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Cameron reminded of Afghan challenges

Nick Robinson | 12:47 UK time, Saturday, 5 December 2009

It is like speeding down a rollercoaster while having to lay the tracks. That is how the British officer in charge of training the Afghan army describes the task he has been set by the politicians.

David Cameron talking to Afghan soldiers at Kabul military training centreToday David Cameron visited Kabul's Military Training Centre - the place that holds the key to the withdrawal of British troops from this country. Here they've been set the task of training more than 5,000 Afghans each month to create an army of more than 130,000 men within a year - that's two years quicker than originally planned. That would be hard in any country but here only one in 10 "warrior recruits" can read or write.

The Tory leader says that's just one reason why British troops may not start coming home any time soon. Today he told me it was "pretty unlikely" that British troop numbers would be reduced next year.

The message from the military to their visitor on this two-day tour has been the same at stop after stop - help us counter the pessimism about the war at home and then let us get on with finishing the job. His message to them today was a promise to reward their efforts by doubling the £2,400 bonus they receive when they return home after a six- month tour of duty.

Today I watched Afghan recruits train amid stark reminders of the last time someone thought they could tame this country - burnt-out Soviet tanks and armoured vehicles. In the distance you could see a reminder of Britain's failure here - a fort abandoned after the second Afghan war.

The man who hopes to be leading Britain's war efforts soon leaves here having seen what can be achieved but having been reminded that foreigners rarely leave with their heads held high.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    "The man who hopes to be leading Britain's war efforts soon leaves here having seen what can be achieved but having been reminded that foreigners rarely leave with their heads held high."

    I've grown increasingly convinced that people never learn from history but this seems to show, faced with an awkward withdrawal, that people can admit they should have learned from history.

    It'll be interesting to find out how many of the 130,000 trained army prove to be insurgents and other antagonists just biding their time. I mean, if they are just recruited off the streets with no proof of identity, not even CRB checks! how can one know?

    And we're still eager to find out what's done with captured insurgents. Any news on them?

  • Comment number 3.

    I can not believe that any politician would go to visit the troops in Afghanitan a few months before an election and say "vote for me lads and I'll double your bonus". Just how desperate is this man to get power. I can't see the country falling for that blatant act of money for votes.Disgraceful.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well done David Cameron:

    Troops well motivated and resourced.

    Bipartisan support for the strategic plan with no exit date.

    Endorsement of the troop`s wish that the public get behind them, and get behind what they are trying to achieve.

    Doubling the bonus when after six months, the soldiers are relieved and stood down in the UK.

    I don`t want to sound critical at this epiphany for David,I just wish it would extend to some rethinking on the British economy.

  • Comment number 5.

    #3 grand voyager.

    If Cameron was desperate for votes, he would have taken a media scrum with him, and made a meal out of it. Instead its a very low key visit, which has given him time to find out, from all ranks, what the problems are on the ground.

    I hardly think Cameron needs to covet votes likes Messrs Brown and Co. His party is in far better shape or had you not noticed.

    Cameron`s take that there will be no early withdrawal, is the very reverse of Brown`s current policy which was dreamt up in haste to appease the wavering voters.

    Cameron has adopted a more pragmatic appproach. The US and UK governments have made a mess of the Afghanistan war, big time; but we are, where we are. It is now how we get from here to finishing the job as best we can.

    Clearly Brown and Obama are intent on getting out as quickly as possible, as it suits them both to do so in their respective relection campaigns. That is not an issue for Cameron, whose desire is to see the remainder of the campaign run as effectively as it can be by the commanders on the ground. Not at the behest of the latest political whim decided by spin doctors in No10.

    I am not in favour of the war in Afghanistan and never had been. But Cameron`s take does offer us the best opportunity to end the current conflict. Provide the guys with time and the right equipment to get the job done; but not with an open cheque book. Lets the military get on with it now, without constantly moving the goal posts.

  • Comment number 6.

    You wrote : "The message from the military ...... on this two-day tour has been the same at stop after stop - help us counter the pessimism about the war at home and then let us get on with finishing the job."
    Sounds familiar - I seem to remember lots of similar pleading from senior US military sources in Vietnam 40 years ago. It was wrong then and it's just as wrong now. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 7.

    "It is like speeding down a rollercoaster while having to lay the tracks," says the British officer in charge of training the Afghan army.

    Faster than he can manage? Beyond his capabilities? Out of control? Ill-prepared?

    A sure sign its all going to fail.

  • Comment number 8.

    I refrain from comment until I have steeled myself against the nausea arising from some (though not all) of the previous contributions.

  • Comment number 9.

    Its a guerilla war. Standard American/British battle methods have failed in every one of the eight years. Now they're teaching the same battle methods to the Afghans. The same tactics/methods that have failed.

  • Comment number 10.

    @brian g #5

    "If Cameron was desperate for votes, he would have taken a media scrum with him"

    He has. Why has he taken BBC's chief political editor with him? Why has he announced a doubling of the bonus whilst out there?

  • Comment number 11.

    Think he's being honest when he says that its pretty unlikely for troop numbers reduced next year. Nice to hear a bit of honesty.

  • Comment number 12.

    Nick Robinson:

    I am very glad, that David Cameron will be reminding
    of the Afghan Challenges...Since, he needs to know that the situation
    and, the back-story of the conflict in real-time.....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 13.

    Nick wrote:

    Today David Cameron visited Kabul's Military Training Centre - the place that holds the key to the withdrawal of British troops from this country. Here they've been set the task of training more than 5,000 Afghans each month to create an army of more than 130,000 men within a year - that's two years quicker than originally planned. That would be hard in any country but here only one in 10 "warrior recruits" can read or write.

    ===============================================

    Are these recruits conscripts? If so they have not learnt any lessons. They need a PROFESSIONAL army not Afghan misfits and paid a wage comparable with US or UK soldiers. That way you get a good calibre of soldier in the first place like in the US and UK. Recruitment offices in the UK are picky an quite rightly so - your average squaddie is good value for money.

