Not happy with disgracing them with a lack of equipment and support now Gordon Brown has gone yet another step further and announced that senior Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals are not permitted to travel first class.
All armed forces personnel must now sit in standard class on trains and planes, whatever their rank, under a new rule that has provoked anger across the political parties. Even members of Brown’s own party have finally had enough and are saying so. Denis MacShane, a Labour MP and a former foreign minister said; “Surely there are limits to how much humiliation we impose on senior officers.” Other Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum are also outraged.
I know what many will ask; why should they travel first class in a time of austerity?
Well the answer is pretty obvious:
Firstly, many soldiers have hideous injuries and do not wish to be seen by hundreds in the packed coaches of a train. They do not wish to receive the criticism from members of the public who oppose the war in Afghanistan and seem ready to blame them, and many do not want to be singled out as a soldier for praise or attention.
Secondly, senior officers read and write large amounts of strictly classified material while in transit. They often have to summarise, plan and make notes on confidential documents on trains and planes in order to be time efficient. This cannot be done while in close proximity with members of the public.
Finally, the government’s ‘new plan’ to save money has not been implemented on parliament. Gordon Brown, his ministers and all MPs are still entitled to first-class travel on any form of transport. They are unrestricted on the carriages that they wish to stay in and they are given huge amounts of expenses from which to by the ticket. This is in comparison to the austerity that the senior officers of the British military have already chosen to show off their own backs: Austerity highlighted by the use of cheap ALDI wine and food at senior military dinners.
Labour MP MacShane recently sat next to a major-general from the Irish Guards on a packed train. He was shocked the officer and his colleagues were crammed into the compartment.
“I do not mind how MPs travel or whom they meet on the train, but it is a rum show when a major-general from the Irish Guards has to travel on an off-peak, cheap-day, standard-class return ticket to make modest economies for the military,” he said.
The government as always, hit back with a weak response:
Kevan Jones, a junior defence minister, said the decision “is not intended to humiliate anyone. It is about getting value for money”.
Labour double-standards; I’d like to see a Labour minister driving through IED territory.