Tag Archives: defence

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 26 Comments

Mothballing the UK’s amphibious assault ships would be short-sighted and foolish

Image available with for reuse under the OGL (Open Government License).

At a time when the world is at its least stable, possibly since the end of the Cold War more than 30 years ago, the mothballing of two of the Royal Navy’s most critical assets is under open consideration by the Tories.

The Government are once again considering mothballing – ie. indefinitely laying up – both HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, two amphibious assault, command and supply ships operated by the Royal Navy. These are the only two ships of this type which are still in operation in the fleet, capable of operating with hundreds of Royal Marines onboard and carrying a well-equipped landing force. Both of the ships would otherwise have service lives well into the 2030s.

These ships are critical for the kind of security environment we are approaching. The effects of climate change will be profound across the globe, and these effects are already springing new threats and conflicts, including in both Syria and Nigeria. Some significant states are critically exposed to security threats around climate change, and some are already perilously close to state collapse. If there has ever been a moment we have needed the kind of ships that allow us to operate in theatres outside of our immediate neighbourhood, it is now.

However, not content with short-termist policymaking applying to the NHS, planning, housing, local government, and virtually every other area of the public realm, something as fundamental as defence and security is now in the crosshairs.

Even if we park the point about security for a second, these ships are mainstays of our international capacity. As a party we firmly believe in our responsibility to offer humanitarian assistance and international aid, which must in turn commit us to resisting the apparent fate of these ships. HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark have been essential for British humanitarian efforts across the globe, with deployments around the world, including to the Mediterranean during the climate-induced civil war in Syria.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 17 Comments

Securing a liberal Britain in hard times

Getting elected locally, becoming a citizen and living in freedom or security should be tackled in the right order. I just did the opposite. Arriving from Australia as an immigrant in 2016 (pre Brexit), getting elected a Councillor last May and becoming an UK citizen last month was a journey that made me think: how do I as a LibDem contribute to the safety, security and sustainability of our country? There are no easy answers but some clear pointers to what we might need: progressive, practical and patriotic steps to make Britain its liberal best.

I wrote back in March 2022 on LibDem Voice (Defence and Security: at the heart of liberal societies) about a growing think tank based at the National Liberal Club that reaches hundreds across the UK and the world by hybrid talks and expert discussions. I am also an Armed Forces Champion of my Council (shared with a colleague) with responsibility to the whole community. Veterans, serving members, cadets and their families expect all local governments to keep the covenant between community and those who serve.

But that is the smaller arena and the local or narrow pathway.

We as LibDems are at the heart of many national debates on matters of significance: the war in Ukraine, the risk of further Russian aggression, the role of China as a strategic competitor to our internationalist and liberal values for starters. Times have never been harder since the 1980s.

We also remain the voice of many who are deeply disgusted by this shabby Conservative government and are unconvinced by the rising Labour Opposition. Data and polling may suggest that our voters and supporters are well informed, educated and engaged on the big issues – the environment, education, cost of living crisis economics and social justice. But we are also the proud custodians of traditions of liberalism, social democracy and dissenting progressive values that reflect on the defence of the realm, the international order and our broader obligations to allies, partners and neighbours.

The emergence of an associated organisation “LibDem Friends of the Armed Forces” is no surprise. The upcoming debate at York Conference in less than three weeks on an enhanced/evolved defence policy fit for purpose and electorally sound for the times we face is another natural step.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

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).

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 26 Comments

Observations of an Expat: Underwater Problems

The Anglo-American decision to sell nuclear submarines to Australia has launched a new round of geopolitical musical chairs with long-lasting repercussions.

The Americans, Australians and British are very happy with their new seats and the new nuclear sub deal and the creation of a new alliance called AUKUS.

The French are furious with the three allies. They have been left standing on the outside. It completely scuppers their $50 billion deal to sell the Australians electric submarines. It also weakens the Franco-British defence agreement that had become one of the pillars of the Western Alliance. “It is a stab in the back,” exclaimed the furious French foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian.

