Biggest arms order of the century result of biggest Labour U-turn

29 February 2008

Biggest arms order of the century result of biggest Labour U-turn

“By agreeing to the acquisition of the first Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft, the PvdA (Labour Party) is not only giving the green light to the biggest arms order of the century, but also making the biggest U-turn of all time," according to SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen. “If Labour were in government not a single JSF would be bought, that's what the PvdA's defence spokesman swore. Labour leader Wouter Bos made an election broadcast in which he said that money earmarked for the JSF would be redeployed and spent on nursing homes. The problems afflicting care for elderly people have not been solved and yet they are going ahead with spending the money on the JSF. Even by Labour Party standards this is a turnaround of unprecedented shamelessness."

The Netherlands would withdraw from the JSF project – that was the promise made by Labour in its election manifesto. Money must be spent on care for the elderly and not on the JSF – that was the message of the election broadcast "Wouter's Angels", in which Wouter Bos gave his three "angels' – Members of Parliament from his party – the task of getting back the money that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende had transferred from nursing homes to the Joint Strike Fighter.


“Labour is trying frantically to present the acquisition of this first test aircraft as a separate decision and the actual decision on acquisition as one which will not be taken until 2009. But this decision to acquire the first aircraft leads us further into the trap which will end irrevocably in the acquisition of the JSF, and this while it is still not known how much the JSF is going to cost. What is not clear is what it will cost, though it is clear is that this will be far more than was originally foreseen. Despite the false hopes held out to us in its propaganda, Labour is putting additional billions of euros into fighter planes rather than into health care or education."

Today the leading daily newspaper NRC announced that new estimates have revealed that the JSF would cost around €205m. more than predicted. Van Velzen has requested a debate with the Secretary of State for Defence in which she will be seeking an explanation for this.

The SP has always been, and remains, an opponent of the Netherlands' participation in the development, testing, production and purchase of the Joint Strike Fighter. The most important objections are that the country will, as a result of the JSF, be obliged in the future to go along with American foreign policy and the wishes of American industry. In addition it is not in the least clear where the ever-mounting costs will end up. Moreover, the current fleet of F-16 fighter planes is good for another fifteen years, provided they are properly maintained. Once the F-16s are outmoded, the best plane on offer at the time can be selected.

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