Labour defense review marred by ‘chaos & incoherence’ – former defense secretaries

Trident Ballistic Missile Submarine © David Moir
The Labour Party’s review of the British military is incoherent and characterized by “spurious arguments,” two former defense secretaries have claimed.

Writing in the Guardian, pro-NATO former ministers John Hutton and George Robertson said the current Labour defense review was sliding into “chaos and incoherence.

They accepted there was another point of view besides their own pro-nuke politics, but insisted the case for nuclear weapons was “self-evident” given the threat posed by Russia, China and North Korea.

We do not accept as legitimate the use of spurious arguments and newly created ‘facts’ to argue against the plan to continue the deterrent into the future by building four new ballistic-missile submarines,” they argued.

They were referring to claims by Labour’s defense secretary Emily Thornberry that Trident-carrying submarines would be vulnerable to cyber-attack or assault by underwater drones.

We are confident that the Successor class of Trident subs will be able to hide in the deep ocean, providing Britain with a powerful, invisible, secure and invulnerable deterrent for many years to come,” the pair added.

Thornberry spoke at the prestigious Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank in London on Monday night, covering Trident and a number of other topics.

While she did not commit to the symbolic 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which became a point of contention ahead of 2015’s general election, Thornberry argued that Britain needs “geeks, spooks and thugs” for future wars.

She was quoting eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard who argued that future conflicts would be decided by cyber-warfare, espionage and Special Forces.

While his description of special forces as ‘thugs’ is not one I would use, the overarching point is well taken,” Thornberry said.

Ahead of her RUSI speech Thornberry commented on a topic rarely mentioned in the defense debate, saying Britain’s steel industry was essential to national security.

As part of the security risk to the country we should start with the idea that in order for us to retain our sovereignty, we ought to be able to build our own kit with our own industry,” she told the Daily Mirror.

We cannot as a country be confident about our ability to defend ourselves if we don't have a steel industry," she added.