Gender Theory and One Nation Conservatism Won’t Save Us From WWIII

The government needs to focus on the basics - the defence of the realm


Being on the threshold of a potential WWIII really spotlights the UK‘s failure to prioritise defence. Instead of focusing on its primary duty to protect its people, the government has been captured by a woke mindset that panders to the left by prioritising more and more spending on progressive policies.   Alarmingly, it has been successive Conservative governments straying from the foundational conservative principle of robust defence, precisely at a time when the spectre of war looms over our perilously unstable world.  

The British Army is set to dwindle to its smallest size since the 1700s, reducing to merely 72,500 personnel by 2025. This stark reduction occurs at a juncture when the geopolitical landscape demands not just readied specialised units but also significant capacity. As Roman strategist Vegetius famously advised in his military treatise, "Si vis pacem, para bellum" — if you desire peace, prepare for war. Or maybe Reagan’s more recent ‘peace through strength’ would resonate with the Conservative leaders, but our party’s current trajectory reflects a perilous oversight of this fundamental military principle.

Currently, the UK fields only 157 Challenger 2 main battle tanks (for context Russia has lost 3000 tanks in Ukraine), and our fleet of operational fighters (169 Typhoons and F-35s) is smaller than those of Italy, France and Germany, each of which has 200+.  Moreover, the Royal Navy finds itself in dire straits with only seven active frigates and four more in refit, some of which may never return to service. The scrapping of HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster, primarily due to a shortage of sailors, coupled with the ongoing aircraft carrier debacle, has pushed the navy’s surface fleet to the brink of irrelevance.

Given the government’s refusal to increase defence budgets and the MOD’s focus on diversity, employing over 100 champions dedicated to various causes from gender to sexuality, is it any surprise we find ourselves in this predicament? These initiatives, which epitomise a woke agenda, not only waste resources but also divert our government and armies' attention from their primary responsibility: national defence.


Technological Investment vs. Manpower Reductions

While the government can boast a £23 billion investment in advanced military technology as a step into the future, this cannot compensate for the sharp reduction in troop numbers and essential assets like tanks, ships, and aircraft.

With Russian and Chinese expansionism, a war in Europe, the war in the Middle East, and the risk of a third world war, our defence must be backed by actual military strength, not just historical reputation, wishful thinking, and diplomatic alliances.

Michael Portillo once proudly declared while defence secretary “We are not ashamed to celebrate Britain’s military prowess, on the land, at sea, and in the air." Today, however, making such a statement would sadly be farcical.  It is time for a conservative renewal of strong defence policies if the Conservative Party—or indeed our nation—wants to survive. 

In the upcoming fight for our party’s future direction, we must shift from the One Nationer’s preoccupation with left-wing policies and return to right-wing principles that include a focus on national security to gain global stability.

In the last period of increasing global tension, Churchill said: ‘Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have now entered upon a period of danger...The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences..." 

Let this be a rallying cry for our leaders to recommit to the foundational conservative tenet and increase defence spending to at least 3% of GDP, if not even higher like Poland, the United States, and Greece. After all, a strong Britain is a secure Britain.

JP Edwards is co-host of Conservative Renewal