Cameron’s war in Syria is expensive and here’s how we foot the bill
The Tory regime is imposing austerity on Britain but the Prime Minister was determined to join this unpredictable, enduring conflict
Bang goes an ambulance driver’s job with every £22,000 Paveway bomb Britain drops on Syria .
And the £35,000 bill for each hour a Tornado jet screeches through the sky on another air raid would fund the pay of three classroom teaching assistants for a year.
Fire a £100,000 Brimstone missile and that’s the wages of three extra nurses you see in the smouldering wreckage.
Launch a £790,000 Storm Shadow cruise weapon and wave goodbye to a full police station of 20 coppers.
It isn’t odd that a Tory regime still imposing austerity on Britain always finds money for wars because politics is about priorities.
And joining a brutal, enduring, unpredictable civil war in Syria was a priority of David Cameron’s since MPs stopped him attacking the other side two years ago.
No sooner had Tory MPs given him his majority for military action – and Labour rebels and Liberal Democrats a political insurance policy should it go badly wrong for Britain – than Cameron and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon changed their tune and started warning this conflict with the Islamic State fanatics will be long and hard.
The meter’s running and the price will only go up, perhaps matching in Syria the £200million a year cost of bombing the identical £5,000 battered pick-up trucks of Islamists in Iraq.
RAF bombing is a gesture, with too many US warplanes already chasing too few targets. Britain targeting oil fields in Syria already visited by American and French jets is a PR blitz.
As ex Republican Presidential contender John McCain so sweetly put it: “We will have some token aircraft over there from the British and they’ll drop a few bombs and we’ll say thank you very much.”
Back home the tab will be picked up by low-paid workers and families facing wage packet-emptying benefit cuts or parents worried about letting toddlers out of their pushchairs when hard-up councils are starved of money to sweep parks of broken glass.
Cameron could finance his war by scrapping Trident. Over the lifetime of the futile nukes we’re likely to enjoy little if any change out of £200billion.
But Cameron’s engrossed in a phallic symbol of power so prioritised that it is a radioactive folly over the sunken ships, scrapped aircraft and sacked soldiers of a previous defence review.
I don’t pretend to know an easy answer – ending oil sales by ISIS and hard graft for a political settlement to heal Syria’s civil war is a long rocky road with no guarantee of peace.
However, it’s a better bet than an expensive obliteration risking blowback.