Seven Defence Questions For Party Manifestos 2019


DefenceSynergia (DS) is pleased to publish text versions of the four main party manifestos on our website – Labour Party, Brexit Party, Liberal Democrat Party, Conservative Party – in the Reports Section.


DS has attempted to extrapolate from each manifesto the party positions in respect of 7 Defence-related questions. In researching the various party defence positions DS has noted that the so called “first priority of government” (Question 1) seems rather far down the list of promises and in some instances is decidedly vague and rather rhetorical. The questions and a précis of our findings by party is appended below [answers in bold are taken verbatim from the respective party manifesto]:


Question 1. Is the first priority of government the security of the Realm/country?


Labour Party: The primary duty of government is to guarantee the security of people in the UK.


Brexit Party: Nothing specific rather a general statement heading – PROTECT BRITAIN’S BORDERS AND PEOPLE.


Liberal Democrats: Nothing specific within the section entitled ‘Secure Defence in the 21st Century’ more a generalised statement supporting the Armed Forces – The Armed Forces play a vital role in the defence of the nation: government should have a deep sense of duty to properly support service personnel and veterans.


Conservative Party: The security of our nation comes first. We will protect the British people at home and abroad, and also ensure that the democratic rights of people in Gibraltar, the Falklands and all our overseas territories are protected. Our first duty as a Government is to keep our country safe.


Question 2. Is continued membership and full participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Alliance party policy?


Labour Party: We will maintain our commitment to NATO and our close relationship with our European partners, and we will use our influence at the United Nations to support peace and security worldwide.


Brexit Party: Ensure that the UK maintains its commitment to NATO.


Liberal Democrat Party: Commit to the principle of collective self-defence as laid out in the North Atlantic Treaty.


Conservative Party: After Brexit, we will bolster the alliances and institutions that help project our influence and keep us safe: the UN and the UN Security Council; NATO; the Commonwealth; Five Eyes; the G20; the G7; and the World Trade Organisation.


Question 3. Do you support current UK nuclear deterrent policy?


Labour Party: Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. Labour will also actively lead multilateral efforts under our obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to create a nuclear-free world.


Brexit Party: No comment re UK nuclear policy.


Liberal Democrat Party: Maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent, while pursuing multilateral nuclear disarmament: continuing with the Dreadnought programme, the submarine-based replacement for Vanguard, but procuring three boats and moving to a medium-readiness responsive posture and maintaining the deterrent through measures such as unpredictable and irregular patrolling patterns.


Conservative Party: We will maintain our Trident nuclear deterrent, which guarantees our security.


Question 4. Do you advocate association with/participation In any form of European Union Armed Forces Alliance?


Labour Party: Our security co-operation arrangements with EU neighbours are essential for our safety. If the British people confirm their decision to leave, we will prioritise agreement of a new UK-EU Security Treaty.


Brexit Party: A Clean-Break Brexit means that we can control our own national security and borders, free from entanglement in the EU’s integrated defence…Withdraw from the European Defence Union…will mean we leave the EU defence procurement directive ensuring the UK has the right to stipulate defence contracts stay at home.


Liberal Democrat Party: Unclear and nothing EU Army specific –…a plan that means working through multilateral organisations such as the EU, UN, NATO, and the WTO, rather than undermining or leaving them entirely.


Conservative Party: The EU’s Defence and Security arrangements and UK’s future position in them are not mentioned at all.


Question 5. What is the minimum level of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Defence that you will support?


Labour Party: Labour’s commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence will guarantee that our armed forces are versatile and capable of fulfilling the full range of roles and obligations.


Brexit Party: Ensure that the UK maintains its commitment to NATO and meets its commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence as an absolute minimum.


Liberal Democrat Party: Commit to …the North Atlantic Treaty and spending two per cent of GDP on defence in line with NATO recommendations: as the economy grows after we have stopped Brexit, this will mean an extra £3 billion over the parliament.


Conservative Party: We will continue to exceed the NATO target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence and increase the budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation every year of the new Parliament.


Question 6. Will UK continue to be an active member of the “Five Eyes” Alliance?


Labour Party: Five Eyes and US alliance not mentioned.


Brexit Party: Five Eyes and US alliance not mentioned.


Liberal Democrat Party: Five Eyes and US alliance not mentioned but an oblique reference…Recognise the expansion of warfare into the cybersphere by investing in our security and intelligence services…


Conservative Party: As per question 2 – After Brexit, we will bolster the alliances and institutions that help project our influence and keep us safe…including…Five Eyes.


Question 7. Do you support a Maritime Strategy devoted to maintaining freedom of navigation and trade in all international waters?


Labour Party: Obliquely mentioned – Our national security is linked to global threats. We will respect international law and avoid needless military interventions…We have a duty to stand up for the security and sovereignty of our overseas territories, including the Falklands.


Brexit Party: No obvious mention of UK Strategy beyond leaving the EU.


Liberal Democratic Party: No obvious mention of UK Strategy beyond remaining in the EU.


Conservative Party: No obvious mention of Strategy beyond leaving the EU.