Rocketing arms spending leaves little for nurses’ pay
The UK will have the biggest defence budget in Europe
On 19th of November last year the UK government announced the largest military spending budget for 30 years. This amounted to a £16.5 billion increase above the manifesto commitment over four years.
On existing forecasts, this is an overall cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to last year’s budget.
The Royal United Services Institute said that the “additional cash represents a real-term increase of between 10 percent and 15 percent in the defence budget.
The National Audit Office, the government’s financial watchdog, said, even before this announcement that the 10-year equipment plan was unaffordable,being too costly by as much as £13 billion. The current annual defense budget is about £40 billion.
Who benefits from vastly increased defence spending?
This cannot be about the defence of Britain. We are not under military threat from any country or likely to be so so within the next decade or two. Can the government name a single country that might want to invade or attack Britain? The government is funding military equipment some of which cannot be positioned or used to defend Britain, for example two huge aircraft carriers which were ordered by Tony Blair and his government. These currently lack aircraft so there is is a big aircraft building programme. There is also the hugely costly and illegal Trident weapons of mass destruction programme. See my post on this topic.
So what’s behind all this spending?
- First there is the doctrinaire belief that we must remain best and most supportive friend of America and support America in its military actions whatever they may be. (We have seen to our cost for example, Afghanistan and Iraq that the open cheque has cost huge number of lives, created thousands of refugees, and cost a great deal of money as well.)
- From the government’s point of view this spending will maintain or create very large numbers of jobs, especially in parts of the country where it feels a great need to maintain popularity. In Scotland there is a desire by many for independence so assuring jobs there may be a political move. Some of this spending will pay for the building of thirteen frigates which are currently under construction in Scotland. Britain also has plans for the creation of a Space Command capable of launching a rocket from a site in Scotland by 2022.
Boris Johnson’s explanation to parliament
“These projects are expected to create up to 10,000 thousand jobs annually across the UK. These will reflect the expertise and ingenuity of British people both inside and outside our Armed Forces, harnessing the UK’s skills in construction and science and reinvigorating those industries in the coming decades.”
What can we do?
First we need to be specific about what we want. We might then focus on petitions for which we work to gain support.
- We might demand the cutting of the planned increases in the defence budget immediately in order to raise the pay of nurses and give more funds to the NHS.
- We might demand a halving of the defence budget before the end of the current parliament.
- We might demand the scrapping of the Trident weapons of mass destruction programme and the nuclear powered submarines which carry them.
- We might demand that Britain leave NATO.
- We might demand that Britain declares itself unwilling to support US military adventures.
- We might demand a foreign policy which concentrates on friendly cooperation with all countries and working towards the peaceful encouragement of tolerant and democratic societies in countries where we find human rights to be lacking.
On a personal level the least we can do is write to our MP stating what changes we would like to see. We also need to raise this matter with as many people as possible. This might be in face-to-face discussions but it can also be in the form of letters to the press, tweets on Twitter, messages on facebook etc. We should stop misnaming offensive weapons of mass destruction “deterrents”.
The media should take on the topic of peace and disarmament
We need to lobby the media to deal with peace and disarmament issues and not brush them aside. Why was the huge increase in defence (war) spending at a time of severe financial difficulty not thoroughly explored by the media?
Peace and disarmament should become a long-term burning public issue.
Britain’s reputation as a violence-loving country
When we think of the death, destruction and misery our bombing and interventions in other countries have caused in this century alone it is obvious that the subject is something we are right to be angry about. British governments have proved themselves to be unfit to be in charge of their huge and growing destructive armoury.
True “defence” is a topic which ought to be part of the school curriculum but can we persuade the government to allow this controversial and political topic to be aired in British schools?
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on these topics. Please use the comment box below. If you use facebook you can use the second comment box without any formalities, and could share your views on facebook too, if you wish.
David Roberts, davidrobertsblog.com
Defense News (online) 19 November 2020
Statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street. 19 November 2020.