When did a UK general election last turn on competing views of defence policy? Probably never. The trouble with defence spending is that it is serious, but not important – not until the enemy is at the gate, which in Britain’s case (if we exclude Northern Ireland and the Falklands) was May, 1940.
Britain’s time as a free-standing Great Power is long past. The United States Marine Corps, on its own, is more than twice the size of the entire British Army, and much better equipped for combat. We tell ourselves that we can still punch above our weight, but the reality is that even if this were true, we would, if up against either Russia or – God help us! – China, be sent crashing to the canvas well before the end of Round Two.