Coffee House

Govt confusion on defence shows how painful the next spending review will be

31 January 2013

The government’s position on defence spending is, to put it politely, confused. After the completion of the SDSR and the defence spending settlement, there was an expectation that the military budget would begin to rise again in real terms from 2015. There has long been talk in Whitehall that David Cameron assured senior military figures that this would be the case and, as James Kirkup notes, he told the Commons that he believed that this would happen.

So, this morning when we woke to the news from the Prime Minister’s plane that the defence budget would rise in 2015-16, it seemed that Cameron had imposed his will on the bureaucracy. But then Philip Hammond took to the airwaves and said that the only thing that was guaranteed was that the equipment budget would increase. Subsequently, we have been informed that this applies to 2016-17 onwards, not 2015-16.

This is all very muddled. But it does reveal something important: the 2015-16 spending review is going to be politically painful.  Given additional cuts need to be made and the health and schools budgets are protected, there’s not going to be much good news for other departments.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • David Lindsay

    David Cameron hates Tories.

    Tony Blair used to affect to be fighting battles against his own party and its supporters. Less often than they ought to have done, they used to return the compliment.

    Until the Iraq War, though, it was largely for show, on both sides. Not entirely. But largely. Thousands of trade unionists were still being added to the public payroll, their political levies flowing merrily intothe Labour Party’s coffers in return.

    David Cameron, on the other hand, is now in a state of open, and Geneva Convention-free, war against the Armed Forces, the Police, the Church of England, the Unionist community in Northern Ireland, and the rural wealthy in the South, alongside whose overpriced houses he wishes to restore the railways.

    • Colonel Mustard

      ACPO, representing the New Police, are pretty chummy with government whilst the Police Federation, representing the politicised rank and file, are in opposition to reform. Does the term “Police” still cover an identifiable, single entity? I’m not sure.

      Is it the localised Police as originally conceived and governed by Peel’s Principles?

      Is it New Labour and ACPO’s centralised New Police who are not?

      Is it the Police as prioritised and directed for cultural revolutionary purposes by Keir Starmer’s CPS?

      Is it the disgruntled and toff-despising Police of the Police Federation, the Mitchell conspiracy and the Countryside Alliance protests?

      Is it the new state directed and centralised Police elite of the NCA?

      • David Lindsay

        The way to stop the NCA is, of course, the way to save the remaining historic regiments, and the way to bring back aircraft carriers with aircraft on them. And no use of our Armed Forces except in our defence, plus the maintenance of those Forces so as to ensure that they were capable of such use. Those could be called Murphy’s Laws. In 2015, 25 years after the 1980s ended in actual fact, British politics will finally move beyond them.

        For at least the first 10 of the 13 New Labour years, the revisionist Left of that decade was in Government rather than, as at the time, in Opposition. It looks perfectly ridiculous now, of course, when an almost 1970s-like three fifths of the population have decided that they are working-class after all.

        The crowd from Marxism Today, to which Tony Blair even contributed; from New Times; from Demos, at the launch of which Blair was the only politician
        present: that crowd fully celebrated the consumer capitalism of the Thatcher Era in all its vulgarity, as the bingeing and belching under Blair made only too abundantly clear. It wanted, and eventually it delivered, Thatcherism without the vestiges of Toryism, and without the contradictions in Thatcher’s own personality.

        By contrast, the SDP looked on in horror, although it, too, has ended up accepting the Thatcher project as irreversible. There are now more former SDP members as Conservative than as Liberal Democrat Ministers in a Coalition which is, so to speak, a right reunion. After 13 years of rule by Marxism Today, then, five years of rule by the SDP.

        And then, at so very long last, the 1980s will finally come to an end.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I don’t think I have your faith that 2015 will see an end to New Labour/New Tory since the current opposition front bench are all creatures of New Labour, however much they might attempt to distance themselves. Also there are the ideological fellow travellers that always come in triumphant hordes with a Labour government and start throwing their weight about. There won’t be so much of this movement next time because they are already entrenched in the quangocracy, fake charities, the ersatz civil service, local government and “culture” and were never purged by the Coalition

        • Tom Tom

          Talking of Marxism Today and New Labour as “Popular Front” it was Eric Hobsbawm together with Ralph Miliband that created New Labour and it has certainly done very well for his sons who could never have envisaged being so high up the money tree as first generation progeny of an illegal alien

      • Tom Tom

        ACPO is highly politicised especially with Orde and Fahy and the revelation that chief Constables have unlimited legal aid budgets to protect themselves is fascinating as mortals have their Legal Aid access curtailed to fund more asylum seekers

  • Radford_NG

    Incidentally,on the 70th. anniversary of von Paulus surrendering the remanents of the 6th. Army at Stalingrad.

  • MirthaTidville

    Quelle suprise…it isnt just Defence they are confused about

  • El_Sid

    The defence equipment budget isn’t going to rise in any case. Previously Trident was funded outside the MoD budget, but Successor is going to be funded as part of the RN submarine budget. Unless you fill Aldermaston with interns working for free, that means cuts to the rest of the MoD equipment budget of £1-2bn/year.

