I understand the armed forces are highly regimented and that a good soldier knows he/she has to take orders from a ‘superior’ officer and work as a team but does that mean you stop thinking for yourself and you lose the ability to make rational decisions? Over recent years there appears to have emerged a hive consensus amongst members of the military that Labour is not the party for the armed forces (despite Labour pledges to spend more on caring for military personnel) and that only the Tories truly appreciate the sacrifices that soldiers make and the needs for a properly funded military. I’m not sure when or why this idea seems to have taken hold but it’s certainly spread and it’s been reinforced by the rhetoric coming out of the Tory party (and their MSM allies) for some time now. So, after today’s worrying announcement by the charity Combat Stress, I think perhaps it’s time to put the record straight….
- Under a Tory government, Forces mental health charity, Combat Stress, has seen its funding drop by 37.5%, forcing them to announce yesterday that they can no longer take on any new referrals from England and Wales. The charity typically receives about 2000 referrals a year but will now have to refer them back to the already over stretched and failing NHS mental health services and they point out that 80% of veterans who are referred to the charity are either unable to use the NHS service in the first place or they’ve already tried NHS services and failed to get the support they needed.
- In 2018, research by a Scottish newspaper demonstrated that a former member of the forces takes their own life in Scotland every six days and 71 British veterans and serving personnel committed suicide in 2018 alone.
- The government have also utterly failed to honour the housing pledge in the Armed Forces Covenant. The ‘No Homeless Veterans’ charity estimated, as recently as September 2019, that there are approx. 3,500 veterans who are still homeless every year.
- While the government claims to have retained the 2.1% of GDP figure on defence funding, it’s recently become clear that defence spending fell to 1.8% of GDP over the last 5yrs but the MoD have been using pension contributions push up the overall figure and mask the scale of the deficit.
The good news is that the ‘Rt Hon’ Tory MP Grant Shapps has just announced the launch of a new railcard to provide ‘discounted’ rail travel to veterans and their families, so I guess that more than makes up for it all.