By Anne Marie Waters
11th November 2019
It’s no surprise that career politicians talk the talk but rarely walk the walk. Today, on Armistice Day, both Labour and the Tories have announced plans to support Britain’s Armed Forces. But this is talk; we know them by their actions.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party promising support for service men and women is particularly galling. In 2016, Corbyn supported investigations in to troops that had served in Iraq, and called for the Armed Forces to be dramatically scaled back. He is quoted as saying that the country should no longer have a “huge land-based defence force”. He also argued that MI6 should not be allowed to recruit new spies, even while the terror threat against the country was at fever pitch.
We know how much Corbyn sympathises with Britain’s enemies, from the IRA to jihadists, Corbyn is always on their side. In his first memorial service as Labour leader, he refused to sing the national anthem, and this year, neither he nor John McDonnell bothered to turn up to a Festival of Remembrance to honour British soldiers.
However, we mustn’t let the Tories off the hook either.
Over the last decade, soldiers have been prosecuted (and persecuted) and the Armed Forces utterly decimated, and all of it while the Tories were in Government. Why only now, on Armistice Day, have they changed their tune?
In 2018, Sir Mike Penning, former Defence Minister, said the UK was on the verge of “no longer being taken seriously” because defence had been “cut to the bone”.
He only spoke out after standing down from his role, but when he did, he stated:
- The SAS and SBS are leaving in large numbers as they are deployed on missions almost continuously
- Royal Navy Frigates can only stay at sea for six days because they are short staffed
- The Navy does not have enough ships to mount a pirate fighting operation off the coast of Africa
- Troops were sent to Eastern Europe to fend off Russians with light desert vehicles because it was so hard to deploy tanks
He also declared that the Army is now too small. At 82,000 troops, the country is not ready to defend itself.
Added to this is the pittance that serving troops are paid, and the appalling abandonment by the state when they return from active service.
It really is a shocking betrayal by our politicians, on both sides of the house, over and over again.
I have spoken with countless service and ex-service people since For Britain was founded, and it is nothing short of heartbreaking. Left to fend for themselves, shoved to the back of healthcare queues, and often living in awful home conditions, the British Armed Forces deserve so much better.
That’s why in our manifesto for 2020, For Britain will produce our most comprehensive defence policy portfolio to date. Not only will we raise defence spending, but we will outline exactly how we will make our troops safer, and show them the respect they so richly deserve.
We will build a party for our Armed Forces. We will honour and respect them, not just on Armistice Day, but every day.
Anne Marie Waters