World

Ben Wallace takes aim at the misuse of the military

17 December 2021

3:00 AM

17 December 2021

3:00 AM

On this week’s Spectator TV, Andrew Neil interviews the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. The pair discuss Ukraine, Taiwan, Iran and the fallout from the withdrawal from Afghanistan. But, perhaps, the most striking part of the interview came when Wallace talked about his concern that politicians are turning to the military as a first resort not a last resort. He said that once the Covid crisis has passed, the Ministry of Defence will need to ‘reassert that we are the last resort, not the first’.

Wallace was critical of both Whitehall and the devolved administrations for the speed with which they have turned to the military to help in recent times. In some of the most critical comments by a British government minister on the performance of the devolved administration this year, Wallace — himself a former MSP — said:

If you are the Scottish first minister with a significant funding for your health service or the education service, or the Welsh first minister or indeed some of my colleagues in Whitehall, then it is not our job if you can’t run your health service in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. It is our job to be there as the last resort wherever you are in the United Kingdom. But fundamentally, when we are not in a national crisis or a pandemic, we’ll always be there to help. But fundamentally we are there to do our defence task protecting the nation.

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