The General, Jeremy Corbyn and a Dangerous Defence Policy

In some respects, there is hardly a more academic question than whether or not Jeremy Corbyn would ever launch Trident.

The English electorate baulked at the economic competence of Ed Miliband, who looks positively Thatcherite in comparison. It is not going to hand the keys to the Treasury to his successor. The nuclear button comes with them, so Corbyn can be left to bask in his sainted North London principles on Trident and much else, warming the seat until a moderate successor comes along.

Tony Blair was as far-left as England is going to go, and it’s safe to say that much of England regrets even that foray. With Scotland now SNP territory for the foreseeable future, that ought to be that for Corbyn’s chances of ever getting his picture on the staircase at Number Ten.

So it’s possibly just as academic that the UK’s top soldier, Chief of the General Staff Sir Nicholas Houghton, used his Sunday date with Andrew Marr to express worry about Corbyn’s distaste for nuclear weapons, and even greater worry about what that might mean if it were ever translated into power.

Nobody expects senior soldiers not to have views. Of course they have them. But they should express them in private.

Cue howls of outrage about a break in military impartiality and demands from the Corbyn camp that Houghton be ‘disciplined.’

And some outrage is justified.

Corbyn's nuclear views may be dangerous in an uncertain world. They may strike at the cornerstone of a national defence policy which has helped keep Europe from war theoretically for seventy years. They may be at odds with the position of his party- surely something has got to give there? But these are cases for our democratically elected representatives to make, at least in public.

Nobody expects senior soldiers not to have views. Of course they have them. But they should express them in private.

Perhaps Sir Nicholas has at least helpfully underscored the fact that a Corbyn administration might struggle to find high military officials who would be prepared to serve.  But, should our Jeremy ever actually get close to power, that might be among the less-pressing of Britain’s worries.

More about the author

About the author

Born and raised in Swansea West, one of the safest Labour seats in the country, David is perhaps unsurprisingly a High-Tory, Euroskeptic Royalist Libertarian with an unhealthy adoration for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As a result he is seldom pleased by anything that ever happens, and always on the verge of quitting the whole jamboree. A former Special Writer at the Wall Street Journal, he knew the crash was coming when he saw a piece about Louis XVI reproduction furniture "for your Winnebago."

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