    Cameron may well be electioneering with the bonus plug but the other NATO soldiers from other countries in Afghanistan are paid tax free whilst they are on tour. It was Brown's personal ddecision that this should continue when a British soldier brought up the topic when Brown last visited. If a UK cicilian spends more than 6 months out of the country he/she will not pay income tax so even the law is on the soldier's side. Incidentally Cameron was due to vist Afghanistan a few months ago, but a certain individual made an unscheduled trip a few days before so Cameron was forced to cancel. That is what I would call playing politics Mr Brown.

  • Comment number 14.

    I am getting forgetful in my old age.

    Can someone refresh my memory?

    Just why are we in Afghanistan?

    Just how did the American Government manage to coerce so many countries ,via the UN , to commit to this folly?

    How many more limbless young men and women, how many more coffins?

    Just when will someone yell " It's a wasteful mess! Stop!"

  • Comment number 15.

    And when is an " insugent" not an " insurgent" and just an angry Afghan?

  • Comment number 16.

    "If Cameron was desperate for votes, he would have taken a media scrum with him"

    He has. Why has he taken BBC's chief political editor with him? Why has he announced a doubling of the bonus whilst out there?

    Don't forget his pet newspaper The Sun who had an "exclusive".

  • Comment number 17.

    I WILL GIVE YOU DOUBLE THE BONUS THAT GORDONS GOING TO GIVE YOU IF YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES VOTE FOR ME
    So I guess Gordon has to say , and I will double that. to win this absurd buying votes game.

  • Comment number 18.

    3. At 1:48pm on 05 Dec 2009, grand voyager wrote:
    I can not believe that any politician would go to visit the troops in Afghanitan a few months before an election and say "vote for me lads and I'll double your bonus". Just how desperate is this man to get power. I can't see the country falling for that blatant act of money for votes.Disgraceful.

    ===

    So you don't think troops risking their lives on our behalf is worth an extra £2,400?

    Disgraceful!

  • Comment number 19.

    7. At 5:11pm on 05 Dec 2009, grand voyager wrote:
    I WILL GIVE YOU DOUBLE THE BONUS THAT GORDONS GOING TO GIVE YOU IF YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES VOTE FOR ME
    So I guess Gordon has to say , and I will double that. to win this absurd buying votes game.

    ===

    The absurd buying votes game you mention, would that be the one that cost us £6m just before the 2005 General Election, shoring up MG Rover to save a few Labour seats in the West Midlands?

  • Comment number 20.

    stop being misleading, the public are 99.9% behind the soldiers, its the wars they disagree with

  • Comment number 21.

    16. At 5:04pm on 05 Dec 2009, MaxG wrote:
    "If Cameron was desperate for votes, he would have taken a media scrum with him"

    He has. Why has he taken BBC's chief political editor with him? Why has he announced a doubling of the bonus whilst out there?

    ==============================

    You have got it the wrong way round. The BBC accompanied Brown to his "several" visits to Afghanistan. If the BBC did not accompany Cameron they would be in deep doo doo regarding impartiality. Personally, if I was in Nick's shoes the idea of going on a walkabout in a town where an Afghan policeman shot at and killed other policemen and British soldiers a few weeks ago, would not fill me with joy.

  • Comment number 22.

    While I agree with the fact that the bonus should be doubled to £4,800 I think the way that it was done was pure populism. Sadly almost all announcements by the parties in the run up to the election are going to be seen in this way by a growing number of people who are extremely skeptical about anything a politician says.

  • Comment number 23.

    @excellentcatblogger2 #21

    Not the wrong way round. Did you miss #5 and #10 before responding to #16?

  • Comment number 24.

    @yellowbelly #18

    No, GrandVoyager wasn't saying that. As I read GV's comment, he/she is despairing at the offering money for votes. A perfectly legitimate point. Further, you ask a question, but give your verdict, before you get the answer.

  • Comment number 25.

    David Cameron does indeed seemed to have stolen the march on NuLabour over Afghanistan. But where is Gordon? Still in his bunker no doubt trying to work out plan B, C or is it D? as to what to do about bankers bonuses.

  • Comment number 26.

    I just can't believe Cameron. He will say he is anything to get elected. But there is one thing he isn't and that is a Barack Obama. He is a true hero and Cameron is just a salesman who happens to want to be prime minister. Going over to Afghanistan and saying he will give the troops more money? Wow, and with an election coming up, we are meant to believe this is honorable. What about the others in Afghanistan: aid workers, builders, teachers, doctors. Do they get more money?

  • Comment number 27.

    18/19 Yellow Belly

    #So you don't think troops risking their lives on our behalf is worth an extra £2,400?

    #The absurd buying votes game you mention, would that be the one that cost us £6m just before the 2005 General Election, shoring up MG Rover to save a few Labour seats in the West Midlands?

    I certainly do think that the army should be well paid for what the doing, but I certainly do not like the cynical way that Cameron is using those brave guys and gals to futher his political career, that really is disgusting.Saving jobs Ithought would be the aim of every polititian.

  • Comment number 28.

    Dear Diablo and Co,
    You're not old and your memory hasn't left you. You were never told the truth about why we're in Afghanistan. We're there to get an oil pipeline completed that crosses into Kuwait and to gain control of Afghanistan's oil shale reserves that are the biggest on planet earth.

  • Comment number 29.

    I bet this vist was very short notice from DC.

    reasons i think for vist ,

    1.. Gordon Brown gave David Cameron some of his own medicine on wednesday
    at QA time,for once well done more please ,you could see DC was taken aback from this ,he can dish it but not take it.

    2..Labour have jumped up in the polls recentley.

    3..Cameron is buying votes, but dont tell him service men can not vote.

    4..Cameron has warned a cut in UK troop levels in Afghanistan would be "pretty unlikely" next year.

    he must think he has the job ,well no need for an election then,some more money saved.
    I would advise David Cameron to stay at home and stop point scoring till he has the job or not,
    him distracting our servicemen and using thier time and resorces is not on,people out there have a job to do so get your self back here and stop wasting thier time.
    Thank You.

