This article is a summary of errors made in the main UK political party manifestos relating to defence.

The Scottish National Party

The SNP manifesto has made an incorrect claim regarding shipbuilding in Scotland.

The Claim: “Before the referendum, the No campaign promised contracts for 13 Type-26 frigates to be built in Govan and Scotstoun shipyards. Now only 8 such frigates are to be built, and only some of the work on these ships will come to Scotland.”

The Reality: 13 Type 26 Frigates were promised to Scottish yards. In 2015, the Ministry of Defence changed plans, replacing five of the general purpose Type 26 frigates with five Type 31e Frigates. In addition, Five River class Offshore Patrol Ships were ordered to sustain the workforce until the Type 26 Frigate build started. Essentially, it went from 13 ships at one yard to 18 ships over two yards. In addition, all of the building work on the Type 26 Frigate is being done in Scotland despite the claim “only some of the work” is being done in Scotland.

Verdict: It’s more work, for more locations and for more workers.

The Labour Party

The Labour manifesto has made an incorrect claim regarding the size of the British Army.

The Claim: “Trained army personnel have been cut from 102,000 to just over 74,000.”

The Reality: The British Army aims for a strength of 81,500 trained Regulars and 27,000 Army Reservists. Retention and recruitment issues mean that this figure isn’t currently being reached.

Verdict: The figure provide by Labour in their manifesto refers to the current size of the British Army which is having problems with retention and recruitment, the Army however has not actually been cut to that size.

The Conservative Party

The Conservative manifesto has made an incorrect claim regarding Boxer armoured vehicles.

The Claim: “We will support the UK’s worldclass defence industry by investing in ambitious global programmes, including building the new Type 31 frigates in British shipyards such as Rosyth and a new generation of armoured vehicles, made in Britain.

The Reality: While it’s true that the bulk of the British Boxer armoured vehicles will be built in the UK in Telford under A Rheinmetall-BAE Systems joint venture, UK production work is to begin in 2024 meaning that around 30 Boxers will have been delivered from vehicle lines in Germany.  In addition, while the programme aims to source more than 60%, by value, of the vehicle content from UK suppliers, 40% is still coming from overseas.

Verdict: The bulk of the work is being done in the UK but the claim that the vehicles are “made in Britain” is not correct.

The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats manifesto has made an incorrect point regarding the patrolling patterns of Trident carrying submarines.

The Claim: “Maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent, while pursuing multilateral nuclear disarmament: continuing with the Dreadnought programme, the submarinebased replacement for Vanguard, but procuring three boats and moving to a medium-readiness responsive posture and maintaining the deterrent through measures such as unpredictable and irregular patrolling patterns.”

The Reality: The idea of building three submarines instead of four – the minimum number needed to maintain a continuous at-sea deterrent – would mean that patrols are in fact more predictable as there will be long periods in which submarines are not ready to sail. The UK operates four submarines in this role to ensure that one is always available to sail while the others are in refit, working up for deployment and having just come off patrol.

Verdict: Reducing the fleet from four to three boats would not result in anything beyond negligible cost savings for what would be a significant decrease in availability. It is not correct to say that it’s possible to maintain unpredictable patrolling patterns with only three submarines as foreign states would be fully aware of when submarines are in maintenance or haven’t deployed.


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None of this is new news, just the same old election games. As far as I’m concerned the Tories offer at least a viable road map going forward. The tories have been guilty of making silly decisions however, such as scrapping the Invincible Class and Harries, without giving it much thought. That said, as a party, they do appear to talk up our forces whether during an election or in day to day business. You don’t seem to get the same vibes from the other parties, which must at least give some encouragement for the lads and lassies in the… Read more »

James M

The Tories also have a bad habit of cutting the military and removing vital capabilities while pretending it’s not a cut.

IMO they’re all untrustworthy when it comes to defence.

Geoffrey Roach

Please give details of these supposed cuts where the reason hasn’t been explained

Mr Bell

Geoffrey under Cameron and May- Maritime patrol aircraft cut- that is a crucial capability lost and only now starting to be rectified with purchase of an inadequate number of P8 Poseidons (9 aircraft is not enough) 4 type 22 frigates scrapped early when these vessels still had 10-15 years service life in them, 3 type 23 frigates sold to Chile- we could really use those 7 frigates now. Heavy strike bombers gone with retirement without replacement of Tornado fleet- drastically cutting fast jet numbers in the RAF Army- reduction in all areas especially heavy armour and artillery- key capabilities we… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

Accept what you say about the Type 22’s going but I was reliably informed by a senior member of Cornwall’s crew that they had limited S A capability due to their box launchers and were very manpower intensive.
Type 23’e were sold 25 years ago, Nimrod was an expensive wreck and Typhoons and Lightnings are replacing Tornado. The army, though smaller is being hugely modernised.


