Thursday, 11 March 2010

Gordon is lying - again!

I'm getting pissed off with Gordon constantly prattling on about how Defence Spending has risen under Labour. So I decided to have a look at the reality of his claims.

The best measure of Defence Spending has always been looking at total cash spend as a percentage of GDP. For the US and China this is quite high (some claim up to about 10% for the latter). For Belgium it's pretty damn low (about 1.3%). Countries that actually want to have an influence in world affairs tend to be spending more than 2.5% (which is what France spends).

So, lets have a look at how Defence Spending has changed under Labour.

To no-one's surprise Defence Spending has fallen dramatically for nearly every year Labour have been in power. The only occasion Defence Spending managed to actually rise was when they were simultaneously spending on a large war in Afghanistan whilst watching the economy tank (It's more a case of GDP falling than Defence Spending growing).

Ah ha! I hear you say! Gordon actually meant that Defence Spending has risen in "Real Terms". GDP is irrelevant, just look at how much the Defence budget was, correct for inflation and you'll see that Defence Spending has gone up in every year. Afterall, Gordon wouldn't lie to us!

Well, lets see what that gets us.
This picture looks much rosier. In real terms Defence Spending has generally risen . However, there have been four occasions since 1997 where Defence Spending has fallen in real terms. To make these clearer, I've coloured them red.

Gordon is clearly wrong when he says that the Defence Budget hasn't been cut whilst Labour has been in power (it's even been cut since he was PM). It has whether you're looking at percentage of GDP, or in terms of 2008 cash. Time for an apology to the house?

The interesting thing isn't actually that Gordon has been caught lying. Afterall, that can hardly shock anyone now. Look at the time of the two most recent cuts. These are in 2002-2003 and 2007-2008. This is where Brown's testimony to Chilcot was "disingenuous". As the military were gearing up for an inevitable war in Iraq (for all the "right reasons", remember) the core MoD budget was being cut in real terms. As our troops were increasing (remember, the initial deployment was only supposed to be less than 5,000. Now there's about 10,000 troops in theatre) involved in ever-escalating warfare in Afghanistan the budget was cut again.

Whilst Brown is factually incorrect to say that Defence Spending has consistently risen, it's the fact that he's chosen to slash Defence Budgets exactly when our troops need more funding that shows how he really views the Military.

EDIT: A reader has suggested I make it clear in this analysis that we're looking only at core Defence funding. Obviously, this does not include spending on wars, which should be funded entirely from the central reserve. This should also include all UORs, which are Brown's favorite counter-argument whenever Defence Spending is bought up. However, it should be noted from this PQ in March 2009 that even UORs are sometimes part of wholely funded from the core Budget:

"UORs are normally funded from the reserve and not subject to repayment. There are however occasions when an urgent capability will also bring long-term benefit to the MoD, and it is therefore appropriate for the MoD to contribute to the cost of the UOR. Equally, existing funded programmes in the MoD’s forward equipment plan may be brought forward for urgent operational reasons, and if reserve funding is provided to meet the urgent requirement, it may be subject to repayment. Exact proportions of any cost-share will vary according to the particular projects and final costs and are not held centrally. An exact breakdown of costs to the MoD and the reserve for all UORs could only be provided at disproportionate cost."

If the MoD are having to spend their core budget on UORs, then the effetive reductions we've seen above could be even larger than these figures above show.

No comments:

Post a Comment