CDP policies are framed by reference to the essential ‘six systems of community’ as listed in categories 2 to 7 in the sidebar to the right. Over and above those is the duty to ensure that the country is secure and stable; as this enables and allows the ‘six systems’ to flourish. Since ancient times the prime duty of a King has been to protect his subjects, mainly against external threats, but also internally by imposition of law and order. In modern times this prime duty, to protect its citizens, rests with the executive government overseen by the people’s representatives. The duty to protect its citizens can now be more widely defined to include environmental and health hazards, as well as the unscrupulous behaviour of conmen and carpet-baggers. However, for the elaboration and discussion of this category we are limiting our coverage to the three sub-elements of foreign policy, defence and civil protection.
This thread of posts is intended to inform the debate leading up to our Ordinary General Meeting next month, when we discuss the formulation of policy relating to these matters. Our party programme contains specific policy that relates, but will be extended and expanded. Security brings stability; and stability [economic, fiscal and monetary] provides the resources to bring about security. It is a virtuous circle. Unfortunately that circle has been broken over the past sixty years and has become a downward spiral. This disconnect results from political decisions that can be laid at the doors of all the main political parties, with the major culprit being the Conservative Party.
Duncan Sandys defence review of 1957 was based on predictions that were plain wrong and with flawed consequences that resulted in the destruction of the British aero industry, that had been diverse and innovative at the leading edge of science and technology – the World best. What Sandys did for the Royal Air Force, John Nott did for the Royal Navy in 1981, with his defence review proposing the shrinking of the RN to engage only in NATO operations in the North Atlantic. Quickly proved wrong in 1982 with the Falklands War, the RN was saved (for the time being), but the failure to provide a steady stream of orders to keep the ship builders in business had a detrimental effect. The end of the Cold War and the ‘outbreak of peace’ provided a dividend by way of defence cuts for the politicians to reallocate. In 2010 Liam Fox, the new Secretary for Defence, resisted further cuts. His successors, Philip Hammond and Michael Fallon, have not. It is true that the defence budget was in a mess with a huge black hole, mainly due to poor planning and procurement procedures. Hammond and Fallon have done for the Army what Sandys and Knott did for the RAF and RN.
The Labour Party have an equally disastrous record. Wilson’s government withdrew from East of Suez and cut military resources. The Blair/Brown government took the UK back but did not increase military capability. Decisions for the replacement of military hardware, especially big value items, were delayed with a resulting increase in costs. Labour have proved to be just as short-sighted as the Conservatives. The result is that in pursuit of the politicians foreign policies, the military have been made to conduct operations for which they were not equipped or prepared. This is a criminal situation. We only meet the minimum commitment of spending 2% of GDP on defence by the use of creative accounting. Placing the cost of the nuclear deterrent within the defence budget has resulted in the decline of conventional forces.
Given this situation there is a need to reign in on foreign policy initiatives and objectives. Many of these are never publicly discussed. They are not listed in party manifestoes and therefore have no voter mandate. This is especially so at the United Nations where it has serious consequences, given the UK role as only one of the five founding members with a permanent seat and veto on the Security Council. In many ways the UK goes looking for trouble and confrontation in places that are not a threat to our core defence concerns. Looked at narrowly, where does the threat to the British Isles come from? The conclusion is that there is no foreign State interested in an invasion or strike against the UK homeland. Threats are cyber and terrorist in nature, which must be countered by civil protection. Our civil defence and emergency planning is haphazard and dysfunctional, with no consistency and there are variations across the country.
‘If you want peace prepare for war’, is a phrase attributed to many throughout history, but was being used in Roman times. We still apply this principle today. Our military forces are intended to be a deterrent. To achieve that objective they must be maintained at a credible level. In keeping with our pre-eminent position at the UN, and to give effect to UN Resolutions, we must also be able to contribute to peace-making and peace-keeping missions. This places a great responsibility on the UK to be a force for good. Unfortunately the UK does not at present meet that ideal. In exercising that responsibility it is also incumbent on the UK to operate with probity and strictly apply the doctrine of just-war. Again, the UK does not always act or meet those high standards of behaviour. This results in our service personnel being placed in jeopardy and they cannot pick and choose which military operations they participate in.
We are committed to the absolute personal right of conscientious objection in every sphere. In relation to military service this must be unequivocal and we are opposed to conscription. Participation in the military services must be on a voluntary basis and organised in such a way that citizens can choose the level of their involvement. Some might not be prepared to serve abroad, but would serve in a home defence force if the country was threatened. Others might join a territorial defence force if their city or county was targeted. Others might be impelled to join with their neighbours if the enemy was at the end of the street. Or, as a last resort to defend their family and house. This must be a personal choice and not necessarily involve taking up arms.
The first line of defence is diplomacy. It also helps if you do not go and pick fights in matters that are not your concern, and it is essential that you do not poke sticks at the bear. War can be the result of a failure of diplomacy. War can also be a tool to pursue foreign policy, but I would hardly call that diplomacy. You may have a different view.