Posts Tagged ‘armed forces’

Labour needs to be an honest friend to the forces

09/12/2011, 11:38:44 AM

by Atul Hatwal

At the start of autumn, Uncut revealed that morale amongst the armed forces had plummeted, the first decline since the annual surveys began in 2007.

The obvious reason is the government’s bungled strategic security and defence review (SSDR). But as deep as the cuts to defence budgets are, and as badly as they have been managed by the MoD, the SSDR alone does not sufficiently explain the depth of the collapse in morale. There’s a missing element.


While in opposition the Tories turned a slogan, “backing our troops”, into the entirety of their party’s policy. General Dannat’s love-in with David Cameron was symptomatic of a military establishment that felt the Tories endorsed their world view and would act as a political arm of the defence chiefs of staff. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The government’s policy on the armed forces: giving with one hand and taking with the other

23/05/2011, 12:00:33 PM

by Michael Dugher

After months of pressure from the Royal British Legion and others, including the Labour frontbench, and in the face of certain Parliamentary defeat, the government finally agreed to enshrine the “military covenant” in law.  A year ago, Cameron had personally promised to have the covenant “written into the law of the land” in a big set speech on HMS Ark Royal, only to later back track on the pledge (and then scrap the Ark Royal for good measure).  The government’s u-turn on the covenant is welcome. At a time when more is being asked of our armed forces, it is vital that we put the government’s obligations to the armed services on a proper legal footing.  Yet the announcement is, sadly, only the latest example of the government’s approach to the armed forces: giving with one hand, while taking away with the other. Labour should expose this. We also need to recognise both the achievements, as well as the limitations, of our time in office.  And we need to be at the forefront of argument that our forces and their families deserve the very highest levels of care and support.

The truth is that Labour should have taken the covenant out of party politics at the end of the last parliament. The opportunity was there to fully commit to enshrine the covenant in law, as we had already paved the way with some ground-breaking work on armed forces’ welfare. Labour was the first to deliver a cross-government strategy on the welfare of armed forces personnel. Bob Ainsworth, in particular, deserves credit for pushing through the publication of the service personnel command paper in summer 2008, when he was minister for the armed forces. This set out improved access to housing schemes and healthcare, the doubling of compensation payments for the most serious injuries, the doubling of the welfare grant for families of those on operations and free access to further education for service leavers with six years service.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon