Surrey Heath, and the surrounding area, has a long and honourable connection with the Armed Forces of this country.
The RLC Depot at Deepcut, the Medical Services Depot at Mytchett, and the nearby military town at Aldershot have helped form this connection. However, due to political intransigence and short-sightedness, this local connection will be greatly diminished, or even removed.
A short time ago, David Cameron and rest of the Conservative hierarchy praised the men and women of the Armed Forces for coming to their rescue by preventing, assisted by hundreds of Police officers drafted in, a multi-million Pound humiliating catastrophe over the security of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Without those servicemen and women, who had to live in extremely sub-standard accommodation for the duration of the Games, it is likely that David Cameron would have become an international laughing stock and unable to raise his head anywhere on the public stage (unless he put all the blame onto Boris Johnson) and, some have said, would have led to a General Election.
Now that the Games have ended, David Cameron and his Ministers and Secretaries of Defence have shown their gratitude and loyalty by a draconian culling of the British Armed Forces. Some gratitude. Some loyalty.
Many Service personnel returned from Aghanistan and Iraq, expecting to spend some time on leave with their families, but instead, found themselves digging this government out of a hole. That they did so with humour, competence and courtesy for all visitors, tells you more about the calibre of this country’s Armed Forces than it does for their political masters.
In a few years time, this country will have the lowest level of military personnel since the 1700’s, at a time when terrorism, both at home and abroad, is on the increase and which the Armed Forces and Police will be expected to deal with. It appears that there is no one in Government with the ability, or will, to admit that you can’t just open a box, take some soldiers out and then put them back when you don’t need them any more. The message the government is giving to those considering a career in the Armed Services is that, “We will use you, we will abuse you, and then we will throw you away when we consider you are no longer needed.” Rudyard Kipling certainly had the right idea about politicians and the military.
In the near future, many Service personnel will return from the Middle East, not to a well deserved hero’s welcome, but to a P45. Some gratitude. Some loyalty.
All this comes at a time when Mr Cameron, aided by Tom Winsor and Theresa May, is decimating the Police Service of this country. Mr Winsor, you may recall, recently wrote and submitted ‘independent’ reports on the future structure of the Police.
Recommendations include, an increase of pension contributions from 11% to up to 14%; to serve a longer period of time for a lower pension; retirement to be increased either from 30 years to 35 years service or from a normal retirement age of 55 years to 60 years; entry to the Police at a supervisory level to those who have a proven record of managerial experience (lack of Police knowledge or expertise would not be a barrier); any permanent injuries, which affect the ability to carry out ‘front line’ duties, to result in a reduction in salary in the short term and termination of employment in the long term (under these particular circumstances, David Rathband would have been put on reduced salary and then sacked after 6 months); and new terms of service that that Police offers be treated as normal employees, yet not be allowed the rights those other employees enjoy.
Mr Winsor, who is a partner in the firm advising on private companies carrying out tasks currently done by Police officers or Police staff, and who has recently commenced his David Cameron sponsored role as Inspector of Constabulary, has given an assurance that his report was completely independent, despite much of it bearing an uncanny similarity to the content of a speech made by David Cameron in 2006. I believe him. Mind you, I also believe that Elvis Presley is alive and well and stacking trolleys for Tesco at The Meadows!
I recently wrote to Michael Gove, my MP, when these proposals were first made known, voicing my concern. I did so, not only as a constituent, but as someone with a total of 43 years service in the British Army and the Surrey Police. In my letter I asked him if he would be happy with 59 year old Police officers dealing with Public Order offences in Camberley High Street and that the operations to deal with them were controlled by an ex manager of Poundland, (not that I have anything against Poundland or the ability of its managers). His response caused an equal amount of astonishment and concern, coming as it did from an obviously intelligent man.
It may be somewhat poignant that I wrote the first draft of this letter on National Police Memorial Day, where the Home Secretary spoke about the debt we owe as a society to those Police officers who have given their lives in their service to the community. After that, she no doubt returned to her office to continue plans to completely ignore the sacrifices of PCs Fiona Bone, Nicola Hughes, Sharon Beshenivsky, David Rathband and so many others. Some gratitude. Some loyalty.
There are only two organisations in this country which stand between order and anarchy and David Cameron seems intent in destroying both of them. Some gratitude. Some loyalty.
If there was a viable political alternative, would this treacherous government really deserve to be re-elected?”
I have sent the above to the Camberley News and Mail, either as a letter or an unsolicited article. Of course, being in an area where Dolly the Cloned Sheep would be elected if she wore a blue rosette, I have little chance of it being published. Still, I continue to follow in the steps of my literary hero Don Quixote – continually tilting at windmills – though I already have my Esmeralda keeping an eye on me!
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