Tag Archives: defence

Some recommended reading from the BBC’s Defence Correspondent

Joint-Strike-Fighter-006Those of us interested in politics and current affairs generally have particularly policy areas to which we pay closer attention and therefore develop greater knowledge of.

One of the vitally important areas of government policy which I don’t know enough about is defence. I read the Strategic Defence and Security Review when it was published, but its aim is not to act as a primer for the uninitiated, and it doesn’t do so.

Wishing to gain some knowledge (not least because the Lib Dems will shortly be voting on our future defence policies), therefore, …

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Willie Rennie on Iraq and four tests for future military intervention

Willie Rennie - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThis week the Scottish Parliament debated the Iraq War, ten years on. This could have disintegrated into a “this is why we need independence” bunfight, but, actually, it ended up being one of those occasions when you could be proud of your Parliament for being thoughtful and mindful of the terrible human cost of this conflict.

Willie Rennie spoke for the Liberal Democrats in the debate and actually was applauded by the SNP benches who are, shall we say, not usually so friendly towards …

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Opinion: Funding defence

HMS Astute Arrives at Faslane for the First TimeDefence Secretary Phillip Hammond has made headlines by suggesting the MOD and the armed forces should be spared any more significant cuts in the future spending review, instead suggesting the cuts should come from the social welfare budget instead.

The problem is… I partially agree with him; the defence budget is already the bare minimum required to meet the UK’s international commitments. It has not only received its share of austerity cuts under the Coalition but was underfunded under Blair and Brown leading …

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Lynne Featherstone MP writes…the Aid budget and the Ministry of Defence

Despite extensive media coverage this morning, the aid budget is not about to be slashed to fund the Ministry of Defence.

All aid spending from the Department of International Development (DFID) is in line with internationally agreed guidelines. There is a strict definition of what can count as Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), which was established by the OECD. For example, aid cannot be spent on combat operations nor on military equipment.

It can be (and is) used to train another country’s security forces in human rights awareness, including gender-based violence issues – something I’m sure all …

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LibLink: Paddy – withdraw British troops from Afghanistan now

Writing in today’s Times (£), Paddy Ashdown says that Afghanistan is ‘not worth the life of one more soldier’:

The war in Afghanistan is lost and not worth the life of one more British soldier, Paddy Ashdown writes in The Times today. In a stark assessment of the 11-year campaign that has cost 438 British lives, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon urges Britain to pull out its troops as quickly as “decently” possible. The intervention comes as David

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Trident: it’s déjà vu all over again

The latest flurry of excitement about the Trident nuclear deterrent — as the Daily Mail puts it with typical tabloid restraint: Tories and LibDems at war over contract to build Trident sub: £350m deal is jumping the gun, warns Clegg — is one of those stories which pops up twice a year. The last time was six months ago, in May, when the Ministry of Defence announced £350m-worth of design contracts for the Trident successor submarines had been signed. As then Lib Dem defence minister Nick Harvey pointed out on LDV at the time:

is being portrayed as the Coalition Government moving a step closer to a

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Local catch ups

In my work as Borders MP I have regular catch ups with local public services such as NHS Borders, Lothian and Borders police and Scottish Borders Council. These are valuable meetings during which I am updated on key local issues and I am able bring my constituents’ concerns to their attention. Last week, as part of these regular catch ups, I met with Chief Superintendent John Hawkins in Hawick to discuss the work of local police and the crime and policing issues.


Ever since the Scottish Government announced their plan to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence, I have …

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Opinion: could the Armed Services help run schools?

First of all it is no exaggeration to say that the British public are hugely proud and supportive of our armed services, and so we should be of the men and women who dedicate their lives to national service. But in modern times the military is facing a number of challenges which are rapidly changing the function they serve.

