Ben Wallace, UK Defence Minister Supporting Conscription

by TBG

Ben Wallace, UK Defence Minister Supporting Conscription
"We have depleted our national stocks and it could be a significant time before they are replenished at the same time as we are involved in a proxy war with a larger enemy."


Ben Wallace coming out in favour of conscription? At a meeting in London with the Swedish Defence Minister on March 29th, he said “conscription and reserves go hand in hand…I would love to have a model like that...The lessons of Ukraine are how do we work on our resilience.” He added a caveat that there were cultural difference between the UK and Scandinavia, where conscription has been almost continual. Yet in our current geopolitical climate, can we be so sure?

You often find Ben Wallace discussing issues more openly than his colleagues. That was certainly the case with his contributions to Sky’s GreyZone podcasts, where he wanted to bring the shadowy forces of the state to bear on political actors and intellectual currents opposed by the government, particularly online. He justified this by classifying ‘things we, the state, dislike’ under the heading of dezinformatsiya (disinformation.)  

These comments at the end of the government press conference are a little more concerning. There is a lot to be said for the idea of National Service. It’s a favoured topic on the old Right and also occasionally heard from liberals for social cohesion purposes. But we can’t fail to be aware of how often state actors in recent memory have driven  Britain into conflicts that we should not have been involved with. More recently, this has involved the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and less overtly in places such as Syria. With the ramping up of efforts on behalf of Ukraine and the Russian bear stirring, national threats are accelerating.

He also made some other comments worth pondering. After the great Ukraine giveaway, Wallace described the difficulties of re-equipping British stocks of NLAWs (anti-tank weapons), missiles and other equipment. He outlined that there wasn’t “a supermarket” model. “Some of the subcontractors do not exist anymore…supply chains have been asleep for ten years…you buy an order of missiles, the manufacturer places the order for subcontractors…some of these components you either have to re-source or remake and that takes time” said Wallace. Also outlining how supply chains over the previous decade had consolidated and how they generally followed a just in time model. So we have depleted our national stocks and it could be a significant time before they are replenished at the same time as we are involved in a proxy war with a larger, increasingly angry and desperate enemy.

Wallace also added that “Britain would stand shoulder to shoulder with Sweden if anything were to happen to that country by Russia” irrespective of its (non) NATO membership.

As a side observation, in a crowd of inconsequentials, Wallace often appears to have a better hold of his immediate brief than many of his colleagues. It’s notable that his educational path skipped the clichéd Cabinet political funnel of Oxbridge PPEs and he went straight to Sandhurst. Yet he also appears to be overly impressionable. An example of this is in his echoing liberal authoritarian nostrums by advocating using the state against dissenting citizens. Another is his laughable suggestion that NATO is a defensive force after its actions in the Yugoslavian theatre and Libya. A further suggestion is his decrying of what her terms 'ethnonationalism' and his association of it with the National Socialist Party in Germany. For both of those, see here. In this context, is this latest comment an off the cuff observation or closer to a ballon d'essai for National Service (or for upscaling the Territorials), if so, it's more concerning and less welcome.

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