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18 Mar 10. Defence blunder forces Gordon Brown to beat retreat. A former defence chief turned on Gordon Brown last night after the Prime Minister admitted giving inaccurate information to the Iraq inquiry about Britain’s wartime spending. General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank said that Mr Brown’s admission that he cut military spending in real terms — rather than increased it, as he told the inquiry — demonstrated his antipathy towards the Armed Forces. The admission vindicated former commanders, whose claims that the cuts had cost lives were branded by Mr Brown as “disingenous” and “wrong”. Lord Guthrie, who led the military from 1997 to 2001, told The Times: “What I said was absolutely right and what he said was wrong. I am delighted that the Prime Minister has made this statement and admitted what I said was right and those who attacked me were wrong, intemperate and cheap. “It does highlight the great difficulties defence had when other departments of state were being showered with money. Undoubtedly the underfunding caused huge problems in Afghanistan and Iraq.” The admission by Mr Brown made during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday could lead to his recall to give further evidence to the inquiry, chaired by Sir John
Chilcot. (Source: The Times)
BATTLESPACE Comment: This is very good news and shows how Gordon Brown can manufacture statistics when it suits him. It rewards the persistence of Lord Guthrie in particular, but the real question which has yet to be answered is why Gordon Brown did not increase defence spending in this period to meet Urgent Operational requirements. It should not be overlooked that a great deal of the budget during this period went on financing his prize aircraft carrier project and the disastrous FRES project which wasted at least £150m in this period.!
17 Mar 10. The UK National Defence Association (UKNDA), which campaigns for more resources for Britain’s Armed Services, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s admission that he was wrong to claim to the Chilcot Inquiry that defence spending had risen every year during his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gordon Brown said in the House of Commons today (March 17), during Prime Minister’s Questions, that he accepted that “in one or two years, defence expenditure did not rise in real terms”, and said that he would be writing to Sir John Chilcot to “clarify” what he had told the Iraq Inquiry. UKNDA spokesman Andy Smith said: “This is an important admission by the Prime Minister and entirely vindicates our campaign for more funding for defence. While other Government departments have had their budgets vastly increased over the past 12 years, the Ministry of Defence budget has been consistently squeezed. At the same time our military commitments have grown, leaving our Armed Forces chronically under-funded, over-stretched and over-tasked. This cannot go on.” He added: “MoD figures show clearly that, allowing for inflation, the defence budget actually fell in five years: 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002 and 2007.”
Formed in 2007, the UKNDA argues for significant increases in the defence budget to repair the