As you know, I have always placed a great deal of importance on accountability and responsibility. As I said in the House of Commons on Monday, I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this.
I have also repeatedly said that the national interest must always come before personal interest. I now have to hold myself to my own standard. I have therefore decided, with great sadness, to resign from my post as secretary of state for defence — a position which I have been immensely proud and honoured to have held.
I am particularly proud to have overseen the long overdue reforms to the Ministry of Defence and to our armed forces, which will shape them to meet the challenges of the future and keep this country safe.
I am proud also to have played a part in helping to liberate the people of Libya, and I regret that I will not see through to its conclusion Britain’s role in Afghanistan, where so much progress has been made.
Above all, I am honoured and humbled to have worked with the superb men and women in our armed forces. Their bravery, dedication and professionalism are second to none.
I appreciate all the support you have given me – and will continue to support the vital work of this government, above all in controlling the enormous budget deficit we inherited, which is a threat not just to this country’s economic prosperity but also to its national security.
I look forward to continuing to represent my constituents in North Somerset.
I heard a rumour last night that the Defence Secretary was to be Paddy Ashdown and was surprised but quite pleased as I don’t really rate Liam Fox, the new Defence Secretary.
Sadly the rumour didn’t turn out to be true. I believe it would have been a good move and with his experience in conflicts he could have brought a realism to Defence that has been missing for some time.
It seems that I am not the only one of that opinion as Subrosa has been explaining here. As she says
Out of all the appointments mentioned today this one concerns me most. Liam Fox, as shadow defence secretary, never performed better than average. His media interviews were composed of soundbites and no substance and often he seemed far more concerned that the public knew he had been to visit our troops in various parts of the world rather than address their concerns.
Sadly she is correct he has managed to make Bob Ainsworth almost appear talented. Let us hope that his performance in the real role, where we need someone well above average, is better than his role as shadow.
Hopefully he will be backed up a good team who can help him through what will be a tough time in the next few years. This is a department that cannot fail. There are some very good names out there on all sides of the fence who can lend their experience at all facets of defence.
Two days ago we had Gordon Brown promising all sorts (Liquorice please) of things for the Defence Budget he had planned, he even repeated some of these to the House of Commons Liaison Commitee yesterday.
Why did Gordon Brown make these pronouncements when he obviously knows this country can’t afford them. It all comes down to him trying to big up Labour’s commitment to the Armed Forces which he has roundly ignored for the past 13 years and starved of money at every opportunity. His hatred of anything Tory blinds him to any sort of reality
Today we have the thoughts of minds a little less deluded than Bonkers Brown.
The country can no longer afford to fund current operations in Afghanistan and all the equipment now on order for the Armed Forces, a Ministry of Defence green paper will make clear.
The Daily Telegraph has seen a copy of the paper, which will be published on Wednesday.
The stark admission from Bob Ainsworth, the defence secretary, will undermine Gordon Brown’s attempts to claim Labour is committed to big defence projects like the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers and the new fighters to fly from them.
In an attempt to put pressure on the Conservatives over defence spending, Mr Brown wants to fight the general election on a promise to keep those “big ticket” projects.
Independent defence analysts said that the state of the public finances mean such promises are simply not believable. The MoD green paper also accepts that cuts are inevitable.
“We cannot proceed with all the activity and preparation we currently aspire to while simultaneously supplying our current operations and investing in the new capacity we need,”
Now who should we believe Bonkers Brown or an MOD green Paper. I know who I believe.
Brown is totally and utterly deluded. He is trying to bribe the British Public to somehow believe that in the middle of the deepest recession (we aren’t really out of it yet) the UK has seen in modern times he can spend billions on Defence and that he KNOWS what the best thing is to spend it upon even before any Strategic Defence Review takes place.
He is utterly unbelievable and has lead this country into an abyss that we are going to pay for, for years to come.
This is nothing less than a blatant attempt to bribe the public for the General Election,
Gordon Brown will use the launch of a Green Paper on the future of the Armed Forces to promise a new generation of warships and fast jets over the coming decade. He will also guarantee an extra £1.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan, and promise to safeguard defence spending from any cuts next year.
