The cruellest cut

IT IS deeply ironic that, at the very moment when the efficacy of air power has been demonstrated by the ousting of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the RAF is to have its wings clipped with the sacking of hundreds of ground crew and support staff.

Although the Ministry of Defence is keen to point out that the jobs of pilots fighting in Libya will be protected, this is hardly the point. It is hard to imagine a greater blow to morale than to keep RAF staff waiting until today to find out whether or not they still have a job. Yet this point does not seem to matter to well-paid Ministry of Defence bureaucrats who see it as their duty merely to implement the £2.3bn cuts specified in the Government’s defence review.

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The Libya conflict, however, illustrates the folly of looking for savings that will damage this country’s military effectiveness. The very fact that no one foresaw the so-called Arab spring emerging, never mind Britain playing a military role in it, shows that this country must be ready to deal with any emergency.

The cheering crowds in Tripoli stand as a glowing reference to the bravery and fortitude of our Armed Forces. David Cameron, however, may have shown that Britain still has a key role to play in world affairs only to undermine his good work with cuts that are cruel, crude and poorly thought through.