Category Archives: Veterans

Tory minister’s inappropriate response to challenge means he should resign

Johnny Mercer: he’ll be grinning on the other side of his face if voters in his Plymouth Moor View constituency demand a higher standard from their representative.

It’s time to demand a restoration of standards among our politicians – and Johnny Mercer simply doesn’t rise to mine.

This Site covered his inappropriate behaviour towards media personality Carol Vorderman earlier, after he denigrated her support for former Royal Marine Fred Thomas’s bid to unseat him in the next general election.

He suggested she has a “shit lonely life” (his words), that “no one normal really cares” about her support for Mr Thomas, that “they think you’re mad”, and finished with a series of “puking” emojis.

This is a breach of at least the seventh Nolan principle of public life – that he should treat others with respect.

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Today, we learn that Mercer – who is Minister for Veterans, remember – doubled down on his attack by turning his attention to Mr Thomas himself. Here’s Vorders again:

Again: no respect.

And if he’s not going to respect a fellow politician and former serviceman who rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Marines, then I think we can be sure he has never respected any of the other former servicepeople his job title suggests he should represent.

In the past, when ministers’ behaviour crossed a line beyond what is acceptable, they either chose, or were made, to do the decent thing and resign their position.

Recently, they have scorned the voters by choosing to brazen it out – keeping their jobs and ministerial paycheques in spite of outrage at their behaviour. Bear in mind that James Cleverly remains Home Secretary, nearly a week after his offensive comments about the date-rape drug Rohypnol.

As voters, we need to re-establish our boundaries – and make it clear to politicians that we expect the highest standards from them.

If they won’t commit to those standards voluntarily, then we should enforce them at the ballot box, by removing them from public life the hard way.

Mercer and Cleverly’s inappropriate behaviour make them entirely appropriate candidates for such treatment.


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Former Marine to stand against Johnny Mercer after failure to end veterans’ homelessness

Keyboard warrior: Johnny Mercer responded with anger to the revelation that an Armed Forces veteran will try to unseat him at the next general election after he failed to reduce veterans’ homelessness, instead presiding over a 14 per cent increase.

A former Royal Marine is to stand as Labour’s candidate against former Army officer and current Minister for Veterans Affairs, Johnny Mercer, at the next general election – as Mercer himself suggested.

Mercer swore to end veterans’ homelessness in 2023, saying, “Hold me to account.”

But he has failed dramatically, with veterans’ homelessness in fact increasing by 14 per cent.

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Here’s Carol Vorderman with some facts:

Will he apologise, asked Mr Thomas.

Apparently not.

Instead – well, here’s Vorders again:

To support herself, Vorders has tweeted some evidence:

If any part of the factual information above is wrong, This Writer would be interested to know.

But it all looks fairly clear to me.


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More meaningless pledges from the lying Labour leader

Labour leader Keir Starmer has come out with a couple more pledges to make voters happy for a while. Expect them to be reversed long before any general election.

The first is a promise to repair governmental relations with armed forces personnel who were used and thrown away by Tory governments. Starmer again played his ‘family’ card – that he had a family member in the societal sector concerned.

But he said his mother was in the NHS and is quite happy to privatise it into oblivion for the sake of a bung or two from private health companies, so it means nothing.

Also:

Didn’t Starmer’s lieutenant, Rachel Reeves, cancel a pledge to invest £28 billion on green initiatives in every year of a Labour government, in the name of a “fiscal responsibility” that doesn’t actually exist? The UK economy is such that money can always be found for initiatives that governments want to support; think of the £800 billion that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak spaffed off to Tory friends and donors during the Covid-19 crisis, in return for nothing at all.

(If a Labour government was serious about “fiscal responsibility” it would get that cash back.)

So there you have two Labour pledges that mean nothing at all.