  • Comment number 30.

    So what has Mr Obama done that makes him a hero?
    I must have missed it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Can some one inform DC or NR that we have Soldiers out there not troops!

  • Comment number 32.

    And he took Nick with him so he would not write about him while away,after wed bashing he got off GB,hope nick hasent forgot about it.

    Allso he did it on a friday so he would stay on the bbc website politics

    all week end he is so slippery ,snake oil come,s to mind.watch your self Nick.

  • Comment number 33.

    You can tell this is an election year. Mr. P.R. is at it again! This isnt a "low key visit". The press is limited by the security requirements and guess what, the major broadcastors are all present. I was thinking of voting conservative for the first time in my life but the more i see of Cameron the less I trust him. This is a man who takes a media scrum to the artic; tries to take the glory for the Gurkhas from the lib dems ; allies himself with dubious foreign political parties; uses the memory of his dead son in a party political speech; uses Remembrance Day as a photo opportunity; defends the bankers' bonuses and now thinks that doubling the bonuses for soldiers serving in Afghanistan because its good P.R. Has this man got any principles, morals or scruples?

  • Comment number 34.

    Nick reminds us that foreigners rarely leave {Afghanistan} with their heads held high.

    However 'nation-building', in benign sense, is a relatively new concept, having started in ernest with the rebuilding of West Germany in the aftermath of WWII.

    Countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq has historically suffered exploitation from various 'occupiers' so it is not surprising of these people have some difficulty in understanding that 'this time it is different' in that the 'occupiers' will leave just as soon as a society is established that fits the occupiers template.

    Who could possibly complain about that?

  • Comment number 35.

    David Cameron must take us all for fools. It was only on Wednesday that The Times was reporting William Hague and Liam Fox's anxiety about Cameron's position on a withdrawal date from Afghanistan. He was all for giving a firm exit date, but they were telling him that by giving a deadline, it would convince the Taliban they only had to sit tight and, as soon as the troops had withdrawn, they could move back in to the vacated territories. It was as late as Thursday that Dr Fox finally convinced Cameron to alter his position on a withdrawal date. See Paul Waugh's blog in the Evening Standard. Now this Johnny-come-lately is again teaching his grandmother to suck eggs by inferring that it is Gordon Brown who has the wrong policy. On the contrary, it is Cameron who is, yet again, questioning the US/GB governments' policy and shooting his mouth off about things of which he knows very little if anything at all. As for the promise to double the bonus, he obviously does not understand or know about the tax free arrangements which already exist for those on foreign tours. By my reckoning if each of the 9500 troops is to receive £4,800 every 6 months for the next, say, 3 years we are talking of a sizeable sum. Mr Cameron needs to be very careful about the promises he makes; he has a habit of promising something one week, and then when he is told what it will cost, withdrawing the promise. If there is one thing he cannot play fast and loose with, it is the pay of our service men and women.

  • Comment number 36.


    'Bush and Blair misled the public... yes, it's conceivable both could end up on trial'

    Tony Blair and George Bush were orchestrating a witch-hunt against Saddam Hussein that ended with the Iraq War, according to a former UN weapons inspector.

    Hans Blix said the two leaders behaved like 17th century witchfinders in their willingness to oust the dictator.


    So why hasn't UN weapons expert Hans Blix been called to give evidence at the Chilcot Inquiry?

  • Comment number 37.


    Gordon Brown snubbed by soldiers' 'curtain' protest.

    Gordon Brown was snubbed by badly injured Afghan veterans when they closed curtains round their beds during a hospital visit and refused to speak to him.

  • Comment number 38.

    Please ,please please please can some one keep point scoring Cameron away from our lads in afganistan ,i find it deeply ofensive watching him trying to score points at the expence of our lads.
    And using a bribe allso to buy votes.
    And as a none goverment person i dont know how he got permision to go.
    if one of our lads gets shot while making him secure i would go balistic ,so get your a&^% back here .

  • Comment number 39.

    37. At 11:01pm on 05 Dec 2009, Roll_On_2010

    Not good news for Brown, it seems as though the service men hold him in particular contempt. This quote was particularly telling:

    "I wanted to find out how the guy’s head worked,” he said. “I was interested in what he had made of his trip to Afghanistan and what he had learnt from it.

    “I feel that even if someone is a moron, he should have the opportunity to defend his moronity. [His response] all seemed rather textbook and not from the heart.

    “It is quite obvious to anyone that Brown is not concerned, it is almost as if we [the soldiers] are the product of an unwanted affair.

    “The straight fact is this: we don’t like the man, he has done nothing for us and continues to kick us in the teeth over equipment and compensation.”

    So it sems as though Cameron would have no need to "bribe" the armed forces, as some of our left-leaning friends on here would like to put it, Brown really is the best recruiting sergeant for the Conservatives amongst our troops.

  • Comment number 40.

    Nick as you are out there, and fair play to you for going, can you please ascertain what has happened to the Taliban prisoners of war as they are never mentioned.

    If we are supposed to be leading the way for the Afghanis I assume this includes treating POWs correctly.

    Please respond.

  • Comment number 41.


    Bin Laden 'seen in Afghanistan in early 2009'.

    A Taliban detainee in Pakistan claims to have information about Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts in January or February of this year.

    Nick next time you see Flash Gordon you can tell him ‘Alky Ada’ are not in Pakistan.

  • Comment number 42.

    DiabloandCo,
    Exactly! He's just another Bush except in black.

  • Comment number 43.

    It's very odd that while David Cameron is addressing the difficult job the troops are facing in Afghanistan, much of the focus from old Labour is on the fact that he went to a private school.

    Of course. many labour politicians went to private schools too, or sent their children to be privately educated. But that's all conveniently forgotten by these Champaign Socialists who believe it's one rule for them, but a different rule for everyone else.

