Election 2019: Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffiths calls on UK military families to trust Jeremy Corbyn during Portsmouth visit
LABOUR’S shadow defence secretary has issued a plea to the city’s armed forces families urging them to back the party, insisting Jeremy Corbyn was ‘absolutely committed’ to supporting the military.
Nia Griffith has fought to try and lift the veil of mistrust shrouding her party’s leader from the military community, which has struggled to see eye-to-eye with Mr Corbyn in recent years.
Her comments follow an explosive attack by Labour peer and former head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Lord Alan West, who this week said the idea of Mr Corbyn becoming prime minister ‘filled him with horror’.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Lord West warned the Labour leader could not be trusted with the UK's defence and handing over the keys of Number 10 would be ‘profoundly dangerous to Britain’s safety’.
The former security minister said: ‘The thought of a Labour victory, or a coalition that shunts Mr Corbyn into Number 10, fills me with horror.
‘Without a doubt, Britain’s already depleted defence system would be hung out to dry.’
But hitting back while visiting the city to support Labour’s candidate for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, Ms Griffith vowed her party – led by Mr Corbyn – would fight for the military.
She said: ‘I can assure you that Jeremy Corbyn takes the security and defence of the UK very seriously and is absolutely committed to the fantastic personnel who run our armed forces.
‘That’s why we want to see their pay rise properly to make up for that awful time of the pay freeze of seven years of real-terms pay cut under the Tories.
‘We want to make sure they have the very best opportunities for their children in the schools that they go to, that they have decent housing and the opportunity to have a federation if that’s what they so wish.
‘When they finish their service we want to make sure the skills they learned in the armed forces are transferable and recognised as such so they can transition effectively as so many do into civilian life.’
Ms Griffith vowed her party would bring more ‘decently-paid jobs’ to Portsmouth, with a living wage of £10 for workers over 16.
Mr Morgan added Labour ‘meant business’ in supporting Portsmouth.
‘It’s clear now over the last 10 years there has been a record of Conservative failure around defence,’ he said. ‘We have seen 5,000 job cuts in the Royal Navy, we have seen 91 MoD sites close and 12 ships axed.
‘I have been doing lots of work to lobby for a dry dock facility in Portsmouth Naval Base which will bring £1bn of investment over the next 10 years, creating over 100 jobs.
‘I have a strong record of delivery supporting our armed forces and veterans and I want to do much more but people have got to vote for me on December 12.’