With a Conservative Defence Secretary enacting the biggest round of cuts since the end of the …

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Nick Harvey MP writes on Carrier strike capability

Earlier this month the Defence Secretary announced that the MoD’s budget was in balance, for the first time in a generation. A number of tough but necessary decisions meant that the £38bn black hole inherited from the last Labour government had finally been eliminated – a major part of which was the decision to deliver Carrier Strike capability using a different type of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jet because of unacceptable cost growth and project delays. In particular, the Government has decided to change the type of jet which will fly off the Navy’s two new aircraft carriers – from …

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Lib Dems push Coalition to abandon ‘Moscow criterion’ in latest anti-Trident move

Writing in the Financial Times, former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell has urged Britain to drop the so-called ‘Moscow criterion’ — which commits us to maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent capable of obliterating the Russian capital — in order to open up the possibilities of a more targeted, and cheaper, nuclear alternative to the renewal of Trident:

Nuclear weapons have no intrinsic merit. Their significance is in deterrence. If you ever have to use them it can only be because they have failed in their primary purpose. But nuclear policy ought always to be assessed in its political context. It is

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Opinion: Depleted Uranium Weapons – a new area of Liberal Democrat policy?

After 40 years of increasing disquiet over depleted uranium (DU), the UK’s last operational DU tank munition – CHARM3 – is nearing the end of its shelf-life. DU weapons are chemically toxic and radioactive. Their use (especially in Iraq) generates a hazardous legacy that states recovering from conflict struggle to monitor and mitigate. CHARM3’s propellant charge expires in 2013 and the decision to renew or reject DU munitions may provide an opportunity for us in government.

Unlike the US and France, the UK has not upgraded its anti-tank ammunition in over a decade. This is due to the technical limitations …

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Horwood calls for National Defence Medal awarded by “truly independent” body

Lib Dem MP for Cheltenham Martin Horwood has stepped up calls by the party for a National Defence Medal to be available for all veterans who have served in the Armed Forces.

Here‘s how the Press Association reports the story:

    Martin Horwood, co-chairman of the Parliamentary Party Committee on International Affairs, said a new body was needed which was recognised by veterans as “truly independent”. Currently, any decision to award new medals is made by the Honours and Decorations Committee behind closed doors. But Mr Horwood believes it needs to be disbanded and reformed with a new independent chairman. It must

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – Europe’s free ride on the back of Nato is over

In today’s Daily Telegraph, former party leader Lord (Paddy) Ashdown writes on the challenges facing Nato and the future of European cooperation on matters of defence.

Here’s a sample from Paddy’s piece:

These are confusing times for supporters of Nato. On the one hand, the alliance has completed its mission in Libya without a single casualty. On the other, its future looks less certain than ever in the face of fiscal austerity, increasingly uneven burden-sharing between members, and America’s dwindling faith in its utility.

The fact that the US feels this way is understandable. In 2000, America’s share of Nato defence spending was

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Nick Harvey MP writes: A hard look at defence spending

Today the Commons defence committee published a report criticising the MOD for decisions taken in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).  The report claims that recent defence budget reductions will leave our Armed Forces unable to execute the operations the Government sets for them post-2015.  
I disagree.
It is true that the MOD is reducing numbers of service personnel across the Army, Navy and Air Force and indeed the MOD has altered the equipment programme, which led to the deletion of Nimrod and Harrier.  But these tough decisions were necessary in order to address the black hole in the …

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Paddy & Nick slam retired defence chiefs’ Lib Dem slurs

Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown united today in condemning three retired members of the defence establishment who have a letter published in today’s Times attempting to frighten voters away from voting Lib Dem with crude warnings what perils await Britain if the party gains power.

The letter has just three signatories: Peter Clarke, Sir Richard Dearlove, and Lord Guthrie. Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown issued a masterly put-down of the trio in the Times:

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, the former Lib Dem leader who helped to draw up the party’s defence and national security policies, responded to today’s letter, saying:

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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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A decision the next Prime Minister must make

The last Strategic Defence Review (SDR) was undertaken in 1998 and the die is now cast for the remaining months of this government. As the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said in his last speech on the subject of defence, ‘The nation must debate and decide what we want our country to do in the world and then fund it, so that it does not slip by default into the second division’. A major decision with respect to foreign and defence policies and their funding awaits the next Prime Minister and this decision can no longer be fudged.