    The school to which people were sent by their parents when young is totally irrelevant. What is important is whether or not a party leader has the right policies. Brown does not have the right policies, so realising his time is running out, he resorts to personal attacks.

    It would obviously be totally idiotic to criticise or make fun of someone for going to a comprehensive. So why is it OK to attack someone for having gone to a private school? It seems Labour's concept of 'equal opportunity' only goes one way.

    It's very sad to see Brown stoop so low. He's now lashing out like a wounded animal.

  • Comment number 44.

    Nick,

    This has been a stomach churning performance from 'Click' Cameron, following his pre-service photo pose on Rememberance Day.

    Now his rather girlie responses to Browns gentle poking yet again shows that he has a superb polished veneer - but it is paper thin !

  • Comment number 45.

    37

    Ouch

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm quite a shallow person and so, as to Cameron on The Front, I found myself not listening to the stuff he was saying - the usual nonsense, wasn't it? - but rather homing in on what he was wearing. That Jumper in particular. Hackett, I think it was. 50/50 mix of lambs wool and cashmere, and with the "V" of just that precise size which was neither too large (can look nerdy) nor too small - the "Ross Geller from Friends" look, which would have been inappropriate for a senior Conservative politician in a war zone. Lovely, mid beige colour - not military but with a touch of the soldier about it - macho enough for the Men to approve, not so macho as to look like he was trying too hard, and yet a sweater which he could also wear for an Autumn stroll back in Notting Hill without raising an eyebrow. Fitted him perfectly too. Impressive. Not for the first time, when it comes to things like what jumper to wear, David Cameron got it absolutely right. He nailed it.

  • Comment number 47.

    Distant traveller

    "The school to which people were sent by their parents when young is totally irrelevant. What is important is whether or not a party leader has the right policies. Brown does not have the right policies, so realising his time is running out, he resorts to personal attacks. "

    "It would obviously be totally idiotic to criticise or make fun of someone for going to a comprehensive. So why is it OK to attack someone for having gone to a private school? It seems Labour's concept of 'equal opportunity' only goes one way."

    Up to a point Lord Copper.To protect a private individual is laudable.However,Mr.Cameron is a public person,his education at Eton embodies his class,the life chances he grew up with, and,in the context of Mr.Brown`s remark,his policy on inheritance tax which mainly benefits people of similar background.

    It is interesting how the media rally round to prevent discussion of class and privelege, and want to make it off limits."The Times" yesterday devoted an editorial castigating Mr.Brown for implicitly commenting on the class background of his opponent,in the same edition Matthew Paris waded in with a lenghty comment of his own, and that was just one newspaper.

    Perceptions of inequality sharpen during periods of economic crisis,if it is protracted and severe it calls the rationale for inequality into question.That is one reason why sections of the community are jumpy and twitchy on this issue.The 1960s were much more robust in their comment,look at videos of "Beyond the Fringe" or "That Was The week that was." And see how the "Grouse Moor Image" of
    Mr.Macmillan and Alec Douglas Hume was mercilessly pilloried.

    It was also a more stable and consensual period which lasted until 1979.

  • Comment number 48.

    44. At 08:29am on 06 Dec 2009, Tiro

    Tiro, had you forgotten about Brown's petty photo op tantrum on Remembrance Day? In case you had, here's a reminder:

    "Gordon Brown and David Cameron have been forced to apologise over suggestions they 'jockeyed' for publicity at a Remembrance service attended by the Queen."

    https://www.metro.co.uk/news/775482-poppy-day-photo-stunt-backfires-for-party-leaders

    Just for the sake of balance, you see, as you appear to have forgotten the whole story.

    Hope that helps you.

  • Comment number 49.

    sagamix 46

    "I'm quite a shallow person...."

    Clearly so. But before you go too far with your "fashion correspondent" style, I just thought you might like to know that I have a similar sweater, acquired in BHS.

  • Comment number 50.

    Sagamix at #46:

    "I'm quite a shallow person..."

    Lovely stuff.

    But surely there must be some mistake? Your nearly hilarious post failed to have your usual "Clowns" reference to the Tories in it.

    Please rectify that with a re-post so that I can warn my local hospital in advance that I will need to have all of my laughter induced broken ribs looked at.

    Well, I say hospital. It doesn't have any blue-light services there any more as within two years of 1997, it was down-graded to a glorified dispensing chemist.

    So if we're ok with comments based on appearance, you will have no problem with my assessment of Gordon Brown's face looking like a failed Yorkshire Pudding.

    It's just so easy isn't it????!!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    On the subject of "class" and "privilege", perhaps Brown & Co are forgetting something?

    Here's a reminder from Kenneth Clarke:

    "A bit of research would have shown that the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, went to St Paul's Girls' School, the sister institution of St Paul's School for boys, which my colleague George Osborne attended. Chancellor Alistair Darling was educated at a private Scottish boarding school.
    I went to private school myself, the same one, in fact, as Schools Secretary Ed Balls, Nottingham High School. He attended a few years after me and was a fee-paying pupil, but then he is New Labour. I was an 11-Plus boy, paid for by the State."

    And even closer to home for Brown, this from the BBC's Andrew Neil:

    "Mr Brown, after all, is hardly a horny-handed son of toil. He's actually steeped in the Scottish Establishment, as much as Mr Cameron is in the English Establishment. As a son of the manse -- and a manse occupied by a highly-respected and well-known Presbyterian minister -- he hails from the heart of the Scottish professional bourgeoisie. He attended a fiercely selective elite grammar school and sailed into Edinburgh University, an overwhelmingly middle-to-upper-middle class institution, jammed packed with public school boys like Mr Cameron (the locals call them "Yahs" -- as in OK Yah!). His father's reputation gave him an easy entree into Scottish socialism and its leading lights. He could be regarded, in some ways, as part of the Scottish socialist aristocracy.

    So in his own way Mr Brown is just as privileged as Mr Cameron.

    Yesterday he attacked the Tory leader for starting his working life as a PR man; Mr Brown started his as TV producer (for STV). Plain folk might not see much of a difference. Neither began their careers down the pits."