Mr Brown aims to display Labour commitment (joke>) to the military while also forcing the Conservatives to say whether they would match such spending.
The list, according to the Times, is a s follows:
going ahead with two 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers at a cost of £5 billion;
maintaining troop numbers in the Army at more than 100,000; and
committing a future government to the Joint Strike Fighter, costing £10 billion, and completing the £20 billion Typhoon programme.
The list will prompt questions about how an incoming government could afford such sums at a time of deep spending cuts across Whitehall. A government source said there would have to be
“tough decisions elsewhere”.
Tough Decisions? It will need to be a wholesale slaughter on a scale not seen since WW1.
We need to get rid of this deluded and dangerous man as soon as possible. He is in La-La land again dreaming of how he “saved the world”.
The article looks at explores the impact the crash of sterling last year on the defence budget and also the FCO budgets. It includes the above video which contrasts the statements by Lady Kinnock and Gordon Brown.
According to the Times
The Defence Secretary admitted today that he was being forced to take hard decisions to ensure that the plunge in the pound’s value would not hinder the war in Afghanistan.
Bob Ainsworth said that the exchange rate was causing difficulties for both his department and the Foreign Office (FCO) as ministers were accused of drawing up a secret hit list of embassies to be closed.
The charge follows the disclosure yesterday by minister Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead that the FCO was facing a £110 million budget shortfall as a result of currency fluctuations.
Speaking at a display of upgraded kit for frontline troops, Mr Ainsworth said
that the budget for Afghanistan remained the “overwhelming priority”. However, he said: “It doesn’t take a genius to know that if the pound exchange rate changes then that gives us issues. It gives us difficulties and we have to deal with those difficulties.
With the pound having lost 20-25% against other major currencies this must mean we are going to have a very hard struggle in 2010 unless extra money is put into the budget, an unlikely event when according to such sages as Lord Mandelson we need to make cuts of 80 billion.
Also Gordon Brown, saviour of the world, has yet again not quite told the truth again. As the Times quotes this passage from the House of Lords.
“It is a fact that counter-terrorism and radicalisation projects in Pakistan and elsewhere have been the subject of these cuts that the Foreign Office has been obliged to make.” A fall in the value of sterling hits FCO spending as it makes the cost of its operations abroad — paid for in foreign currency — more expensive in relative terms.
Her comments provoked concern on all sides of the House. Even Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, a fellow minister and Leader of the Lords, said she had to “confess to my surprise”.
She said counter-terrorism funding in the Home Office was ring-fenced, adding: “So if it can be ring-fenced in one department, perhaps it could be ring-fenced in another department.” Labour’s Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, a former foreign office minister and defence procurement minister, said Mr Brown’s statement yesterday — introducing a package of measures to improve security — and Lady Kinnock’s remarks did “not add up to a very coherent point of view”.
Yet again we have empty words and promises from Gordon Brown, who is again going back into his true La-La land mode and ignoring the facts.
… How much longer can it go on as another senior Commander formerly in Afghanistan resigns. The Guardian has this:
An army major general who was extremely critical of the government’s treatment of British troops in Afghanistan has suddenly resigned, the Ministry of Defence confirmed.
Andrew Mackay, who was recently promoted general officer commanding of the army in Scotland, the north of England, and Northern Ireland, is the latest high-flying senior army officer to quit early amid protests at the treatment of the forces.
As the brigadier commanding British troops in southern Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008, he said he had felt like a student – getting to grips with Afghanistan, counter-insurgency and managing a large organisation. He said he was struck by the lack of clear direction from above. There was a sense of “making it up as we go along”, he said.
Now we will have to wait to see what his real reasons are for resigning. I expect one of the Sunday’s will have the scoop.
You can participate in the Green Paper leading to the Defence reviewat the link below.
Even if you don’t think you can comment you may find out a lot about the current thinking in the UK.
I’m grateful to David Betz for letting the UK Ministry of Defence Strategy Unit engage with Kings of War to gather views about the future of the UK’s defence policy.
