Gareth Derrick - Formerly In Command Royal Navy and Royal Marine Reserve Parliamentary candidate SE Cornwall
Gareth Derrick attacks misleading “Armed Forces Champion” claims by the Prime Minister.
Former Royal Navy Commodore Gareth Derrick has hit out at Theresa May’s claim yesterday to be “Plymouth’s Armed Forces Champion”. He also attacked the “highly misleading” comments about the Labour party’s stance on defence made by Conservative politicians.
Gareth Derrick, who retired from the Royal Navy in 2013 and Labour's parliamentary candidate in SE Cornwall, was responding to comments made by the PM during her visit to Plymouth yesterday. He described her comments as a “highly inaccurate and misleading smear campaign” against Labour’s position on defence.
“We are bombarded by frankly misleading and desperate comments on defence by senior Tory politicians. Now Theresa May has the gall to join in. Yesterday she said “It’s about which of us will be committed to the defence of our nation and our Armed Forces.”
I actually agree that that is the question. And here is the answer: As a former senior naval commander I am disgusted by the way Tory politicians like Theresa May, the Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and Johnny Mercer MP (himself a former Army Captain) are relying on sheer nonsense and personal attacks when they are talking about things we hold dear in Plymouth - our Armed Forces and particularly our Royal Navy and Royal Marines.”
“I want to put a few things straight,” said Gareth, who launched his election campaign yesterday. “It is the Tories in government who have done massive harm to our Armed Forces, weakening their capability to counter the full spectrum of risks we face. Let’s not forget they have cut our surface warship fleet to its smallest size in known history. They plan to sell HMS Ocean to the Brazilian Navy, and plough on with building two hugely expensive aircraft carriers, the likes of which we have not seen since the early 70s. We cannot afford the aircraft required to make full use of these carriers, and neither do we have the men and women needed to run them, having cut 7,000 RN personnel.
“The Tories are itching to reduce the size of our Royal Marines forces, take them away from Plymouth and down-scope their capability to maritime security, to help meet the costs of the economic damage that will be wreaked by their mismanagement of Brexit.
“Any move to reduce the Royal Marines below its historic first-in frontline and rapid reaction amphibious capability would be a shameful testament to what our Royal Marines have given to the UK over so many years.
“The fleet itself is now far too small to protect the new carriers, especially with only seven Astute Class “hunter-killer” submarines, the type in which I served in my early career and on which we will depend if the going gets really tough. Don’t even think that we could sustain a campaign like the one we fought in Afghanistan against the centre of international terrorism, especially with our Army’s regular strength cut by 20,000.
Labour is committed to strong and effective Armed Forces, including a continued independent nuclear deterrent. I have been a senior military commander, so let me assure anyone reading this that all of us would work though exactly the considerations that Jeremy Corbyn outlined before taking decisions which risk resulting in the deaths of our servicemen and women, or the killing of innocent civilians. Indeed, I hope that no Prime Minister would ever act with the kind of immoral haste which appears to be encouraged by some in our media in search of nothing more than headlines.”
“I want to address Michael Fallon, Oliver Colvile and Jonny Mercer personally: Cut out the personal attacks. Cut out the unprofessional bluster. Start working to keep our Armed Forces in good shape and our people safe in this very troubled world. It is you, your actions and your votes to cut the military that are the real security risk to our country.”