Saturday, 15 August 2020
Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.

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By Alex Dorrian, Chief Executive, Thales UK and President of the Society of British Aerospace Companies

At the September/October political party conferences the defence industry was represented at all the Defence Matters fringe meetings, on which Defence Viewpoints commented at the time. The industry "party line" was put over by a number of spokesmen, most senior of whom was Alex Dorian. This was the essence of the industry case)

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It's the big question here at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

As the satirical magazine Private Eye might say, the world of politics was rocked last week by the bombshell that The Sun newspaper has withdrawn its support from the Labour Party and is now backing Tory leader David Cameron to be the next Prime Minister.

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"Do we get it? Yes we do!" Bill Rammell MP, Minister for the Armed Forces, at The Sun defence meeting in Manchester. (And sorry, there were no Page 3 stunnas as we'd previously speculated.)

"We should count our blessing. We're lucky there are still volunteers (for the Army) in our democracy."  Dr Liam Fox MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence.

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Are we prepared to funds commitments we ask of our Armed Forces? There isn't plenty of money for cuts in defence. This was the blunt message from Ben Wallace MP at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference. He's a man who knows whereof he speaks - former infanteer, formerly in the defence industry, now a younger senior figure in the Party.

He rejects "moving spending to the right" and cobbling together cuts in the putative Strategic Defence Review to be held by the next Government. It's a common misconception that defence procurement is in a muddle. It takes time to develop technology. Off the shelf , buying from non UK industry, that choice will have a big impact not just now but in the future. But he is sure that procurement must be led by the military and their needs to achieve aims defined by politicians.

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