Thursday, 3 September 2009

Joyce Tells Gordon Get a Grip....On Defence

Eric Joyce has chosen the 70th Anniversary of the declaration of War on Hitler's Germany to resign as the parliamentary private secretary to Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth. In his

he tells the Prime Minster to get a grip. Not actually in those words but he concludes saying:

"I believe the next election is ours to win, thanks greatly to your personal great economic success. But we cannot win unless we grip defence. Above all, Labour must remember that service folk and their families are our people. We say that we honour them for their risk, bravery and sacrifice and we must at literally all costs continue to show by our actions that we mean it."

His letter is a strong rebuke on the war senior members of his own party are attacking senior military personnel while keeping those very experienced voices silent.

"Behind the hand attacks by any Labour figure on senior service personnel are now, to the public, indistinguishable from attacks on the services themselves. Conversely, in my view we should allow our service personnel greater latitude to voice their views on matters which make distinctions between defence and politics pointless."

No doubt the man who resigned his commission as a Major just 10 years ago has like that other former soldier 70 years ago kept his ear to the ground with his former colleagues. Like Churchill he is saying that something needs to be done, something that he feels cannot be done despite his experience from inside the MoD at the moment.

He also says that he does not think that "the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets." Going on to talk about the uncertainty about British forces continued deployment in Afghanistan.

However, he does note that a British withdrawal leaving the USA to fight on alone "would mean the end of NATO as a meaningful proposition" all the while acknowledging the proud tradition of British forces punching well above their weight.

It is an interesting time to go, although he said that the decision was made some weeks ago. The choice of today seventy years on from when Neville Chamberlain announced to the nation, "I have to tell you now that no such undertaking (withdrawal from Poland) has been received and consequently this country is now at war with Germany," can surely not have been overlooked by a military man.

Consequence? I think not. I mean the man is a mature* Sandhurst Graduate and was commissioned into the Royal Army Educational Corps.

Update: Subrosa has asked me to point on a couple of occasions in the comments to point out that Eric started as a private in the Black Watch at 18 before leaving to get a degree at 21, entering Sandhurst and becoming a mature 'cadet' at 27. As this does point out that he know live in the ranks, officers' mess and the difficulties being a mature officer cadet can bring, I have decided to add the detail, as it shows the mans possibly unique grasp of Army matters even further from the current green benches.


  1. I doubt Eric Joyce keeps his ear to the ground....most Army (and other services) detest him as a Labourt turncoat.

    However....he has done the right thing and should be applauded.

    I reckon Joyce for Labour spokesman on Defence in opposition.....

  2. A bit of further info Stephen. He joined the Black Watch at the age of 18 and left at 21 to go into further education.

    Then he applied for a commission when he was 27 so he was a 'mature' cadet.

    So he has seen life in the army from a private's view as well as an officer's.

    This is not to defend him but by saying Sandhurst Graduate that usually means someone who has done the usual school, university, then Sandhurst route. It's usually those who have been offered a commission from the ranks who go as mature cadets and undertake any further education at the Military Academy at Shrivenham or some such place while they are still serving.

    Useless info I know. :)

  3. Thanks Subrosa, I was aware of that, I was emphasising the military education etc as the reason for 3rd Sept. being the day chosen for a statement of this nature.

  4. I see Stephen, but I still think it should be said that he entered Sandhurst as a mature cadet. Implying he was a Sandhurst graduate usually means he entered at the age of 20 (the youngest age and usually Scots), 21 or 22. Having an older cadet within the ranks of those younger ones can be difficult for that cadet.

    Then you're of the age you will appreciate that.

  5. Ok I have made a slight alteration and descriptive footnote.