One Labour pledge that does mean something is its unswerving, unequivocal support for the government of Israel and the apartheid that it operates. Here’s Keir Starmer, categorically denying that any such apartheid exists…

(His appeal for Jews to return to the Labour Party is risible because he has expelled more Jews from that party than any previous Labour leader.)

… and here’s an expert from the United Nations, explaining that Israel is indeed an apartheid state.

Keir Starmer can say whatever he likes but the facts are against him. As long as he continues to make false claims about Israel, Labour will continue to be a racist party – and anti-Semitic because of its persecution of left-wing Jews within the party.

Also persecuted within the Labour Party is anybody who is not absolutely loyal to Keir Starmer. So we see the shortlist for candidates in the campaign to become the new North East Mayor, that does not have left-winger Jamie Driscoll on it.

This has outraged party members and supporters:

Now we learn that Mick Whitley, a member of Labour’s Socialist Campaign Group, has been deselected and will not be allowed to stand for re-election as the MP for Birkenhead in the next general election.

Commentators like This Writer have spent years warning SCG members that their supine acceptance of Starmer’s aggression will not help them; they cannot change Labour from the inside and will only be targeted for removal individually, over time. Sadly, we have been proved correct yet again.

Mr Whitley is not happy about his deselection and has made his feelings clear:

These are just two more examples of Keir Starmer’s disdain for democracy. It isn’t a secret – take a look at the following (and read the article) for further details (if you can get past the paywall):

There’s an obvious conclusion to draw: if Starmer is willing to “ride roughshod” over democracy in the Labour Party, then he’ll do exactly the same to the UK as a whole if his party is ever voted into government.

Isn’t it ironic? You were warned off voting for Jeremy Corbyn by people who told you he would turn the UK into a far-left Communist dictatorship. And now the same people are avidly egging you on to vote in Starmer’s far-right dictatorship instead.


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Benefit system for injured war veterans is worse than the DWP

It’s no surprise: the UK has a prime minister who showed his contempt for the armed forces by laying a wreath face down one year. The Ministry of Defence spitting on injured veterans is par for the course.

After a weekend in which Conservative politicians across the UK stood in all their hypocrisy and mouthed empty words of thanks to soldiers they despise… this:

Former members of the forces say they have been left ‘suicidal, homeless and let down’ by a system of payouts that is tough to navigate and appeal, leaving many feeling betrayed by the government they once served.

Thousands of veterans are struggling to get government payouts for injuries caused in service, with some facing poverty and suicide over the issue.

These veterans overwhelmingly report the same things – not getting the level of payment they need and then facing lengthy and complex battles to get an increase.

Does that seem familiar to you?

Payments to injured veterans come in war pensions and the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) – both administered by the Ministry of Defence which, it seems, couldn’t care less.

Anyone physically or mentally harmed during service before April 6, 2005, should receive war pension payments. Those injured after that date must apply to the AFCS.

But in practice, getting what they are owed seems impossible.

According to The Mirror,

Many former soldiers … report that vital medical evidence proving their claims is removed by the time their appeals are heard.

If veterans are unhappy with their war pension or AFCS payment, they can appeal. But for many the appeal process is complicated and long.

Veterans will often give up on the system or – tragically – die before they get any payment increase.

The Mirror‘s article features accounts by, and about, a large number of veterans who have been struggling to receive benefits they deserve after suffering injuries in the name of their country.

It seems to be unspoken Conservative government policy – consider the policy of the Department for Work and Pensions to deprive sick and disabled civilians of the payments they need if they’re to live lives that are close to normal.

This Writer has to ask what the legions of flag-waving patriots who observe Remembrance Day in good faith think of this betrayal.

Source: Thousands of injured war veterans denied full disability benefits in ‘cruel’ move – Mirror Online

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Why did ex-Gurkhas have to go on HUNGER STRIKE in DOWNING STREET over unequal pensions?

Hunger striker: the government agreed to talks after Dhan Gurung (pictured) returned to the hunger strike outside Downing Street. He had been admitted to hospital after his heart slowed.

