Sunday, March 06, 2011

They don't get any lower

"The concept of the MOD's duty of care therefore needs to extend more than ever beyond the time actually served in the military. It needs to extend to those with chronic disability, in the knowledge that the NHS will give them—whatever the effects on targets—the priority that they deserve.

Those with psychiatric damage need to know that the appropriate military psychiatric help will be available years later when it is needed. Why, unlike in the US, do we still have no guidelines on traumatic brain injury?

Does the Secretary of State understand how unacceptable it is to the House when we read in yesterday's papers about a young man, Lance-Corporal Twiddy, who said: 'Once you are discharged, the MOD doesn't want anything to do with you'? That is utterly unacceptable".

And that was Dr Liam "hypocrite" Fox speaking in parliament on 16 July 2007, one of the dozens of times he has raised the issue of soldiers' mental health, and the vexed question of post traumatic stress disorder.

There can be absolutely no doubt that Fox and his half-witted sidekick Andrew Robathan have been making a meal about this issue, with endless heart-on-sleeve interventions and even a report which indicates how sub-standard they believe military mental health services have been.

But that was before they were asked to put our money where their exceedingly large mouths reside. Asked to intercede in the case of Pex, we see Fox diving for cover and Andrew Robathan running a mile. Says the under-secretary of state:
... the incident that led to his discharge from the Army in December 2009, having served a sentence in the Military Corrective Training Centre will doubtless have been taken into account by the UKBA in reaching their decision. If indeed this is the case, it is a great shame that Mr Ukuilakeba's actions have affected his application to settle in the UK, but I do not believe in the circumstances that it would be appropriate for the Ministry of Defence to seek to intervene in this case.
Booker takes up the story, but the bizarre thing is that Pex was not alone. There was another survivor from that dreadful incident, Private Steve Baldwin, who also crawled out damaged from that Snatch. And the Army treated him in very much the same way, something which the Independent picked up in its 2007 campaign – also publishing a letter with 500 signatures. How many MPs who signed then are at all interested now, one wonders.

Blair was then "called to account", but what is particularly significant is that the story was garnished with this timeless prose, demonstrating the active involvement of Fox in the campaign:
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are united in their condemnation of the Government's failure to give traumatised troops the care they deserve. Dr Liam Fox, the Tory Defence spokesman, said there was no doubt that the military covenant had been broken. "British forces are severely overstretched."
One had little enough respect for Fox, and I always suspected that he was exploiting soldier health and welfare issues for personal and political gain. Now it comes to the test of whether he is prepared to back his rhetoric with action, and he is found wanting.

At least, though, we have solved one formerly intractable problem, when we tried to work out how low a politician could sink. In Dr Fox, we now have the answer.