Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imageLabour's defence policy might sound good, but it's mainly empty rhetoric. Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

Welcome to The Conversation’s Manifesto Check, where academics from across the UK subject each party’s manifesto to unbiased, expert scrutiny. The result will be a complete guide to the factual accuracy and plausibility of policies relating to health, education, the economy, and more, right across the political spectrum. Here, our expert examines the Labour Party’s promises on defence.

The most noticeable aspect of the defence and the armed forces section of Labour’s manifesto is its brevity, especially given the current level of instability in the international environment. The section is overwhelmingly rhetorical, and there is hardly any mention of real policy – bar a few exceptions.

Labour indicates a desire to balance fiscal responsibility with a strong defence strategy for the UK; but this is a fraught task. The renewal of Trident is a cornerstone issue within the wider debate on defence spending. The SNP has already opposed the move, claiming that it would cost £100 billion, which could be better spent.

Trident itself is a system of four Vanguard-class nuclear submarines, which allows one sub to be on patrol at any given moment, providing what’s known as a continuous at-sea deterrent (CASD). The manifesto clearly states that “Labour remains committed to a minimum, credible, independent nuclear capability, delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent”. But a commitment to four submarines is not specifically stated. So, one must assume that Labour is at least willing to explore the idea of a CASD with a downsized submarine force.

The document also mentions that Labour “will conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) in the first year of government” that will be “fiscally responsible” and “strategically driven”. But historically, achieving both of these aims in one SDSR has proven quite problematic.

My own discussions with both defence analysts and Ministry of Defence officials suggest that most defence and security experts understood the 1998 SDSR – undertaken by the last Labour government – to be strategy-led, rather than treasury-driven. The opposite was true with the 2010 SDSR under the coalition government. It remains to be seen whether the next SDSR will be closer to the 2010 iteration or to the previous Labour 1998 review. But the wording here clearly signals a desire to balance both strategy and finance.

The 2%

There is no mention of the commitment the UK made to sustain defence spending at 2% of gross domestic product. At the NATO Wales Summit, the UK agreed that:

Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence will aim to continue to do so. Likewise, Allies spending more than 20% of their defence budgets on major equipment, including related Research & Development, will continue to do so.

Although an SDSR conducted after the election – along with a 2015 Spending Review – may ultimately reaffirm the UK’s commitment to maintaining defence spending at 2% of GDP, this does not seem likely. A recent report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has presented four possible scenarios for UK defence spending up until 2020. All but one of these scenarios see defence spending falling below the 2% mark.

The manifesto also states that the “UK defence and security industry is a key contributor to our economy, with a turnover of £22 billion a year.” The Defence Growth Partnership report released last December concurs with this figure. Yet, it is glaringly obvious that any centrist government would “work to secure defence jobs across the UK, protect the supply chain and support industry.” This sweeping collection of buzz words offers no real insight into how the Labour party aims to achieve its ambitions.

Given that the UK has been involved in conflict for more than a decade, it is appropriate that the service of our military personnel should be supported through tangible actions. The Labour manifesto commits to strengthening “the covenant between our nation and our Armed Forces”. This is commendable, but there is little in the way of stated policy to achieve this. “A Veterans’ Register” is mentioned, but it is quite unclear how such a register will ensure our veterans receive the attention they warrant, or even what is meant by “proper support”. This section of the manifesto is highly rhetorical, and lacks any real policy substance.

These days, there is no doubt that cyber-security is a fundamental aspect of national (and collective) defence and security. It is commendable that the manifesto addresses such threats, but again this section is quite lacking when it comes to substantial policy proposals. For example, it is less than clear how merely signing up to “a cyber-security charter” reduces risk in this respect.

More to come on Labour’s counter terrorism policy.

Simon J Smith receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), but this article does not reflect the views of the research councils.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/manifesto-check-labour-leaves-the-door-open-to-downscale-trident-40110

INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

The Conversation

Politics

Scott Morrison Press Conference - Australian Parliament House

Good afternoon. While we are facing more benign weather conditions in the short term, this morning, I received briefings from the Bureau of Meteorology, which set out that over the medium term out...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Bushfire emergency support for primary producers

Farm, fish and forestry businesses in fire-affected regions will get the help they need to rebuild with an initial $100 million in emergency bushfire funding, which will be made available following ag...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Immediate financial support for bushfire affected communities

The Morrison Government will provide an initial and immediate base payment of $1 million to 42 of the most severely bushfire impacted councils in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Que...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

How to Choose the Right Data Recovery Solution for your Business

In the modern business environment, data is one of the most important commodities. A typical B2C seller, for instance, offering home delivery service cannot deliver the product to the right addres...

News Company - avatar News Company

CrowdStrike Services Cyber Front Lines Report

New CrowdStrike Report Finds an Increase in Cyber Adversaries Turning to Business Disruption as Main Attack Objective CrowdStrike Services Cyber Front Lines Report offers observations gained from t...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Which web design software is best for beginners

There are dozens of site-builders and software devoted to the art of creating a website. Some of these, like the one offered by Adobe, are more technically oriented and in many cases require a backg...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

The Family Travel Handbook from Lonely Planet

Everything you need to know to take unforgettable trips with your children   Full of practical advice, ideas and inspiration for every type of family, Lonely Planet's The Family Travel Handbook ...

Adam Bennett - avatar Adam Bennett

3 Ideas for a Family-Friendly Holiday to Bali

A family holiday is always an exciting time, but it can often come with its fair share of challenges, especially when trying to keep every member of the family happy. Thankfully, the beautiful islan...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Best Things to Do in Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills has long been a relaxing escape for the people of Adelaide and beyond. Its proximity to the capital makes it an accessible destination that feels like you’re miles away from the hustl...

News Company - avatar News Company

ShowPo