Celebrating Critical Commonwealth Connections, Club Journal December

Thursday March 3, 2022

In this century of uncertainty the UK has left the EU with the aim of forging its own international destiny, making Global Britain a welcome reality.  In our current chilled conflict with China and a resurgent Russia we need friends more than at any time since the end of the Cold War.  Thankfully the UK has a ready-made global network of friendly countries.

In this new era of Global Britain it is essential that we reawaken and reimagine our long forgotten links with the Commonwealth.  Our ancestors, indeed our relatives within our Commonwealth countries, would be ashamed of our lack of interest in and appreciation both of their past and present contribution to our country and what we can provide for them.  Safety and security providing peace and prosperity are what we can offer each other when we work together to protect and preserve our values and interests and promote open and free trade.


Our values and interests are in direct and diametric opposition to those who wish a global hegemony of authoritarian and autocratic rule.  We live in a century of uncertainty with a resurgent Russia, a challenging China, Brexit betrayal and now the COVID-19 crisis.  A Chinese curse is ‘May you live in interesting times.’  They see it as a curse, I see it as an opportunity.  We certainly do live in interesting times and I would have it no other way.  As we recover from the COVID-19 lockdown we face many choices, but none so stark as how to ensure our nation is ready to respond to the totalitarian threats of authoritarian autocracy, whether it be from Russia, China or North Korea.  Over the years our armed forces have been reduced until they are the smallest they have been for centuries, while the budgets for overseas aid and other less important areas have increased.  As our forces reduced so our risks increased.  We now need to invest in and increase our armed forces and our security and intelligence services in order to ensure the safety and security of our nation and our ongoing peace, order and prosperity.


It is essential that those countries who believe in democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, tolerance and respect both stand together and work together to counter, contain and challenge those who persistently disrupt and plan to destroy both our safety and our society.  Bullies, whether people or presidents, are only encouraged by a lack of retribution – this was the case in the late 1930’s for Nazi Germany and during the Cold War – it is the same now in this chilled conflict.  There must be red lines and there must be retaliation.  The National Cyber Force is a good example of a retaliatory force which must be used appropriately.  The lack of retaliation and retribution was a significant contributing factor leading to world war in 1939 but by the Cold War we had learnt our lesson and fear of retribution led each side to moderate their actions and staved off another world war.  We are playing for the same high stakes today.  Hitler did not believe the Western powers would go to war over Poland and it took the Berlin airlift and the Cuban Missile Naval Quarantine Area to convince the Soviet Union that there were red lines which would be resisted by the West.


The security of our nation depends on the safety and stability of our society.  Woke and cancel cultures confuse our children giving them no settled identity, purpose or sense of belonging, in contrast to those of China, Russia and North Korea who are building strong societies with identities promoting a sense of purpose and nationhood.  We need to protect and promote British values with a vision to match.  We need a Global Britain, engaged both at home and around the world promoting the traditional British foreign policy aim of ensuring a benign balance of power that does not allow domination by dictators or authoritarian aggression.  Our children are our future and need protected in a strong, stable family environment that will create the secure space needed to preserve, protect and promote peace, order and prosperity for the UK and our allies across the Commonwealth and beyond.


A strong military requires a strong society, a weak society will produce a weak military.  A woke culture is a weak culture.  The UK requires a strong, stable, resilient society that can adapt and adjust and not fold at the first sign of pressure or criticism.  We need a return to traditional British values that kept us strong through two world wars.  To counter disinformation and false media our education system needs to teach logic and reason to enable critical analysis of the propaganda pushed on our public.  British history and values, what we stood for and stand for, why we stand for it and our culture, values and interests.  It should be emphasised that our culture, and the liberty and freedoms it contains, rests on our Judeo-Christian roots and values.  As these values are undermined so will our freedoms also be undermined, as we can see those who are most willing to stop free speech and rewrite our history are those who attack our traditional Christian values.


Russia claims to be defending Christian culture yet, as usual with Russian claims, its actions are doing exactly the opposite.  Russian strategic support for China, actually acting as a Chinese force multiplier, means it is aiding and abetting the biggest threat to Christianity – authoritarian, atheist China in its quest for world domination.  The benefit of liberal democracies in a century of uncertainty is their ability to flex, not fracture.  Autocratic societies are brittle and brutal resulting in persecution rather than broad, beneficial democratic societies resulting in prosperity where views can coexist rather than conflict.  We can absorb differences, as is in the nature of democracies, whereas authoritarian structures have no outlet for expression and no tolerance for differences of opinion.  However, current culture wars are driving the UK apart and we need to ensure we unite to defend our country and ensure the Union endures.


