Our Armed Forces have, like much of the rest of our national infrastructure, been allowed to fall into shocking neglect and decline. There are now just 82,000 full-time regular personnel in the British Army - the lowest number since we lost the Thirteen Colonies in the 18th Century, and not a whole lot higher than the 68,000 Roundheads commanded by Cromwell during the Civil War.
This decline has happened over the last several decades. A total disregard for national defence has been shown by successive governments which have relied on dubious international alliances for security (in particular EU initiatives and our supposed 'special relationship' with the USA), and decided that a serious national army would no longer be required in their vision of a post-sovereign Britain.
Lack of investment has been coupled with cultural changes which have further weakened our military force. The historical regiments with all their proud heritage and their famous esprit de corps have now been replaced with bureaucratic monoliths; sacrificed to careless cuts and penny pinching. Recruitment difficulties in the Armed Forces stem at least in part from our notoriously poor treatment of our soldiers and veterans, typified by the tragic death of Darren Greenfield on the streets of Edinburgh just a week before last Christmas. The witch-hunt of British soldiers who served their country in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan will also hardly encourage new recruits to sign up.
We believe this decline must be reversed and that we must maintain an effective, well-funded force at appropriate peacetime levels. This must be done through investment, including a ring-fenced defence budget, and wider cultural changes that will restore confidence in our military capabilities. If we are to be a sovereign nation once again, this is absolutely essential to our national defence and security.