One of the things that the coalition, and especially the conservatives have been saying-over the last few years-is how badly the last labour government let down our troops in Afghanistan. I think they had a case, up to a point. Our troops were let down through lack of equipment, but probably no more than any other Government had done to troops in pretty much every conflict the UK has been involved in for the last 200 years.
Last December, Bob Ainsworth announced the purchase of 22 Chinnok helicopters specifically for Afghanistan. The problem had been not one of too few helicopters, but not the right type, as even the Americans had found out, and Chinooks coped best with the conditions.
Now yesterday David Cameron announced 12 Chinnok helicopters for Afghanistan. Hooray, most people thought. Even more helicopters. They probably felt that thsi Government was delivering in months what Labour managed in years. They were wrong.
What Cameron announced yesterday were not NEW helicopters – he was announcing that after his cuts this was all that was left of Labour’s order of Chinooks. And he had to cheek to lie about it, to claim that it showed his support for the troops.
“There is no cut whatsoever in the support for our forces in Afghanistan … we have been and will be providing more for our brave forces in Afghanistan [including] crucially, at last, the right level of helicopter capability.”
No Dave, you have provided LESS for our brave forces, and have cut their helicopter capability.