Manifesto Defence Statements
General Election 2015
General Election 2015
Our plan of action: We will protect our nation We will continue to keep our Armed Forces strong so they can continue to keep you safe. We will maintain the size of the regular armed services and not reduce the army to below 82,000. We will retain the Trident continuous at sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our safety and build the new fleet of four Successor Ballistic Missile Submarines – securing thousands of highly-skilled engineering jobs in the UK. We will work closely with our allies to continue to strengthen NATO – supporting its new multi-national rapid response force. We will maintain our global presence, strengthening our defence partnerships in the Gulf and Asia. Later this year, we will hold a National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review to plan for the future. We will maintain a balanced defence budget and give our Armed Forces the equipment they need We can only have strong, well-funded Armed Forces by continuing to build a stronger economy. We have the second largest defence budget in NATO and the largest in the EU. We are meeting NATO’s two targets: that each country should spend two per cent of its gross national income on defence, and of that spending 20 per cent should go on major equipment. We have made commitments for the equipment plan to be funded at one per cent above inflation for the next Parliament. We plan to invest at least £160 billion in new military equipment over the next decade: as well as our six new Type 45 destroyers, we are building a class of seven Astute submarines and buying the Joint Strike Fighter, Scout armoured vehicles, Type 26 frigates and new Apache attack helicopters. We will bring both of our new Aircraft Carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, the largest vessels the Royal Navy has ever possessed – into service, so we have one available for use at all times. We will continue to seek value for money in defence procurement, recognising the important contribution that the UK defence industry makes to our prosperity. We will maintain strong, modern Armed Forces Modern, flexible Armed Forces need strong reserve capacity, alongside strong regular forces. We have invested significantly in our reserves, and we will deliver on our commitment to expand them to 35,000. We will continue to invest in our cyber defence capabilities. We will also provide more opportunities for talented people from all communities and walks of life to serve their country. We will ensure our Armed Forces overseas are not subject to persistent human rights claims that undermine their ability to do their job. We have the biggest defence budget in the EU – and the second biggest in NATO. We will do all we can to honour those who give so much. We will continue to honour our commitments. We will continue to honour the Armed Forces Covenant We have honoured our commitment to enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant in law and done much to support our servicemen and women. We have delivered better accommodation for service families, helped service personnel buy their own home, and ensured that children of members of the Armed Forces benefit from the Pupil Premium. We have delivered proper mental health support and priority access to medical treatments for veterans. To ensure that those who serve can enjoy greater economic security, we have boosted allowances and tax reliefs. We have protected pensions for our servicemen and women. We have ensured that injured service personnel have access to the latest prosthetics and world-class rehabilitation facilities. And we have used £450 million of LIBOR fines from banks to support the Armed Forces community. The money has been used to support a wide range of charities and good causes, from providing better play facilities for the children of service families, to helping rehabilitation through sport for injured veterans. We pressed for the introduction of the Arctic Star medal – for veterans of the Arctic Convoys – and the Bomber Command Clasp, to ensure proper recognition for those who risked their lives to keep us free. We will build on this proud record, implementing Lord Ashcroft’s recommendations on the way the nation fulfils its obligations to veterans. We will work to address hearing loss among veterans. And we will continue to support the unsung heroes of the Armed Forces community: the partners and families of those who serve.