The answer to that is simple: racism, ingrained into the way British governments treat people.

Allow me to tell you the story:

Once upon a time (1814), the British East India Company, then in control of India, declared war on neighbouring Nepal because of Gurkha incursions that had taken place.

The war was extremely civilised, with both sides controlling looting and respecting non-combatants.

The war ended in 1816 and both sides decided to build a friendship in which 10 Gurkha regiments were recruited into the East India Company’s Army.

After the partition of India in 1947, a tripartite treaty between Nepal, India and the UK meant four Gurkha regiments were transferred to the British Army.

Here’s the problem, though: the terms on which the Gurkhas joined the British Army were not the same as those for any UK-born soldier.

Those who retired before 1997, like Mr Gurung, currently receive a fraction of the pension the rest of the British Army receive because the Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS) was based on Indian Army rates.

The Not New Labour government of Tony Blair tried to paper over this racist injustice in 2007, when it eliminated the differences between Gurkhas’ terms and conditions of service and those of their British counterparts.

The change was backdated to July 1, 1997, because that was the date when the UK became the home base for the Brigade of Gurkhas (it had previously been based in Hong Kong, which itself transferred to Chinese rule on that date) and changes in immigration rules meant retiring Gurkhas may settle in the UK after discharge.

The difference between pension rates pre- and post-1997 has long been a subject for grievance because it seems to be impossible to live comfortably on pre-1997 rates, either in the UK or in Nepal. Former Gurkhas who had served the UK as some of our most effective service personnel were therefore consigned to lives of poverty and misery because they weren’t British.

That is why Dhan Gurung, Pushpa Rana Ghale and Gyanraj Rai went on hunger strike on August 7.

Challenged to meet the hunger strikers and discuss their case, current UK prime minister Boris Johnson did what he always does when offer the chance to be a statesman: he ran away.

Previously, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had said he would be happy to meet  protesters, but argued no government “of any colour” had ever made retrospective changes to pensions of the kind they were demanding.

We can see from the actions of the Blair government in 2007 that this was a lie of the kind for which the Boris Johnson government is now justifiably infamous.

It seems the politicians’ position only softened when it seemed likely that one of the hunger strikers may suffer serious harm to their health on the prime minister’s doorstep.

Dhan Gurung was hospitalised after his heartbeat slowed, after refusing food for 12 days. It was initially believed that the diabetic veteran was having a heart attack.

He returned to the protest yesterday but shortly afterwards the government announced that it will hold talks with the group, and with the Nepalese government, and the hunger strike has now ended.

Further information on the situation is available in this House of Commons Library briefing.

I think it is important also to note that a petition, calling for Gurkhas to have equal pensions as other British veterans of the same rank and service, has reached the 100,000 signature threshold for a debate in Parliament.

How would any such debate run, if one or more of the protesters had suffered significant harm to their health because they had to go on hunger strike even to have their demands noticed?

And the discussion with Nepal seems dishonest, too. The four Gurkha regiments suffering the pension prejudice at the heart of the protest have been employees of the British Army since 1947; their pay and conditions are really nobody else’s business.

Whatever happens, this is another opportunity for Boris Johnson to drape himself in disgrace. He has already fled from dealing with this matter and his Defence Secretary has lied about it.

Who can doubt that they’ll concoct an excuse to short-change – once again – some of the bravest soldiers the UK was ever lucky enough to have?

Mercer sacked over unequal treatment in prosecutions of armed forces veterans

Mercer: it’s right that he should leave the government – but it’s for the wrong reason.

The Minister for Armed Forces Veterans has reported that he has been “relieved of my responsibilities in government” because he disagrees with Tory policy on prosecutions for historic crimes.

This is extremely dodgy ground. It seems clear to This Writer that, if a serving member of the forces has committed a crime while on active duty – but the evidence only comes to light later – they should still face prosecution for it.

