Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 13 August 2010

Sound money. An old fashioned expression, but one we need now more than ever. After years of over spending and reckless borrowing the nation needs to get its finances back onto a sound footing. I am guessing that many of us individually need to do the same thing. The sight of other countries teetering on the edge of bankruptcy has brought sanity once again to our door. Sadly this rebalancing of the scales cannot be done without pain. The next two to three years will be tough, but after that we should have a secure foundation on which to build again. If we do not stop the rot now the whole edifice will come crashing down.
These harsh realities are nowhere more evident than in the realm of defence. For years our armed forces have been at over-stretch and the procurement of future equipment has been chaotic, resulting in a huge black hole in the defence budget. I used to say that the MOD was the most inefficient organisation on the planet (until I encountered the CSA and HMRC).
So the strategic defence review now underway is necessary to rectify this shambles. First what threats do we face and what armed forces do we need to combat those future threats? Second, what resources are required to put those forces in place, properly equipped and trained? Third, as a result of those decisions, what assets can be released or closed down.
All of these weighty matters are currently being grappled with in the corridors of power by our military strategists. Aggressive turf wars between the Army the Navy and the Air Force are being played out behind closed doors, punctuated by sporadic leaking and counter-leaking. That is why we read one week that Portsmouth Naval Base is to be closed, then a few weeks later Devonport, then that the Royal Marines will be transferred from the Navy to the Army and so on.
None of us yet know what the outcome of these historic discussions will be, but you do not need a degree in futurology to know that the outcome will be significant for this region, which still relies heavily on defence spending. The future of the dockyard is secure, but the naval base less so. There will be much ill-informed speculation over the summer. Try and ignore it.
We will know soon enough in the autumn and then the political battles will begin in earnest.

posted by Gary @ 10:02