Gerald Warner: Vichy Tories commit treason in Her Majesty's docks

GOVERNMENT has only three legitimate functions: to preserve the Queen's peace at home, to secure the realm against enemies abroad and to ensure that no citizen sinks below a reasonable level of subsistence.

All other activities engaged in by government in modern times are a usurpation of power, encroaching upon individual autonomy, the ultimate destination of which is totalitarianism.

Yet, as the state has relentlessly intruded into ever more illegitimate spheres, it has simultaneously abdicated responsibility for two of its three legitimate functions: law and order and defence. The most extravagant illustration to date of the government's abandonment of its duty to preserve national security was last week's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). The title was a blatant lie, as was all the spin ineffectively deployed to camouflage its true character.

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David Cameron began his Commons statement by declaring the defence cuts were not a "cost-saving exercise" but a "step change in the way we protect this country's security interests". That was helpful, since the rule of thumb with Daveguff, as with Blairspeak, is to invert whatever was said to its opposite meaning, when you will arrive at an approximation of the truth. So, Dave's statement confirmed what the dogs in the street already knew: that this ruinous Coalition government is traitorously dismantling Britain's defences to avoid alienating its client constituency and because it wants to do so anyway.

The Royal Navy carrier force halved, with the premature decommissioning of Ark Royal; two aircraft carriers to be constructed, of which one will have no aircraft and the other will never put to sea until it is sold to another country at a loss; the surface fleet cut by a quarter; 5,000 fewer sailors; the Harrier jump jet fleet scrapped; the new Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft cancelled; 5,000 RAF jobs to go; 40 per cent of the Army's tanks and heavy artillery scrapped and one brigade in every six; a decision on renewing Trident perilously postponed until 2016 - what's not to like, from the perspective of Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, Tehran, Buenos Aires and every Somali pirate, Sierra Leone warlord or jihadist fanatic?

The good news, however, is that we shall continue to "punch above our weight". We know this because Dave tells us so. Puzzlingly, since he insists this was not a cost-cutting exercise, Dave nevertheless justified every deadly slash to our national defences by invoking Labour's fiscal profligacy. What about Dave's own profligacy? Even while he was abolishing our defences, Dave approved an increase of 4bn in the foreign aid budget, to raise it to 9.5bn by 2013.

A better move would have been to scrap foreign aid altogether. Why do we pay more than 1bn a year to India, the country which owns Jaguar, Land Rover and British Steel, which is a nuclear power, has a space programme and has just squandered 6bn on the most expensive ever Commonwealth Games? That 4bn additional bung to foreign tyrants' Swiss bank accounts would have been sufficient to reprieve Ark Royal and the Harriers.

Then he gave Nick Clegg an extra 7bn as an addition to the bloated 80bn education budget. This will fund 15 hours a week of pre-school "education" for disadvantaged two-year-olds - who should be at home with their mothers instead of being prematurely and expensively socialised - and similar fatuous initiatives throughout a school system whose performance is in inverse proportion to the amount of taxpayers' money thrown into this black hole. Why, for that matter, were pen-pushers and jobsworths in the NHS ring-fenced while crucial military resources were demolished?

Without those two instances of Cameronian neo-socialist prodigality there would have been no need for any defence cuts at all; but that might have smacked of the Nasty Party - the one that brutally reconquered the Malvinas (as we shall soon have to learn to call them) - and Dave and Co are the Nice Party. The mantra now is "conflict resolution", a euphemism that historically was termed "appeasement" and, in its outcome, produces humiliating surrender signed in railway carriages or wherever else the victors' whim may dictate.

Anybody of patriotic principles who was so misguided as to vote Tory should by now be disabused of the delusion that Britain's defences are safe in the hands of the Conservative Party. Liam Fox has been canvassed as the potential leader of a dissident movement of true Tories. Since his resignation letter - leaked or conventional - did not land on the doormat of No 10 last Tuesday, he can forget any ambition to play such a role. It is not hyperbole but sober historical fact to state that most people hanged for treason in this country had caused only a fraction of the damage to Britain's security wrought by the Vichy Tories last week.