Labour's 'ambitious' vision for defence

Published on Monday, 24 March 2014 10:11
Written by Govtoday staff

In a speech on Monday, Vernon Coaker MP, shadow defence secretary, will set out Labour's ambitious and realistic vision for Britain's defence and security.

Highlighting the withdrawal from Afghanistan and Germany, as well as the continuing need for fiscal discipline at the Ministry of Defence, he will say that UK defence is at a crossroads. He will argue that the time is right for a genuine, far-reaching debate about the role Britain's defence forces can and should play in the world.

Coaker will call for a more inclusive and open discussion about the UK's strategic direction in the run up to the next Strategic Defence and Security Review (scheduled for Autumn 2015). Labour and many others have heavily criticised the government's 2010 SDSR as being fundamentally flawed for lacking in strategy.

Citing the evolving security landscape, he will say that Britain needs to be prepared to tackle a growing number of known and unknown threats, emanating from a variety of different sources. In light of the increasing threat posed by cyber warfare, he will announce that Labour will consult on the prospect of creating a statutory requirement for all private companies to report serious cyber-attacks threatening the UK's national infrastructure.

With defence budgets under increasing pressure, we must do more with less and be realistic about what the UK can achieve alone. He will say we must project smart power, developing our partnerships with existing allies and cultivating new ones, in order to amplify our international influence. In doing so, we must ensure that our Forces are equipped with the language skills, and the depth of historical, cultural and strategic knowledge that will be required for such re-orientation.

Labour recognises the importance of defence engagement for stabilisation and upstream conflict prevention in helping to deter future threats and conflicts. Mr Coaker will say Labour wish to see the UK continuing and deepening its support for UN peacekeeping operations to help provide vital security and stability across the world.

Coaker, speaking ahead of his speech on Monday, said: "With UK defence at a crossroads, the time is now right to consider what role we want our forces to play in the world.

"We cannot afford for the next Strategic Defence and Security Review to be solely Treasury-led. Instead, we must ensure that the review provides the long-term direction that UK defence and security requires - one that is fiscally realistic and strategically ambitious.

"We are ambitious about the positive role that the UK armed forces and defence strategy can play in the world. And we are realistic in that we know we must strengthen and deepen our partnerships with existing allies, and seek to cultivate new ones, if we are to achieve our strategic objectives."

Source: Labour party

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