The Chinese are, of course, livid.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments

Reformation – without a security and defence policy the Lib Dems are toast

Embed from Getty Images

Uncomfortable as it is for people of a liberal and democratic disposition to face the harsh realities of a rough and tumble world, the government must deal with the bully who disregards the norms of international rule-based peaceful co-existence. The same applies within the nation-state; it is the government which polices the law of the land and in both cases is there to provide the secure infrastructure which supports the well-being of the citizen and society.

In a globalised world, how on earth (literally) as liberals can we perpetuate the emotive implication of them and us? Citizens everywhere belong to the global village, and we need to contribute to the policing of the village rules for co-existence. As a nation-state, we should focus on our contribution outside, or external to, our part of our village.

From an international standpoint, and we are internationalist, aren’t we? The first sacred cow which has to be scrapped is the concept of foreign policy with its implicit narrative of “foreigners”. The second sacred cow for slaughter is to replace the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with a Ministry of External Affairs. Oh dear, I see the massacre turning into a blood bath!

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

A Critique of Liberal Democrat Defence policy, Part 3

This is the third of a series of three posts. The first part can be read here and the second part can be read here.

The following is a critique of the defence policy outlined in the Liberal Democrat Manifesto published for the 2019 General Election and presumably still extant at time of writing (June 2020).  Manifesto commitments are reproduced verbatim followed by my commentary.

Page 91: A Secure Defence in the 21st Century (continued)

  • Support the Armed Forces Covenant and ongoing work to support veterans’ mental health.

Comment.  The Armed Forces Covenant is advisory only and unenforceable.  We should commit to embedding it in law.

  • Improve the quality of service housing by bringing the MoD into line with other landlords, giving tenants the same legal rights to repair and maintenance as private tenants.

Comment.  Agreed, most important.

This defence policy manifesto extract seems to have been written in a void outside the context of current defence developments by somebody/ies who has/ve no idea of defence and security matters.

The problems with the UK’s armed services are clear to see. A huge hole in defence spending, ageing, obsolescent, and lack of equipment across all three services, a real problem with recruiting and retention (retention particularly) and an unrealistic over commitment of scarce resources. This toxic combination can result in low morale were it not for the high standard of training and leadership that the armed forces continue to enjoy.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

A Critique of Liberal Democrat Defence policy, Part 2

This is the second of a series of three posts. The first part can be read here.

The following is a critique of the defence policy outlined in the Liberal Democrat Manifesto published for the 2019 General Election and presumably still extant at time of writing (June 2020).  Manifesto commitments are reproduced verbatim followed by my commentary.

Page 91: A Secure Defence in the 21st Century (continued)

  • Maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent. We propose continuing with the Dreadnought programme, the submarine-based replacement for Vanguard, but procuring three boats instead of four, and moving to a medium-readiness responsive posture. This would mean replacing continuous at-sea deterrence – instead maintaining the deterrent through measures such as unpredictable and irregular patrolling patterns.

Comment. I suspect this is an attempt at compromise to show that the party is essentially anti nuclear weapons philosophically but also serious about defence. This policy is neither fish nor fowl and needs radical revision.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments

A critique of Liberal Democrat Defence policy, Part 1

The following is a critique of the defence policy outlined in the Liberal Democrat Manifesto published for the 2019 General Election and presumably still extant at time of writing (June 2020).  Manifesto commitments are reproduced verbatim followed by my commentary.

Page 91: A Secure Defence in the 21st Century

The Armed Forces play a vital role in the defence of the nation: government should have a deep sense of duty to properly support service personnel and veterans. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour have shown a commitment to this: the Conservative government in particular has spread chronic low morale, misspent money on vanity projects and failed to recruit and retain people with the skills needed for 21st century warfare. Liberal Democrats are the only party who understand the new challenges faced by the Armed Forces and who are committed to properly supporting them.

Comment. This is bland, anodyne and says nothing of any consequence on what the party thinks the armed forces are for and what they ought to do.  It talks vaguely about “new challenges” and the need to support the forces without saying what either of those might be. Do we actually know?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

The truth about Layla Moran’s trip to Estonia

I saw on Facebook over the holidays that Layla was off to Estonia and just assumed that she was off on a jolly.

