Another excellent article here from Max Hastings.
Mr Hastings makes the observation that the Tory's don't attack the Government on their failures in defence as most voters don't care. I flatly disagree with this. If the truths of Labour's mean spirited and deceitful mismanagement of our armed forces were brought into the open the public would be rightly outraged. Politicians have a habit of not realising just how much public support the armed forces enjoy. Cameron could capitalise on this.
But, as a voter am I at all interested in the political capital available to Cameron in this area? Well, no, I'm not. All I care about is that our Armed Forces are properly resourced for the roles we expect them to play. Those roles must not be diminished. We need Armed Forces in sufficient quantity and capability to be able to be an effective ally to the US, as despite the worst that Obama can do, the US and the UK (and The Commonwealth) have been the most consistent promoter and guarantor of Global freedom and democracy. This means that we have to be able to project force Globally and this means, among other things, aircraft carriers.
At the same time as maintaining capital expenditure we must increase the quantity of people. And this means more infantry.
There is no cheap way of doing this. So, whilst massive spending cuts are on the way for most of the State Bureaucracy and Quangocracy this must not be the case for the Military. My personal view is the defence spending needs to rise.
One of the ways that this could be achieved would be to take the cost of the Nuclear Deterrent out of the defence budget. The Nuclear Deterrent is an entirely political tool, although it is operated by the military. By recognising this and keeping the existing defence budget intact and finding the Trident funding elsewhere would release funds to be spent on, for example, aircraft carriers.
But whatever way we cut it if we want to maintain credibility as a Global beacon for freedom and democracy our defence budget will have to increase.
Squaring that circle will be one of the next governments - if it's the Tory's - biggest challenges. If New Labour is re-elected or if there is a hung parliament we can kiss goodbye to more of our personal freedom, let alone acting a beacon to other countries even less fortunate than ourselves.