Our men are dying to save Whitehall’s pennies | William Rees-Mogg - Times Online
Historically, the Labour Party has a serious record in defence, particularly under Clement Attlee, the First World War army officer who became the first Prime Minister of the Cold War era; he took the decision to equip Britain with nuclear weapons.
However, the Blair Government after 1997 must be the least military administration ever to take Britain to war. It is said that there is no member of the present Government who has served in the Armed Forces. Even now, with Britain committed to fighting difficult campaigns on two fronts, social expenditure has been given a far higher priority than defence. The Defence Secretary himself, Des Browne, is only a part-time minister.
One can tell when a department of state feels ashamed of its own conduct. It puts out the news when it hopes nobody will be attending. This week is the tail end of the existing session of Parliament. Last Friday and Saturday, the Ministry of Defence was putting out the bad news, in the hope that no one was listening.....
Wherever one looks at the shortages of equipment, cost has been the limiting factor. British forces have had to fight their battles under Treasury rules. In Afghanistan, only 20 helicopters were available this summer, about half the requirement. Again one can make a comparison with US practice, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. US soldiers have helicopters, ours do not. Yet helicopters are essential.....
There is no such thing as a comfortable war. Soldiers and civilians get killed, or suffer crippling injuries. There is no such thing as a cheap war. Soldiers must be given support, both in battle and when they return from battle.
Their families also need support. On Poppy Day, we all need to reflect that our soldiers are putting their lives at risk for us; we should at least put our taxes on the line for them.
They won't allow a man to sweep the road without cones, a look out, Hi-vis clothing, diversity training and proper boots; but they will send young men to face death dangerously under-equipped, with his family in substandard housing. And we let them get away with it.