Not so much, as her website reveals.

She was actually in the Baltic state to take part training exercises with British troops.

Layla, a former teacher, was part of a cross-party group of 7 MPs that spent several days with armed forces personnel as they carried out training exercises and duties in Estonia.

More than 800 British personnel are currently stationed in the Baltic state as part of NATO’s ‘enhanced forward presence’ along with Danish, Canadian and Estonian forces. The scheme is designed to deter Russian aggression.

The visit was part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme which sees MPs undergo military training and go on exercises alongside armed forces personnel to help inform better decision-making on defence issues in Parliament.

Layla Moran said:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

5 November 2018 – today’s press releases

I’ve allowed myself to be distracted today, and almost forgot to get these up…

Government must end EU citizens rights uncertainty

Today the Liberal Democrats spokespeople for Home Affairs and Brexit, Ed Davey and Tom Brake will stand alongside representatives from the3million, advocating for EU citizens in the UK who fear for their rights in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The Conservative Government’s chaotic approach to the Brexit negotiations is making ‘no deal’ more likely by the day. The millions of EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | Leave a comment

Campbell: Every time Trump opens his mouth, the world becomes a less safe place

Back in the day when he was leader, he was referred to as Ming. Now he’s in the Lords and newly appointed Defence Spokesperson, he’s back to being Menzies.

Anyway, our new Defence spokesperson had this to say about Donald Trump’s latest destabilising shenanigans over Iran:

This is yet another example of Trump’s boneheaded belligerence.

Not content with senseless responses to every provocation of Kim Jong Un, he is determinedly undermining a treaty which has proved to be an important influence on nuclear non-proliferation.

Every time Trump opens his mouth, the world becomes a less safe place.

Surely, by implication, every time he reaches for …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Paddy: Royal Marines paying the price of two floating white elephants

In a typically passionate and knowledgeable intervention, ex-Royal Marine Paddy Ashdown has attacked cuts of 200 posts in his former fighting unit:

In an unpredictable age, we need forces that are fast, flexible and mobile. That’s what the Royal Marines do at a world-class level.

To cut their numbers to fill a Naval manpower black hole is not just poor reward for their service over the last years, but a folly which plays fast and loose with the nation’s defences.

The Royal Marines have carried the greatest burden in the defence of our country over the last decade – they have fought in more theatres and won more battles than any other British unit. They are also the crucial manpower pool from which we draw many of our Special Forces.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: Brexit goes nuclear, chapter 2

She’s done it. Mrs May has gone and linked Britain’s nuclear deterrent to Brexit trade negotiations.

I can honestly stick out my chest, jut out my chin and proclaim: “I told you so. And I told you exclusively.”

Alright, Mrs. May didn’t actually use the n-word in her letter to the European Commission which triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the start of Brexit negotiations. But in just one document she explicitly linked economic concessions with security issues nine times.

It requires only the smallest leap of imagination to realise that the British Prime Minister was talking about more than exchanges of DNA databases with continental police.

But be warned, the consequences of this link will be dire. Messing with the balance of strategic weapons capable of incinerating the world several times over is a dangerous policy.

Mrs May knows that, but the problem is that nuclear missiles are just about the only weapon the British have in their negotiating armoury. Their backs are against the wall.

There is, of course, a question mark, over whether or not the UK will be allowed to play the security card. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made it crystal clear that she opposes negotiations on any future relationship until the terms of the divorce are settled. That means Britain has to cough up $60 billion, allow EU citizens to remain in Britain and accept that it will no longer be part of the European Single Market. All this before any talks on a future relationship which may or may not involve security. This is a direct contradiction of Mrs May’s tandem approach.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Getting serious about defence


Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader much of the Liberal Democrat’s rhetoric has been aimed at portraying him as an extremist.  Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron claimed that Labour had “left the field” in a party conference speech.  The implication of this claim is that Labour have left the centre ground to embark on a far leftist fellow-traveller path, seemingly ignoring the electoral success it gained from the dominating the centre ground in the New Labour years.  In this way the Liberal Democrat comeback seemingly relies on a message that it is the new party of the centre ground.  However doing this mean more than just gesture politics, it means not being afraid to tackle issues which are not commonly associated with liberalism, most notably defence.

