Comrade Corbyn has ditched the red flag. Now he has embraced the white flag of surrender.
I was once at a dinner where TV presenter Clive Anderson was the after-dinner speaker. During a one particularly funny anecdote, a large drunk with the look of an accountant about him, decided to heckle the former lawyer. Fixing the man with a rather serious looking stare, Mr Anderson simply asked, “as an outsider Sir, how does the real world look?”.
I am not sure why, but this retort flashed in my mind as Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn came up with his latest series of “bright ideas”. The first, and perhaps the most daft, was to build submarines that are specifically designed to carry nuclear weapons, but don’t actually install the warheads.
Setting aside this naked attempt to bribe his union paymasters, whose members jobs depend on the construction of the new missile boats, this is the most idiotic defence policy since the removal of HMS Endurance, an ice-breaker, from the Falkland Islands in 1981. This was a decision that was widely seen as Britain giving up on the islands and giving a green light to the Argentinian military junta to invade.
The whole point of these leviathans is to deliver a continuous at-sea deterrent (CASD). Yes, they carry a range of non-nuclear weapons, but these are more defensive than offensive, due to their size. With a displacement of roughly 16,000 tonnes they are slower and much less manoeuvrable than the Royal Navy’s Astute class of hunter killers, which displace just 7,400 tonnes and can hit speeds of 30 knots.
So if you are trying to make a serious military argument about scrapping the CASD and Trident, there is no reason to build a replacement for Britain’s ageing fleet of Vanguard submarines. It would be better to commission additional Astute class boats, which also cost significantly less and are more useful in a fight.
And would Corbyn’s new pacifist defence policy really stop here at just scrapping our nukes? It seems unlikely, after all both he and his shadow defence secretary have raised doubts over the use of drones and other weapons. Corbyn has described the American service personnel here under Nato as an army of occupation. He even opposed US plans for a missile defence shield – a solely defensive system.
So let’s strip the Astute class vessels of their arsenal too. Those highly expensive and precise Tomahawk missiles would go, as would their torpedoes…and it wouldn’t stop with the navy.
Under Comrade Corbyn, planes and drones would be stripped of their bombs, soldiers would not be allowed ammunition, bayonets would have to be returned to stores, even ceremonial pace sticks would probably have to checked for any pointy or sharp bits.
And what Mr Corbyn seems to forget is that not only would this leave our country defenceless in the face of hostile forces, but it would also stop many of the humanitarian missions our forces are so frequently involved in and would end any role in peace-keeping operations.
No, Corbyn flying the red flag doesn’t worry me so much. It is his belief that the UK, our people, and our interests and those of our allies are best protected by raising the white flag of surrender.
It is an incoherent defence policy from a party that is increasingly becoming a parody of its darkest days during the 1980s. Time for a mutiny? We can only hope.