The primary threat to the United Kingdom and our interests is not direct attack or invasion by other states but terrorism and cyber warfare. The Government has an overriding duty to make the best possible provision for defence against these threats.
We must also keep these threats in perspective. Creating a climate of fear helps terrorists, unnecessarily curtails freedom and diverts disproportionate resources from other areas. Less than 150 UK citizens have been killed by terrorists in the last 10 years; and more than 750,000 have died prematurely from smoking, with tens of thousands more linked to air pollution in our towns and cities. Just in 2020, over 40,000 have died directly from COVID-19 and many thousands more indirectly. We understand that defence is about saving lives, many of the actual threats we need to address cannot be dealt with by military force.
We will unilaterally abolish the UK’s nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are so dreadful, there are no circumstances in which we would “press the button.”
The Peoples Party will:
- appreciate that the nature of the threat and the type of defence required has fundamentally changed in the last couple of decades. Generals nearly always prepare to fight the last war, we must provide a better defence now by focusing on today’s and tomorrow’s threats.
- create a unified Royal Defence Force (RDF), merging the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, with the primary objective to protect against terrorist threats, cyber attack and large scale organised criminal activity.
- cut traditional defence expenditure dramatically to £2bn
- support efforts to deliver world without nuclear weapons. We believe that far from making us and the world safer, nuclear weapons and their potential use by terrorists or their accidental use by a nuclear state, is one of the biggest threats we face. The traditional deterrence argument for the possession of nuclear weapons no longer applies. We believe that given the dreadful consequences of using nuclear weapons, there are no circumstances when they can rationally be employed. Terrorists are not deterred and rogue states must be tackled by other means. Hence we will decommission Trident and stop its replacement. We will redouble efforts to stop nuclear material getting into the hands of terrorists and rogue states.
- concentrate on the development of small special forces units within the RDF and MI6 designed to undertake continuous worldwide operations against terrorists or states that sponsor terrorism. These forces will be superbly equipped and will undertake largely covert operations against threats and potential threats. In particular, we will use information and cyber warfare technologies to defeat and frustrate potential threats, while at the same time protecting the United Kingdom from cyber counter attack.
- double intelligence and technology expenditure to £4bn.
- ensure that sufficient funding is allocated to civil defence equipment, in particular the provision of respirators, protective suits, vaccines and medicines.
- not look for “enemies” but seek to build relationships, seeking to understand the causes of tensions, defusing them where possible.
The resources that the UK can devote to dealing with terrorism are far greater than any terrorist group or rogue state can muster, but it is vital that these are used effectively and decisively. In particular, there must be a willingness to fight using what ever methods and resources best deliver results.
The age of wars between states, with formal declarations of war, decisive battles and subsequent peace has gone. The new warfare is a continuous conflict, often against an enemy that does not possess a large military machine but determined fanatics potentially armed with the most terrible weapons. The struggle is one with no rules and no scruples. Terrorism by its very nature seeks to target ordinary people and require governments to establish security measures that inconvenience the vast majority. In this, it cannot be allowed to succeed. It is vitally important that anti terrorist measures do not in themselves help achieve terrorist goals. The solution is to concentrate defence resources to specifically target those people or groups who are suspected of terrorism.
The nature of weapons of mass destruction, in particular biological and nuclear devices, mean that it is sensible to plan on the basis that it is only a matter of time before a terrorist group is successful in an attack. An essential element of defence is to ensure that, as far as possible, the casualties from such an attack are minimised.
The threat from cyber warfare is very real. Enemies include states, proxies for states, terrorists and criminals. We must do all that we can to stop the intrusion of hackers into public life – government, business and infrastructure – as well as the affairs of private individuals.
Defence is not a matter of emotion and sentiment, but is literally one of life or death. Hard decisions must be taken that will fundamentally alter the current nature of the three armed services. For example, the terrorist threat does not require fighter aircraft, tanks and armoured fighting vehicles or warships and submarines. Resources spent on personnel and equipment that are not essential to the defence is not only money wasted, but undermines efforts to focus on and eliminate real threats. With the right decisions it is possible to secure far greater effectiveness against threats with drastic reductions in defence expenditure.