Johnson’s defence splurge

Dave Levy
5 min readDec 7, 2020
HMS Daring, from the MOD site reproduced under the OGL

Boris Johnson as accelerated the financial conclusions of his government’s defence review, which may have been originally over influenced by Dominic Cumming’s cyberpunk fantasies about the future of war. Everything Johnson says in this announcement is of little value, what Starmer says is important and his questions need to be answered, particularly “Where’s the strategy?” It’s a shame he makes it sound like a failure in management theory. Without answering that question, we are in danger of creeping back east of Suez, or am I already too late to worry about this, and being dragged into wars against Iran or China. Interestingly, Johnson by alleging that the decline in expense and capability has been going on for decades unskilfully avoids the immense damage that Cameron/Osborne’s 2010 review did to the capability of the armed forces.

Anyway Cummings has gone, and some argue that the £16½ bn expenditure announcement was done to remind the incoming Biden administration, that if they want an ally that asks “how high?” to the command to “jump” then the UK is their 1st port of call. Some argue that Cummings had to go because he was an obstacle to the Govt’s need to pivot as a result of Biden’s victory but the reality is that Johnson & the Internal Market Bill because of the EU, are the bigger obstacles to good relations within the “special relationship”. Maybe we should remember, Obama’s comments about Germany, the EU and defence as some consider Biden’s term of office to be Obama III, although that’s a bit rude, but Biden was Obama’s Vice President and Obama clearly saw Germany as the US’s principal ally in Europe.

I strongly believe that Defence strategy needs to be developed from a threat analysis. Only then can a strategy be developed, and programmes authorised. I know that serious analysts agree and that threats change! As citizens we have allowed our politicians to create an irrational loyalty to the armed forces which Tory politicians honour through ‘fig leaf’ commitments although some like arguably the aircraft carriers are exceptionally expensive but of questionable use as part of a threat response. Because of Brexit, the Tories are banging on about “Global Britain” and plan to send the 21st century equivalent of gunboats back to Hong Kong to prove it. At the heart of the Tories new weapons procurement policy there is a chicken and egg problem, they…

Dave Levy

Brit, Londoner, economist, Labour, privacy, cybersecurity, traveller, father - mainly writing about UK politics & IT,