The primary duty of any government is the defence of the nation and its interests. That is why Labour is committed to ensuring the UK has responsive, high-tech Armed Forces, with the capability to respond to emerging, interconnected threats, in an unpredictable security landscape. We will conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review in the first year of government, with an inclusive national debate on the security and defence challenges facing the country. It will be fiscally responsible and strategically driven, focusing on the obstacles that impede our Armed Forces from effective response to threats. At the heart of our defence policy are the service men and women, both regulars and reservists, who risk their lives for their country. Labour will strengthen the covenant between our nation and our Armed Forces, veterans and their families. We will create a Veterans’ Register to make certain our veterans receive proper support on leaving service. We will continue to roll out Labour’s Veterans’ Interview Programme, in which companies voluntarily guarantee an interview for job-seeking ex-forces personnel. We will introduce legislation to make discrimination against members of our Armed Forces illegal, and we will enshrine the Military Covenant in the NHS Constitution. The UK defence and security industry is a key contributor to our economy, with a turnover of £22 billion a year. We will work to secure defence jobs across the UK, protect the supply chain and support industry to grow Britain’s defence exports. In partnership with industry, we will put accountability, value for money, interoperability and sustainability at the centre of defence procurement. Britain needs to be prepared to counter the threat of cyber-attacks. We have already called on the Government to require every company working with the Ministry of Defence, regardless of its size or the scale of its work, to sign up to a cyber-security charter. This would reduce the risk of hackers using small suppliers to break into the systems of major defence companies or the department itself. We will consult on creating a statutory requirement for all private companies, to report serious cyber-attacks threatening our national infrastructure. Labour remains committed to a minimum, credible, independent nuclear capability, delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent. We will actively work to increase momentum on global multilateral disarmament efforts and negotiations, and look at further reductions in global stockpiles and the numbers of weapons.
United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
The Government continues to signal its intention to widen engagement in international conflicts while, at the same time, implementing a crippling round of further military spending cuts, under the auspices of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).The Army is tasked with reducing personnel numbers to 82,000 by 2018, down from 102,500 in 2010. Battle tank strength has been cut by 40 per cent and there has been a 35 per cent cut in self-propelled artillery. The Conservatives’ ambition to recruit 30,000 personnel to the Territorial Army is failing. Together, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy have suffered more than 10,000 job losses. The Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft programme has been cancelled. The aircraft carrier fleet has been decommissioned, despite having no operational replacements available until 2020. These cuts have demoralised our Armed Forces and left the nation unprepared to face emerging threats.
REBUILDING OUR ARMED FORCES: Our current level of military spending and staffing is not fulfilling the terms of our NATO membership - which requires that we spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence - and the government has failed to lay out details of spending plans beyond 2015/16. On the basis that the current base level of defence spending is maintained after 2015/16 at 1.9 per cent, UKIP will increase the defence budget to meet our obligations to NATO and spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence in 2015/16. We will exceed it substantially for the remaining years of the parliament. We will phase in increased defence spending over the next five years up to an additional £4 billion by 2020. This will return funding to the pre-SDSR level, and allow for £1 billion yearly expenditure on capital projects deemed to be of the highest strategic priority by the MoD. We will rebuild our Armed Forces and restore them to their rightful place among the most professional, flexible and effective fighting forces in the world, able to meet the security demands of the modern era and react appropriately to any threat that the UK faces both now and in the future.
RETAIN OUR NUCLEAR DETERRENT: Faced with rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, which have developed advanced nuclear capabilities, UKIP does not believe now is the time to be talking about or proposing nuclear disarmament and we support Trident renewal.
AIRCRAFT CARRIERS: The two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are superb operational platforms. UKIP supports their deployment, while having reservations about the Royal Navy’s ability to man, operate and protect them: it could take nearly every ship in the current fleet to form an effective carrier group. We also have reservations about the development of the American F-35B Lightning II aircraft that are due to fly from the carriers by 2020, given the massive technical problems involved. This platform may never be mission-capable. We will investigate further whether it would be better to commission an ‘off-the-shelf’ aircraft option and adapt the two Queen Elizabeth class carriers for non-vertical take-off and landings.
INCREASING INTELLIGENCE CAPABILITY: Currently, British intelligence is fragmented between a number of agencies, including MI5, MI6, GCHQ and BBC Monitoring. All have different funding streams and report to different government departments. This generates a significant overlap in work and resources and risks exposing gaps in the system. UKIP will create a new over-arching role of Director of National Intelligence (subject to confirmation hearing by the relevant Commons Select Committee), who will be charged with reviewing UK intelligence and security, in order to ensure threats are identified, monitored and dealt with by the swiftest, most appropriate and legal means available. He or she will be responsible for bringing all intelligence services together; developing cyber security measures; cutting down on waste and encouraging information and resource sharing.
