When 80% of the national newspapers are owned by Tory supporters (Murdoch, the Barclay Brothers, Rothermere, etc), actively pushing a Tory agenda, they can frame each day’s narrative in this General Election. The agenda of TV news, even the “left-wing biased” BBC (my quotes, since it’s a nonsense pushed by Murdoch and his ilk who hate everything about it, not least because it rivals their own business interests) tends to also be influenced by the morning’s newspaper headlines.
Labour did well to dominate a day’s electioneering earlier this week with their popular move to clamp down on tax-dodging non-doms, not that you’d know it was popular with the masses from the following days headlines in, errr, newspapers owned by wealthy Tories etc….. But this morning we were greeted to an extraordinary attack on Ed Miliband and Labour led by Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, which started in his interview on Radio 4 Today and has perpetuated through the day.
In case you missed it, Fallon’s (and Linton Crosby’s of course) attack is two-fold. First, he insists Labour will not be committed to renewing the Trident nuclear deterrent, despite the party’s clear and indisputable insistence that they will indeed do so, and that they will not compromise that position in order to accommodate the SNP in any coalition. Then Fallon argues that Labour cannot be trusted to keep their word because, you know, Ed committed fratricide on his brother to take the Labour leadership in the first place. Fallon might have left out the bit about the Labour party clearly being a hotbed of CND activists, communist sympathisers and bongo playing hippies, but you get the picture.
As the day wore on, we were entertained by David Cameron worrying that Labour haven’t committed to 3 submarines or 4, and therefore were clearly about to invite the Red Army over for tea. Sorry, were “playing fast and loose with our security”.
Which is an interesting angle to take.
Because it’s actually quite clear which political party has done more damage to the armed forces of this country than any other, and which has played fast and loose with our security:
(With their LibDem mates).
Shortly after coming to power in 2010 the ConDem coalition instigated a “Strategic Defence Review” or, as it’s more commonly known, a Complete Shambles.
Among other things, the 2010 SDR saw the scrapping of the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the withdrawal and sale of the RAF and Fleet Air Arm’s Harrier jump jets. As a result, the UK has no active aircraft carriers until the Queen Elizabeth commissions around 2020. And that will have a pathetic number of F35s on board. Also scrapped were the remaining 1980s generation Type 42 destroyers and Type 22 frigates. The former were on borrowed time, but the latter may still have had a few more years use. Whatever, the point is that the Navy has a significantly reduced surface fleet, and struggles to meet its commitments.
No wonder the Argies are a bit noisier than they used to be, and haggling after some still decent old Russian strike aircraft, more than capable of hitting the Falklands….
And heard the stories of Russian subs and ships sniffing around our coast?
As well as the Harriers, the RAF has lost fast jet bases like Leuchars and Cottesmore, and is steadily reducing its Tornado bomber squadrons. Or was, until ISIS turned up and rather sheepishly and quietly number 12 Squadron has been re-formed only one year after disbanding, to cope with our (small) commitment to trying to keep those fanatics at bay.
The RAF also lost its fleet of Nimrod surveillance aircraft, whose primary role was….. hunting for Russian subs and ships. Now, admittedly the Nimrods were old and their replacement – a modernised version which involved a complete rebuild of each airframe – was so over-budget and behind schedule that the axe, while convenient for the defence budget, was probably the right thing to do. But where is the replacement maritime surveillance aircraft? We’ve had to call on our NATO allies to hunt and watch those subs….
So, “fast and loose with the nation’s security”…..
Of course, you may not have remembered any of this, been aware it ever happened, or certainly not reminded by your average Tory MP or newspaper today. The message is: Labour are bad for defence, while we, the Tory Party, are the Guardians of Britain’s National Security.
Which all the evidence says is complete bollox. It’s only a couple of weeks ago that Cameron and co were busy not committing to the NATO aim of spending 2% of GDP on defence. We all know that if Osborne wants to continue his shrinking of the state in the next few years, defence is the first thing in line for cuts. The Tories did it before, and they’ll do it again.
And yet, your average military type, and the average Tory voter, sincerely believes that the Tories are the Natural Party Of The Armed Forces. Which is extraordinary, given the history of certainly my lifetime.
Remember the Falklands War? Got the Blessed Margaret re-elected, according to legend. But do you remember what happened the year before? When Conservative Defence Secretary John Nott took a swinging axe to the armed forces, especially the Navy, and committed to selling the new aircraft carrier (and future Falklands heroine) HMS Invincible off to Australia? Nah, thought not. But it convinced Galtieri and his Argentine mafia that Britain would not and could not do anything if they invaded.
Fast and loose with our security? Take a bow, the Conservative Party.