Defence Funding

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Taz_Man, Nov 28, 2007.

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  1. Anyone else catch the Today programme debate about Defence funding between two members of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee? Bernard Jenkins is arguing that we (defence) need an input of £3 Bn per year for the next 5 years to just hold steady and that spending should be increased by £25 Bn if we are to achieve the armed forces we actually require. The crux of his arguement was that we, as a country, need to decide that if we want to remain globally committed, we need to pay for it.
    Brian Jenkins argued that the money isn't there, it's needed in education, health and transport. Bernard said that we need to make some hard decisions about what are priorities are.
    What really annoyed me was Brian's parting shot that Bernard was living in a 'fantasy world', implying that the cash wouldn't ever be available and the 'shopping list' Bernard had come up with (more AH, military hospitals, vehicles etc) wasn't 'standing still'. Well, to my mind:

    - Troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq aren't in a fantasy world, they are in the real world where the attrition rate on the mulitude of platforms means we need replacements (how many C130, rotary wing, Warrior, LR etc etc pltaforms have we lost?). Not to mention the most important platform of all, soldiers, sailors and airmen who are dead or maimed and, at the hard nosed side of it, need replacement?

    - If Mr Brian Jenkins thinks there is no more cash, how would he feel if he was in a shell scrape, screaming for backup to be told, "Sorry mate, you're in a fantasy world as there ain't the cash to buy the assets you need to save your life".

    - If there is no more cash, I trot out the old arrse arguement, £25 billion for Northern Rock? No cash for defence?

    Couldn't get my computer to play back the debate, which is probably just as well as i'm still seething. The only good thing is, at last, we may have a member of Liarbour finally admitting that they can't fund what they've got us into. Open admission of incompetence?

    At least the debate still rolls on, I don't care if the money is begrudged by Liarbour, just hand it over.

    Rant over.
     
  2. Mind you, to be fair to Brian Jenkins MP, i note from his website that he is also Secretary to the All Party Cider Group.
    I'm often in a fantasy world when i'm on the cider......
     
  3. What sort of time was this on "Today". Can only advance in 1 min or 15 min chunks and do not have 3 hours to listern to it all!!! Was exceptionally busy when it was originallly broadcast (pushing some serious Zs!)
     
  4. Was about 0715 if I remember rightly. Saw the 'Defence funding' bit on the Radio 4 website, but the MOD have been good enough to provide me a DII without sound.... :(
     
  5. Yep I heard that too, the disdain in his voice was palpable.

    Interestingly the momentum seems to be gathering finally for a shift away from public apathy in the battle between the Government and the Armed Forces.

    Things were bad under Blair but under Brown's control it seems the mask is beginning to slip and Labour's general level of contempt for the AF is now clear - Off the top of my head Jacqui Smith and her dig at the TA; various idiots saying we have to compete with the public services for funding; the chod that is Brian Jenkins, to name but a few examples.

    It's obvious to those with an interest that the military are slowly being starved of resources, however - and I think UKNDA deserve a large amount of credit here - the issue has exploded into the headlines over the past few weeks and the public are concerned imo. The reflex to rubbish dissent has been tried and failed so Labour are slowly becoming even more arrogant and snide towards the subject.

    What I hope is that public awareness and concern can be maintained now, from the bottom by BAFF and the top by UKNDA. Any denial or diversion from the key issues by the government should be disected and held up and shown to be lies until they have nowhere to hide.

    In short the public are now finally aware of some of the problems and as receptive as they'll ever be to hear the bald truth of the situation. If they take it on board - as evidenced by letter pages of the national press recently - Defence may even become an issue with electoral mileage attached which can only be a good thing.
     
  6. It's generally accepted, I hesitate to state!..., that our AF/HMF are generally undervalued and under funded by our "great British Public" and Govt. To me, "thinking about them in silent support" amounts to much the same thing. It says.."havent got the balls to stand up and speak out".

    Chods.....talking of them....it occurs to me there are several of those, around UK, who could do much more towards the support and funding of our AF. Instead, institutions , Colleges, Uni's, and their ilk, hardly pay any attention to our troops and ongoing conflicts. It's not "sexy", or "relevant to their policies".

    Incessant funds are being thrown at asylum projects, immigration, European community engineering, and UK social engineering. When our lads and lasses come home, they find themselves amongst strangers in mixed communities that have sprung up everywhere. The homeless and disabled will be waiting at the back of all those Queues.
     
