Liam Fox reveals Tory thinking on defence

I am posting this without comment since it deals with UK internal matters so don't slag me.

Liam Fox reveals Tory thinking on defence

By James Kirkup Politics Last updated: February 8th, 2010

I wasn’t able to be at RUSI for Liam Fox’s speech on defence this morning, but I’ve seen a copy.

The main political thrust of the speech is to put some rhetorical distance between the Tories and Labour’s green paper, which talks of the necessity of alliances for future operations. Not so, says Mr Fox. Sometimes, we have to be ready and able to go alone. Maybe so, but the capability that implies carries a big price tag, and until we know what a Tory government would spend on defence, I’m not sure how much time to devote to this.

Elsewhere in the speech, however, there are some intriguing pointers to Conservative thinking on defence:

1. Warm words for the Army over the Afghan effort, and the Royal Navy, whose sea-blindness shibboleth is invoked . But nothing to comfort the Royal Air Force? Given the state of inter-Service relations, the current drift in spending, and the over-the-horizon talk of mergers and restructuring, this should worry their airships.

Liam Fox: “There is no doubt that in Afghanistan the government have been too slow to give the army, in particular, the agility and flexibility it needs to maximise its effectiveness. The Army and the Marines have carried the greatest cost of that failure and we must learn from our mistakes. But we must also remember that we are a maritime nation dependent on the sea lanes for 92% of our trade. A time when the threat of disruption on the high seas is increasing is no time for Britain to become sea blind.”

2. Tories want to sell more guns. Increasing defence exports will please industry and some unions. But is it taking a risk on the old “nasty party” front? Who’s going to buy our increased exports? And is this in any way related to (2)?

LF: “To preserve UK defence jobs by maximising exports. The Conservative Party will use defence exports as a foreign policy tool and we will seek to increase Britain’s share of the world defence market.”

3. Saudi Arabia to be consulted in a Tory defence review? Hmm…

LF: “We must be able to extend meaningful military co-operation within elevated bilateral relations. We will continue to work closely with countries with shared mutual interests and co-strategic importance, like Norway and Turkey or Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. We will invite these key partners to make submissions to our defence review and will welcome contributions from those who see Britain as a key strategic partner. “

4. Hints of greater role specialisation, with more emphasis on spooks and specials. Tories plan to give James Bond more work? Where, and for whom? And if this means more intelligence and SF capability, where does the money come from? Those dashing chaps in black aren’t cheap.

LF: “We must be able to enhance UK influence by leveraging our natural national advantages – like intelligence and Special Forces.”
so not a lot of thinking going on :(
still broke cuts ahead :(
The Conservatives' thinking on defence is the same as that of all the other parties:

"Hmmm, some lovely savings to be made there. Think of all the cash we can lavish on the people who vote for us!"

The idea that the defence budget will see some renaissance under the official Tories is naive in the extreme.


Book Reviewer
It's noteworthy that the emphasis on the 'elevated bilateral relationships' are all around the ME and nowhere else.

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