Defence is only one of the issues in the General Election on Thursday 8 June, but below are the defence policies set out in the various party manifestos, listed by us in alphabetical order and developed from a helpful compilation by the UKNDA. Click on any party name to see its manifesto policy on defence. Please use the site contact form to inform us of any corrections or additions.
STRONG DEFENCE IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD
Our world is full of opportunity but is also riven by conflict, terrorism and threat.
As a global power, we have a responsibility to sustain our fine armed forces so that they can defend the realm, our overseas territories and our interests around the globe.
We will play a leading role in NATO and maintain the ability to conduct strike operations, peacekeeping, security missions and the deployment of a joint expeditionary force.
We will maintain the overall size of the armed forces, including an army that is capable of fielding a war- fighting division. We shall expand our reach around the world. We will retain the Trident continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our security.
We have the biggest defence budget in Europe and the second largest in NATO. We will continue to meet the NATO commitment to spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence and we will increase the defence budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation in every year of the new parliament.
The finest servicemen and women
We will attract and retain the best men and women for our armed forces, including by engaging them on a flexible basis. We will protect our brave armed forces personnel from persistent legal claims, which distress those who risk their lives for us, cost the taxpayer millions and undermine the armed forces in the service they give. Under a Conservative government, British troops will in future be subject to the Law of Armed Conflict, which includes the Geneva Convention and UK Service Law, not the European Court of Human Rights. We will strengthen legal services regulation and restrict legal aid for unscrupulous law firms that issue vexatious legal claims against the armed forces. We will introduce better compensation for injured armed forces personnel and the families of those killed in combat.
The best equipment for our armed forces
We plan to invest £178 billion in new military equipment over the next decade, creating high-skilled jobs across the whole country. For the first time in a generation the Royal Navy is growing. We have cut steel on the first of a new fleet of four Dreadnought ballistic missile boats and we will complete the Astute class of hunter-killer submarines. Our two new aircraft carriers will project British military power for the next fify years: HMS Queen Elizabeth begins sea trials in the summer and HMS Prince of Wales is due to enter active service in 2020. Alongside our new Type 45 destroyers, we will build eight Type 26 anti-submarine frigates and develop our programme for a new class of lighter, general purpose frigates so that by the 2030s we can further increase the size of our fleet. We shall also deliver five Offshore Patrol Vessels.
For the Army we will deliver AJAX armoured vehicles, Apache attack helicopters, new drones, new missile and bomb systems, and better equipment for the Special Forces. The Royal Air Force will receive, with the Fleet Air Arm, the Lightning II strike fighter, as well as new Maritime Patrol Aircraft . Taken together, this is the largest programme of investment in our armed forces for generations.
Supporting our veterans
We will support former members of the armed forces, who were willing to risk their lives for us, as they move into civilian life. We will maintain and strengthen the Armed Forces Covenant. We will help veterans to start new careers by ensuring that the skills and qualifications they gained in service are recognised by civilian employers and by introducing a one year holiday on Employer National Insurance Contributions for firms hiring service personnel after they leave service. We will improve the co-ordination of government services to veterans, including housing, employment and mental health services, by introducing a Veterans Board in the Cabinet Office.
The primary duty of any government is to protect and defend its citizens. We live in a period of growing international tensions. A strong, viable and sustainable defence and security policy must be strategic and evidence led.
As previous incoming governments have done, a Labour government will order a complete strategic defence and security review when it comes into office, to assess the emerging threats facing Britain, including hybrid and cyber warfare. Cyber security will form an integral part of our defence and security strategy and we will introduce a cyber-security charter for companies working with the Ministry of Defence.
We will ensure that our armed forces are properly equipped and resourced to respond to wide-ranging security challenges. Labour will commit to effective UN peacekeeping, including support for a UN Emergency Peace Service.
As the security threats and challenges we face are not bound by geographic borders, it is vital that as Britain leaves the EU, we maintain our close relationship with our European partners. Alongside our commitment to NATO, we will continue to work with the EU on a range of operational missions to promote and support global and regional security.
The last Labour government consistently spent above the NATO benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP. Conservative spending cuts have put Britain’s security at risk, shrinking the army to its smallest size since the Napoleonic wars. The scrapping of Nimrod, HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier jump-jets have weakened our defences and cost British taxpayers millions.
Labour’s commitment to spending at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence will guarantee that our Armed Forces have the necessary capabilities to fulfil the full range of obligations, and ensure our conventional forces are versatile and able to deploy in a range of roles.
Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. As a nuclear-armed power, our country has a responsibility to fulfil our obligations under the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. Labour will lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to create a nuclear-free world.
The UK defence industry is world- leading, and Labour will continue to support development and innovation in this sector and to ensure that it can continue to rely on a highly skilled workforce. We are committed to a procurement process that supports the British steel industry and defence manufacturing industry, which in turn provide good jobs throughout the supply chain. Labour will publish a Defence Industrial Strategy White Paper, including a National Shipbuilding Strategy to secure a long-term future for the industry, workers and UK defence.
We have a duty to properly reward and remunerate our Armed Forces. Under the Conservatives, our Armed Forces have been hit by rent rises, pay restraint, and changes to tax and benefits, putting real pressure on service personnel and their families. We will ensure they get the pay and living conditions that their service merits.
Dedicated service personnel are at the heart of our defence policy. Labour will immediately examine recruitment and retention policies in order to stem the exodus seen under the Conservatives. We will publish new strategic equality objectives to ensure our personnel reflect our diverse society.
We will drive up standards in Service Accommodation, and take action where private companies have failed to deliver. We will consult with service personnel, giving them greater autonomy over their housing choices, and review and improve the Forces Help to Buy scheme.
Personnel who are injured while serving should have prompt access to support and compensation. We will resist any Conservative proposals to abolish the right to seek legal redress against the MoD where compensation claims cannot be otherwise settled.
We are fully committed to supporting our veterans. We will promote greater awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant, seek greater consistency in its implementation by public authorities, and promote increased participation in the Corporate Covenant.
We will also roll out a Homes Fit for Heroes programme that will insulate the homes of disabled veterans for free.
Liberal Democrat Party
The UK must be able to defend itself and the territories for which it has responsibility, support its neighbours and allies, and engage in humanitarian intervention. The security challenges the UK faces are shared by our partners and allies in the EU and NATO and the UK is more effective and more resilient when we work closely with those partners. We will:
Commit to spending 2% of GDP on defence.
Strengthen our armed services and address critical skills shortages by recruiting STEM graduates to be armed forces engineers, providing ‘golden handshakes’ of up to £10,000.
Recognise the expansion of warfare into the cybersphere, by investing in our security and intelligence services and acting to counter cyberattacks.
Work to lead international nuclear disarmament efforts
Maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent. We propose continuing with the Dreadnought programme, the submarine-based replacement for Vanguard, but procuring three boats instead of four, and moving to a medium-readiness responsive posture. This would mean replacing continuous at-sea deterrence – instead maintaining the deterrent through measures such as unpredictable and irregular patrolling patterns.
Build on the framework for defence co-operation that is already well-established with France, the Netherlands, Germany and other European partners, and promote European defence integration where appropriate by enhancing European defence industry co-operation.
Liberal Democrats recognise the vital role the UK’s armed forces play in the defence of the nation and believe that it is the role of government to safeguard the interests of service personnel and veterans. We will:
Support the Armed Forces Covenant and ongoing work to support veterans’ mental health.
Review the current Career Transition Partnership (CTP) with a view to extending its remit to provide free Further or Higher Education for anyone who has served in the Armed Forces for 12 years or more.
Improve the quality of service housing by bringing the MoD into line with other landlords, giving tenants the same legal rights to repair and maintenance as private tenants.
A safer world
The Green Party will work for a caring and confident Britain that uses its influence wisely, to build peace and protect the environment, and to offer sanctuary to those at risk.
We would co-operate with our neighbours on the shared challenges that face us all – from tackling terrorism and preventing climate change, to reducing inequality. We would work towards an outward-facing Britain that has the confidence and resilience to welcome others.
Cancel Trident replacement, saving at least £110 billion over the next 30 years.
A humane immigration and asylum system that recognises and takes responsibility for Britain’s ongoing role in causing the flow of migrants worldwide.
Implement a UK-wide strategy to tackle gender based violence, including domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse, FGM and trafficking.
An ethical foreign policy that builds capacity for conflict resolution, and end support to aggressive wars of intervention. No more arms sales to oppressive regimes.
Trade rules that respect human rights, labour standards, environmental standards and climate commitments with mechanisms for individuals, groups and communities to bring grievances.
Strengthen the global deal on climate change, including by delivering climate justice and promoting ecologically sustainable development so that poorer countries can cope with the impacts of climate change
Increase the overseas aid budget from 0.7% of GDP to 1.0% of GDP.
A Plaid Cymru-led Welsh Government will work to prevent the renewal of weapons of mass destruction, such as Trident or any replacement, and will refuse to allow them to be located in Wales or Welsh waters.