  7. But where is the Tory voice? What are they saying? As far as I know they don't want to increase spending either, just make yet more savings to pay for new kit etc.

    I think that this is a mistake as this is probably the only area that they can put clear water between themselves and New Labour.

    Why are they so silent?
     
  8. Very true, so maybe by next Easter - when Labour are stretched but not over-stretched - we'll see the Glorious Tony riding back into town with the promise to save HMF!!
     
  9. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    That was nice of the Conservatives - they sell most of the housing stock for a mere 1.6 billion, and then rent it back for 2 billion per annum - now THAT'S economics.
     
  10. Yup, all credit to UKNDA - 'soft' launch, explosive second stage.

    What really gripped me was, aside from Jenkins snide comments, was that he was freely admitting that they don't have the cash to put in but ignoring the fundamental question of what it is they want us to do. Home defence or global expeditionary capability? Isn't Lairbour still spinning that the most sustained period of defence increase is more than enough? What we don't know is Question 1 - What do you want us to do and Question 2 - How much will that cost?

    We are operating well above SDR Defence Planning assumptions but being funded as if we are still working towards those assumptions. We have a fundamental mis-match here. We train for 'a' war (and we do less and less of that) but are patently involved in 'the' war(s). We need to get over the mindset of trying to do everything with what we have. I know that the argument will be that we need to look ahead and that we always end up training to fight the 'last' war BUT would we have won WWII if we had trained to fight counter-insurgency whilst planning for D-Day? We need to win where we are fighting NOW.

    Unfortunately, I think the painful truth is that Tony wanted to be global policeman but didn't realise the true (financial and human) cost and Gordon held the purse strings and wanted to keep pouring money down the black hole of the NHS and education (no offence to our hard working medics and teachers, it's just the hundreds of 'non' jobs Liarbour have invented to buy voters that jacks me off). Liarbour are in the dangerous position of actually believing their own PR and spin.
     
  11. It is precisely that which has been my argument since Labour came to power in 1997.

    I didn’t vote for them, yet accepted that they had been voted for by the majority of the electorate (who could be bothered to turn out), inherently accepting that Labour’s policies may be at odds with my own preferences. Had Bliar, stood up and said that the Labour Party had foundations in the principals of internationalism and that as such we were no longer going to be a world policeman, then there would be no moral argument against a cut defence budget. Bliar, however, decided that he wanted the kudos of being seen as a butt kicking global leader, so pursued the most aggressive foreign policy agenda post-WWII, but did so on a real-terms year-on-year shrinking budget!

    Brown the Clown certainly isn’t following the precedent of Spain and Australia by following a change in leader (albeit not a change in party) with a withdrawal of troops from the hot spots, and as he held the purse-strings for all of Bliar’s time in charge, we know that he is equally to blame for the state of the Military Covenant as Bliar. It’s a simple thing: if the Government wants to strut around like a load of peacocks on the blood, sweat and tears of the troops, they need to pay for them and for sufficient decent equipment to do so, not rely on the good-will and can-do attitude of the Forces (and their families), plus lots of black nasty, WD-40 and para-cord to hold it all together.
     
  12. Transcript:

    Sarah Montague: The former Conservative defence spokesman Bernard Jenkin and the former chief of the defence staff, Lord Guthrie, say defence spending needs to be increased by £3 billion a year for the next five years. Bernard Jenkin who is also on the Commons defence committee joins us here now and in Westminster is a Labour counterpart of his form the same committee, Kevin Jones …

    Bernard Jenkin, why’s this money needed?

    Bernard Jenkin: Well, we’re reaching a crunch point. The latest spending round is underfunding the Ministry of Defence again and its widely understood that they’re going to have to find a billion out of the next three year’s spending and there’s going to be crunch over the next few months as they throttle back on equipment programmes, squeeze manning further and this has been going on for some considerable time

    And the choice we really have to face - and all parties have to face and we have to face as a nation - is whether we’re prepared to pay what it takes to give the military a global role, which is certainly what the foreign policy has demanded over the last ten years, or whether we’re going to throttle back and opt out of that global role. That’s the choice.

    Sara Montague: But the £15 billion, £3 billion a year for five years, is just to maintain present capabilities?

