A commons defence committee report has stated that the defence budget should rise by 50% to £60bn, to 3% of our GDP. The rise would be an unprecedented rise in spending on the military and would raise the defence budget, in real terms, to the highest its been since World War 2.
In a time of austerity, this should not be a priority. Our NHS, our education services, our social services should come first and a move to give our military, which is already the 3rd largest in NATO and 2nd in the EU, a huge injection of cash is an insult to those suffering under austerity.
The reasoning for the decision only goes further to show how ridiculous the proposal is. Whilst the report did talk about heightened state threats, which are doubtable, the report also cited needing an increase in spending to keep our relevance in Washington. It argued that without such investment the UK armed forces’ usefulness to the US would be diminished.
Yet again it would seem that this nation is choosing its defence policy based on the wishes of the USA and not when considering the British public. Similar behaviour led us into Iraq.
The report shows vividly what this government’s spending priorities are, not keeping its citizens healthy but spending more in vain attempts to stay prominent on the global stage.
The UK remains perfectly safe. Our nuclear deterrent and membership of NATO mean that no state could ever threaten the UK. Article 5 means that any threat is faced collectively, meaning the USA always will protect us. Anyone who believes Russia is a serious threat must seriously believe that Putin is stupid enough to engage the USA, UK and France in a war. Even if fought without nuclear weapons this is a war Russia cannot win.
If Turkey is able to shoot down Russian jets without facing any retaliation thanks to its NATO membership one can see how safe nations become when backed up by major nuclear and economic powers. Despite the scaremongering, our own government concluded in 2010 Russia was not a threat. The defence secretary repeated this analysis in February saying
It was stated that there were seen to be no state-based threats.
This was very accurate, thanks to NATO and Trident.
Since then Russia has not greatly increased its military capabilities, nor have ours reduced. Nor have NATO’s. However, despite this, Russia is now seen as a threat to our nation despite not having the capacity.
Understanding that no state threatens us we must look at the terror threat. Whilst the deaths from terror were up in 2017, this decade has seen a record low in terrorist casualties. Terror has killed fewer people in the last 10 years than the 4 decades previous. Our chances of dying from a terrorist remain extremely low and lower than they have been in decades.
Let us remember cuts to health and social care have resulted in the deaths of 120,000 citizens. If this government wants to keep people safe it should get its head sorted, and put money where it is required in healthcare not in war.
A £20bn boost to our defence budget whilst austerity continues is simply insulting and will decrease the safety of our citizens, who are more in danger of dying due to slow ambulance response times than Russian bullets.