Thursday, 21 February 2013

Nudge, Nudge. Wink, Wink.

Dave has taken a holiday this week and gone on a yomp around India. This is a sort of sequel to his first ramble with Vince Cable in 2010 aiming to get the Indians trading with Britain*. Apart from this waste of time in talking trade, because the tariff barriers cannot be reduced due to the EU, Dave has ‘dropped a hint’ (reminiscent of Monty Python giving a nudge and a wink) about part of the foreign aid budget being used to cover defence spending cuts.

Is this another one of Cameron’s ‘tantric’ policies in which he drops hints in order to make party members slightly happier? Or has David Cameron seen some sort of light on defence. Well let’s examine the facts.

The Department for International Development gets £7.9 billion, an increase to 0.7% of GDP, whilst the Defence Budget is £37.2 billion, a cut of 4.5%. Really then, in comparison to the defence budget, foreign aid if it was to be converted all into defence spending would barely cover anything. I don't necessarily think that every penny spent on defence rather than foreign aid is better, but what this shows is that Mr Cameron is making promises that don’t really make any difference. There is no need to see this as some victory.

Also Dave gave no figure and said could with this promise. So if he does fulfil this pledge it is likely to be millions more to be spent on defence (which is 10p to 20p in governmental terms) if he even offers that. So yet again Dave says stuff but not much actually happens. It’s just political nudging and winking.

* Notably this is the only significant thing Vince Cable has actually done except being the voice of socialist politics in a supposedly centre-right government.

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