TAX ON ACTIVE SERVICE: UKIP will revise the Armed Forces terms of service to ensure personnel on operational duty overseas do not pay income tax.
EU ARMY: UKIP wholly opposes the creation of a EU Army. We will not tolerate British troops operating under European command, on British soil or elsewhere.
HONOURING THE MILITARY COVENANT: Wherever we send our brave heroes, whatever the danger, they never let us down. We will not let them down. We will honour the Military Covenant. UKIP will create a dedicated Minister for Veterans, attached to the Cabinet Office to head up a Veterans Administration (VA). The VA will work with current MoD veteran services and established charities to provide a single point of contact for veterans in a range of fields: health care, housing, counselling, education and training, rehabilitation, hospital care, access to veteran financial services, benefits and memorialisation. Issues such as veteran homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse and mental health problems will also come under this remit, as will rolling out the following initiatives by 2020:
A DEDICATED MILITARY HOSPITAL: We believe members of our Armed Forces should have access to expert care services, configured to meet the specific needs of serving forces personnel and veterans. Britain is the only major country in Europe that does not have a dedicated military hospital, so we will build one. It will provide specialist physical and mental health services and provide accommodation for 150 relatives or friends on site.
HOSTELS FOR HOMELESS VETERANS: 9,000 homeless people are ex-forces, as are one in ten people sleeping rough on the streets, according to charities Combat Stress and Crisis. That those who have been willing to defend our homeland have ended up without a home themselves is appalling. By 2020, UKIP will build eight halfway house veterans’ hostels, each with 200 rooms and modelled on similar hostels already in operation. We will also built 500 affordable rent homes every year for ex-forces personnel.
JOBS FOR EX-SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN: We will guarantee the offer of a job in the police service, prison service or border force for anyone who has served in the Armed Forces for a minimum of 12 years. This policy will also help meet our pledge to fund an additional 6,000 full time positions across these three organisations. We will secure our borders, get more police on the streets, have safer prisons and honour the Military Covenant.
BOOTS TO BUSINESS: Skills gained in the forces can be useful when running a small business. We will create a ‘Boots to Business’ scheme to channel loans, grants and access to free professional advice and mentors to veterans who wish to set up and run their own businesses after leaving the forces.
SUPPORTING OUR HEROES AND THEIR FAMILIES: Key roles for the VA will include bereavement support; the issue of a veteran service card to ensure fast-track access to NHS mental health care; and the award of a National Defence Medal to all veterans, irrespective of rank or length of service. The current anomaly in the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme will be rectified, so no veteran has to use their war pension to pay for social care, whenever they were injured. These entitlements will be extended to service personnel from overseas. If they have shared the responsibility, stress and danger associated with military service, they should be entitled to exactly the same benefits as the man or woman who stood at their side.
