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Whilst I agree that defence spending is a disgrace, I am not sure if we have the correct comparisons here.

Neighbours; Iraq, Iran, Syria.....

Neighbour; Turkey

Bulgaria, I'm not sure who is threatening them, but their GDP is minute, as is any percentage of it.

The willingness to send the armed forces into more theatres of war than ever since WW2, but then fail to adequately finance such an extraordinary increase in activity, is indeed one of the scandals of the present government's attitude. No-one could have watched the extraordinary video footage of the marine rescue without being once again impressed at the level of heroism, guts and audacity of British troops. And then one remembers images of shabby housing back home, and the story of Sgt. Roberts, killed in action for want of a bullet proof jacket.

Mind you, lest we Tories become too complacent, this is not a new development. I remember a Falklands War that was launched at a time the then PM and Defence Secretary were considering swingeing cuts throughout the military - and those cuts didn't stop because of a successful action.

So, British governments of both colours need to determine whether or not they want to continue punching above their weight, in which case they need to fund the forces that do the punching properly, or whether to accept a down-sized international role more appropriate to what is actually being spent. The problem with down-sizing for our leaders is that it involves down-sizing their own propensity to strut around the international stage - and that's never an option!

Time to strip ALL PFI deals out of the Defence Budget so funds are not ripped off in perpetuity.....and time to stop The Treasury levying a Capital Charge on Armed Forces Fixed Assets

The amount on defence spending by Bliar/Broon doesn't surprise me.Not after all those 'body armour' debacles that cost the lives of personnel. Not a sausage from Liam Fox though. Odd.....

There are some big decisions that need to be taken about Britain's role in the world and our ability to effectively promote foreign policy. If we are to be a bit player, an onlooker, with little in the way of influence, then it can be deemed as acceptable to reduce our defence spending, so long as foreign operational tours are brought to a swift end.

On the other hand if we want to play a full role in NATO, if we want to look after our nationals wherever they may be, if we want to be able to give assistance when it is asked for, if we want to be able to support and implement international rulings, then we must have the capability to do these tasks professionally and to the best of our ability.

We will not be able to achieve the above without further real increases in our armed forces budgets, manpower, and capital.

Congratulations to the editor for providing a thread on defence. I agree with the above threads and as i have said here before, both Labour and the Tories have neglected our armed
forces. Our services are underfunded and overstretched. Money that is spent is too often missspent on the wrong equpiment. The MOD needs a complete shake up and we need to decide what tasks we want our forces to be able to do and then resource them appropriately.

To drop to this level of our national wealth seems absolutely crazy.
It was a policy of the last Conservative government that got defence spending down towards this proportion - Defence Spending was 8% of GDP when Mrs Thatcher took office, and by the time John Major left office it was already falling towards 2.5% of GDP. Over this period budgets have reallocated spending - undoubtedly this government allowed it to fall a bit further, but I doubt it would have been any different if the Conservatives had won the 1997 General Election.

Right issue, wrong tack from Liam Fox. The problem with defence spending being so low isn't that it means we will lose a willy-waving contest with the French, it's that our forces will be massively overstreched (to breaking point) by the commitments demanded of them.

The difficulty of this thread is that we can't/won't say what we would do either with expenditure or our commitments.Until we do, Conservative attacks on Labours management of the MOD will be very ineffectual.

Yes but Defence Spending has been used as industrial policy to keep the remnants of engineering alive rather than to fight wars.

The central role of GEC and BAe and companies like Plessey and Racal and RR in the past was central to the need for engineers or EEs for high-technology manufacturing. That is why so much is consumed in projects.

The British bluff was not to fight but to make weapons. Once Blair exposed the bluff by actually over-using the Army the fact that Britin was building weapons for export but not for use was exposed.

In the past we build Chieftain tanks for The Shah which the British Army could not obtain; the Argentinians in The Falklands had British battlefield radars the British Army could not afford.

EMI supplied Saddam with systems the British Army did not have.

The Defence Budget has not really been used to equip a fightiung force for a long time, more to keep BAe and Smiths Industries Plc and othes in business

Thank you for raising this. I pointed this out when the navy cuts were leaked earlier this month. My question then for Brown was
1. if Britain's Economy is so strong, and
2. tax rates are at a 20 year high, then
3. why can't we afford a decent Navy?

We are an island with a pretty strong naval history after all.

We all know part of the answer is that the economy ain't actually that strong.....

The reason that Defence Spending is so low is that Health and Education spending has been considered a priority over it for so long and even in the 1980's welfare spending was prioritised over Defence spending.

There are probably too many reasons (known and unknown to paraphrase a certain American) for the armed forces current condition.

Labour's historic pacifist and internationalist influences meant they never felt comfortable with the maintenance let alone the use of the armed forces. I think Blair's wars will in time be viewed as a bizarre aberration. The wars do not seem congruent with Labour's historic approach to foreign policy approach or even a traditional policy based on pure national self-interest. There are of course more specific factors at play. The Treasury under Gordon Brown have not been helpful. The MOD have not made a bad situation better, particularly with regard to procurement. Perhaps more importantly I do not think the armed forces resonate with our post modern electorate in the way they used to. Just look at the paucity of posts on this thread.

If more Defence spending is backed by Brown, I think that we all may be in for a shock when it comes to his methods for raising the cash. If you can bear to read the Daily Express online then go to:


Actually the Defence Budget is being propped up by making the NHS provide medical care, local authorities provide housing, Tax Credits provide incomes, and mothers providing boots and thermal clothing


That love, not time, heals all wounds?

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