    Still, keep it coming boys, after all, remember what a rip-roaring success it was in Crewe & Nantwich!

    "CON 20,539 votes (14,162)
    LAB 12,679 votes (21,240)
    LD 6,040 votes (8,083)

    The contest, held on 22 May 2008, was the first seat gained by the Tories in a by election since June 1982. The turnout was just 1.8% down on what it had been at the general election."


  • Comment number 52.

    21 yellow belly
    Oh Dear! is that the very best you can do yellow, I think that your are learning that defending the Conservatives propaganda attempts is trying to defend the indefensible. Cameron was'nt only trying to buy votes from the families of these great servicemen/women, he's playing the emotional card of those that are apposed to the war in Afghanistan, and those who rightly feel sorry for the boys and girls that come home injured or in body bags, but this is war and the service people out there know it, as one soldier said we don't need sympathy we just waht to be left alone to get on with the job, thats what our serviceman/women want, not some jumped up politician visiting them with wild promises in order to use them to win votes.
    Does he intend to give those service people who served in Iraq the same as those in Afghanistan, and what about Northern Ireland and any other conflicts that have taken place over the last few years and beyond do those servicemen deserve any less for the danger they encountered, and if not why not?.

  • Comment number 53.

    Before Cameron complains about the playing fields of Britain remark he needs to remember the "labour policies wrote on the back of a cigerette packet in a cafe." He also needs to look at hansard and examine all the jibes he has made in parliament against Brown, and Hague against Prescott They didn't run crying to the press they are seasoned polititians that take the rough with the smooth, unlike baby Cameron.

  • Comment number 54.

    52 grand voyager

    I didn't make comment #21, so I don't know what you are referring to. Perhaps you would like to have another go.



    By the way, grandy, if you are so keen to quote just one soldier, probably out of context, see what one serviceman, having lost his right leg in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, had to say about Mr Brown during his recent visit to Selly Oak hospital:

    "I wanted to find out how the guy’s head worked,” he said. “I was interested in what he had made of his trip to Afghanistan and what he had learnt from it.

    “I feel that even if someone is a moron, he should have the opportunity to defend his moronity. [His response] all seemed rather textbook and not from the heart.

    “It is quite obvious to anyone that Brown is not concerned, it is almost as if we [the soldiers] are the product of an unwanted affair.

    “The straight fact is this: we don’t like the man, he has done nothing for us and continues to kick us in the teeth over equipment and compensation.”

    As pertinent and relevant as your selective quote.

  • Comment number 55.

    49 jrperry

    #Clearly so. But before you go too far with your "fashion correspondent" style, I just thought you might like to know that I have a similar sweater, acquired in BHS.

    Definately not of the same quality, but I would'nt boast about it if I were you.Its not done you know.

  • Comment number 56.

    ''Browns petty photo op tantrum''- Perhaps a little over coloured yellowbelly !
    For the sake of balance)

    Georgie Porgie claimed this am. on the Andrew Marr that ''the country was virtualy bust.'' Irresponsible - or perhaps he/they will stop at nothing to get this lot out ? Anyways I dont want this boy running down my ''pudding and pie''

    Ken, our dear Shadow, Shadow Chancellor must be rubbing his hands in glee - another step closer.



  • Comment number 57.

    The payment of a bonus to the troops is ironic, they dont need a 2.4k bonus for serving 6months BUT a 5k pay rise!

    After all how much of the 2.4k will be grabbed back when Darling imposes his bonus windfall tax!

  • Comment number 58.

    Clamdip lobster claw, thanks for the info on the oil - I knew Kazahkstan had oil bubling up in great puddles all over the place, I presume the UK and US will be wanting to secure that country for pipeline ops too!

    PS I am old but don't tell everyone!
    PPS Your name makes me do a Homer Simpson impression! Yum!

  • Comment number 59.

    54 yellow belly

    #I didn't make comment #21, so I don't know what you are referring to. Perhaps you would like to have another go.

    Apologies, for 21 read 39.

  • Comment number 60.

    54 yellow belly
    A bit like Cameron you take a quote from a lad who has just lost a leg and naturally feeling more than a little upset. but for you and the gutter press to gain political advantage from this is deplorable. For every lad that would say that you would find a equal amount that would say the opposite, as I say the story was manna from heaven for the gutter press, but yours and their use of it is pure Cameronian.

  • Comment number 61.

    56. At 11:41am on 06 Dec 2009, Tiro wrote:

    "...Georgie Porgie claimed this am. on the Andrew Marr that ''the country was virtualy bust.'' Irresponsible - or perhaps he/they will stop at nothing to get this lot out ? Anyways I dont want this boy running down my ''pudding and pie''

    ===

    No, that's the Chancellor's job, isn't it:

    "Alistair Darling will this week tell government departments that the money has run out and they face a three-year cash freeze on spending.

    The message, the toughest to be delivered by a chancellor since the last Labour government was bailed out by the International Monetary Fund in the 1970s, will mean public sector pay freezes and big job cuts. The cash freeze in Whitehall will mean a “real” cut of nearly £40 billion in spending over three years."

    "The chancellor’s tough message comes as a new report predicts that Britain will slide alarmingly down the global league table in the coming years.

    The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) says Britain, which was the world’s fourth largest economy as recently as 2005, has slipped to seventh this year behind America, China, Japan, Germany, France and Italy.

    By 2015, it predicts, Britain will be outside the world’s top 10, behind Russia, Brazil, India and Canada. Slow growth and a weak pound will be responsible for the slide.

    “Public opinion in the UK has not yet caught up with the potential impact of this change,” said Doug McWilliams, chief executive of the CEBR.

    “It means that, whether we like it or not, we are going to have to be prepared to put up with economic, political and social decisions made in other countries.” Britain would find it hard to maintain a seat at top diplomatic tables."

    https://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article6945979.ece

  • Comment number 62.

    59. At 11:46am on 06 Dec 2009, grand voyager wrote:
    54 yellow belly

    #I didn't make comment #21, so I don't know what you are referring to. Perhaps you would like to have another go.

