Addressing the complex tapestry of security, Simon Hoare MP discusses defence, environmental threats, and energy independence as key areas
While there are always many issues that generate heated debate among friends and family (and sometimes between Member of Parliament and constituent … [although rarely in North Dorset, naturally!]) I believe that one thing that unites most people is the issue of security. Like many words, security manifests itself in many ways. It is a good catch-all word and there are various issues of security that I think will be important both this year and in the future.
The first duty of government is the security of the country – it is a long established rule. There is little point in having good public services etc if one cannot defend them.
We live in an increasingly insecure world – the Middle East and Ukraine underscore that, along with a myriad of international rows, wars and skirmishes. Our policies on defence are important to provide both that security umbrella at home and also the opportunity to act overseas, alone or in concert with others, to defend our interests, values – and mankind.
Increasingly, environmental security is pivotal. Clean air and clean water are the obvious ones, but the insecurity occasioned by climate change is now as much a security issue as it is an environmental issue. The potential for our fellow humans to be forced to flee uninhabitable portions of the planet creates, in great part, the problems and tensions caused across Europe by people fleeing their homelands.
As above, global insecurity and the displacement of people as a result of warfare and territorial struggle add to this problem.
Disruption to international trade in the Red Sea illustrates once again the importance of food security. Of course there is a place for rewilding and similar projects, but these should be focussed on land which is unusable for food production. A nation which cannot feed itself is indeed too vulnerable. So we must focus on sustainable, environmentally-neutral farming and food production. We cannot afford not to do so.
Russia’s unwarranted invasion of Ukraine highlighted our high risk and fragile reliance on foreign energy sources. We cannot afford, financially or morally, to be in a position where we rely upon overseas fuels, even when they have to be sourced from an enemy and where the purchase of the oil or gas adds to the aggressor’s war chest. That is why I have consistently supported the drive towards carbon neutral, UK-generated energy, as well as accepting the realism that, as industry and domestic life transition to Net Zero, oil and gas will continue to be required. Given that fact, I would prefer it to be from low-transport miles UK sources which also protects UK jobs. For some it is an uncomfortable balancing act. Not for me.
Pragmatic realism has always been my hallmark.
Economic security at home, for all of us, is the most immediate pressure. The falling rate of inflation and the easing of interest rates help us all to feel a little more secure. The reduction in National Insurance contributions (hitting pay packets even as I type) is a help, as is the promise of tax reductions in the Budget. These changes, if any, will not be delivered as a result of ideological purity but with the understanding that household financial security is important and only where reductions can be afforded sustainably.
Our country, and the entire world, has come through incredibly choppy waters. I believe we will not only have weathered those storms but come out stronger and more resilient as a result. We will keep the elements of security to the forefront of all policies. I owe that to you and I will play my part in delivering on that agenda for all in North Dorset.