrikes are a short term solution, but they are only limiting Assad’s ability to launch another chemical attack, a noble cause but not a path to peace.

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Avoiding a ‘Munich moment’


In October of 2010, the coalition government published its Strategic Defence Review into the future of the UK’s armed forces. It spoke of the need to counter the threat from an enemy which fought an asymmetric campaign, citing the growth of Al Qaeda and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In doing so it ignored the writings of David Kilcullen, perhaps the foremost expert in asymmetric warfare and the hard won experience of our Armed Forces fighting a 30 year conflict in Northern Ireland. Instead it advocated reducing its greatest asset for fighting an asymmetric war, the army, down to 80,000 from its then establishment of 102,000. This loss of 20% of its fighting force was supposed to be offset by raising the countries reserve forces up to 30,0000. Needless to say the MoD is having great difficulty in recruiting reservists.

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Monroe Palmer writes: Reform of the complaints system for the Armed Forces

British soldiers on a training mission in Afghanistan -  Some rights reserved by AN HONORABLE GERMANThe Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill, currently going through report stage in the Lords, has a non-snappy title clearly not dreamt up with Public Relations in mind. It is however important as it includes creation of a Service Complaints Ombudsman and reform of Service complaints system.

As we move into Report stage the Liberal Democrat team, including the valuable contributions of my Lib Dem colleague Martin Thomas (Lord Thomas of Gresford), concentrated on two amendments. One to ensure that a complaint does not disappear if the complainant dies. The second is to carry out an investigation of any allegations of systemic abuse or injustice if it appears to her/him to be in the public interest and that there should be compelling circumstances.

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Nick Harvey writes on yesterday’s Army re-structuring announcement

With Britain’s combat role in Afghanistan coming to an end, so ends the predictability of our Army’s main effort. Looking beyond 2014, we need to restructure our armed forces to face an increasingly uncertain world: ready to intervene to protect our national interest, with the agile and adaptable ability to project force and prevent conflict, as set out in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

So yesterday’s Army 2020 announcement was about restructuring the British Army for the future. Contrary to many claims, it is not about personnel cuts.

Of course, we cannot avoid the fact that the economic situation …

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Lib Dem Councillor Amy Kitcher shows the compassionate side of politics

A touching story epitomising the compassionate side of politics reaches The Voice via Dominic Hannigan:

Prompted by Merthyr councillor Amy Kitcher, wellwishers from all over the borough have come to the aid of Paul Thomas, who was living in a flat in conditions he described as a “living nightmare”.

And the dad-of-two, who is battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, admits that, if it wasn’t for the help of local people, he might even have considered taking his own life.

“If it wasn’t for Amy Kitcher and if I wasn’t such a strong person, I could be dead by now,” the 34-year-old

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Opinion: Veterans ‘stuffed’ again

The UK Military Covenant Commission report identified injustices in a lack of past medallic recognition for those who had served in the British Armed Forces. This led to the Conservative Party policy in their 2010 General Election manifesto and the Coalition “Programme for Government” commitment to undertake a comprehensive Medal Review. But the Ministry of Defence has stuffed our veterans.

The Ministry of Defence failed to publicly notify when the medal review started; what its terms of reference were and when it would report; failed to consult with veterans, and produced unsubstantiated findings based on false arguments. In a matter of weeks MoD …

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Book review: Andrew Murrison on the military covenant

Taking its title from Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, this book by Conservative MP Andrew Murrison is rather a mixed bag. There is much that is interesting and thoughtful in his study of how wider society views and treats the military in Britain, but that is rather let down by a meandering structure which results in some topics being returned to frequently, the flow within many chapters being unclear and indeed the actual origins of the military covenant being largely unmentioned. We get a little detail of who first wrote the words and when, but almost nothing about what triggered the …

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Opinion: policy making is proving pointless

As the Federal Party prepares for the Spring Conference, in Nick Clegg’s homeland of Sheffield, Liberal Democrat policy making, now we are in Coalition Government, is proving pointless.

The award of a National Defence medal, to hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been prepared to put their life on the line to keep the Nation safe and secure, was the first policy motion approved by the Liberal Democrat Party since being in Coalition Government. A veteran’s medal fund ensures there is no cost to the public purse surrounding this policy.
A review of service medals was contained in …

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Opinion: for the want of a nail

Joining the traditional Nativity story of revelation followed by deliverance, this festive season we have been able to enjoy even more revealed truths about our world courtesy of Wikileaks, the Daily Telegraph and more or less any senior Army officer near a microphone.

Although there are moral and technical differences between these sources of information, they have each attempted to lift the veil to reveal the ‘truth’ behind the public face of diplomacy, coalition governance and military strategy. But have we liberals been consistent in our responses to these revelations?

