Labour’s John Denham has joined the criticism of the Tory-led Government on its handling of defence issues.
The Tories and Lib Dems have broken their promises:
The Tories said they’d make our army bigger, but now it’s about to be reduced by 7,000.
The Coalition said it would get more helicopters as soon as it could, but they haven’t even put in the order for 12 Chinooks yet, which they promised in the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
The Royal Navy
They used to say that any cuts to the Royal Navy would be “downright irresponsible in a dangerous age” but now the Tories and Lib Dems have reduced our surface fleet from 23 to 19.
Accommodation for our troops
They promised to make improvements to the accommodation for our armed forces, but so far nothing has been done.
A pay rise for ‘low rank’ troops
The Lib Dems used to say they’d “give a pay rise to the lower ranks so that their pay is brought into line with the starting salary of their emergency services counterparts”. But now the Government has said that members of the Armed Forces who are paid more than £21,000 will have their pay frozen from April 2011. It’s estimated that this will affect about three quarters of service personnel.
What have Labour done in Opposition?
Since Labour left office in 2010, we are still the party of defence. Labour is proud of its record in government, but we know we didn’t get everything right. We made huge advances on kit and equipment and hugely improved forces’ welfare. We invested in new threats and introduced the first National Security Strategy. We know we should have gone further on procurement reform, on building effective European alliances, and we should gone further to take some defence issues out of the cut and thrust of party politics.
For more on what Labour has achieved in Opposition, click here.
Mr Denham said:
“This Saturday it’s Armed Forces Day. I’m proud to show my support for our troops and to help raise awareness on the issues which matter to them.
“Today in Parliament Labour will be talking about defence issues and to question the Government on these broken promises. We all know our armed forces are the best in the world, but we need to make sure our forces are given the support they need from Government, which is why Labour is bringing these issues to everyone’s attention this week.”