Despite all the good words from the Tory leadership about how Defence would become important in their new regime, it's pretty clear that they never actually intended to back these words up with anything useful.
The argument at the moment is that Defence isn't special and therefore should suffer the same 25%-40% cuts as the rest of the Government. KingofWrong makes the excellent point here that actually the MoD is a completely different beast to the other Government departments (though I did like his ideas about snipers in Whitehall. I'm actually going to argue that Defence shouldn't be cut from a completely different angle. In my usual style, I'm going to look at the money.
In 1997 the UK Spent £25 Billion on Defence. That sounds like quite a lot, it's even fairly impressive compared to the £41 Billion spent on Health, or £37 Billion spent on Education.
However, by 2009 the Health budget had grown to £110 Billion and the Education budget had grown to £80 Billion. These grew by 2.7 and 2.2 times respectively (For interest CPI has been about 1.2 over the same time frame).
Defence on the other hand has grown to £42 Billion, which is bigger, but only a growth of 1.7.
Let's assume that Defence grew by it's fair amount (compared to other departments - I'm going to go with 2.2 like Education). Defence would now be £55 Billion in 2009. We can then apply the 'fair' 25% cuts, which brings us back to about £42 Billion again (Had it grown like Health it would be over £50 Billion with the 25% cut).
The Defence Budget has in effect already been cut. It never benefited from the massive spending increasing across all the other government departments, so it shouldn't be punished in the same fashion.
The Tories need to back off from cutting Defence now. If they want to choose to cut the budget then they should pull us out of Afghanistan, hand the Falklands over to Argentina and re-role our forces as nothing more than a slightly tougher police force (like many of our European allies). We can then rely on the French and Americans for our Safety.
Or, they could cut those departments that grew out of control over the last 13 years (including Health) and accept that some money is better spent than others.
Sorry for my recent absence. I'll probably start writing more frequently again from now.