Defence & Security Circle London
Defence & Security Circle London

Defence & Security Circle London


AUKUS - more than just submarines

More than 100 years ago, Liberals were often the party challenging military spending, security and defence of the realm. We took Britain into the First World War in defence of an invaded Belgium and served in the 1940s Churchill Government. We got defence and voters knew it.

In the Cold War, we were champions of pluralism, liberty, decolonisation and western values. This was in opposition to USSR state centralism so loved by many current day dictators. We were, and remain, realists: radical but responsible.

This week's announcement on a tripartite (Australian, American and British) submarine deal is not the subject of this blog. However, the framework, context and geopolitics behind the announcement is. Progressives, social democrats and liberals should take notice.

What has made three of the Five Eyes turn so purposefully and publicly in this direction? The answer: defence science, capacity building, capital investment and operational structures. Realigned, tweaked and reinforced for today's threats.

It is more than just the behaviour of Russia, China or Iran. It is a breakdown of the liberal world order that has positioned Britain poorly in this post Brexit era. There is a new global security setting that was unleashed by the pandemic: rogue states undermining democracy, leading to peer to peer warfare.

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour have a monopoly on patriotism. Serving personnel and their families (as well as veterans) are a sizeable demographic in many constituencies. Not just the South West shires, Norfolk, the Midlands or natural cities like Portsmouth. In every region of the United Kingdom, there is an increase in voter concern about our security (food, logistics, technology or military).

The war in Ukraine has heightened our focus. But so has the poisoning in Salisbury and the cyber attacks on our critical infrastructure.

The AUKUS framework is a long term and strategic pressure point to revisit our defence stance. We should ask ourselves: how do we protect our people, communities and institutions?

We don't do borders well. Just ask the Government about its frustrating failures on Ireland or the Channel.

We don't have the luxury of being the dominant global leader. But we still rank highly in critical capabilities: soft power, science and technology.

Our people are universally respected for professionalism, training and creativity. They deserve our resolve to get the politics correct.

Our new aircraft carriers have effective and demonstrable reach to the western hemisphere, the Straits of Hormuz, the Asia Pacific and beyond. Our airpower is critical to NATO and the European friends and allies many of us yearn to be closer to. Our Army is still seen as having the punch needed in the field. It has also offered Ukraine best in class training. We count. We matter in this space.

Understanding the new challenges and being the adults in the room come naturally to LibDems. We think, talk and debate.

We also often come down on the side of evidence, experts and the engaged voter.

Conference at York this weekend will deal with the nuclear deterrent. A sensible and suitable proposal. Those serving deserve our thanks and gratitude for their commitment. We as active party members must also play our part. We should reassure millions of LibDem voters that we understand the current global landscape.

As it is. Not as we may want it to be.

AUKUS is part of that landscape, as is an effective and continuous at sea deterrent.

Question it, challenge it but don't ignore it. It is the same with our Conference. A liberal Britain is worth defending.

For more information about LibDems across the UK and their commitment to the issues that matter across the defence/armed forces policy space, email contact

Next Free Event is Tuesday 7 March - at the National Liberal Club 1 Whitehall Place SW1A 2HE

Women, Conflict and more … with Assoc Professor Christine Cheng (War Studies, KCL)

6:30pm start, 7:30pm finish; with optional dinner

Contact for details and zoom link.


/Interview with Richard Foord MP, LibDem Defence spokesperson in January 2023

/More Information to come on the York LibDem conference 17-19 March 2023.

Friday 24 February 2023 - Face to Face - drinks at the NLC with a difference

Join us for a joint event with the LGBTQ+ Forum of the National Liberal Club and the Lavender Group from 6:15pm for 6:30pm … at the National Liberal Club. Free drink (or two) and stimulating conversation with Managing Director Belton Flournoy - think cyber, intel, black, british and bold - a not to miss opportunity. RSVP direct to Chair Noel on 44+ 7599 890 134


Tuesday 31 January 2023 starting at 8:00pm ends 9:00pm

Mark your calendars for the next event on Tuesday 31 January 2023, where Mr. Richard Foord MP, Defence Spokesperson for Defence for the LibDems, will talk about "Troops, Trident and Tech". The event will take place at the National Liberal Club Whitehall Place London and will provide an excellent opportunity for Q&A in the run-up to the party’s York Conference.

at the National Liberal Club Whitehall Place London (free in person, register via or zoom link below) on

“Troops, Trident and Tech”.

A conversation with Mr Richard Foord MP, Defence Spokesperson for Defence for the LibDems.

Richard is a former career Army Officer who rose to the rank of Major and was deployed to three theatres. An outstanding opportunity for Q & A in the run up to the party’s York Conference.


Zoom link for 31 January :

Following our successful events over the last few months (the challenge for liberal democracy in the South China Sea hybrid debate and the off the record “meet the soldier from 77 Brigade” talk) the Circle will be returning from 15 January next year with a host of engaging, enticing and relevant events both based at the National Liberal Club Whitehall London and some new friends (details to be announced progressively).

Join our more than six hundred participants from across the UK and the globe in 2023.

Free, fearless and forthright.

Thursday 22 September 2022 from 7:00pm

Join us for our next event - How to Fight Space Wars - commencing at 19:00 at the National Liberal Club London. In conversation with Paul Szymanski, an expert in space warfare theory, policy, doctrine, strategy and tactics. Find us at the Members Lounge. Free, fearless and frank.


Diary Reminder: DSC AGM to be held at 5:30pm Tuesday 27 September at the National Liberal Club. The Smoking Room. Drinks (cash bar) from 6:00pm with our colleagues from the Lavender Group. Members and their guests invited to attend.