With the diplomatic cables released through Wikileaks, there’s been a strong …

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Farron: “damning” evidence that Labour neglected Armed Forces

A memo released by the Iraq Inquiry today by Lieutenant General Sir Nicholas Houghton, then-Chief of Joint Operations at the military’s Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) to Ministers, shows that Labour ministers were formally warned that the military needed an alternative to the Snatch Land Rover in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tim Farron, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs & Defence, comments:

This is yet another damning sign that the Labour Government ignored advice from its top military officials on their equipment needs. “As we long suspected, generals told ministers that they needed better equipment to protect

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The coalition agreement: defence and deficit reduction

Welcome to the sixth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

Despite the importance of the two areas, these are two of the shortest sections in the agreement, reflecting how there are a small number of dominating issues.

For defence there is the Trident compromise – it will be replaced unless there is a better value for money alternative. What the wording leaves unclear is the extent to which any alternative has to meet Trident like-for-like in terms of destructive power and constant instant availability. Whether …

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Nick: our Armed Forces deserve better pay and homes

Nick Clegg will today set out plans to improve family homes for the Armed Forces and make troops’ pay fair.

Announcing the plans, Nick said:

The brave men and women of our Armed Forces have been left under-equipped and under-paid by Labour. The Liberal Democrats will change this. Gordon Brown has failed to give our troops all the kit they need to do their job. And he has failed to give them a decent wage for the work they do and a decent home to raise their kids in.

“Someone spending six months fighting half way around the world to keep us safe should not have to worry about leaving their family in a shoddy, run-down home. They should not have to worry about whether they are paid enough to provide for their loved ones.

“The Liberal Democrats will bring forces family homes up to standard in half the time the Government plans, and we will increase the salary of our lowest paid troops by £6,000. We are committed to a fair deal for our Armed Forces. These changes are affordable because we have proposed £15bn of cuts and savings elsewhere in government each year, including cutting waste in the Ministry of Defence.”

Here’s the detail of the proposals from the party’s press release:

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Lib Dems set pace in signing up for Royal British Legion pledge

The Royal British Legion is asking candidates from all parties to sign up to its manifesto ahead of the coming election campaign. Nick Clegg, along with the other two party leaders, has signed up to the Legion’s pledge, meeting recently with its Director General; while defence spokesman Nick Harvey has spoken at Legion fringe events.

The Legion has been keeping a tally of the proportion of MPs from each of the parties who have signed up to its manifesto – and as they comment, “Lib Dem MPs are setting the pace!”

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Huhne urges Labour – “Restore hero cops’ pensions”

Thousands of police officers forced to retire after being injured in the line of duty face having their injury pensions cut back to minimum levels, research by the Lib Dems’ home office team has found.

Previously, officers were allocated an additional sum each year to compensate them for the injuries they received, even when they reached retirement age. However, since Home Office guidance was issued in 2004, many forces have reassessed officers when they have reached retirement age and reduced their injury awards to the lowest possible level. The Labour Government’s recent response to a consultation on this subject …

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Nick launches ‘Don’t Short Change Our Troops’ campaign

It’s been a busy day for Nick… speaking out on the Prime Minister’s contortions over the release of Mr Al Megrahi, confirming his intention to accept Sky News’s invitation to a televised leaders’ debate, as well as launching a new Lib Dem campaign, this one aimed at increasing the pay of the lowest-paid troops by £6,000 a year.

Here’s the summary of the new proposals:

The proposals, which would mean that no service personnel in the Army, Navy or RAF would receive less basic annual pay than a new-entrant police constable or development-level firefighter, would be funded within the

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Daily View 2×2: 17 July 2009

2 Big Stories

Troops need more, says Dannett

The BBC has the interview and the story:

The head of the UK Army has said better equipment is needed to protect troops from roadside bombs in Afghanistan. General Sir Richard Dannatt told the BBC troops “needed more” and added that he would be compiling a shopping list of what was required. … The general’s comments will be seen as careful “parting shots”. …

In return for their service, he says more money needs to be spent on equipment for British forces in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, the general – on his last trip

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Clegg marks Armed Forces Day with 5-point plan to improve service conditions

Ahead of Armed Forces Day, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has set out five priorities the Government must meet to better support Britain’s service men and women.

We must never forget the enormous sacrifices which our service men and women make on our behalf every day. I know from visiting them in Afghanistan that their selfless dedication is truly humbling.

“Armed Forces Day is a chance to show our gratitude, but also to reflect on how we can best support our troops. This Government has failed them too often. That is why I am setting out five priorities Gordon Brown must

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“Overstretched, underpaid and over there” might be an appropriate modern-day take on the infamous line of the Second World War, used in its original form to describe American GIs in Britain. With intense operations on two fronts, in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined with the cumulative effects of underinvestment by consecutive Conservative and Labour Governments, it is a phrase that pithily describes the modern predicament of our armed forces.

Our Armed Forces are a world-class fighting force, but they are not configured for sustained operations at the present rate. The situation has become so critical …

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Opinion: What should the new leader do in his first 100 days? #3

In less than a week, the Lib Dems will have a new leader – either Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne will have succeeded Ming Campbell. Lib Dem Voice is inviting party members to tell us what you think should be his top priorities. Paul Walter and Linda Jack have both had a go. Today it’s David Morton’s turn…

Paddy Ashdown once said that the first thing a third party leader had to do in the morning “was get noticed.” The media’s love of the two party consensus is well known but very real. As it seems that one slip …

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