There has been a lot of talking of Labour mishandling of the defence industry and the armed services on here of late. But what has been missed out is not only the oldest service, but the only one capable of taking upon itself the roles of the other two. I refer of course the Royal Navy.
There was a time when the Royal Navy was the most powerful force in the world, it was what kept the Germans from invading in both world wars and proved its power as late as 1983. When Maggie decided to retake the Falklands it was the Royal Navy which permitted us to fight a war on the far side of the planet. However such aspirations may soon become a thing of the past.
It was the 1966 defence paper under Wilson’s labour government which led to the cancelation of the Royal Navy’s last attempt at full size aircraft carriers. This in turn led to the collapse of British deployments ‘east of Suez’ in support of British interests. Now the situation is even worse with the spendthrift attitude of Brown’s government towards the armed forces.
The extreme left wing Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), suggests that the government should scrap nearly every defence procurement project that is currently around. First on their list is the new carrier replacement program (CVF), and the controversial Trident replacement. Without these projects however the UK would not only become less capable to fight future wars but would be relegated to insignificance. No longer would the UK be able to be a major player in international relations or even a major player in Europe. It would instead join the long list of nations with their glorious and proudest moments behind them.
With the Trident programme in mind, we must remind ourselves that we are in an increasingly hostile world, rouge states such as North Korea are beginning to build up nuclear arsenals and Iran is not only holding British citizens hostage, but indeed perpetuating a bizarre and twisted rhetoric which serves only to confirm their role as a the greatest danger to world peace, soon to be nuclear armed. Why then must we reduce our already limited capabilities even further?
There are many that might see such projects to be a poor use of public money. But one must keep in mind not only the value of possessing such military capability on a global level. But also the economic benefit that this would do to our nation. British shipyards have been forsaken since the second world. These industrial forges which created some of the greatest manmade objects the world has ever seen, from the Dreadnought class ships of the First World War to the insurmountable luxury of the great transoceanic liners. They have been the lifeblood of many working class cities and towns. It was economic investment in these shipyards which help rise Britain out of the great depression and have the potential to do the same now.
However they are relegated to putting together wind turbines and oil rigs. Even Britain’s civil flagship the Queen Mary 2 was built in Chantiers de Atlantique on the Atlantic coast of France. Would it not be sensible when in the middle of an economic downturn to actually start creating and sustaining jobs? Not failing to mention creating a skill base in a world where the great challenges can only be overcome with engineering and scientific expertise. Instead this current Labour government does not consider the long term; it only considers quick fixes to the problems which they contributed to in the first place.
Adam Jenner, Events Officer