Liberal Democrat Party
The UK must be able to defend itself and the territories for which it has responsibility, support its neighbours and allies, and engage in humanitarian intervention. Many of the security challenges the UK faces are shared by our partners and allies in the EU and NATO and the UK is more effective and more resilient when we work closely with those partners. Liberal Democrats are clear that the security offered by our continued membership of the EU is more crucial than ever, as are our bilateral relationships with our key European allies. We favour greater integration of military capabilities and procurement to address common problems, to overcome economic constraints and to maintain a full spectrum of defence capabilities. To achieve this, we will build on the treaty-based arrangements we have established 11Britain in the world | global action for security and prosperity Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2015 146 and extend this cooperation to other suitable European partners. Liberal Democrats are committed to meeting our national and international obligations in security and defence. This is why in government over the last five years we met the NATO commitment to spend 2% of our GDP on defence, most recently restated in the Readiness Action Plan and Defence Industrial Pledge at the Wales NATO Summit in 2014. We are committed to completing a comprehensive Strategic Defence and Security Review early in the next Parliament to inform future defence spending decisions. We recognise that the world has changed fundamentally since the last such review. It is vital that our real security and defence needs and international obligations are considered in the SDSR, and this is why we wish to move towards a Single Security Budget. We will conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review in which we will revisit and update the Future Force 2020 vision and ensure the capabilities we are invested in are relevant for keeping Britain safe. We will use the SDSR to establish a Single Security Budget, including not just conventional defence spending but the work of our security agencies, cyber defences and soft power interventions. The Single Security Budget will be distributed by the SDSR process, as part of an overall Spending Review. This integrated approach will ensure spending choices follow the capabilities we need, not traditional departmental silos. We will maintain strong and effective armed forces and the capability to deploy rapidly expeditionary forces. We will set long-term budgets to invest in the right equipment at competitive prices. We will recognise the expansion of warfare into the cybersphere, by investing in our security and intelligence services and acting to counter cyber attacks. We will remain fully engaged in international nuclear disarmament efforts. We will step down the nuclear ladder by procuring fewer Vanguard successor submarines and moving from continuous at sea deterrence to a contingency posture of regular patrols, enabling a surge to armed patrols when the international security context makes this appropriate. This would help us to fulfil our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments and reduce the UK nuclear warhead stockpile. We will work for new global standards to end the use of conventional explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas. We will promote European defence integration where appropriate by enhancing European defence industry co-operation. Liberal Democrats recognise the vital role the UK’s armed forces play in the defence of the nation and believe that it is the role of government to safeguard the interests of service personnel and veterans. We strongly support the Armed Forces Covenant, now enshrined in law in the 2011 Armed Forces Act. We also propose: Transferring the Office of the Veterans’ Minister to the Cabinet Office, so that the services of all departments can be marshalled in support of veterans and creating a post of Veterans’ Commissioner. We will improve support for personnel and veterans with mental health problems, including alcohol dependency. We will strengthen local military covenants by defining more exacting guidelines and ensuring best practice is rolled out across all Local Authorities. The government in 2011 set a target for increasing the size of the Reserves to 30,000 but it is significantly behind in achieving this goal, with continued problems of retention. We acknowledge the different pressures that Reserves face and propose that: Emphasis be put on improving retention and training of Reserves at current levels: Employers be required to offer two weeks’ unpaid leave annually to assist Reserves attending training camps.
The UK’s recent history has been scarred by involvement in ill-advised military interventions that have undermined our national and international security. The Green Party opposed these interventions, which have brought havoc to Iraq and Libya and only fragile gains in Afghanistan, as well as driving an increased terrorist threat closer to home – all at the cost of many precious lives and vast amounts of money and other resources that could have been better used for other needs.
Green MP Caroline Lucas challenged the PM in the debate on 26 September 2014 on military action in Iraq ‘Will the Prime Minister recognise that killing extremists does not kill their ideas? On the contrary – it can often feed their ideas, and for that reason the former MI6 head of counter-terrorism has said that getting Saudi Arabia and Iran around a negotiating table would be far more effective than bombing. Why are we not hearing far more from this Prime Minister about the political and diplomatic solutions to this situation, rather than reaching for the military solution, which could undermine them?’