We will hold a vote in the National Assembly for Wales prior to any UK-supported military intervention in foreign a airs, recognising the democratic right of Wales to support or oppose such incursions.
As a party, Plaid Cymru will not support action that contravenes UN resolutions or does not have a proper legal authority according to international law. Our Government will support the development of a Wales Peace Institute.
Although the Welsh Government is not responsible for defence forces, we will take responsibility for our Welsh based veterans. We will introduce measures to assist veterans and will provide support to health bodies and to local authorities to ful l the Military Covenant, with particular reference to mental health and substance abuse, physical health, housing issues and welfare support.
We will work with the UK government and other agencies agencies on cyber-defences to prevent technology attacks upon Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Scottish Green Party
We will leave NATO and cancel the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system, saving at least £100 billion over the next 30 years. We will reduce military spending and reorient the armed forces away from the projection of power and towards defence, protecting the maritime environment and UN-sanctioned humanitarian efforts. We would end the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, Israel and other repressive regimes.
Scottish National Party (SNP)
DEFENCE, SECURITY AND GLOBAL PEACE-KEEPING
The Tory government has presided over cuts to the defence estate in Scotland, while committing billions to a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons. SNP MPs will oppose the erosion of the defence estate in Scotland. We will stand up for Scottish bases, regiments and our veterans. We will press for investment in conventional defence. And we will oppose the immoral and expensive Trident nuclear weapons system at every opportunity.
SNP MPs will build a cross-party coalition to scrap Trident as quickly and safely as possible.
The Tory Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt, has calculated the total cost of the next generation of Trident at £179 billion over its lifetime. CND estimate the cost may even be as high as £205 billion. We will vote for that money to be spent on our public services – like our NHS, schools and expanded free childcare.
At Westminster we will press the UK government to meet their international obligations with regard to multilateral nuclear disarmament.
SNP MPs will support long-term investment in HMNB Faslane as a conventional military base.
Investing in conventional defence
SNP MPs will hold the UK government to its promise on building the new Type-26 Frigates in Scotland.
SNP MPs will continue to campaign to protect Scotland’s bases – including Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik, Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, Fort George near Inverness, and MoD Caledonia in Rosyth – from closure. We will press the UK government to engage fully with the Scottish Government, local authorities and local communities as a matter of urgency.
Scotland’s distinct defence needs are not being met by the current UK government’s defence policy. SNP MPs will support a new Strategic Defence and Security Review, in order to assess the need, as a matter of priority, for permanent basing of ocean-going conventional patrol vessels in Scotland. We will press to ensure that the nine multi-role Maritime Patrol Aircraft on order reach full operational capacity at the earliest possible stage, and support a review into the need for additional aircraft.
Fighting international crime and terrorism
International co-operation is essential to keep Scotland and the rest of the UK safe from the threats of organised crime, cybercrime and terrorism. SNP MPs will call for continued co-operation on detecting, disrupting and detaining criminals across borders through Europol. We will seek assurances that our law enforcement agencies will continue to have the same level of access to Europol as they currently enjoy.
We will oppose any moves that would seek to use security co-operation as as a bargaining chip in Brexit or trade negotiations with our European friends and neighbours.
Supporting our veterans
Far too often, the UK government has let down our service personnel and veterans. The SNP will act to ensure the UK government prioritises the duty of care to service personnel, veterans and their families, especially in the event of a loss of a serving relative, and we will press the UK government to put the Armed Forces representative body on a statutory footing.
To provide practical support for veterans requiring social care, the Scottish Government changed the rules to ensure the War Disablement Pension is exempt from the assessment of income – meaning our veterans get the help they need and keep the full value of this pension. We believe this approach should be taken to all social security benefits, so that those who have been injured in the service of our country get the full value of their War Disablement Pension and we will press the UK government to adopt this approach.
Getting a better deal for the taxpayer
The UK government’s own report says that the Royal Navy’s fleet is being depleted because of a “vicious cycle” of poor planning and cost overruns that is wasting taxpayer money and undermining the viability of the shipbuilding industry. SNP MPs will continue to call for the publication of the long-overdue National Shipbuilding Strategy.
The SNP will call for greater transparency in UK defence spending with a full breakdown of spending by nation and region in the UK, including all procurement and small and medium sized enterprise (SME) expenditure and a full breakdown of component costs of all major projects by location.
SNP MPs will press for more Scottish SMEs in Scotland to bene t from the manufacturing supply chain for major defence projects.