We mourn the death of the Sovereign and wish His Majesty the King every comfort and support over the days ahead.

God Save the King.




The Defence and Security Circle will be conducting further events from late September. More information will be posted on this website, via the website of the National Liberal Club and our various social media. If a member of the National Liberal Club, please formally join us by adding the Circle to your online membership profile.


Drinks at the National Liberal Club - from 5:30pm on Tuesday 28 June … cash bar with visitors from the Land Warfare Conference and the BBC Monitoring Service.

/Free - come for an hour or a few … rsvp to

Dress Code: Uniform or Lounge Suit


/Upcoming Events:

More events coming soon …. “ having conversations about the national interest in the national interest”


Jubilee Dinner/Concert: Futureproofing NHS, Pandemic, Putin

Wednesday 1 June 6:00pm arrival, 6:30pm speaker and dinner, 8;00pm concert, carriages 9:30pm.

/£55 per person - two course meal, coffee/tea with chocolates, complimentary drink, concert

book via the National Liberal Club or Eventbrite - Jubilee Dinner: Futureproofing the NHS - in the time of Pandemic and Putin


/Most recent Event:

The Future of Conflict

/A one day conference on Monday 9 May to be held at the National Liberal Club - in conjunction with PS21 and the Wavell Room. Go to Eventbrite for tickets (free to £15+). Drinks event afterwards and an opportunity to meet both the “experts” and other members of the Defence & Security Circle



Legacy Project - Funded by NATO Public Diplomacy Division: Focus on Fake

The Defence and Security Circle (DSC) of the National Liberal Club is based at the Club premises located at Whitehall Place London SW1A 2HE. Due to a decision to grant the DSC in November 2021 funding provided by the Public Diplomacy Division of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), we are able to conduct a number of free access events online and in person starting 1 December 2021 under the series title "Focus on Fake".

These online, in person and hybrid sessions (from 15 to 75 minutes duration) deal with the complex and compelling challenges created by disinformation, fake news and hostile state actors. Youth, politicians, media practitioners (from bloggers to vloggers, influencers to mainstream journalists) are all facing pressure from toxic news, overseas troll farms and oppressive narratives that divide communities or cause distress, harm or fear.

In addition to three in person events in London (Wednesday 1 December) , Edinburgh (Monday 6 December) and Manchester (Monday 13 December), we will be showcasing at least eight podcasts and at least four videocasts of 15 to 30 minutes duration. All background and links will be available on this site.

Our program will be delivered between Wednesday 1 and Wednesday 15 December. Content will be held on this site as a legacy of our collaborative venture with NATO. Other content from previous activity and future outreach into 2022 will be added on a progressive basis. Keep coming back to us.


/Our latest podcast from global expert Elisabeth Braw

/For an overview of our 1-15 December Program

For more information, please contact


A summary PDF format document of our program in December 2021

Focus on Fake - Event Details and Live Registration Link 258.8KB

Podcast Below: Samantha North (the digital emigre) on tribal instincts and echo chambers.

A conversation with Professor Minhaaj Rehman on AI, data science and fake news.

Lynne O'Donnell, war reporter and author in conversation with Thomas Clowes-Pritchard from the Pinsker Centre (UK) on all things fake news: "Beyond Cancel Culture and Peak Woke". Recorded 1 December 2021 at the launch of our Focus on Fake program - at the National Liberal Club Whitehall Place London SW1A 2HE

/Georgia Gilholy on China, disinformation and free speech.

/Bernard Salt in conversation: demographer and society critic

/Safeera Ahmed - Digital Ambassador at the University of Edinburgh - on fake news, being a digital native and the emerging platforms shaping our conversations

/Roger Mullin (former SNP MP) looking at the trade offs between privacy and security

/Cate Pye - cyber and digital expert opening our launch event on 1 December 2021.

/Professor Stephen Gethins of St Andrews University on Scotland's frontline status with fake news

/Pamela Williamson - Author and Narrative Strategist on Deep Fake and Propaganda

/Saeed Atcha MBE DL - youth, communities on the frontline in the war against fake news.

/From the shadows ... youth speak on fake news and disinformation.

/Dr Michael Ayling - veteran, medical specialist and thinking social media contributor

/Professor Mubin Shaikh on the information revolution and the road to bad narratives

/Anooshe Mushtaq - Business Executive and Counter Violent Extremism advocate

Anooshe Mushtaq - Misinformation Impact - 11-12-21.pdf1418.4KB

/More from the Shadows ... students speaking out

/some final segments from our “From the Shadows” youth voice to camera work

/The trap of “Us and Them”

/something of interest from the BBC

/More than 300 minutes of podcasts and video content funded by NATO Public Diplomacy Division and brought to you by the National Liberal Club’s Defence & Security Circle. Contributors from Australia (such as business consultant Anosshe Mushtaq and demographer Bernard Salt), Canada (Professor Mubin Shaikh), New Zealand (narrative strategist Pamela Williamson), the US (policy thinker Elisabeth Braw) in support of UK based voices such as the students from London’s Brampton Manor Academy London, Saeed Atch MBE DL (CEO of Youth Leads Manchester) and others.

/Amsterdam Academic Stijn Sieckelinck: some positive, courageous and optimistic conclusions about the task ahead to defeat fake news and disinformation.


A very warm and genuine thank you to the more than 600 participants, in person and online, for our project. It was a pleasure hosting the symposium at the National Liberal Club London and conducting sessions in Manchester and Edinburgh. Some photos below. Democracy, pluralism and freedom more than ever are worth defending.