The Stirrer

news that matters, campaigns that count

for Birmingham, the Black Country and beyond



Des Browne offered grovelling apologies yesterday when a Board Of Inquiry ruled that 14 servicemen were killed on a Nimrod jet in Afghanistan because the RAF had been cutting corners on safety. It's not the first time lives have been compromised on cost grounds, observes Barbara Panvel, yet even now government departments are rowing over cuts worth £15billion to the Defence budget.

How dare the Ministry of Defence even contemplate cutting expenditure on equipment for the armed forces, after repeated revelations of deaths and injuries due to lacking or faulty equipment?

Why isn’t there an effective public outcry about this?

David Gould, the MoD's chief operating officer for equipment capability, admitted that savings were to be achieved by buying kit in smaller quantities, but Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, commented: “At a time when our armed forces are being asked to do very difficult jobs in unbelievably trying circumstances, delays in introducing key equipment are the last thing they need."

Quite apart from deaths due to ‘friendly fire’ and added risks experienced because of the lack of equipment, there has been neglect on the pastoral side: housing and healthcare. Whilst much of the ‘other ranks’ housing is in poor condition, money is being spent on all-weather sports pitches and tennis courts.

After delays due to misdiagnoses, a corporal was asked to wait for six months for spinal operations to make him walk again – and took on a debt of £50,000 to have it done promptly. Another soldier who had suffered serious burns in Iraq had to pay £60 a week for creams because the MoD refused to pay for them. A large number of soldiers are reported to have contracted MRSA in Selly Oak hospital

It's been alleged that several soldiers have died because their Land Rovers weren't not fitted electronic jamming devices; soldiers have been collapsing in Afghanistan due to lack of water; rifles jam and footwear is inadequate.

Large and increasing sums are being spent on new destroyers to be used by US forces whilst there is not enough body armour for soldiers regularly under fire. A poignant image from these cuttings is that of six Red Caps, low on ammunition, who could not call for help because they did not have satellite phones - and were killed by an Iraqi mob.

A million citizens on the streets asking government to rethink its position on invading Iraq were ignored so what will make our government ‘fit for purpose’?

I’d go for abolition of the party political system.

People known locally to be ‘good folk and true’ could be elected as independents – just as Dr Taylor was twice chosen to represent people in the Wyre Forest constituency.

To cut out the ‘chancers’ MPs should be paid the national average wage [and expenses], use public health, education and transport services and focus only on being an MP [no outside directorships].

The revolving door between ministers and the financial, industrial and commercial sectors should be permanently closed.

MPs, freed from pressures exerted by lobbies and Whips to act against their consciences, would genuinely serve the interests of those who elected them – or be recalled.

The Stirrer Forum

The Stirrer home

©2007 The Stirrer