Military chiefs have today called on the government to spend more money on defence, after recent cuts have, in their opinion, left us vulnerable to threats such as Russia. Whether or not they are correct in their assessment about the preparedness of Britain’s defence force, I find it astonishing that taxpayers’ money is being wasted on unnecessary projects and departments whilst cuts are made to the Ministry responsible for keeping British citizens safe.
The government's first and foremost priority should be defence of the realm. Of course it also has the responsibility of honouring contracts between people and businesses, maintaining law and order, and more recently providing vital services such as the NHS and Education - but keeping its citizens safe from invasion or attack must come first.
Income tax was introduced over 200 years ago to fund Britain’s war with France. Politicians were able to justify this ‘temporary measure’ by assuring citizens that their hard earned money would be spent on the nation’s armed forces. Now, most of it is spent on everything but defence.
It's frankly ridiculous that we are spending billions on foreign aid, failed infrastructure projects like HS2, public health information campaigns, a department for culture media and sports - and yet taking money away from one of the most vital and important duties of government.
Of course there are improvements that can be made to defence procurement and spending. A few years ago the MoD spent more than £325 million renovating their offices and £6.6 billion on supplies that were found to be surplus to requirement. It’s not just about ensuring that our Ministry of Defence has the money that it needs, but also that it spends it well. The TaxPayers’ Alliance will continue to highlight any examples of wasteful spending when they appear.
But as an organisation standing up for taxpayers, we don’t just have a duty to call out wasteful spending. We also have a duty to remind the government what we pay our taxes for.
And whilst reduced defence spending is part of a general global trend, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be complacent like other European countries that have failed to meet the 2% NATO spending commitment.
The Government cannot justify cuts to defence spending whilst showering necessary departments and projects with taxpayers money.