When Robert Aske agreed to lead the northern peasants who had risen in protest at Henry VIII’s self-absorbed tyranny, he did so knowing full well the risk to his own life. The former soldier John Baron is in no such danger, but I believe his motive is of the same caliber. We need a military that is fit for purpose, the government’s foolish, meaningless and object-defeating cuts have sliced our country bloody, and it must stop here.
The Cold War is something that my generation have little comprehension of, we struggle to understand the lurking threat of nuclear devastation that was so work-a-day to our parents. Stalinism was the main threat to democracy, then. Now we are told that the danger has shifted to Islamic terror. Whether we agree on that or not, there are very few sober people who would advocate entirely getting rid of the military. It is generally respected that a deterrent is needed. Western society might prefer not to dwell too long on the practicalities of that, but most agree that we need defense. Which is why the recent government decision to restructure the army has left me puzzled, rattled and strangely emotive.
To the superficial eye, the government’s program of spending cuts could be seen as necessary, and even decent. A pleasing return to monetary restraint and decorum, so at odds with the lavish hypocrisy of New Labour. David Cameron could be seen as ‘making the hard choices’, sacrificing temporary public image for his country’s future. A real statesman. Finally. Needless to say, this view is not one I share. There are simply too many alternate ways to be recouping public funds than through brutal cuts to the living standards of people who work hardest in Britain. The minimum wage workers are those responsible for keeping our economic system on the tracks, not the millionaires who fund and control the Tory party. Rather than a selfless statesman, I view David Cameron as a puppet of the capitalist class that owns his arse.
Scrapping Trident is one of the most obvious ways to recoup our funds. We will never use our nuclear weapons, and their upkeep undermines our ability to properly fund our health system and our state school system. Not to mention our conventional defense; ordinary soldiers, ships and aircraft will defend us now. Outside of the Cold War arms-race paradigm, nuclear weapons are redundant rather than imperative.
David Cameron plans to reduce the size of the regular army from 102,000 to 82,000:
This diagram, taken from the BBC website, shows how the army will be reduced by 2020 to a state where it can no longer fight on multiple fronts. We will have to pick and choose our wars more carefully than we are accustomed. The soldier-turned-Tory MP John Baron organized a rebellion against Cameron in an effort to delay the bill. It was defeated by 54 votes, after the government attempted to buy-off several rebels.
Baron’s politics are everything I despise about the Tory party, but I think we agree on this.
Much better qualified to write about these changes are the several hundred ex-marines that I’ve asked to write my next post, including my father. This will be the first time I’ve posted a guest column, and I hope it will be educational for us all.