The Tory party’s austerity regime beginning in 2010 wreaked a terrible toll on rank and file members of the British military with ordinary soldiers seeing real wages fall year by year.
To underscore the gravity of the problem, back in September 2017, it was revealed that ordinary soldiers were set to suffer a £352 pay cut in real terms the following year.
On top of that, troops have had to put up with sub-standard living quarters and related disadvantages for years, thus calling into question the Tory government ministers’ pledges to boost defence spending, welfare and recruitment at the grassroots level.
Now there are shocking revelations of corruption, and misspending, by the top brass of the Ministry of Defence. According to revelations by the Daily Mirror, MOD chiefs have been wasting up to £816 a night at five star hotels. One MOD official spent £4,900 on a six-night stay at an exclusive hotel in Dubai.
In total, the MOD spent £205 Million on hotels, meals and transport last year. And the profligacy and waste doesn’t stop there. In addition to wasteful spending on top tier accommodation and transport, the MOD splashed out £16 million on bonuses for its top civil servants.
Not surprisingly, this profligate spending has raised the ire of organisations representing rank and file soldiers. Tony Hayes of the Veterans Association UK told the Daily Mirror: “troops are under-equipped and under-resourced, while veterans are left on the heap, their benefits cut. All the while some MoD guy spends £800 on a hotel in Dubai. It’s obscene.”
These revelations come in the wake of foreign secretary, and Tory leadership hopeful, Jeremy Hunt’s pledge to increase defence spending by a quarter during the next five years as part of a broader strategy to intensify the UK’s interventionist foreign policy.
It is worth noting that Britain’s defence budget, which is close to £50 billion per annum, is already the highest in Europe and apart from the United States, Britain is the only country in NATO which consistently meets the threshold of spending 2 percent of GDP on defence.
But, as the latest revelations indicate, a significant tranche of Britain’s defence budget is either wasted or put to corrupt use. And as veterans’ associations and other representative bodies have pointed out, the corruption is unfolding at the expense of ordinary soldiers, many of whom are now considering leaving the armed forces.