16 Sep 2015 - By
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Corbyn, Labour and the UK defence industry

parliament_7171575SmlThe UK Labour Party has a new leader in Jeremy Corbyn, and his election has already been subject to intense scrutiny from all sides, even in Labour itself.

Despite his landslide victory, questions remain over his policy decisions, with Corbyn’s history as a ‘hardline socialist’ suggesting big changes in Labour’s views on defence, Europe and the economy.

In this blog from DCI, we look at the new Labour Leader and ask what his appointment could mean for the political landscape and the wider defence industry.

Defence policies

Corbyn’s policies on UK defence are by far the most radical seen by a leader of a major party in the UK for decades. Among his main aims are:

  • Abolish the UK’s nuclear missile system with no replacement.
  • Scale back military activity and spending generally.
  • Give people the opportunity to opt out of spending their taxes on the military.

Amid calls by the USA for UK Government to spend more on defence, Mr Corbyn’s views put him in direct conflict with Barack Obama and puts the ‘special relationship’ in jeopardy.

Europe

During the last vote on the UK’s membership of Europe, in 1975, Jeremy Corbyn voted for Britain to come out.

This time around, Mr Corbyn has refused to confirm or deny his stance on this crucial policy question, and instead has adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach, presumably waiting until the results of Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation attempts are clear.

Conservative response

Despite claims by many that Mr Corbyn’s victory would be good news for the Conservatives, their response to his landslide win suggested otherwise.

An immediate attack campaign was launched by Conservative MPs, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon claiming that “Labour are now a threat to our nation’s security, our economy’s security and your family’s security”.

Their campaign has been met with criticism and suggests that they may be wary of the surge in support that Mr Corbyn, and by association the Labour Party itself, has enjoyed since the leadership contest began.

Labour Party Conference

The coming weeks and months will be crucial for the new Labour Party. With decisions on the Party’s policies on defence, Europe and the economy still to be fully finalised, businesses across the UK defence industry will be waiting in anticipation ahead of the Party Conference at the end of September.