I think if you compare a Blair/Brown Labour with the Tories I would agree but a Corbyn lead labour we’ll see cuts in capability and very real risk in a deteriorating UK/US relationship. Corbyn will spend 2% but you see a switch in the way it’s spent and more lumped into that 2%. The Tories also did than but doesn’t make it right. I won’t be voting for Corbyn or Bojo both are clowns.

Steve H

What makes political parties mess up is the fact that the large majority of them have no connection with our service personnel, the Tories have Johnny Mercer who was obviously a serving Royal Marine. This gives him credibility in the eyes of those who protect us, he should become secretary for defence.


Hi Maurice, I know what you mean, but I frankly feel it’s rather empty words / a bit of heart warming patriotism for them; I don’t think it will translate into any great positive change for the armed forces unfortunately, or at least not if it conflicts with looking after their mates in the financial sector. I’m not a Labourite either, but not a fan of the current look of the Tories at all. Do also bear in mind that the Tories have presided over fairly sustained reductions in the defence budget over the last 50 years, as have Labour.… Read more »


Of course the Tories talk up our armed forces at election time. It’s all part of their appeal to nationalism. ‘We are the natural party of government let’s wrap ourselves in the flag’, yeah in a pig’s arse….

Geoffrey Roach

As Sergei would say.It’s simples. If you want A nuclear defence policy vote Tory. Nobody else can be believed or taken seriously.


Therefore Sergei is very ‘simples’ if he believes that tosh!

Mark B

Geoffrey is right. Not sure I believe the utopian Labour stories. The rest of the parties can only win enough seats to be a pain in the backside for everyone anyway.

Steve Salt

Wouldn`t trust any of them as far as I could throw them.
None fit to govern or oversee the defence of the nation.

Mark B

Much as I sympathise with your point short of setting up your own party don’t you have to select the least worst option and vote for them?


Everyone should abstain on the basis that none of the parties is fit for office. Or lets have a National Government that isn’t composed of known liars!

Mark B

The Armed forces of this country have fought and died for freedom and voting in free and fair elections is one of those freedoms. I know that if I can’t get behind a candidate I’ll have to stand as one (and not doubt lose). But that is democracy – no point moaning about it.

Geoffrey Roach

well said Mark …times three!

Steve Salt

This !
I like the Aussie option of a box that says ‘ none of the above’.
Has there ever been a worse set of charlatans seeking our votes.? No party can be trusted on defence, it’s a tricky one to pick the least worst option but it’s probably blue.


The flaw is politician = liars career politicians are the worst. I really do think we need a new party and if a centralist party did appear quite frankly they’d wipe the floor. Of course devote will always disagree but Corbyn and Bojo have made sure there’s far fewer of them.


Mark B “.. select the least worst option and vote for them?” Not if all have policiies that are repugnant deal breakers for you. The problem seems to me to be such a hopelessly low moral standard that we can’t trust any of them while the real power brokers pull most of the strings behind the “democratic party political” facade. I’d start by making nobody with a criminal record eligable to stand for political office or keep it if commited in office, plus lying in political office a crime. I’m perfectly willing to follow the politics of our Parliament carefully… Read more »

Mark B

Frank obviously there is no requirement to vote in this country but if you don’t vote are you not effectively just saying “whatever the rest of you decide is fine by me”?. I have to hold my nose at certain things. I tend to ignore peoples imperfections as we are all imperfect. I am more interested in choosing the leader who will do the right thing in a crisis or who are taking the country in what I think is a better direction. If none of that is for you for £500 deposit you could stand as an independent next… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I really don’t get what the issue is. All the parties fail on Defence. We know that. So the choice is don’t vote, or vote for the lesser of the 3 evils. Purely defence wise mind. It’s not even a contest for me. I cannot for a moment imagine a Tory government restricting the armed forces to a UK only home defence role. Is that what we want? Is it? Do we keep our P5 status and place in the world, and NATO, or be a home defence force and turn our selves inward, putting a pacifist who’s spent his… Read more »

Ryan Connelly

I know Corbyn is a fool with the CND but if you read the manifesto Labour actually goes furthest on defence which is weird for me as they have a pacifist for a leader and traditionally defence is somewhere where the Tories are quite boastful about (although their cuts are terrible but they do that everywhere.

Geoffrey Roach

I’m not even going to try to add to your post Daniele….Bang on all the way

Mark B

Well said Daniele. In my view when we get to the ballot box it is normally about what we don’t want first and foremost. Defence wise I’m not sure I fancy swapping being a force for good in the world for a pacifist utopia where we hope our current enemies have a sudden transformation and don’t just take advantage.