We could decide …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | 2 Comments

Lib Dem, Labour, Tory voters all say: scrap Trident

The Independent has the story:

The public wants Britain to scrap the Trident nuclear missile system but believes spending on health and education should rise each year, according to a ComRes poll for The Independent. By a margin of 58 to 35 per cent, people believe that the £25bn renewal of the Trident programme should be abandoned because of the state of the public finances.

Nick Clegg announced back in June his intention to ask the party conference to rule out like-for-like Trident replacement, arguing that the recession made it unaffordable and the political situation made it unnecessary.

The Indy notes that supporters of all three main parties support scrapping Trident:

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Opinion: Britain should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan – and soon

Public opinion polls show that a big majority want British troops to leave Afghanistan. According to a recent opinion poll by ComRes, 64% think that British troops should leave. Yet their opinions barely register amongst our elected representatives.

It is not hard to guess why the public think this. What are our troops doing there? What are they hoping to acheive? How much longer will all this go on?

It is nearly eight years since our troops entered Afghanistan. Many times we have been told how well they are doing. Yet instead of leaving, we are sending in more troops. Some say that our troops will have to stay there for 30 years! Well, you cannot plan a war that will last that long. Whenever someone sets out that kind of time-frame, what it shows is that they have no idea how to end the war.

There are of course many good reasons why our troops should stay.

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Clegg: Brown’s “staggering chaos and confusion” on Trident

The BBC has the story:

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has attacked government “chaos and confusion” over renewing the Trident missile system. No 10 has insisted the timetable for renewing Trident is unchanged. But earlier, officials implied that key decisions would be put off until May 2010 ahead of a conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Mr Clegg said the prime minister should make a “climbdown” and admit the missile system was not justified given equipment shortages in Afghanistan. In a statement, Downing Street said there had been “no change” in the government position that Trident would be renewed.

Here’s Nick’s …

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[email protected]: Paddy Ashdown – The Cold War is over. We must move on, fast

Over at The Times, former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown has co-authored an article with former Labour defence secretary George Robertson – they were co-chairs of the IPPR’s Commission on National Security in the 21st Century, whose report was published today – arguing that old-fashioned thinking is hampering British security policy today. Here’s their all-encompassing introduction:

The global recession is likely to worsen the international security environment considerably. It is already making many weak and poor states weaker and, as both 9/11 and recent events in North Korea have shown, the consequences flowing from weak, fragile and pariah states are

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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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NEW POLL: was Clegg right to ditch Trident?

The big domestic political news last night was Nick Clegg’s announcement that the Lib Dems would oppose the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, arguing “the world has changed, the facts have changed, you’ve got to change with them. So like-for-like replacement for Trident is just not right.”

As Nick himself has admitted, this is a reversal of the position he adopted in the leadership contest with Chris Huhne in late 2007. The Nick argued that dumping Trident would destroy the UK’s bargaining power in non-proliferation talks in 2010. Here’s the BBC news report:

Mr Clegg hit back that

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRonald Murray 7th Jun - 10:40am
    As a now old and reasonably inactive member of the party. The one thing that strikes me is that we have ceased to be Radical...
  • User AvatarPeter 7th Jun - 10:30am
    A lot of words but what do they boil down to? Help Labour to win in most circumstances. If that is the aim then it...
  • User AvatarChris Cory 7th Jun - 10:06am
    The analysis underlying this is pretty sound, in my view. Under the present voting system we are fighting for scraps without some kind of arrangement....
  • User AvatarSimon McGrath 7th Jun - 9:49am
    Its great that Wera is addressing one of the main criticisms of her platform. But goodness there are an awful lot of "ums "and "ers"...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 7th Jun - 8:57am
    @ Martin, > "Unless the UK economy is generally viewed as healthy (which it won’t) why should interest rates for borrowing remain low? Why should...
  • User AvatarJames Fowler 7th Jun - 8:54am
    So, let's cut to the chase. Ed Davey represents considerable experience plus attendant controversy while Wera Hobhouse and Layla Moran have been effective in their...