Why no fair hearing?

Posted on February 24, 2011 by

It has come as a great disappointment to observe that the Conservative Party’s oft promised and much vaunted ‘open enquiry’ into the honours and awards system currently in (mis)use in Britain, with a special examination of the feasibility of a National Defence Medal, has quietly morphed into a hasty, ‘in camera’ exercise performed by rote with the usual bevy of resident ‘experts’ from the MoD and the Honours people themselves. A whitewash has been carried out and the people dipping out as usual are the long suffering Veterans of all eras since World War 2.

Despite repeated requests for some input by Veterans and by the Campaign Committee for the NDM, who are prepared to demonstrate that they have a strategy worked out that will see all parties satisfied with a truly minimal cost to the public purse, plus a means to finance aid to Veterans wounded in battle, the new administration has failed to stand by its assurances or seek input from all interested parties. Where an open mind and an honest response was needed, closed minds and turned backs were presented in lieu of the sought for good faith and integrity.

We are assured from those that know, the advent of the Australian Defence Medal, upon which the desired British version would be based, has proven to be the most popular addition to the Australian panoply of awards and honours since Federation. It graces the chests of Australian Veterans from all eras and has become, in the short span of time since its inception, a valued family heirloom and badge of honour. Both of the recent Australian VC holders proudly wore theirs amongst their row of medals when they were invested with the VC itself.

In the UK, the NDM would be set up as the lynch pin of a true covenant between government and Armed Forces, a tangible and recognisable symbol of good faith, one to the other. Presently that good faith is singularly lacking from the government side and this has been the case for many years now. It has become much more obvious as the calamity in Afghanistan continues, with woefully inadequate provision of the accoutrements of war and replenishment, meaning troops having to battle shortages and indifference as hard as they do the enemy.

It is shameful, embarrassing and actually hurtful for any loyal Veteran to see those that follow in their footsteps forced to rely on charities for the treatment and succour that should be theirs by right once they are wounded and mentally traumatised to the point that they are no longer fit enough to serve. The government is paying lip service to those that serve it in the uniforms of the UK but it is of absolutely no substance whatsoever and the young people thus betrayed are our own kith and kin, beloved of their families. When wounded they lack any real facilities, when traumatised they lack any sympathy or support, when slain, they come home to a sympathetic but very sad reception from goodhearted ordinary folk, seldom graced by an MP of any persuasion.

Is enough being done to see to the needs of those who placed not just their trust but their very lives in those elected to run all that we depend on? On the showing thus far I believe that nowhere near enough is being done and neither is there any sign that this will alter in the foreseeable future unless some drastic changes to outmoded thinking are entered into. Thus it is irksome and most disturbing  to see a golden opportunity to utilise the goodwill of a whole nation to stand behind its Armed Forces, its owns sons and daughters when all is said and done, being thrown away on the altar of Political expediency, bloody minded hubris and mindless intransigence.

If there is a way being offered that might see our serving men and women better catered for, then it should be examined forthwith and if it is indeed able to deliver what has been promised, then it should be implemented without delay, so that trust and good faith can go hand in hand betwixt government and Armed Forces.

A National Defence Medal and the covenant it would represent is being mooted as a way forward, why is not being given a hearing?