The Tory government sees the matter differently and has included in its Overseas Operations Bill measures to protect veterans from prosecution if the alleged crimes were committed more than five years before any allegations are made…

… except for those who served in Northern Ireland. They have been excluded from this measure, meaning long-retired personnel could face imprisonment for alleged crimes committed decades ago.

Nobody deserves to face the extreme distress of court proceedings and possible imprisonment over false allegations, of course.

But nor should anybody receive an automatic free pass if they did commit crimes, no matter how long ago they happened. Think of paedophiles whose abominable practices with children only come to light decades after they took place.

So Mercer is right to go – but he’s going for the wrong reason.

He should be leaving because personnel who served elsewhere are being let off – not because those who served in Northern Ireland are still on the hook.

He should also be leaving because the government hasn’t bothered to devise ways of weeding out unfounded, frivolous or malicious attempts to prosecute veterans, but has instead opted to offer (potentially) amnesty to criminals.

But nobody can say his views weren’t known. He offered to resign from Theresa May’s government in 2019 over the same issue. So it is perhaps unsurprising that he has now left Boris Johnson’s government after it refused to pay attention to his concerns about the same issue.

Of course, we don’t know the exact circumstances yet. First we were told Mercer was on the point of resigning, then we were told he had been sacked, then that he had actually resigned, and then in his resignation letter he said he had been “relieved” of his responsibilities.

Still, this is another departure over government policy, following that of Samuel Kasumu – who actually quit after Boris Johnson’s cronies rewrote a report on institutional racism in order to pretend that it no longer exists in the UK.

We may conclude that the Johnson government is highly prejudiced. Not only is it deeply racist, but it also discriminates against forces personnel depending on where they served.

That’s not a good look for a government that desperately wants to appear friendly to those in the services after years of scandal over veterans who were left homeless after their discharge.

Mercer himself won’t be short of cash after losing this job – if he’s still got his £85,000-a-year job as ‘non-executive director’ of a cyber-security firm.

So don’t worry about him. Worry about people who have been wronged by our armed forces who won’t get justice – and about veterans who are being wronged by a government that is still allowing vexatious prosecutions against them.

Source: Johnny Mercer: Tory MP resigns as defence minister – BBC News

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New Bill is ‘lost opportunity’ to put the Armed Forces Covenant into law

No respect: Boris Johnson showed contempt for our Armed Forces by laying his wreath face-down at a Remembrance Day ceremony. Now his government will show contempt by failing to enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant into law.

How many times must the Tories let servicepeople down before military personnel (and former members of the services) realize the Tories are not their friends and don’t deserve their vote?

People in the military tend to have Toryism drummed into them from early training days onwards. It was no surprise when military personnel were found to have been using images of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for target practice a few years ago.

But it is bizarre, when the Tories take every opportunity to let our squaddies down.

Case in point: the new Armed Forces Bill. The Tories are saying it will enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant in law, to ensure that armed forces personnel, veterans and their families are not disadvantaged by their service when accessing key public services like health care, education and housing, but are treated fairly.

Sadly, the Tories can’t even treat them fairly in discussing this law about them.

You see:

The Bill will not enshrine the covenant in law at all.

Instead, the Bill introduces

a legal duty for relevant UK public bodies to have due regard to the principles of the Covenant

– which means very little in real terms.

Labour’s John Healey has it right:

“As it stands, this bill is a missed opportunity. It does not put the Armed Forces Covenant properly into law to ensure Forces personnel and veterans suffer no disadvantage in access to services, nor will it put right the long-term failings in the military justice system.”

No doubt our forces personnel won’t know they’ve been hoodwinked until they are back in civilian life and try to access the services they’ve been promised.

Source: New legislation to help ensure fair treatment for armed forces – GOV.UK

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What is the point of Remembrance Day when the government lets down our veterans so badly?