We will restructure and update the UK’s security and defence establishments and services so that they contribute to the international good. We will: • Pursue a policy of ‘defensive defence’, which threatens no one yet makes it clear that threats and attacks will be resisted. • Take a leading role in preventing violent conflict, genocide and war crimes overseas through (i) helping to develop local capacities to avoid, manage and resolve conflicts; and (ii) enhancing the UK’s well-respected role in genuine peacekeeping and the protection of non-combatant communities. • Develop policies and programmes for ‘environmental defence’ and disaster mitigation and relief, drawing on the skills and activities of our current military forces and increasing gender representation and training to equip the UK to contribute more effectively in these kinds of human security emergencies. • Diminish dependence on arms sales through a halt to government subsidies and introducing a strict licensing regime to prevent sales of weapons and military equipment to undemocratic regimes and those that violate human rights (including, at the present time, Israel and Saudi Arabia). • Look after veterans and their families. International disarmament and security agreements The Green Party will ensure that UK security and defence policies are consistent with international law, including international humanitarian law, and that the UK implements in good faith all relevant obligations in the following international treaties: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Outer Space Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the Mine Ban Treaty, the Cluster Munitions Convention, the Arms Trade Treaty, the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and the Geneva Protocols. We will: • Enhance UK cooperation with civil society and international agencies to implement relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, including UNSC Resolutions 1325, 1820 and 1889, dealing with the role of gender violence in war and the necessity to involve women at all levels in preventing war and building peace and security. • Save a massive £100 billion over the next 30 years by cancelling Trident replacement and decommissioning existing nuclear forces and facilities. • Enhance international security and non-proliferation by initiating and/or joining negotiations on a universally applicable nuclear abolition treaty to prohibit the use, deployment, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of nuclear weapons and requiring their complete elimination. • Initiate and/or join negotiations on new international treaties and laws to prohibit the development, deployment and use of autonomous weapons (such as ‘killer robots’), depleted uranium weapons, weapon systems that are intended for use in and from outer space, and weapons that leave explosive remnants and toxic legacies in war-affected communities, while mandating the protection of civilians from any new weapons developments for the future. Green MEP Keith Taylor and Palestine Keith Taylor is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to Palestine and has visited the Occupied Territories. As part of his work, Keith has called for Israel to end its practice of detaining Palestinians without charge, and has supported his constituents in boycott campaigns relating to goods made in illegal Israeli settlements. Keith has long campaigned for the recognition of Palestine and has put his name to a successful Resolution calling on the European Parliament to recognise Palestine as a state. Joining up the policies So what do war, terrorism, food policy and the oil industry have to do with each other? If we didn’t depend on oil from the Middle East, we wouldn’t need to invent reasons to go to war there when supply lines are threatened. If we weren’t involved in wars in the Middle East, terrorism here would lose its raison d’être. With less fossil fuel we would have to expand renewables and grow more of our own food, making us far less vulnerable to blockade in any future war. Security policy is not just about tanks, it’s also about acting responsibly and building resilience at home. It’s another virtuous circle.
Scottish National Party (SNP)
Defence that works for the people of Scotland
STRATEGIC DEFENCE AND SECURITY REVIEW: As a northern European nation, our near neighbourhood including the High North and Arctic are a key priority for Scotland. The forthcoming UK Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) must take full account of the particular challenges and opportunities of the northern regional dimension, and of the need to be more effective at combatting cyber-terrorism where the SDSR must lay out a clear strategy, including continued engagement with the Scottish Government. The SDSR must review the current Ministry of Defence record, which includes falsely inflating spending commitments, mismanaging Army personnel reforms and creating dangerous capability gaps. In particular, we believe there should be ocean going conventional patrol vessels based permanently in Scotland and will seek the early procurement of multirole Maritime Patrol Aircraft purchased ‘off the shelf by the end of this parliament and operating from Scotland. The SDSR must also fully consider the advantages of a defence policy without weapons of mass destruction and wasting £100bn renewing Trident. We will continue in our principled opposition to nuclear weapons and believe that the UK should abandon plans to renew the Trident nuclear missile system. In addition, the MoD should also publish in full current and projected annual costs of the Trident system and its proposed successor programme, including nuclear weapons through-life costs.
THE CONVENTIONAL DEFENCE FOOTPRINT: UK policy has seen reductions in conventional footprint in Scotland, leading to a significant underspend, meaning fewer jobs and less defence related spending to benefit local economies. Existing conventional bases in Scotland should be retained and all conventional rebasing activities should be completed by the end of this parliament. There should be no further erosion of the Scottish regiments and it remains our ambition to see the traditional regiments restored.
