Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 6 July 2009

Why do we accept political cowardice?

There is an article in this week's Independent on Sunday which focuses on potential spending cuts and discusses what the Tories and Labour might do.

Here is the section on Defence:


Trident has emerged as an obvious candidate for Labour cuts in the present circumstances, but downgrading the nuclear deterrent before an election is politically unpalatable. More likely is an attempt to shave the £76bn bill through amendments to the number and design of submarines, reducing the £4bn-plus aircraft carriers programme and freezing the order for 88 Eurofighters. The Tories have committed themselves to Trident, and have assured the defence community that they would improve equipment and maintain the size of the forces.

Verdict Defence is unlikely to escape huge Whitehall cuts, but no leader will be brave enough to include reductions in their manifesto. A review of Trident and the shape of the forces will have to wait until after the election.

So it would appear that it is well know within political circles that defence spending will be cut after the next election but that this is unlikely to appear in the manifestos of either of the two main parties. How the hell are the public supposed to make up their minds about who to vote for if the two biggest parties haven't even got the courage to be honest about what they are planning in an important area of spending like this? If either of these two parties win the next election how can they claim to have a mandate for cuts if they won't tell us in advance where they plan them?

The worst thing is that this coverage just states that they are unlikely to put it in their manifestos. No analysis of how anti-democratic this is or how this undermines any subsequent mandate. It's just accepted that they will not be honest about it.

It is also worth noting that although the Lib Dems aren't mentioned at all in that article, we have already said that we think Trident cannot be afforded. At least we are being honest in this area.


Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

The British people have shown they don’t much mind about manifestos. Recall New Labour’s declaration that it would not introduce tuition fees, embellished with the proud boast “and we have legislated to prevent this”. Subsequent to the election when they legislated to allow tuition fees, the public rolled over and accepted it - just as they will roll over and accept any Defence budget cuts.

The electorate are like children who in the face of discomfort just want to be told everything will turn out fine and so no worries. Brown’s problem is the extent of the worry means soothing lies are beginning not to work. No point in broadening the agenda of concerns, so softly softly does it on Defence and the people get the politics they deserve.

They also get the defence they deserve. Trident is just about a delivery system - there has been no proper debate about Defence strategy. Now we do not need a delivery system able to react with certainty in a few minutes - so a cheaper alternative might be "suitcase" bombs sent via commercial courier. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Politicians and courage used in the same sentence ?
Manifesto promises are shown to be lies, yet turkeys continue to vote for Christmas.
Who dares have the debate on defense - what point is Trident ? We are using ships for purposes they were not designed for. We are sending out soldiers with poor or unsubstantial equipment. Our soldiers have to scrounge ammunition from the Canadians. We agree to use French weapon systems on our warships that will not be delivered for 10 years.

We need the debate ~ now.