    Bernard Jenkin: Pretty well just to maintain present capabilities. And I thought this was going to be pushing the boat out but earlier this week Lord Robertson, the former Labour secretary of state for defence said we needed an extra £25 billion spent on defence

    Sara Montague: Kevin Jones, what do you reckon?

    Kevin Jones: Well, I think if look that if you look at the document that Bernard’s launching today, I mean it’s a little bit like what a lot of youngsters will be writing in the next few weeks, their Christmas list to Santa. It’s full of aspirations with no realisation how you would pay for it, or actually what you should get out of this kit, for example an increase of all Services back to Strategic Defence levels; all the submarine fleet, increasing the surface fleet ships to 30 destroyers and frigates; more Apache helicopters, more tactical airlift and strategic lift. And it says in an all-encompassing paragraph, all commitments for the covenant met, including military dedicated hospitals. This is just a wish list which can’t be afforded.

    Sara Montague: That’s right, isn’t it Bernard Jenkin. I can quote to you your own leader, David Cameron when he was asked about Armed Forces: He says: “No magic pot of money we can dip into to spend a lot more on our armed services, much as we would like to.”

    Bernard Jenkin: Well, I mean that’s the choice we’ve got to face as a nation isn’t it. Em..

    Sarah Montague: But there is no money.

    Bernard Jenkin: Well, there have been very, very large increases for other programmes over the last ten years – eighty percent for health, forty-five percent for education. This is recommending no more than the increase in spending that we’ve had on transport we’ve had under this government and, er, we really have to decide what our priorities are. If we want to carry on projecting a global role and being able to intervene around the world, then we need these capabilities, which the SDR seemed to remove any doubt that these capabilities were the government’s policy.

    Sarah Montague: Kevin Jones, would you give up the capabilities that Bernard Jenkin is talking about so that you could spend the money on health and education and transport?

    Kevin Jones: Well no, if you look at what he is actually proposing, £1.5 billion a year extra will not even meet what is actually being put forward in this document. And it’s not the status quo what is being put forward. It’s an increase in entire areas. And if you look at ...

    Sarah Montague: Let’s just address .. if you want - an argument was put forward … forget the document, but just to maintain current capabilities you need this extra money, and it’s one and a half billion a year on top of what the government is already promising …

    Kevin Jones: No but, I think you want to read the document. That’s not what its saying. It’s actually saying we have to increase a whole host of areas including, for example just take one, military dedicated hospitals. Bernard and I are currently doing an investigation on the Committee into Armed Forces medical services. There’s one thing that all clinicians say that we do not want is that. And these have got huge price tags to them. This is not a costed document.

    Sarah Montague: On the pricing, at the moment..

    Bernard Jenkin: I wouldn’t pretend this is a detailed costed document.

    Kevin Jones: Far from it.

    Bernard Jenkins: What I’ve set out are a range of capabilities which would certainly be desirable and many of which we actually need if we’re going to be able to project our global role.

    Sarah Montague: OK, but just [indistinct] talk roughly … At the moment the government is planning a yearly increase of £1.5 billion a year.

    Bernard Jenkins: No, no 1½ percent.

    Sarah Montague: OK, how much more is needed a year just to maintain current capabilities?

    Bernard Jenkins: Well, this is crucial because the rate of defence cost inflation is much, much higher than the rate of inflation. It’s between six or eight percent. Equipment costs, technology and of course salaries go up much faster than inflation. So, barely giving more than inflation means there are going to have to be more mothballed ships, more delayed equipment programmes, more cuts in manpower. Em, if we carry on like this with very, very minimal increases in defence, it means more cuts.

    Sarah Montague: What do you cut back then? Do you cut health, do you cut education, do you cut transport?

    Bernard Jenkins: Well, the government has managed to increase other programmes very substantially indeed and it’s a question of balancing the increases of these programmes. Over the next few years, the economy is expected to still grow. I’m quite certain that we’ll be able to increase what we spend on defence alongside other programmes as well as being able to reduce taxation in the long term. It’s called sharing the proceeds of economic growth and its consistent policy.

    Sarah Montague: Bernard Jenkin, Kevin Jones, thank you very much.

    Kevin Jones: Fantasy world!
     
  13. ...and IIRC the MoD is still liable for maintenance costs...
     
  14. I seem to be forever asking this, but does anyone have a sensible and mature suggestion for how the defence budget can successfully and meaningfully be increased?