06/09/2010

Ed Balls and defence spending

Ed Balls was interviewed on Radio 5L the other night night and was asked about General Dannatt's recent attack on Labour:
Gen Sir Richard Dannatt criticised Mr Brown for inadequate funding and said Mr Blair lacked the "moral courage" to make his chancellor deliver money.

He, Balls, waffled and whined about the General Dannatt being some sort of Tory stooge because he had been a Tory adviser. Balls is renowned as being one of the nastiest politicians on the circuit so I suppose it would never enter his head that people like General Dannatt have a mind of their own, but more importantly have high very moral values and standards

But that's by the by, what I wanted to talk about was Balls' defence of Labour's defence budgets. He claimed, and wasn't challenged, that in the 10 years before Labour came to power the Tories cut defence spending by 30% and then Labour raised it by 11%. The answer sounded a bit too pat, but lets take this claim at face value, yes I know it's Ed Balls but I haven't got the time or inclination to do the research, and lets do something the interviewer didn't do, think about what he said.

Firstly, lets consider those Tory defence cuts and what happened between 1987 and 1997. A quick check of the history books and we find that the cold war came to an end, signified by the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. With the end of the cold war we were promised a "peace dividend":

The peace dividend is a political slogan popularized by US President George H.W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the early 1990s, purporting to describe the economic benefit of a decrease in defense spending. It is used primarily in discussions relating to the guns versus butter theory. The term was frequently used at the end of the Cold War, when many Western nations significantly cut military spending.
So we had an excuse, real or not, to cut defence spending and from my memory every one, including the Labour Party were screaming for cuts and the money to be spent on the poor.

After a few of years of this peace dividend with not a lot happening we probably could afford to save a bit on defence. Then, as we all know, we voluntary entered not one, but two hot wars. Now it doesn't take a great mind to realise that if you are going to war it is going to cost more, not least because those expensive munitions, like missiles, get used at rate much faster than they do in peace time training. What's more, the enemy has a habit of shooting back and destroying things which also have to be replace; the bastards.

If Labour increased defence spending by 11% all I can say is, it probably wasn't enough

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