The Peoples Government? British Army personnel proposed to be Slashed by 20,000.
Soon after a landslide Conservative victory resulting in an 80 seat majority, the largest since 1987, Boris Johnson declared his government to be“The People’s Government". The recently floated proposals to make cuts of some 20,000 troops from the already depleted British army puts these claims to the test.
Recently, Dominic Cummings stated that he was seeking to launch a review of the spending habits of the Ministry of Defence over concerns that the department was squandering billions of pounds, namely on the two new aircraft carriers HMS Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Whilst Cummings MOD concerns have merit, as I recently argued, these proposed remedies are the wrong ones. During the Covid pandemic the military has proved itself time and time again from the express construction of the numerous Nightingale Hospitals to the crucial support of our public services through the 10,000 strong Covid support Force. By removing those who put their lives on the line during such a critical time, the government could weaken our national ability to respond effectively to crisis.
A key factor in the fall of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ was Johnson’s ability to appeal to working class voters on issues the demographic had, including concerns and differences with the previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit. Regions such as Sedgefield and Darlington, which are some of the most working class regions in the country were vital to Johnson’s success, and swing Tory not least because of the anti-armed forces sentiment often associated with Johnson's opponent.
Areas with a higher proportion of working class households, particularly in the North of England, have previously been explicitly targeted by the British Army through the “This is Belonging Campaign”. This campaign has seemed to have worked given that areas which have the greatest level of deprivation see the most young recruits, as in red wall areas such as those aforementioned.
It is therefore a disgrace that those who choose to serve, including Royal Marine Commandos could face sacking from a government that has purported to “level up” and replenish the very regions they were recruited from.
After winning over traditional working class Labour seats Johnson must now make good on his promises and prove that they are not just the empty gestures that he has recently denounced. It seems that if he follows through with this plan, he is betraying the very communities who helped put Johnson in Number 10.