SNP MPs have led the calls for resolution of the destructive conflict in South Yemen. Given the clear evidence that munitions supplied by the United Kingdom have been used in breach of international law, there should be an immediate ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia pending proper investigation. And we will urge the UK government to immediately halt all military support and arms sales to regimes suspected of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Our place in the world
Building on the experience of the Scottish Government’s partnership with the United Nations to empower the women of Syria and promote Scotland as a centre for training of female peacemakers, the SNP will continue to support UN Security Council Resolution 1325 reaffirming the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.
Use of banned weapons against civilian populations should be investigated by the United Nations. If the Security Council is unable to act, we believe the General Assembly should take the initiative and if the evidence supports it those responsible – including state actors – should be brought before the International Criminal Court.
SNP MPs will continue to argue that the struggle against Daesh must be pursued by more than military means and must include the battle of ideas which demonstrate that international justice and civic tolerance can be achieved without recourse to violence and barbarity. SNP MPs will urge the UK government to redouble its efforts to bring about a political resolution, through the UN Security Council in accordance with its Resolution 2254, to end the six year conflict in Syria.
The SNP will uphold the international agreement which led to the end of the Republic of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. Any attempt to renege on the agreement in terms of the reintegration of Iran into the international community and the relaxation of sanctions would be to undo one of the greatest achievements in peace building of recent years.
The SNP will continue to work with international partners to progress a lasting peace settlement in the Middle East, pursuing a two state solution for Israel and Palestine.
United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
Defending Our Nation, Supporting Our Veterans
Despite the ever-present threat to our safety, our Armed Forces have been cut to the bone. UKIP will spend a genuine two per cent of GDP on defence, increase the number of those serving in our armed forces by 20,000, properly equip those on active service, and look after those who are prepared to put their lives on the line for our country, in service and when discharged. "UKIP will restore Britain’s armed forces to their rightful place among the most professional, exible and effective fighting forces in the world, and we will sign a new military covenant with our brave heroes."
Mike Hookem MEP,
Cllr. Bill Etheridge MEP,
REBUILDING OUR ARMED FORCES
US President Theodore Roosevelt said the key to success in foreign policy was to “speak softly but carry a big stick.” In the modern era, British politicians have all too often shouted loudly while carrying a matchstick.
In 2010, the new Conservative-led government began including the Single Intelligence Account, Armed Forces pensions and Trident in the defence budget, rather than accounting for them separately. This sleight of hand budgeting allowed them to claim they were still meeting our NATO obligation to spend two per cent of GDP on defence, when in fact our armed forces were being steadily depleted. Tory cuts to the equipment programme and manpower have been deep: they have put our national security at serious risk.
The Conservatives ignored their manifesto pledge to keep army numbers above 82,000: reductions imposed on the defence budget since 2010 have shrunk the Army to 78,000, its smallest size since the Napoleonic Wars. Main battle tank strength has been cut by 40 per cent and there has been a 35 per cent cut in self-propelled artillery. The Government’s ambition to recruit 30,000 personnel to the Territorial Army to address the shortfall in regular army manpower was a fatally flawed concept and undeliverable from the start. Regulars and Territorials are not interchangeable.
THE ROYAL NAVY
In 1982, the Royal Navy sent 115 ships, including two aircraft carriers carrying jet fighters, plus 23 destroyers and frigates, to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentina. Today, after decades of cuts, the Royal Navy is a shadow of its former self. The surface fleet is currently down to just 17 frigates and destroyers. The Navy’s Harpoon missiles will retire from the fleet’s frigates and destroyers in 2018 without a replacement, and there will be a two-year gap without helicopter- launched anti-shipping missiles. The Royal Navy has shed people faster than ships: we had 39,000 sailors in 2000; now they number only 29,000. The Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2015 vowed to stop cutbacks on the fleet, but the damage has already been done. The two new Queen Elizabeth- class aircraft carriers will not be operational before 2020. Even then, serious questions remain about whether the Royal Navy will be able to man, operate and protect them. It would take nearly every ship in the current surface fleet to form an effective carrier group so they could be deployed. Moreover, it has been widely reported that each carrier will routinely deploy with only a dozen F-35B aircraft. In comparison, the two Royal Navy carriers involved in the Falklands Conflict carried twenty-odd Harrier jump jets each.
