Swiss Des: Letter to the Telegraph

here click on "Spending money on defence is vital":
Swiss Des" said:
Sir - You accuse the Government of decreasing the amount spent on defence (reports, January 20 and 22).

The truth is that, over the past five annual budgets set by this Government, defence spending has risen by about £1 billion every year. Defence spending, at more than £30 billion a year, is now far higher in real terms than it was under the last Tory government. This does not include the money spent on operations, which comes from the Treasury reserve fund.

Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, appears to have forgotten that it was his party that cut the defence budget when it was in office. The Tories cut it in half as a percentage between the Falklands and 1997. During the last five years of the last Conservative government, the defence budget was not just falling as a percentage of GDP, but being slashed in real terms, by around £500 million a year.

If the Tories are saying that they believe more financial resources should be spent on defence, then let them spell out clearly just how much more money they would spend.

I suspect that they will not do so, because, as in so many areas of Conservative policy, they do not have clear and costed plans.

Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence, London SW1
So Labour is spending more money then ever before on the defence budget, and operations are being paid for out of HM Treasury reserve.

So how is it that our forces have been consistently under equipped on the battlefield and MOD real estate is in the poorest condition in living memory?

Knowing just how good the Labour party is at keeping its own finances in order, is it any wonder that so many, have so little faith in their ability to manage our nations defence expenditure?

Could we have a PFI adjusted figure for the defence spend – and see just how much is left once the sacred cows of the British defence industry have been propped up out of the oft quoted £500m?
I'm surprised that the Torygraph printed it - a classic example of spin in action.

The Tories cut it in half as a percentage between the Falklands and 1997

Perhaps the end of the Cold War and the demands for a peace dividend based on radical cutbacks in the armed forces (most loudly trumpeted from the then-Opposition benches) might have had something to do with that?

And unless I've missed something, I don't recall the last Tory administration committing the UK to simultaneous conflicts while cutting back, real terms increases or not.

The effects of RAB and efficiency savings (granted not entirely a Labour productions plc idea) which are complicated and hard to explain clearly to the general public get lost in the mantra of 'in real terms' increases, etc, etc.

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