Labour needs to clarify its defence policy

Originally published on Left Foot Forward 18/11/15.

Jeremy Corbyn needs to make his position on NATO clear and commit to supporting the principle of collective defence.

During the leadership campaign the North Atlantic Alliance was a clear point of contention between Corbyn and the three other candidates. Corbyn’s desire to withdraw from NATO and his view that the military alliance is to blame for Russian aggression in Ukraine are well known.

His supporters have cited this as an areas where he could compromise to unite the party. Corbyn himself has vaguely talked about Britain having a different relationship within NATO rather than leaving. In a Channel 4 debate he criticised NATO’s ‘excessive expansion’ and insisted that Britain should ‘argue quite strongly in NATO for a more realistic view of what its role is’...

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Will Labour commit to 2% of GDP on defence?

Originally published on LabourList 17/02/2015.

Labour activists don’t knock doors on a Saturday morning to argue for more money for bombs. No party does because voters don’t care that much about defence spending.

The UK’s role in the world is often a low priority for the electorate, rarely are votes gained or lost over a foreign policy decision. War may seem like the exception to this rule, but even the unpopular UK involvement in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein didn’t result in a change of government in 2005.

This isn’t going to be any different in 2015. Labour will rightly fight this election on living standards and the NHS. Some in Labour may feel uneasy about spending money on the military in tough financial times. However, we should commit to retaining NATO’s standard of spending 2% of our GDP on defence...

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