DEFENCE SPENDING: We support greater transparency in UK defence spending, with a full breakdown of spending by nation and region in the UK, including all procurement and SME expenditure and a full breakdown of component costs of all major projects by location. With taxpayers in Scotland contributing billions of pounds more than the MOD currently spends in Scotland we believe that a far larger proportion of the defence procurement budget should be spent in Scotland. There should be a strategy developed by the MOD to ensure more small and medium sized enterprises in Scotland are part of the manufacturing support chain for major defence projects. The Type 26 frigates must be built in Scotland and the Aircraft Carriers refitted at Rosyth.
LOOKING AFTER OUR SERVICE PERSONNEL: The duty of care to our service personnel, veterans and their families must be a key priority. The MoD should provide much better support to next of kin and bereaved families in the event of a loss of a serving relative. As a matter of safety, we believe a collision warning system should be installed on Tornado and Typhoon aircraft as quickly as possible. We also support giving Armed Forces representative bodies a statutory footing.
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
We believe that the most important duty of a government is to protect its citizens and the nation. A strong defence policy and well-resourced and properly equipped Armed Forces are essential to ensure the safety of our country. The DUP is proud of the contribution that our Armed Forces make to the security of our nation and the world and recognises that Northern Ireland punches well above its weight when it comes to the brave men and women who serve in the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces serve us with distinction in conflict zones across the world, providing both military and humanitarian support. We recall the sacrifice of those who have fallen in the service of our country and pledge to ensure that they and their loved ones are not forgotten. The massive shifts in international relations, forms of warfare and rapid development and spread of new threats in the world require an adaptable and flexible strategy. It remains our view that in order to defend our national interests and our people, we need to keep our Armed Forces strong. In the next Parliament, the DUP believes that there are four key issues that must be addressed: Defence Spending The DUP believes that UK Defence spending should not fall below 2% of GDP. Defence Review The next Strategic Defence and Security Review must ensure that our Armed Forces are capable of tackling multiple deployments, including as part of a multi-national force or on our own. Defence Policy The United Kingdom must retain its own strong, independent defence policy with sufficient resources dedicated to each of the Services and the retention of an independent nuclear deterrent. The appropriate institution for international military co-operation is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation not the European Union. Military Covenant The Military Covenant should be implemented fully and in an equivalent manner in all parts of the UK. There should be a national entitlement for present and former members of the Armed Forces. In addition, we believe that the National Armed Forces Day celebrations should rotate around all the constituent parts of the UK.
Prosperity firmly linked to safety and security - and that's why defence MUST be an issue for this election
Daily Mail here
Daily Mail here
Here’s an election idea: why not weaponise defence?
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, Andrew Roberts and Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham
There is an election in May. The major parties are competing in the great NHS give-away whilst showing every sign of wishing to bury defence until well after the election, using the expected Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR-15) as the convenient touchstone for evasion.
So who will speak for defence in an election year?
Full article in the Spectator here.
So who will speak for defence in an election year?
Full article in the Spectator here.
Bernard Jenkin MP: “There are no votes in defence.” Or so they say…
"The ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu said that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. We Europeans need to spend more on military, diplomatic and intelligence capacity, and the UK needs to be the leading example – not because we want war, but because we want peace."
Full article in "Conservative Home" here
Full article in "Conservative Home" here
In the General Election campaign so far, we have heard little, if anything, from the Conservatives, Labour or the Liberal Democrats on the subject of defence. Bearing in mind that the safety and security of the Kingdom is the first priority of government, this must be considered a serious omission.
Is it because they don’t think defence is an important issue?
Is it because they realise that recent cuts have left our armed forces seriously depleted and they don’t know what to do about it?
Is it because they want to ensure there is as little debate on defence as possible before the election?
Is it because they know they are going to cut our defence capability even further and they don’t know how to explain how this ties in with their prime responsibility?
Whatever the answer, the British people are entitled to know the defence policies of all the political parties, and soon.
UKNDA has opened this page on this website to gather together election news on defence. We should be pleased to hear from the political parties about their policies in this area, and will publish them for all to read.
British army to be replaced by 'Home Defence Force' if Greens win power in May.
Daily Telegraph here
Daily Telegraph here