‘Spend on community, not military’

Ceri Dare, Quaker public health campaigner and member of PPU, has led calls to reallocate defence budgets towards the NHS, social care and community support

A Quaker public health researcher has led calls for the prime minister to reallocate defence budgets towards the NHS, social care and community support for people affected by coronavirus and isolation. Quaker Ceri Dare said, on behalf of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), that the money diverted from military budgets could contribute to initiatives to assist people who are losing their jobs or struggling to pay the rent owing to the outbreak, or to support people whose mental health is affected by isolation.

The York Friend said: ‘We could be facing this crisis, which the government’s own assessments told us was coming, with the weapons we truly needed to win: a resilient NHS, local councils funded to fulfil their responsibilities in public health, social care for disabled and older people. We could have had a society where the people who make our lives possible, the cleaners, the shelf-stackers, the waste collectors, the social care workers, the delivery drivers, were paid and respected for the vital work they do.

‘Instead of this, we are armed only with the useless weapons of war. We cannot battle our way out of an pandemic with bombs and guns. The lies of “defence” ring hollow now. We need what we have always needed, to love and care for one another, to work together as neighbours, as communities, as nations, and we need that more than we ever have before.’ 

The PPU has repeatedly accused UK governments of endangering the public by wasting money on preparations for war while doing little to prepare for real threats such as climate change or possible pandemics.

The PPU said that the government’s National Security Capability Review in 2018 listed major outbreaks of disease as one of the most likely threats facing the UK. It also said that the threat of pandemics was identified by the government’s Strategic Defence and Security Reviews in 2010 and 2015.

Philip Austin, from the Northern Friends Peace Board (NFPB), added that: ‘Living through these difficult times it is timely to advocate for a significant shift in spending priorities.’

The PPU is organising an online protest on the issue.

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.