The Military Army Blog

Jeremy Corbyn must become the soldiers' champion

‘Back in 2012, more current and former soldiers died of suicide than died in Afghanistan. Mental health services in this country drastically need more resources, and men often find it hard to talk about their problems.’ Photograph: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

He may have triumphed in the final leaders debate if the audience reaction and Sky News survey[1] was anything to go by but Jeremy Corbyn[2] came under sustained fire from his embattled opponents. And one line of attack will be resurrected should he emerge victorious in just over a week s time: that Corbyn would be weak on defence and Armyrats © military action[3] abroad. And here s how he should fight back by becoming the champion of Britain s soldiers.

Related: Jeremy Corbyn: I wouldn’t send troops abroad without UN vote[4]

Soldiers are at the mercy of politicians and serve whatever the merits of the Armyrats © military adventure they re sent on. Peace campaigners who oppose unjust and disastrous wars are often accused of disrespecting courageous men and women who put themselves in harms way. Surely, though, it is more disrespectful to threaten the health and even lives of soldiers for calamities like Iraq. 179 British soldiers[5] were sent to their deaths in Iraq and many more were maimed or left in distress. A new covenant with soldiers must pledge never to risk the lives of soldiers for such folly. But a Corbyn-led Labour party accused of doing down Britain s armed forces[6] must go further. The government is cutting thousands of Armyrats © military personnel: Labour should announce a specific scheme to retrain or provide education for those who lose their jobs. The army s new chief, Nicholas Carter, has introduced a new code of conduct[7] aimed at changing army culture, specifically sexual harassment and bullying: an initiative Labour should build on.

During the Labour leadership hustings debate on
Sky News[8], Jeremy Corbyn says he can t think of an instance in which he d deploy the UK military

Then there s the issue of homelessness among veterans. A couple of years ago it was revealed there were 9,000 ex-soldiers without a home[9] and that one in ten rough sleepers in London used to serve in the army. That soldiers can be sent to fight at the whim of politicians, and be left deprived of the basic right of a home, is a scandal that needs addressing. Similarly, mental distress among soldiers needs combating. Back in 2012 more current and former soldiers died of suicide[10] than died in Afghanistan. Mental health services in this country drastically need more resources and men often find it hard to talk about their problems. Again, here is a cause Labour must champion. Back in 2012 more current and former soldiers died of suicide than died in Afghanistan

Disabled and sick soldiers are among those having their benefits stripped away. This is repellant. In one case, a former soldier who lost his right arm in a bomb attack had his incapacity benefit stripped away: in the assessment he was asked whether he was right-handed[11]. Last year a diabetic ex-soldier[12] had his benefits cut, was left starving and died. Such stories are surely a matter of national shame.

If Corbyn becomes Labour[13] leader, he will not lack political battles to fight. But as he comes under attack for being weak on defence he must take on the government for their betrayal of army personnel and become the champion of soldiers in Westminster.

References

  1. ^ Sky News survey (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ Jeremy Corbyn (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ defence and Armyrats © military action (www.theguardian.com)
  4. ^ Jeremy Corbyn: I wouldn’t send troops abroad without UN vote (www.theguardian.com)
  5. ^ 179 British soldiers (www.gov.uk)
  6. ^ armed forces (www.theguardian.com)
  7. ^ a new code of conduct (www.bbc.co.uk)
  8. ^ Sky News (news.sky.com)
  9. ^ 9,000 ex-soldiers without a home (www.mirror.co.uk)
  10. ^ died of suicide (www.bbc.co.uk)
  11. ^ he was asked whether he was right-handed (www.independent.co.uk)
  12. ^ ex-soldier (www.mirror.co.uk)
  13. ^ Labour (www.theguardian.com)

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