Nobody in Scarborough will have failed to notice that our new Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, is an ex-Scarborough man. His slim and boyish figure has led some to sneeringly call him Private Pike after the character in Dad’s Army; however, he is already proving that he has true Yorkshire grit.
The youngest Defence Secretary ever at 41 years of age, he is certainly not to be underestimated. He has already stood up to ‘Spreadsheet Phil’, refusing the Chancellor the use of RAF transport until the treasury paid its outstanding bill, which it very quickly has done. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this brought a smile to my face.
And he has already declared his intent to fight any further cuts in defence spending, something which Hammond didn’t resist when he was Defence Secretary. But one of the most controversial announcements he has made is his belief that any British subject who has gone to fight for ISIS is a legitimate target for our forces, indeed a desirable target.
And he has stated that in his opinion no such Jihadist should be allowed back into the country. I’m sure there will be much further comment from every side of the political spectrum about this.
One interesting fact which hits me from all this is why anyone returning to the UK after declaring allegiance to ISIS is not charged with treason. This offence still lies on the statute books and has not been repealed, and yet our judicial system seems reluctant to invoke it.
During World War Two treason had a mandatory death sentence, it was a hanging offence. Well we don’t have a death penalty any more but surely it should qualify for a life sentence.
Perhaps this would be a good question for the BBC’s Question Time, it would be very interesting to see what politicians from all sides have to say on the subject. In the meantime I will watch the career of this promising young man with fascination.