Contempt: at the national Remembrance Day commemoration service in 2019, Boris Johnson showed contempt for our Armed Forces by laying his wreath face-down. Is this merely symptomatic of the Tory government’s attitude to veterans generally?

I pass this on without comment. Do I need to amplify it further?

Disabled ex-armed forces personnel are being let down by the welfare system, with many experiencing stress and anxiety brought on by the struggle to access social security benefits, according to the Royal British Legion.

The charity said frontline Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff were insufficiently aware of their obligations under the armed forces covenant, which requires public services to give special consideration to injured ex-service personnel.

Among the difficulties reported by veterans to a Royal British Legion survey was the failure of benefits officials to understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when carrying out and scoring health assessments for disability benefits.

study by a Salford University academic published last year found many armed forces veterans with complex needs reported overwhelmingly negative experiences of universal credit, disability benefits assessments and benefit sanctions.

Source: Disabled veterans being let down by benefits system – Royal British Legion | Benefits | The Guardian

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DWP leaves navy amputee with £16 a month and tells him: get a job

Kevin Barnes: This former Navy amputee is hospital-bound but must use his pension to pay for a flat he can no longer occupy. Meanwhile the DWP has given him only £16/month in Universal Credit because of that pension.

Is anybody else thinking of Norman Tebbit, a Tory minister back in the 1980s, telling people to get “on your bike”?

That comment, inappropriate at the time, would be even more so in the case of 62-year-old Kevin Barnes, whose leg was amputated by surgeons because of circulatory problems.

The DWP assessed him for Universal Credit and decided to offer just £16 a month – while also demanding evidence that Mr Barnes was serious about returning to work.

It seems the assessment was carried out before his leg was removed, so he is now struggling to cope because of an out-of-date decision.

Mr Barnes is entitled to a military pension which pays £500 a month – most of which must now service his rent of £410 a month.

But his flat is now unsuitable for his needs as he is now bound to a wheelchair. In real terms, he is homeless – but must still pay for his flat because it contains all his possessions. Housing officials are trying to find him a new home.

Mr Barnes also draws £81.90 Personal Independence Payment, which is meant to be used to help him cope with extra financial pressures he faces because of his new disability.

He fears it will be cut in the near future because people are not eligible for PIP if they are in hospital for longer than 28 days and Mr Barnes has been hospitalised for two and a half weeks so far.

According to the Mirror:

Kevin said: “I’m supposed to be looking for work in the future, enhancing my CV, this that and the other.

“But I cannot plan for work at the moment. I now have to prepare myself for being in a wheelchair all the time and get used to that.

“Then there’s the prosthetics – I have my first meeting for that as well.

“I had been working and I expect … to work,” Kevin said. “I just thought I would be working and my naval pension would be a bit of a bonus, but it’s turned out to be my main source of income.

Source: Royal Navy amputee stranded with £16 Universal Credit told ‘get a job’ by DWP – Mirror Online

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The brutal difference between what Tories say and what they do

What Tories say:

Today – November 11 – is Remembrance Day. To mark the occasion, the Conservative Party announced a series of policies for ex-servicepeople.

Here’s one of them:

They have also announced extra childcare for military families and a law to protect veterans from “vexatious” legal action connected with their activities in the Armed Forces.

You may think that seems like a nice package.

What they do:

This is David Clapson:

He was a Lance Corporal in the Royal Signals serving in Belfast at the height of the troubles before leaving the army to work for BT. After working for the telecommunications firm for 16 years he became a carer for his elderly mother.

He suffered with Type 1 Diabetes and relied on regular insulin injections to survive.

Ordered to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance by the Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions, his payments were stopped after he missed an appointment and he died three weeks later, of diabetic shock, on July 20, 2013.

He had been unable to pay for the electricity to keep his insulin at the right temperature, meaning it had become unusable.

He had less than £4 to his name, and died with an empty stomach.

The Tories can say what they want and it won’t mean a thing.

This is what the Conservatives do to our ex-servicepeople. 

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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