Without the Union there is no United Kingdom.  Without the United Kingdom the constituent countries cannot defend themselves.  With no Scotland and Northern Ireland (NI) we lose the nuclear submarine, maritime and air bases necessary to control the Atlantic.  The Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap and the Atlantic are now back as a major strategic concern with Russian ships, submarines and aircraft constantly probing the area.  NATO has already reinstated an Atlantic Command in recognition of the new Russian reality.  The strategic location of NI and Scotland is now back in play.  It should be remembered that during WW2 Ireland was neutral and it was only the use of the 26 airfields and naval bases in NI that kept the Atlantic sea lanes open – as Ireland refused the UK the use of the Treaty Ports.  The second Western Approaches command bunker was in Londonderry, as was Base One Europe and various other important US bases – including an important US naval base which operated during the Cold War.  It has been said that if Ireland had been united and neutral during WW2 then Britain would have had to invade Ireland in order to provide the coastal bases necessary to survive.


What would be the UK and NATO’s strategic position if Ireland united – and not as I would prefer, as a British Irishman, in a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland – but in an independent republic which stayed neutral and not in NATO – as the current Republic of Ireland is?  Couple this with the threat of an independent Scotland whose current Scottish National Party government has declared it would make an independent Scotland nuclear – and hence NATO – free.  These should be alarming threats to NATO planners.  I would argue that the security of NATO and hence the US, UK and indeed Europe is strategically threatened by the forces of Irish, Scottish and Welsh nationalism within the UK.  The EU – which has been supporting these regional nationalisms through such mechanisms as promoting regional languages and cultures – has actually been chipping away at its own survival in the event of a world war.  A strong United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is essential in this century of uncertainty to the winning strategy of NATO in the – sadly not so unlikely – future event of a world war.

Without the UK there would have been no defender of democracy in two world wars as it was the UK which both times went to war without British territory being threatened or attacked, in defence of democracy against authoritarian aggression.  Twice the engagement of the US was necessary to win the wars, although twice they arrived late, only coming into the war once their national interest was directly threatened.  The lesson is that it is necessary for both the UK and US to both defend democracy and defeat dictators.  However, to contain China and restrain Russia a global alliance is required and it is here that the Commonwealth becomes ever more valuable.  The Commonwealth promotes the very liberal democratic and free enterprise society and culture that is under attack by authoritarian autocrats and it now needs to work together to defend democracy and preserve the path to peace, order and prosperity.


It is excellent to see the Australian and Canadian proposed purchases of the Type 26 Frigate and the AUKUS pact which will enable future interoperability and provide an opportunity for Commonwealth Carrier Strike Group participation alongside the UK, especially useful in showing our support for a free and open Indo-Pacific.  A holistic approach to national defence policy will create a mainstream manufacturing sector that continually generates secure jobs and orders, rebuilding our defence economy and ensuring synergy across our armed forces.  The AUKUS pact was an excellent step in this direction and it is great to see New Zealand interest in aspects of the pact.  In this regard it is crucial that the democratic states ensure a technological lead and the UK’s investment in space technologies and creating of space ports is welcome although we need to increase our overall research and development incentives and investments.  An important element of achieving a technological lead is protecting our assets, both cyber and physical, and the success of the NCSC and CPNI in protecting our infrastructure should be both recognised and realised by extending our support and systems to our closest allies.


A crucial task in enlarging our economy, as well as strategically supporting our allies and promoting free trade, will be the UK’s entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and we should encourage the US and Commonwealth partners to join to enhance the economic benefits to all, but also for the security and diplomatic/political dimensions to the Indo-Pacific strategy.  Even if the US cannot join yet, starting the discussions will send an important message and will start to warm up US public opinion to a future membership.  We should also take further steps to ensure that UK and Western businesses remove all forced labour and inhumane practices from their supply chains, reducing the expansion of the Chinese economy and subsequently their military build-up.


As our government correctly works towards a resilient society we should also be careful in our rush toward climate change policies as they will lead to an overreliance on electricity in, amongst other sectors, fuelling our vehicles and home heating, which creates a resilience risk as well as increasing economic costs to our consumers, many of whom will not be able to afford the additional costs that current uneconomic green policies occur.  We need to grow our economic power, not inhibit and shackle it in ways that our competitors are not similarly encumbered.  This is an economic conflict as much as an ideological and geopolitical conflict.  We all want to protect and preserve our environment, and we can, but not at the cost of national security.  Our adversaries are not increasing their costs for their businesses and consumers and we should not be placing ourselves at a disadvantage to our strategic competitors.  As Kevin Rudd has declared, the 2020’s is the decade of living dangerously, and we need to ensure we do all we can to reduce our risks and realise our resilience.


Today’s fight is tyranny versus truth and repression versus righteousness.  This will be a conflict of Christianity and conscience versus communism and coercion, essentially choice versus control is at the centre of this conflict.  Two world wars were won because the English speaking peoples stood together and fought together, alongside our allies, to defend democracy and freedom and destroy dictators and fascism – today we must stand ready to do the same again.  For the sake of future generations we must ensure we win this chilled conflict to avoid another world war.

By Andrew Wright

The Conservative Monday Club, PO Box 7694, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 3XR