They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Sunday, March 11, 2007

An open Letter to Tony Blair

Dear Prime Minister

We the undersigned believe that the military covenant is a cornerstone of our democracy, a mutual obligation between the nation, the armed forces, and every serviceman and woman. It is a common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility that has sustained the armed forces - and the country - throughout an often difficult history. In practice, this means that governments make the decisions, and the armed forces implement them. In return, the armed forces have:

* the right to expect any war to be lawful;

* the right to have adequate resources to carry out the tasks the politicians demand of them;

* the right to be properly cared for in the event of injury;

* the right to know that, in the event of their death, their families will be looked after properly.

This is a terrible war that has led to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians being killed, maimed or displaced. At best, the legality of the war is dubious. Britain's hard-pressed armed forces have been denied the support they require; in some circumstances, service personnel have paid with their lives because of this failure to make required equipment available.

Accommodation for many of the armed forces and their families back home is, as General Sir Mike Jackson, former chief of the general staff, says, "frankly shaming". Military hospitals in this country have been closed while they have never been more essential, and wounded soldiers evacuated from the battlefield suddenly find themselves on civilian wards and at risk of physical or verbal attack from members of the public.

Servicemen and women are receiving insufficient treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, and many are desperately ill, out of work, homeless, and even suicidal. We also believe that the Government is failing properly to look after the British widows and the children left behind.

We believe that the military covenant is broken, and that you have neglected the young men and women who carry out your orders in our name. At a time when the country is asking so much of our overstretched forces, it is failing to play fair by them. In this, you have prime responsibility, and you should at the very least meet the families of the bereaved to discuss their concerns. We call on you to reconsider your approach towards our military personnel, to restore the vital covenant, and to deliver to our men and women the just and proper treatment they deserve.

Yours sincerely

Debbie Allbutt, wife of Cpl Stephen Allbutt, 35, of the Queen's Royal Lancers, died 25 March 2003;Anna Aston, wife of Cpl Russell Aston, 30, of 156 Provost Company, died 24 June 2003;Roger and Maureen Bacon, father and mother of Matthew Bacon, who died in Iraq in 2005;
Iain Banks, author;Billy Bragg, musician;Vince Cable, Lib Dem MP;Simon Callow, actor;Sir Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats;Dominic Cooke, artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre;Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP;George Crabb, formerly flight sergeant, RAF aircrew;James and Ray Craw, parents of L/Cpl Andrew Craw, 21, of 1st Battalion, Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, died 7 January 2004;Andy de la Tour, actor, playwright;Brian Eno, musician;Rose Gentle, mother of Fusilier Gordon Gentle, 19, of 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers, died 28 June 2004;Richard, Karen and Catherine Green, parents and sister of Lt Philip Green, 30, of 849 Squadron, died 22 March 2003;Katharine Hamnett, fashion designer;Ed Harcourt, musician;Mike Hancock, Lib Dem MP and member of Commons defence committee;Nick Harvey, defence spokesman, Liberal Democrats;Sharon Hehir, wife of Sgt Les Hehir, 34, of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, died 21 March 2003;Pauline Hickey, mother of Sgt Chris Hickey, 30, of 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards, died 18 October 2005;Bianca Jagger, human rights campaigner;Carol Jones, mother of Sgt John Jones of 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, died 20 November 2005;Reg Keys, father of L/Cpl Thomas Keys, 20, of 156 Provost Company, RMP, died 24 June 2003;Peter Kilfoyle, Labour MP and former armed forces minister;George and Ann Lawrence, parents of Lt Marc Lawrence, 26, of 849 Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, died 22 March 2003;Ernie Morton, father of current serving member of the Parachute Regiment;Tracy, Tony and Mair Pritchard, wife and parents of Cpl Dewi Pritchard, 32, of 116 Provost Company (volunteers), died 23 August 2003;Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru MP;Janet Lowrie, secretary for Military Families Against the War;John McDonald, Labour MP;Natasha McLellan, partner of Matthew Bacon;Patrick Mercer, Conservative MP and former soldier;Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan;Harold Pinter, Nobel laureate and playwright;Adam Price, Plaid Cymru MP and defence spokesman;Mark Thomas, comedian;Arthur Smith, comedian;Sue Smith, mother of Pte Philip Hewett, 21, of 1st Battalion, Staffordshire Regiment, died 16 July 2005;Janet Suzman, actress;
Ben Wallace, Conservative MPand former soldier;Susannah York, actress.