The Strategy Unit, which I lead, is a small team of military officers, MoDand FCO officials andinternational exchange officers. We are pulling together the new Defence Green Paper, which will set out some of the key defence issues before a full defence review next year. As we prepare the Green Paper we want to take advantage of the very active academic and think-tank debate on defence issues, and ideally provoke some of this discussion ourselves. We running a series of traditional, real-world seminars and meetings with experts. Via Kings of War we also want to plug into the informed and interested defence blogosphere, hoping to reach a wider and (possibly) fresher audience.
This is, as far as I know, the first time the Ministry of Defence has done this, and it is something of an experiment. Depending on your reactions, we plan to post on several occasions between now and the end of the year. We’d like each time to pose one of the defence policy questions we’re considering, and ask for your views. We won’t plan to respond to each comment as it comes in (though we might chip in if any particularly live discussion kicks off), but will offer a set of reactions and impressions to wrap up the exchanges after about a week. And we want to be able to share with you some of our emerging thinking.
We hope the process will mirror the overall Green Paper approach: it’s about identifying the key questions, rather than trying to answer them now; it firmly places our defence policy within our wider international and security policy; and it’s based on the assumption that we may need to make some tough choices. If you want more background about the Green Paper process, you can find the Defence Secretary’s Parliamentary statement here , and of course some of you may have heard his speech at King’s on this last week.
We have agreed with David some ground rules for our participation in KoW, intended to help keep the debate lively. We are contributing as the MoD Strategy Unit, rather than trying to speak for the Ministry as a whole – we therefore won’t need to have all our contributions chiselled in stone before we submit them. Neither the Strategy Unit nor KoW make any commitment to agree with or support the views of the other – which indeed would undermine the whole point. We (genuinely) want to encourage people to say what they think – the most useful comments will be those which are informed, grounded and focused.
Finally, I’d like to suggest an open question to start the discussion: as we look at setting our future defence policy, what are the greatest problems we need to tackle and – equally important – what are the greatest advantages we can exploit?
There’s been a lot of good writing on this recently, including of course from David himself and Anthony Cormack, and from Theo Farrell, Malcolm Chalmers, Paul Cornish, Andrew Dorman, Hew Strachan and others. They’ve looked both at tactical/operational issues and at the overall strategic picture. Some see the glass half-full, some half-empty. Some focus on the need for success in current operations, others on the state of the whole defence machine. They identify a very broad range of issues: which of these are causes rather than symptoms, and which show grounds for optimism, which pessimism?
Question: When is a “Comprehensive Review” not a comprehensive review?
Answer: When it is a Labour “Comprehensive Review”
When Labour do comprehensive they miss out the odd bits like spending on Trident and the new Aircraft Carriers, thus ensuring that the really tough decisions are not made and they don’t look bad when it comes to an election.
As the Guardian says:
The government bowed to the inevitable today by agreeing to a strategic defence review but said it would exclude Britain’s most controversial weapons system, the Trident nuclear deterrent. “There is no sacred cow besides Trident,” defence officials said.
However, they indicated that plans to build two large aircraft carriers, estimated to cost £5bn, would also be excluded.
The Princess Royal visited the Govan shipyard on the Clyde today for a symbolic “cutting of steel” of the first carrier.
The review will examine “modern day requirements” of the armed forces, effective ways of acquiring new weapons systems, and the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, Bob Ainsworth, the defence secretary, said. He added that it would also consider how the military could project “soft power”.
Defence chiefs have been calling for a shift in the £35bn annual defence budget away from large-scale projects to equipment more relevant to modern conflicts, such as armoured vehicles, pilotless drones and helicopters.
Although the government remains committed to replacing Trident there is a growing view in Whitehall that it will delay a decision until 2014. A design contract is due to be signed in September.
CND’s chairwoman, Kate Hudson, said a review would be meaningless if it failed to examine “the biggest imminent decision – the £76bn Trident replacement”.
So this will just be a pointless exercise, so typical of Labour and its disregard for the Armed Forces.