Wednesday, 5 March 2008
The Military Covenant- Tory commission- a right wing author and no money!
Frederick Forsyth- right wing friend of Mr Tebbit!
Cameron and the Tory Party are going to make the state of our Armed Forces an election issue. Over the last 12 months, much of the media has started to get rightfully behind our Armed Forces and the Tory Party have tried to make themselves seen as the party that is most in tune with the needs of the Armed Forces.
The media has made much of the supposedly broken 'Military Covenant '(with the help of a number retired Generals and Admirals who were deafeningly quiet when they themselves were in the higher echelons of the Ministry of Defence!)) Cameron has now set up a commission to look at the state of the Military Covenant, the commission is led by the right wing author- Frederick Forsyth and also includes a number of ex military men such as Simon Weston, one of the survivors from the ship that caught fire at Bluff Cove during the Falklands War.
As an ex military man, I am concerned about over stretch of our Armed Forces, I believe that we need to make sure we look after our Armed Services, their families and veterans- but that will take more money- the Tories will say they have all the answers but look at their Commission website to spot the obvious holes in their plan- the most obvious failing being at the bottom of their introductory page:
" 4. Any recommendations made by the Commission must be paid for within existing and planned defence budgets."
Well as the MOD is not just over stretched but overspent- I can't see the Tory option of repairing the Covenant but spending no money in the process is going to work!
As someone who spent most of his 24 years service under a Tory government, I remember well the times we were under equipped- with the excuses of "it went down on the Atlantic Conveyor" or "it was destroyed in the fire at Donnington" used when we were still walking round in equipment from the 50's. Simon Weston should remember more than most that the Guards Regiments left for the Falklands with blue civilian rucksacks as most of the Army was still walking round with 1958 webbing. Tory Secretary's of State for Defence never seemed to speak to the rank and file, I can remember being hid away on a range in Germany with any one else who they thought would say the wrong thing when Mr Hesseltine turned up (wearing a new combat jacket- when we were in old kit) and Nicholas Soames was only interested in a lunch in the Officers Mess with his old Eton cronies. it was not till Labour's George Robertson got into the post that the rank and file soldier were deemed worthy of meeting the minister.
The Armed Forces are not looked after better by a Tory Government and we need to get that message over not only to the general public but also to members of the Armed Forces, their families and veterans.