To honest we will have an overseas presence mainly humanitarian and whilst that’s no a bad thing we already have a separate budget for that. What people don’t realise is the number of British people living overseas take the Middle East more than 100k in the UAE alone. Thing could have gone south this summer and even with our current assets it would have been a stretch to stablish and evacuate. We’d have no chance with a UK only focused defence force. And what does UK only mean are pulling defence of overseas territories? Lastly I judge Mr Corbyn more… Read more »


Spot on Daniele. And dealing with one of those issues – the Tories will not allow us to become just a Defence Force. However, their investment is not sufficient or coherent enough for effective/consistent sub-threshold power projection either. Conversely, I would like to see Homeland Defence taken more seriously. At best we can currently do an ok job of Air Policing; not Air Defence; definitely not IAMD…but if the Russians really wanted they could fly about volumes of our airspace with near-impunity; it wouldn’t be an attack, they would just PR/IO us to death with that fact. With that in… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

“With that in mind, I am among the hordes at a loss as to who to vote for.”

Which ends up either with Corbyn in or a coalition that will put him there.

Which is why I’m voting for the “lesser evil” of the Tories, despite their defence failures.

I would not mind actually if the Russians did just that. Might concentrate minds.

Although, we thought that in the Gulf to be fair with the RN short of ships and that seems to have died a death.

Steve Taylor

The Portsmouth yard was sacrificed so Scotland could keep jobs.


In regards to the army figures, I’m really afraid I don’t see why its wrong to claim the actual number in post….actual employees is what counts not a theoretical establishment that’s never achieved, Especially after making loads of service men and women redundant. I’ve worked in many public sector organisations with theoretical (published) establishments well over what is on the ground. Not actually employing people and then blaming vague recruitment and retention issues is a classic wheeze for stealth cutting, while looking like your keeping the service going….look at the vacancy rate in the NHS, yes there are now shortfalls… Read more »


In partial defence of the article we are in purdah which presumably stops any significant U.K. announcements about project progress or decisions made being released. Thin pickings for UK defence news until the election is over I suspect.


Why is the Brexit party missing from this article?

Daniele Mandelli

We did not create a detailed Manifesto for this election. What’s the point?
Not standing in 317 seats.
Around 4 million votes last time as UKIP, more than SNP and Lib Dems combined. How many Mps?
That’s FPTP for you.


One of the very few advantages of FPTP.

John Clark

You could argue that the BREXIT party have had the desired ‘ focusing effect’ and hopefully will push the Tories over the line and seal a January 2020 exit Daniele. As far as I am concerned it’s the only thing I expect Boris to stick to, anything else is smoke and mirrors… As for any of there defence promises, I don’t believe any of them, they are all complete liers, it’s the very definition of Politician. Not enough votes in defence, so it will trail behind as it always has. Labour have apparently gone totally bloody mad, insane electoral policies… Read more »


There’s plenty in the Party (lots in the Shadow Cabinet) that want to be rid of Jezzer. Failure this time would mean he gets his sandwiches wrapped in a road map!

Daniele Mandelli

Right with you John.

Both Labour and Tories were elected on the basis of leave in 2017. Was in both Manifestos. That Labour have reneged on that, if there is any justice, they should be sent to the cleaners.

John Clark

We will see guys….

I would like to have seen 7 or 8 BREXIT party MP’s.

As a party mainly funded by its members, it deserves the chance to go to parliament to grow and mature.

Unfortunately, it’s looking like it will fizzle out….


Thank-goodness for that! Hopefully the bone-headed ERG will follow them.

John Clark

Well, I feel we are heading for a parliamentary re-set, thank god for that! Three years of un-democratic road blocks and smug self satisfaction is about to blow up in their faces. The blame for what happens next is entirely on those MP’s and the Liberal biased media… Ironically they forced the re-set and the Tories to lurch to the right! Let’s hope we see an end to the fixed term Parliament act, a change in the law forcing a by election if an MP swaps parties and I would dearly like to see an end to the House of… Read more »

Mark B

John just repeal the fixed term parliaments act. Its fiddling with the system that put us in this mess. Remember Churchill used to swap parties endlessly but he came in handy in the end.

If you look around the world there are loads of political systems and we have one of the most arcane however in comparison to most our works well when we don’t fiddle with it.

John Clark

Repeal the fixed term Parliament act absolutely needs to be done as the first priority Mark. Unfortunately Mark, the previous Parliament displayed an incredible degree of arrogance and subverted the parliamentary system for its own ends. The lunatics took over the asylum! This caused considerable damage to our established democratic system, damaging our economy, standing in the word and setting doubt in the minds of our allies regarding our stability. With this in mind, changes have to be made to ensure the democratically elected government of the day can carry out the legislature it was elected to carry out by… Read more »

Mark B

I like the idea of bringing a new party into the mix. Single issue parties don’t last though. Personally I’m a bit fed up with left and right – we need a strong economy which brings benefits across the board and deals with today’s challenges. There are people out there who can deliver that but they would have to out of their tiny minds to step into the world of politics. The electorate only have themselves to blame.


What about abolishing Prince George, declare war on France and tougher sentences for geography masters! 🙂

Mark B

How can you get a tougher sentence than teaching geography for the rest of your life. If were not still at war with the French perhaps someone should tell the French. When Prince George finds out how boring his future job is he may well abolish himself 🙂