Hyperbole replaces Substance and Fact in the race to be PM

 

DefenceSynergia asks if the next Prime Minister will learn from history and fund HM Armed Forces to meet the emerging threat? Or emulate the 1930s and starve the British military of funds until a disaster like Dunkirk becomes almost inevitable?

 

“I will be the heir to Margaret Thatcher – I believe in national sovereignty. Strong borders – tight control of both legal and illegal immigration. The primacy of economic growth. That this can only be achieved on a foundation of low inflation and sound public finances. And the best way to achieve economic growth is by cutting taxes and bureaucracy and boosting private sector investment and innovation. I believe that crime is an evil that we tolerate far too high levels of.”

 

The remarks above were made by The Rt Hon. Rishi Sunak MP to the Daily Telegraph on 21 July 2022.

A worthy set of values no doubt but at no time in this statement has Mr Sunak mentioned Defence directly. The indications are, based on his most recent time as Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he is not persuaded by those like DefenceSynergia (DS) that insist that HM Armed Forces require an immediate injection of cash to bolster our woefully inadequate weapon stocks and to begin ramping manpower and capability that will, at best, take a decade to rebuild to sensible levels.

We understand that The Rt Hon. Elizabeth Truss MP has rightly argued for an increase in UK Defence spending albeit there is a question as to whether she has compared herself to Mrs Thatcher in the recent past.

In his press statement Mr Sunak does make two references to the UK’s desperate position in 1940, the second of which is: As in 1940 and 1979, our country needs the Conservative Party now more than ever.”  On this historic issue, DS would advise Mr Sunak to be cautious and check that his advisers have their facts right. It is arguable that Britain’s parlous military state, especially in land forces, had partially occurred during a 5-year period of a Conservative government.

In May 1940 Winston Churchill (a sometime Liberal as well as a Conservative) was asked by Neville Chamberlain, arguably reluctantly it must be said, to succeed him as Prime Minister. Churchill’s elevation was opposed by the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, and many Tory Grandees. However, the dire military preparation that confronted both Chamberlain (and Churchill) was inherited in part from Stanley Baldwin whose administration was in office in 1935.

It is of note that Major General Noel Mason-Macfarlane briefed the British press: “History provides many examples of a British Army being asked to operate under appalling handicaps by the politicians responsible for British policy, but I doubted that the British Army had ever found itself in a graver position than that in which the governments of the last twenty years had placed it.”

Although this may sound familiar it was actually said on 15th May 1940 shortly before the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk was ordered by Mr Churchill.

Call in aid the records in the office of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher if candidates must but it is quite another thing to truly emulate the ‘statesmanship’ of those who walked the walk not just talked the talk.