    • HooksLaw

      The defence budget has to cope with 7 billion for aircraft carriers and 10 billion for their planes. The defence budget always has to programme in new equipment. Its been dealing with the Eurofighter programme recently.
      The cost of previous submarines goes back decades so is not relevant to now.

  • Barbara Stevens

    If the Conservatives had some guts they’d realise they could cut in may areas that would not annoy the indigenous people of these islands. Foreign aid would be the first to go, 11 billion of it. 55 million health tourists, they would pay up front or no treatment. No surges in aid like the 50 million for Syria we had he other day, its not our problem and not in the ‘national interest’ as we are told. Then we have the Mali intervention, how much will that cost us. We are supposed to be broke, so where is all this money coming from? I wish some one would explain to this nation, and be honest for once. Borrowing I suppose, which we all have to pay for in the end. Meanwhile, our own suffer cuts in housing benefit, schools are being starved of money, the NHS as to cut 20 billion, the police are being savagely cut too. Yet, today, Cameron stood before police trainees in Libya, their collage which British taxpayers have funded; this is an oil rich country so why have we supplemented their income? Yes, there are several areas we could cut from, and the money save could fund our own defences and many other things. Will we get this cuts to the waste, I doubt it, ponitficating on the world stage as become an art to impress, but it lacks honesty, which we should get rid of as soon as possible. Vote UKIP stop the rot.

    • Heracles Black

      I suspect foreign aid is used by the FCO to exchange favours. They may obtain defence contracts in exchange of medical supplies or food. Or aid might be used as a condition to force countries to open their markets, maintain law, democracy or stop human rights abuse. Since the FCO is seen as a source of prestige, the government wants to spend more money.

      • Tom Tom

        Pergau Dam

  • Colonel Mustard

    ACPO must have made a bit of cash out of that Libyan deal, eh? Peddling their bad habits and worse uniforms.

  • telemachus

    Are we confident that school budgets are protected?

    The North York’s County Council’s consultation with schools on their proposals outlines how, having looked at more than 10,000 options within the Government’s new rules, the “least worst” option available would still lead to a third of schools losing a figure approaching £7m and some schools facing losses of 20 per cent.

    Although there would be transitional arrangements for two years, there is no guarantee for schools after that and many feel very uneasy at what lies ahead.

    • Chris lancashire

      I’m beginning to be concerned about you tele old thing. Your presence on this blog is bordering on the obsessive. Now we know your dad’s away a lot but you really must stop staying in all day and tapping away on your laptop. Otherwise we’ll have to come to the conclusion that you’re either a) unemployed or b) a full time employee of the Labour Party. Actually, on reflection, there’s not much difference.

      • CharlieleChump

        Obviously a human ash tray, kicks from pain

    • Tom Tom

      You are very concerned about North Yorkshire so you should consult with your local Conservative MP – you have Willie Hague or David Davis….but you do pat lower rates than in other areas of Yorkshire

    • CharlieleChump

      Time to shave the gross fat that has accumulated over 70 years in the NHS which is so good it kills old people. And DfiD.

      • David Lindsay

        Old people die, anyway. It will come to us all eventually.

        Only in England is the NHS being dismantled. On this as on so many issues, people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still permitted to live in a recognisably British country. Given the option, so would people in England. What is happening to our Health Service was not in the Conservative or the Liberal Democrat manifesto in 2010. Had it been in the Conservative one, then there would have been a Labour overall majority.

        Therefore, Labour ought to demand an England-wide, England-only referendum on the Coalition’s plans for the NHS. Not in 2017, but this year, and as early as possible this year. This is, in point of fact, about the constitutional status and the fundamental identity of England as a British country.

        The easily predictable result would properly banish once and for all the Loony Right. With its immediate access to both parts of the present Government. And with its highly favoured access to Any Questions, Question Time, Newsnight, the Today programme, The Daily Politics, and so on.

        Those might then have to give space to some authentically British voices, of One Nation politics, with an equal emphasis on the One and on the Nation, and which not only understood that the two were inseparable (the Loony Right fully understands that, just as the Loony Left did), but celebrated each precisely by reference to its inseparability from the other.

  • telemachus

    This sounds OK
    Schools and Health protected and Military cut
    What is so very wrong with all that?

    • Tom Tom

      Schoolchildren turned loose in Mali without proper training……and then returned to the NHS for amputations, sounds a bit basic to me….but okay with you I see

    • MirthaTidville

      Because protecting the nation, its called Defence actually, is the first duty of any Government, If you cant defend yourselves what is the point of the rest??

      • HooksLaw

        We defend ourselves through NATO.
        NATO has been expanded recently it has co-operation agreements with 4 middle east countries
        We have one of the largest defence budgets in the world
        We have just announced an (affordable) 160 billion pound equipment programme. This includes replacing our nuclear deterrent. It also includes 14 billion for unsexy things like air to air refuleling and heavy lift capability.

        How do you suggest we defend the nation?
        Who is going to attack us?
        Who do you want to attack?

Can't find your Web ID? Click here