Liberal Democrat manifestos in recent years have treated defence matters like an afterthought, an embarrassment almost, especially when it comes to questions of hard power.  When it comes to asking questions about our hard power capability our manifesto prefers to move toward the murky soft power where it seems we are more ideologically comfortable.  The 2016 manifesto talked about emphasising “a Single Security Budget, including not just conventional defence spending but the work of our security agencies, cyber defences and soft power interventions”.  This policy in itself provides opportunities and dangers.  While it is important to emphasise that multiple security threats require multiple solutions to tackle them, there can be no substitute for hard power.  Put simply; while it is arguable that the main security threat we face is from terrorism we can’t leave ourselves unprepared for future inter-state conflict.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 24 Comments

Are we spending enough on our military?

I recently attended a seminar led by a specialist in international relations, and one of those attending asked “How likely do you think it is that the UK will fight a conventional war in the next ten years?”. Without any hesitation the reply came: “Almost certain.”

It’s hard to avoid noticing the changing political environment we find ourselves, both at home and abroad. For the first time in decades, the prospect of large-scale non-nuclear war seems plausible (though President Trump seems keen on removing “non-nuclear” from that equation). Russia’s aggressive actions can’t be written off as isolated incidents, and the situation in the Middle East is even worse than it was a decade ago.

It’s very likely that, due to aggression against us or our allies we will be at war again in the not too distant future. As someone who has always fancied themselves a pacifist, this is all a bit depressing, but it would be naive to think that my wishes have any impact on reality. It seems important, therefore, that we continue to meet our spending commitments to NATO, however many reservations we have about the use of military force.

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments

There’s more than one reason why defence chiefs shouldn’t criticise politicians

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 44 Comments

Entente Nucleaire?

We have had a lot of articles about Trident in the build up to conference. Now the motion has now passed with amendments, conference has commissioned a working group on what to do without Trident. The group has been asked to assess strategic threats; how best to promote non-proliferation and disarmament; the implications for Britain’s defence commitments to both NATO and our European alliances; and the scope and implications of other kinds of nuclear deterrent. Here is a proposal to consider.

In his article, George Cunningham argues that the international situation has changed enough that we should retain our nuclear capability after a broader re-evaluation of defence policy.

And George Potter writes that our stockpile is overshadowed as a deterrent by America’s NATO-wide umbrella, but enough of a threat to hostile nuclear powers to single the UK out as a target.

My sympathies are with the unilateralists. The reports and rumours I have read about outdated protocols, lax discipline, and the resulting almost-accidents are enough to make the blood run cold. The presence of nuclear weapons and their destructive force is a permanent risk to all of our lives. In an ideal world, we would use the scrap to plough our furrows. (In an ideal world, the radiation would make the crops super-big.)

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Conference controversy guaranteed – Renewal of Trident to be debated

Full details of the agenda for Autumn Conference will be released in due course, but reports on social media say that a motion calling for Trident not to be renewed at all will be debated.

If passed, this would mean an end to a succession of fudges on the issue in recent, and not so recent, years.

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged , , and | 42 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 | Also tagged | 26 Comments

Opinion: We need meaningful discourse on Trident, not playground politics

I have spent much of the campaign so far wondering when issues of foreign policy would be discussed. This open question soon morphed into a desperate cry for someone, anyone to talk about what goes on beyond the shores of these islands and what Britain can or should do about those events. The 7-way debate that we were graced with by ITV proved to be as devoid of these questions as the rest of the campaign, for even when issues such as immigration floated in, they were stripped of an international context.

So it was that I had essentially resigned myself to a campaign devoid of hard questions about big problems, until today’s news headlines sparked a moment of hope. Trident had risen from the depths to push itself, and surely with it bigger questions about Britain, onto the agenda. At last, I could have almost cried, we can have the debate!

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 34 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 | Also 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 | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron on Chilcot

At the Huffington Post, Tim Farron is decrying the delay to the Chilcot report into the Iraq war.