THE ROYAL AIR FORCE
The Royal Air Force is shedding one sixth of its staff, some 7,000 personnel, and 295 aircraft. By then, the RAF will have fewer than 200 fighter planes for the first time since the beginning of World War I. Despite Russia probing UK air space on a regular basis, we no longer have any maritime patrol aircraft. In 2015, the UK found itself in the embarrassing position of having to call upon surveillance assistance from US, Canadian, French and German aircraft, more than 20 times. Many frontline pilots have been on active combat operations for more than a decade. Combat fatigue has taken its toll and experienced aircrew are leaving the service. The weapons officers who fly behind the pilot in the two- seater Tornado are particularly in short supply. After decades of Treasury-driven budgetary cuts, the RAF finds itself in the unhappy position of doing less with less, with no prospect of an upturn in its fortunes.
A GENUINE COMMITMENT TO OUR NATO OBLIGATIONS
The Tories have threatened our security by leaving huge holes in our national defences. They have failed the British people, who must remain well protected in an increasingly dangerous world, and those who put their lives on the line for us, who must be properly equipped.
Britain must have a well resourced, properly manned, fit-for-purpose armed force, one with the capability to defend simultaneously Gibraltar and the Falklands Islands, contribute to one major theatre operation and several peacekeeping missions.
UKIP will spend a genuine two per cent of GDP on defence, and scale up defence spending by an additional £1 billion per year by the end of the parliament. UKIP will reverse the de- militarisation of our country and rebuild our Armed Forces.
UKIP will overhaul the wasteful defence procurement process. It has lacked proper scrutiny, been based on protectionism rather than on the needs of our Armed Forces, and is subject to inappropriate lobbying and cronyism on a massive scale. Even Gordon Brown railed against the “incestuous relationship between the Ministry (of Defence) and the arms world,” although he did nothing about it. Defence contracts regularly run massively over budget and over time. Botched projects have become the norm. Despite the fact that Defence Equipment and Support (the organisation responsible for purchasing equipment) employs 12,300 people, one for every six full time soldiers in the British Army, it has failed to deliver value for money for taxpayers and has left service personnel at risk.
UKIP will end the cosy relationship between ministers, officials and arms firms that lies at the heart of poor defence procurement decision-making.
DISCHARGED FROM SERVICE: A NEW MILITARY COVENANT FOR OUR HEROES
The political class has got its priorities so wrong. In February this year, Theresa May announced MPs would get a £1,049 pay rise. Meanwhile, she capped pensions for 140,000 British war heroes and widows, giving them just £1.10 per week. In 2015, UKIP promised to create a new Veterans’ Administration, organisationally independent and financially separate from the Ministry of Defence. This is still a priority for us: Britain must do more for veterans.
THE VETERANS’ ADMINISTRATION: KEY ROLES
The Veterans’ Administration will have its own minister and work with existing veteran services and charities. It will provide a single point of contact for veterans in a range of fields: health care, housing, counselling, education and training, rehabilitation, hospital care, access to financial services, benefits and memorials. The department will also have responsibility for issues such as bereavement support, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse and veterans’ mental health.
The Veteran’s Administration will issue a veterans’ service card to ensure fast-track access to NHS and mental health care, and award a National Defence Medal to all veterans, irrespective of rank or length of service.
HOSTELS FOR HOMELESS VETERANS
No veteran should be homeless, let alone have to sleep rough on the street, yet this is happening because the Government is not enforcing a law stating military heroes must be offered homes. UKIP will enforce this law, and build eight halfway house veterans’ hostels, each with 200 rooms and modelled on similar hostels already in operation. We will also assign 500 affordable rent homes every year to ex-forces personnel.
GUARANTEED JOBS FOR EX-SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN
UKIP will guarantee a job in the police service, prison service or border force for anyone who has served in the Armed Forces for a minimum of 12 years. Our ‘Boots to Business’ policy will help ex- service personnel set up their own businesses by offering loans, grants, free professional advice and mentoring to any veteran who wishes to pursue an entrepreneurial career after leaving the forces.
ENDING LEGAL HARRASSMENT OF EX-SERVICE PERSONNEL
UKIP will not allow veterans to be chased, harassed and intimidated by over-zealous human rights lawyers, most of whom are unlikely even to begin to comprehend the pressures of the battlefield. We will bring forward legislation preventing veterans from being pursued for years by police and prosecutors for actions taken whilst in the service of the Crown. We will not permit veterans to be tried over allegations of misconduct dating from half a century ago under any circumstances.
Veterans should not be sleeping in the streets or consigned to the dole, nor hounded for doing their jobs. UKIP is determined they will get the help, care and respect they deserve.
WE STAND BY OUR 2015 MANIFESTO PLEDGES TO:
Create an over-arching role of Director of National Intelligence, who will be lead a new, single, unified intelligence service
Revise the Armed Forces’ terms of service, to ensure personnel on operational duty overseas do not pay income tax
Oppose any form of military integration with the European Union.