2.45pm: This graph (hat tip to Burning our Money) gets closest to the truth about Labour's record on defence spending (click on the image to enlarge it):
For the reasons pointed out by BoM, because defence costs have risen faster than inflation the second graph is most relevant. At a time of two wars Labour has cut the buying power of our armed forces.
Yesterday Gordon Brown told the Iraq inquiry that he gave the military all they needed. Liam Fox hit back, accusing the Prime Minister of being "evasive" and pointing to contradictory statements issued by others.
Today, Mr Brown gets both barrels from retired military chiefs in The Times and Telegraph.
“He’s dissembling, he’s being disingenuous. It’s just not the case that the Ministry of Defence was given everything it needed. There may have been a 1.5 per cent increase in the defence budget but the MoD was starved of funds.” – Admiral Lord Boyce, the Chief of the Defence Staff up to the start of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, quoted in The Times
"To say Gordon Brown has given the military all they asked for is simply not true. He cannot get away with saying I gave them everything they asked for, that is simply disingenuous." – Lord Guthrie in The Telegraph
“The real truth is the Armed Forces are underfunded.” – Major General Patrick Cordingley, quoted in The Telegraph
Speaking on Radio 4 at 8.15am this morning, General Sir Richard Dannatt backed his former colleagues in the armed forces. The whole of the armed forces had been robbed to provide the basics for combat operations, he told listeners.
In its leader column The Telegraph makes the obvious conclusion:
"What they do know is that there are soldiers who would not have been killed had they been better equipped and whether that was the Treasury’s fault or the MoD’s is neither here nor there. The Government must be held to account; and Mr Brown has been at its heart for 13 years."