Labour attacks Tory defence 'cuts'
29 April 2009
Labour has launched an attack on the Conservatives, claiming that potential plans to cut defence would damage the country and contribute to thousands of job losses.
Armed forces ministers Bob Ainsworth twice yesterday criticised the Conservatives for potential cuts to defence, arguing that while the Tories had no problem helping ut the rich, they were refusing to support the Armed Forces.
"David Cameron says this is an age of austerity - but for who?
"While he is committed to cut taxes for the wealthy few, he refuses to commit to support for our armed services or for the jobs that key defence projects create," Ainsworth said in an e-mailed statement from the Labour press office on Monday.
Earlier this week shadow Chancellor George Osborne indicated that a Conservative government may be open to cuts on the A400M programme and the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft in order to save money both in MoD and government spending. It is part of a wider proposal by Conservative leader David Cameron for "an age of austerity" following huge increases in government debt.
Labour has indicated that this represents a u-turn in Conservative defence policies and that the party no longer has a straight forward policy. Such cuts would lead to thousands of job losses and the withdrawal of millions of pounds from local economies.
"Either he [George Osborne] doesn't trust his own Shadow Defence Secretary with his real plans to slash the defence budget - or his talk about saving billions on defence spending is just hot air.
"George Osborne needs to be straight with the public - and Liam Fox - and tell us which defence projects the Tories intend to scrap and how many thousands of defence jobs they would put at risk," Ainsworth said in a second statement released the next day.
Labour has also indicated that the Conservatives may be prepared to cut the Trident replacement programme. Using the text from a number of interviews, Ainsworth concluded that the potential cut of the nuclear deterrent is possible and that the Conservatives are actually debating the issue.
"The shadow Chancellor has refused to confirm on record whether his party will retain the nuclear deterrent," Ainsworth said in a letter to Dr Liam Fox, the shadow Defence Secretary.
The attacks come after both Osborne and Phil Hammond, the shadow Chief Secretary of the Treasury refused to give the BBC's Andrew Marr a definitive answer on whether defence would be "ring fenced" from the cuts.
Ainsworth's comments also show that a general election is nearing and that the Labour party will only take so much criticism. The statements were put out through Labour's Press Office, rather than the MoD. For years now the opposition has been attacking the government over its record on defence spending. Ainsworth and Labour seem only too eager to return the favour.
HAVE YOUR SAY
29 April 2009
The UK defence budget has for years ranked 2nd/3rd largest after the US and yet there are still persistent shortages, system & management failures. I'd much prefer a bigger chunk of this budget to be reinvested in our broken transport infrastructure or green technologies. When I visit countries in the Gulf & far East (many would still considered as '3rd world') with their shiny new airports, efficient transport systems & modern buildings. I can't help feeling we have literally thrown away our wealth for the sake of having a global military presence.
chris - essex
18 October 2010
WE NEED TO GET THEM OUT!
Chris - London