    Apologies, for 21 read 39.

    ===

    OK.

    Back to #52. Which bit of the injured troops at Selly Oak not wanting to meet Gordon Brown and holding him in contempt are you disputing?

  • Comment number 63.

    51 Yellowbelly

    "51. At 11:11am on 06 Dec 2009, yellowbelly wrote:
    "On the subject of "class" and "privilege", perhaps Brown & Co are forgetting something?
    Here's a reminder from Kenneth Clarke:
    "A bit of research would have shown that the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, went to St Paul's Girls' School, the sister institution of St Paul's School for boys, which my colleague George Osborne attended. Chancellor Alistair Darling was educated at a private Scottish boarding school.
    I went to private school myself, the same one, in fact, as Schools Secretary Ed Balls, Nottingham High School. He attended a few years after me and was a fee-paying pupil, but then he is New Labour. I was an 11-Plus boy, paid for by the State."

    There is a specific and a more general point relating to the class bacxkground of politicians and their economic policies.
    The specific point is the seamless fit between Mr. Cameron`s priveleged background and his inheritance tax policy which bednefits...the priveleged.This clearly makes him vulnerable to the kind of attack launched by Mr.Brown at pmqs.

    The more general point is the relationship between class and power which this raises.Clearly there are both Conservative and Labour politicians who have priveleged access by virtue of class backgrounds,this should not be off limits.

    Social class is the elephant in the room of contemporary political debate.The Sunday press are hot under the collar by Mr.Brown`s casual remark, which is an indication of its sensitivity.As late as the 1930s class was visible on the streets.The upper and middle class were taller,wore different clothes and spoke a different language.(See Shaw`s Pygmalion) Now the visible signs of class are more subtle,but the mechanism of class formation remains the same:-It is the market which distributes life chances including education, so this becomes a significant marker of class.

    Politics is essentially a conflict about who gets what,how much and when,which brings class and the unequal distribution of life chances into the centre of political debate.Class is the elephant in the room,to raise it is to be constrained by accusations of "The politics of envy"
    Better that than the politics of obfuscation.


    Not so in Edwardian times where you find issues of class conflict raised in the plays of Galsworthy,Maugham,Bernard Shaw and others.You find it in Shakespeare`s Julius Caeser and Corialanus.

  • Comment number 64.

    62 yellow belly

    I can't seem to find any post from you pointing out troops at Selly Oak not wanting to meet Brown, So I can only surmise that you mean that on Browns visit to the hospital some of the guys, a very small majority didn't want to meet him, thats fair enough I can unberstand that, if I were a soldier or serviceman/woman that had lost limbs in the war and I was a Tory then I would as you would say I don't want to meet this man, thats their prerogative and they excercised it with my backing as did those who were happy to meet Gordon Brown, I see once again no political advantage in their action.I think that you will find that there were many after the second world war that wouldn't have touched Churchill with a barge pole but the man is revered today, yet he actually sacrificed thousands of lives, which to win that war he had very little choice.

  • Comment number 65.

    I find it consistently to be the case that "class" is something that Labour bring up only when they have run out of ideas of other things to say.

  • Comment number 66.

    64. At 12:31pm on 06 Dec 2009, grand voyager wrote:
    62 yellow belly

    I can't seem to find any post from you pointing out troops at Selly Oak not wanting to meet Brown,..."

    ===

    Then follow the thread back to Roll_on_2010's #37, alluded to in my #39.

    Or, to save you the trouble, here's the link:

    https://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6945976.ece

    Oh, and not "some of the guys, a very small majority (sic)", more than half actually.

  • Comment number 67.

    #64 Interesting that you seem to compare Brown to Churchill. I know, understand and agree with why we fought in WWII, but cannot say the same about Afghanistan. Why are we actually fighting in Afghanistan?

  • Comment number 68.

    We Should make every election day a national afternoon bank holiday, we are always complaining about low voter turnout, The guy doing manual work and is physically exhausted when he gets home doesn't want the hassle, but who is going to represent him most effectively?

  • Comment number 69.

    I think Cameron's visit is out of line because he is Leader of the Opposition, only the PM should be allowed to travel abroad for photo opportunities, electioneering and to make such pronouncements.

    Just who does he think he is? The next prime minister?

  • Comment number 70.

    68 The Dude

    Isn't that what postal voting was expanded to cover?

  • Comment number 71.

    68. At 1:35pm on 06 Dec 2009, The Dude

    Isn't that why Labour brought in postal voting? It certainly seems to favour their core electorate.

  • Comment number 72.

    70/
    Postal voting is just another letter through the door, like NHS questionnaires, Put on the pile with all the other bills, More forms to fill in etc.

    The vote would then be an event, It's only once every 5 years, I'm sure we could afford it!


  • Comment number 73.

    Obvious piece of political point scoring and tabloid 'our boys' electioneering "the lower classes and the armchair generals will lap that up" they'll be thinking.


  • Comment number 74.

    67 Yellow Belly
    I wasn't comparing Brown with Churchill I was pointing out that soldiers particularly of a certain persuasion turn on those they percieve as being responsible for their injuries, Its human nature nothing will ever change it.
    Finding justification for the second world war, or as you say why we were in it, is not as simple as you like to believe if you look at the facts, Hitler had no plans to attack Britain and in fact half way through the war sent a envoy to confirm that, in the name of Hess. don't misunderstand me I think what we British did in that war was exemplary
    and I appreciate the treaty, but we could have stayed out and saved thousands of British lives, and what did we get for it, pretty short shrift from Europe and a massive debt from the USA which turned us into a second rate country.
    Why are we in Afghanistan, well I guess we all have our axe to grind over that,My personal feelings are that the regime there were persecuting their own people particularly the women, not a reason to go to war, they were allowing the training of insurgents and terrorists to be trained there, who were causing mayhem and death the world over. A reason to go to war. I guess you will come up with some story about pipelines or oil being the reason, thats your prerogative and your entitled to it.

