Has Gordon Brown’s premiership just been terminated by a military coup?
No ultimatum, no bombs, no bullets, and no tanks up Downing Street.
Blink, and you might have missed it.
But yesterday, in a quite astonishing move, former heads of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces fired directly at the Prime Minister not only both barrels of truth, but enough military ordnance of reason to sink the Labour’s election ship completely and put the Prime Minister out of office permanently.
The intervention of senior members of the Military at such a crucial time in the election cycle represents a quite unprecedented politico-military coup.
But, notwithstanding the constitutional sensitivities, one can understand their decision to do so.
They spoke out following the Prime Minister’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, during which he said quite unequivocally and with a completely straight face: “Every request that military commanders made to us for equipment was answered. No request was ever turned down."
They were, he insisted, given 'everything they asked for'.
Admiral Lord Boyce, the Chief of the Defence Staff up to the start of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, responded in The Times: "He's dissembling, he's being disingenuous." He asserted: "It's just not the case that the Ministry of Defence was given everything it needed. There may have been a 1.5% increase in the defence budget but the MoD was starved of funds."
Lord Guthrie, another former chief of the defence staff, stated in The Daily Telegraph that armed forces had been denied a request for more helicopters. He disclosed: "To say Gordon Brown has given the military all they asked for is simply not true. He cannot get away with saying I gave them everything they asked for, that is simply disingenuous."
General Lord Walker, chief of the defence staff from 2003 to 2006, said that defence chiefs threatened to resign over the cuts the Government made.
Major General Patrick Cordingley said: “The real truth is the Armed Forces are underfunded.”
Sir Kevin Tebbit, the former permanent secretary at the MoD, has said Mr Brown ‘guillotined’ MoD finances and left him operating a ‘crisis budget’.
And General Sir Richard Dannatt, perhaps with a rather more overt political objective, said: “The whole of the armed forces have been robbed to provide the basics for combat operations.”
Whom to believe?
Difficult one, that.
Perhaps this will assist:
In a dig at David Cameron, Gordon Brown once boasted that he would never use his children as ‘political props’. Today he stands accused by former prime minister John Major of a ‘cynically-timed political stunt’ and of ‘profoundly unbecoming conduct for a prime minister’. The Prime Minister’s hastily-arranged visit to Afghanistan has been criticised not only by Opposition front benchers and leaders of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, but even members of his own party at LabourHome said it was ‘the most cynical stunt ever pulled by an “elected” politician’.
As the Prime Minister pontificates in Lashkar Gar to thank our troops for ‘their bravery, sacrifice and professionalism’, he professes to ‘remember all those who have given their lives in these last few months’. And he promises: “We will do everything we can to support you with the equipment necessary and the resources that you need."
And so he announced, in precisely the same clunking manner of a tediously dull budget, that 200 new armoured vehicles will be introduced in late 2011 to replace the controversial Snatch Land Rovers, which have been linked to 36 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Well, thank you, Prime Minister.
Only nine years too late.
But far too many fatalities too late.
Sue Smith, whose son Pte Phillip Hewett died in a Snatch in Iraq in 2005, said she was angry that Mr Brown was blaming the Army. She said: “I feel as though he is trying to shift the blame. I just think it is very low. Phillip's commander on the ground died with him in the vehicle. I am sure if he had had other options he would have used them. There was simply a lack of options.”
How can the Prime Minister lie to the grieving families of our fallen heroes, and then use our troops as ‘political props’?
This is not simply an exercise in economics or politics: it is a question of morality.
It is one thing for a government to commit the nation's armed forces to war in defence of the realm or in pursuit of a geopolitical objective related to national security.
But it is quite another for a government to commit its armed forces to war without adequate life-saving equipment or the hardware to execute the military objective with the minimum loss of life.
It appears to be obvious to everyone but the Prime Minister that there are soldiers who would not have been killed, whose names would not have been read out by him in the House of Commons’ weekly Roll of Honour, if they had simply been better equipped.
And they would have been better equipped if successive chiefs of defence staff had been given ‘everything they asked for’.
They were not.
Gordon Brown not only has blood on his hands: he is a liar.
If it takes a ‘Glorious Military Coup’ to remove an unrighteous, corrupt, autocratic, bullying, deceitful and manipulative liar from office, perhaps it is the lesser evil.