On 19 November, prime minister Boris Johnson announced a £16.5bn increase in the defence budget despite being in command over the largest defence budget in Europe and the second largest in Nato. It is clear that Britain already spends far above and beyond what is necessary to defend our tiny island nation, while, worse still, we sell arms and munitions and give training to the very mercenary jihadist groups who use their weapons and training against us.
Such an inflation in the financing of Britain’s armed forces is said to be aimed at creating “a new space command that will be capable of launching its first rocket in 2022, which will boost Britain’s satellite defences; a national cyber force that will target enemy states and terrorists and defend the UK from cyberattacks; a new artificial intelligence agency that will reportedly develop autonomous weapons systems; and £1.5bn to invest in military research and development, as well as a commitment to more money for the future combat air system”. (Boris Johnson announces UK’s biggest defence spending boost since Cold War by Alex Wickham, Politico, 19 November 2020)
Unite the Union represents many workers in the industries that will benefit from this funding boost. The assistant general secretary Steve Turner, commented: “The UK’s plans for extending the UK’s space capabilities, and the investment earmarked for the development of the future combat air system, should act as a shot in the arm for the UK’s aerospace sector, which has suffered an economic battering as a result of the Covid pandemic.”
Industry and jobs must be protected, but jobs directed towards the production of these weapons and support for jihadist groups and imperialist intervention present grim prospects for British workers and servicemen. What we spend today we will pay for many times over tomorrow.
In a socialist society, we will have a need for an armaments industry and a strong military to protect our socialist country from capitalist aggression, but it will not need a budget of such monstrous dimensions, and the money will not find its way to supporting criminal wars in places like Syria and Libya.
Socialism will prioritise creating socially useful jobs and decent working conditions, improving public transport, developing green technology and infrastructure and manufacturing socially necessary goods and services.