The publication of the Chilcot report is crucial and the delays are unacceptable – we cannot afford to continue walking in the dark.

The underlying issue which we need to understand and question is the alignment of British foreign policy with American priorities. Has Blair and Thatcher’s determination to maintain “the special relationship” benefitted our country? Should we continue in this vein? The Chilcot report, when it is eventually published, must force us to learn lessons for the years ahead: at the moment we are in limbo. In a year when the country will decide who rules for the next five, this is unacceptable.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Michael Moore MP writes… Scotland’s place in the world

scotlands futureIt is the duty of the government of any state to safeguard national security and to protect its people, territory, economy and interests from internal and external threats.

If Scotland votes to leave the United Kingdom in September, there is no doubt that there would be major challenges for the national security of both Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The size and scale of our armed forces means the UK is considered a partner of choice by many countries around the world, delivering a geopolitical influence that few states …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged and | 30 Comments

LibLink: Sir Nick Harvey MP: Time to reform EU defence policy and make Britain safer

Over at British Influence, Sir Nick Harvey has been writing about today’s EU meeting on defence co-operation and what he thinks could be achieved from it.

He sets out why co-operation is a good idea

EU defence cooperation has a crucial role to play in achieving security around the globe and preventing an onslaught of failed states. This is clearly in the UK’s national interest since failed states create a series of associated and interlinked problems which impact on the UK, such as severe poverty, irregular migration and terrorism – as we have seen in the case of Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

There have

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

ALDE Congress passes UK Liberal Democrat motion calling for a halt to drone attacks

On 28th, 29th, and 30th Nov, the Annual Congress of European liberal parties in the European Parliament and beyond, (ALDE) met in London. The ‘pan-European’ liberal manifesto was agreed for the upcoming Euro elections, (no mean feat !), and several other resolutions were passed.

The UK Lib Dems had one motion on the agenda. This was an emergency motion on armed drone attacks, put forward following new on-the-ground data from the UN and others on civilians being killed, and following a European defence meeting which failed to address the illegality of the attacks, instead focusing on the capacity of ‘Europe’ to …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

Opinion: No dubious deterrent

TridentThe day after the end of Autumn conference in Glasgow, a letter appeared in The Times (£) (Sept 19) accusing the Lib Dems of having adopted a “reckless” defence strategy.

Co-signed by former Labour Secretary of State for Defence and NATO Secretary-General, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, former Tory Party Defence Secretary Liam Fox and 14 other politicians and former chiefs of defence, the letter lambasts the Lib Dems for “hare-brained schemes for a part-time deterrent which in reality is no deterrent at all” and that is driven “by a Lib Dem desire to scupper Trident at any cost”. News about the letter quickly spread and was reported on BBC TV as well.

I spoke in favour of retaining the full four submarine “Continuous-at-Sea” nuclear deterrent at the Lib Dem Party conference debate on defence and would have welcomed Lord Robertson’s letter with such heavy-weight support appearing just prior to the debate to give further credence to my intervention.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Conference: Defending the Future will not defend the realm

The defence of the realm is the foremost responsibility of any government. The defence policy paper that will be debated in Glasgow this week is not only worrying, but potentially dangerous.

The first business of any defence policy is to recognise that the armed forces are to wage war in the name of our interests. We must be clear what these interests are. We can then be clear as to when we will deploy our armed forces into combat, what equipment they will need, the training they will require and the size and composition they must be. War is, after all, …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Peter Martin
    "..the proposed new policy of a 4% tax on the share buy-backs of big corporations listed in the London Stock Market." is a step in the right directio...
  • David Symonds
    It is depressing in my view that this dying Government have decided to declare war on those off work sick and it is a smokescreen to deflect from their own fail...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Katharine, " ...young people should be informed that, with the present Labour leadership, they should not expect too much from a new Labour government...
  • Steve Trevethan
    Well posted Mr. Gray!!! Why is it that an adult being offended in London gets lots of publicity while children in Gaza having limbs amputated without anaesth...
  • Chris Lewcock
    Seems a facile and false parallel is being drawn between imposing seatbelts and banning cigarettes. Requiring use of a seat belt doesn't ban driving, doesn't re...