  • Comment number 75.

    26. At 9:18pm on 05 Dec 2009, Robert Wooller wrote:
    ".... But there is one thing he isn't and that is a Barack Obama. He is a true hero ....."

    Why?

  • Comment number 76.

    71/
    Labour will obviously be charged by the media and the Tories of just trying to increase their voter numbers, but they will just tie themselves up in a straight jacket if they try that approach,

    "so do you agree with the right for every person to have equal representation?...Then all we are doing is ensuring they can"

    simple and effective

    no flowery language....straight to the point

  • Comment number 77.

    Excellent. David is quietly doing some reconnaisance and digesting what he sees and hears. I have utmost confidence in his diligence and insight as to what is needed when he becomes our prime minister.

    And to Brown who so foolishly commented on David Cameron's education - why are you so jealous? Did not Tony Blair go to the Scottish equivalent of Eton? Are there not several Labour ministers and Mps who went to private schools - including Harriet Harperson and Ed Balls?

    Hmmmmmmm. Brown is terrified.

  • Comment number 78.

    65. At 12:36pm on 06 Dec 2009, jrperry wrote:
    "I find it consistently to be the case that "class" is something that Labour bring up only when they have run out of ideas of other things to say.

    Your post represents, perhaps even better than me, the point I am making.You clearly feel that class is off limits for political debate,but instead of saying it stirs up the politics of envy,you say it reflects the exhaustion of ideas.

    Let me just pose a simple question: In a society where the politics of distribution runs through the centuries,why is it redundant to consider the main socio-economic division which defines inequality? Actuaries and market researchers do,pollsters use it,so do governments. Why do you think that is?

    Because class is a major predictor of behaviour.So where would you like the start? Education?,Life expectancy?,social mobility?voting?,media use?,health,housing,crime and delinquency....I could go on.

    So with all this information swirling round our feet,you still think class should not be part of a political debate? Unbelievable!



  • Comment number 79.

    47. At 10:41am on 06 Dec 2009, bryhers wrote:
    "And see how the "Grouse Moor Image" of
    Mr.Macmillan and Alec Douglas Hume was mercilessly pilloried."


    As opposed the greasy Peter's "Pheasant shoot image"?

  • Comment number 80.

    27

    "I certainly do think that the army should be well paid for what the doing, but I certainly do not like the cynical way that Cameron is using those brave guys and gals to futher his political career, that really is disgusting."

    What's Cameron supposed to do then? If he doesn't announce policies you say he has no policies, if he does announce policies you say he is electioneering.

    You seem to agree that the soldiers are worth what Cameron is suggesting so what, exactly, is your problem, other than that it's Cameron announcing something good.

    If that moron Brown had announced it you'd be praising it to the hilt. Difference is, of course, that instead of upping their pay, all Brown is interested in is clawing back their compensation.

  • Comment number 81.

    bryhers 78

    I wrote ""I find it consistently to be the case that "class" is something that Labour bring up only when they have run out of ideas of other things to say."

    Which you interpreted as "You clearly feel that class is off limits for political debate".

    That is a misrepresentation on a scale usually only achieved here by sagamix.

    I challenge the notion that "debate" on "class" is being achieved here. All that has happened is that the prime minister has raised the subject in the form of a few football hooligan style chants, to the accompaniment of loud, incoherent braying from his backbenchers, and followed by a few of his supporters here and elsewhere trying to ape him. But I welcome that: in the style that Labour are trying it out, it has zero traction with the public, and leaves real Labour supporters ashamed, demotivated and reluctant to show their faces on the doorsteps to try to argue Labour's case. My only regret is that Labour have chosen to try it out now, while there is still some opportunity for them to reverse the damage it is causing, rather than right at the end of the real election campaign, when there will be no such chance.

  • Comment number 82.

    Ken Clarke had some sense when he said that the inheritance tax cut was an aspiration. If only DC had shown the same wisdom.

    I can only conclude that he is truly wedded to the idea, regardless of the economic situation. With this childlike lack of pragmatism, I'm convinced it was dreamt up on the playing fields of Eton.

  • Comment number 83.

    #77 "several Labour ministers and Mps who went to private schools - including Harriet Harperson and Ed Balls?"

    The Harpy did indeed go to a private school and comes from a very privilidged background. Presumably Sagamix will agree that this makes it hard for her to understand what it's like for us common folk so there has to be a question over her suitability to govern.

    Certainly, this particular common person is at a loss to understand the Harpy's attack on Tory plans to revise tax & marriage laws. Apparently (according to her) palns to allow married couples to pool their tax allowances amounts to an attack on women (eh?) as it allows men who get remarried after divorce to benefit whilst the poor deserted spouse is left alone bring up the children (what?!). Apparently, she has never heard of women remarrying nor that it would only benefit the remarried couple if one of them wasn't working (presumably because they were bringing up the children).

    More evidence that the Harpy lives in a world of her own, possibly brought about because of the rarified atmosphere of her upbringing and schooling. Or perhaps she's just barking mad?

  • Comment number 84.

    #82

    Whilst IHT might be fundamental to the doctrinaire jealousy that underpins Labour tax thinking, it is an irrelevance to the country's finances. Income tax, National Insurance, corporation tax and VAT together bring in around £340bn a year, IHT brings in about £3.1bn. The pointless VAT reduction (well,I wasn't going to buy that £50 sweater but now it's only £48.94 I think I'll jump-start the economy) cost the country £12bn, 4 YEARS worth of IHT.

  • Comment number 85.

    Ken Clarke seemed to thing that the VAT cut was a good idea, "as good as any other way of putting money back into peoples pockets, i suppose". He's a wise man, I think you should listen to him more.

  • Comment number 86.

    Brown has every right to be afraid of the inheritance proposals of the Tory party. No wonder he attacks them.

    After all it was George Osborne's speech at the Tory Party Conference a couple of years ago when he announced plans for increasing the threshold. The resultant encore was so overwhelming and the issue was the catalyst for their meteoric rise in popularity which they have largely maintained.

