Putin would be delighted to have Labour’s legion of peaceniks in power

Article published in The Daily Mail, 3 July 2024. © Richard Kemp

It is no exaggeration to say that Britons today are living through the most dangerous geopolitical period since the Second World War.

The threat is all around us: from ever-multiplying jihadi terrorism, a resurgent Iran, a muscle-flexing Russia waging its unjust war in Ukraine and even from China, which only two months ago GCHQ director Anne Keast-Butler warned posed a ‘genuine and increasing’ cyber risk to the UK.

It is against this bleak and unsettling backdrop that, if the polls prove correct, Sir Keir Starmer will be appointed our country’s new prime minister on Friday.

It is a prospect that profoundly alarms me.

As the Mail reported on Tuesday, former Ministry of Defence chief Dr Rob Johnson has just issued a devastating assessment of our ever-depleting military capability, warning that a country once renowned for its might is now so short of infrastructure, personnel and weapons that we are, as Dr Johnson put it, unprepared for a ‘conflict of any scale’.

What a terrifying prediction that is — a state of affairs that, I believe, would sharply deteriorate under a Labour government.

Nor is this just my view as a former commanding officer who saw action in some of the world’s fiercest warzones, but one shared by many senior military figures, both retired and operational, with whom I speak often.

The numbers speak for themselves: When I joined the army in 1977, it boasted a regular fighting strength of about 150,000. Today, those numbers have diminished to less than half that at around 73,000. As Dr Johnson made plain, it is not just people we lack either: we are desperately short of ammunition, ships and aircraft too.

Yes, it is only fair to point out that successive governments from both sides of the House have presided over this diminishment of our (more…)