    Old Brown doesn't know which way to turn, he knows he is acting out his last scene on stage and he knows who is waiting in the wings to do a better job come May 6th.

    Not long now before he retires up to his bunker in Scotland and disappears up his own sporran.

  • Comment number 87.

    #74 "Hitler had no plans to attack Britain and in fact half way through the war sent a envoy to confirm that, in the name of Hess"

    ?

    Are you mad?

    Hitler may well have preferred to have Britain as an ally but the idea that he had no plans to attack Britain is absurd. I suppose sending 1,000 aircraft to attack London was a mistake and that he'd actually meant them to fly to Spain for a holiday? He hoped to "bomb Britain to its senses" so that Britain would sue for peace.

    Meanwhile, Hess acted on his own, he was not sent by Hitler. Indeed Hitler ordered his plane shot down when he found out what was happening and promptly arrested Hess' staff. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

    You then go on to say that Britain could have stayed out of WWII. We perhaps could have. Luckily men with more conscience than you were in charge of the country and decided that standing by while Hitler enslaved most of mainland Europe and murdered 30 million or more jews, gypsies and anyone else he didn't like wasn't the way the British wanted to behave.

  • Comment number 88.

    85 - On this one, Ken Clarke is wrong. All the VAT cut did was cost the exchequer £12bn. Seriously, was anyone's spending plans altered by a 2.13% price cut when at the time shops were in any case discounting by 20% or more to try and get sales going?

    And Darling's 50% tax is expected to bring in......ta da....just £1.6bn a year. That's if people don't leave the UK or invest in tax schemes.

  • Comment number 89.

    The Dude 82

    The thing is, and it is a sad illustration once again of your lack of wisdom and judgement that you do not recognise this, that outside the rarified community who repeat the lie that the inheritance tax policy benefits only millionaires, it is popular, or even extremely popular, with quite a significant proportion of the voting, wealth-creating public. It is also, as Andy points out at 84, a relatively inexpensive proposal.

    What is your view of Darling's effort to neutralise the electoral damage which the Tories were able to do Labour with this policy by introducing transferrable IHT allowances?

  • Comment number 90.

    I still don't understand why the Tories don't point out that Labour have themselves reduced IHT by allowaing unused nil rate bands to be passed between spouses.

    The saving to a wealthy couple would be around £130,000.

    No howls of protest from the Labour supporters on here about that?

  • Comment number 91.

    88/Which ever way you look at it, It still meant extra money in the back pocket and therefore extra spending power, Along with the interest rate cuts. It's just one more tool in the arsenal

  • Comment number 92.

    91

    A tool about as useful as a chocolate hammer on a hot sunny day.

    Anyway, shouldn't there be weapons in an arsenal? Tools belong in a tool box.

  • Comment number 93.

    The Dude 91

    The thing is, The Dude, not enough extra money, as has been demonstrated, to achieve the desired economic effect. What is your view of the fact that the VAT reduction also, quite disproportionately, benefited the well-off over those on low incomes?

  • Comment number 94.

    re:scarelow various posts,
    If you are going to comment then get your facts right, Troops or servicemen/womenis right as not all are soldiers, e.g marines, aircraftsmen, naval ranks etc.

    Forces of the UK on overseas duty can vote by postal vote or a proxy vote, my father exercised my proxy vote for over 20 yrs.

    Why the bonus because UK troops are taxed while overseas by this Government, these Local Overseas Allowances used to be tax free under the previous Tory Govt.

  • Comment number 95.

    89/ "it is popular, or even extremely popular, with quite a significant proportion of the voting, wealth-creating public."

    That's because they are under the deluded illusion that there is a good chance they will actually one day benefit from it.

    Is that how we are to decide policy,the delusions of people that want to be wealthy beyond any comparison to the average person.

  • Comment number 96.

    I think that Labour are on the right track by emphasising that only 3000 families will benefit from the Tory plans. If this isn't disputed in the media, then surely nobody can be under any delusions about the beneficiaries.


  • Comment number 97.

    #95

    The IHT threshold is currently £325,000. If it is beyond your imagination that in a lifetime you couldn't aspire to buy a house worth that much it says much about you.

    My dad was a bus-condutor and in 1960 bought a house that cost £1,600. Today it is worth £350,000 and so without the changes brought about in panic by Brown to answer Cameron's initiative my mother would be in the IHT net.

    You have clearly set your targets in life very low.

  • Comment number 98.

    93/ It's a shame that the VAT reduction gives a disproportionate benefit to the better off. I'm a pragmatist. These measures are to get us back into growth, and without that, we will all be worse off.

  • Comment number 99.

    #96

    Like many Tory plans, it's an incentive. Labour's plans all seem to revolve around chasing people away or making them give up.

  • Comment number 100.

    Dude,
    Research from the Halifax reveals that:
    • In 2006/07, 33,000 estates are estimated to have paid inheritance tax, while in 1997/98 only 18,000 estates paid the tax.
    • Inheritance tax revenue raised in 2006/07 was a record £3.6bn, up £300m (nine per cent) on 2005/06 when £3.3bn was collected.
    • UK property taxes, including IHT, make up 12 per cent of our total taxes. This compares with an average of 5.3 per cent in the Euro-Zone and 2.5 per cent in Germany.

    Labour's solution.

    Previously if a couple owned an estate worth over £300,000, the taxman could relieve their heirs of 40 per cent of the excess in inheritance tax (IHT).

    But Labours rules, the IHT tax threshold will now be transferable between partners.
    This effectively means, for many, a doubling of the allowance, so that married or civil partnership couples, and widows and widowers, will only pay IHT on an estate of over £600,000, rising to £700,000 in 2010.
    According to the Halifax, this should keep an extra 2.4 million properties out of the IHT net, leaving a mere 600,000, or three per cent of owner-occupied properties in the UK over the threshold.
    And, Labour promises, it will consider both house prices and retail price inflation when setting IHT thresholds in the future.

 

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