Sunday, 6 December 2009

It’s curtains for Brown

Sorry for the light blogging but I seem to be spending rather a lot of my time walking around in circles as I practice my gait and try to acclimatise to life with a one leg permanently shorter than the other. In the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal and just makes walking barefoot a bit of a pain.

However, it is nothing compared to the suffering that British soldiers have experienced in Afghanistan recently. I simply can’t comprehend how the young men who return here with limbs blown off and serious bomb blast injuries manage to keep so cheerful and recover so well. Of course they’re pissed off with what’s happened but they just get on with things. That doesn’t mean to say they’ve forgotten what happened and why.

To show how they felt, a number of injured soldiers being treated at Selley Oak Hospital, near Birmingham, took the sensible decision to close the curtains around their beds when the prime minister Gordon Brown popped in for a brief pre-Christmas photo opportunity... er... I mean goodwill visit.

The soldiers described the Labour leader’s visit as ‘opportunistic’ and ‘a waste of time’. The men were forewarned that the clunking fist was on his way and were given the opportunity of declining a personal bedside photo.

Sapper Matthew Weston, 20, who lost both legs and his right arm when a bomb exploded on a dirt track outside Sangin, said: “I didn’t want to speak to him, I didn’t want to waste my time talking to someone who was just trying to make themselves look good. I spent the day with my family instead. Half the lads didn’t want to speak to him and those that did pretty much blamed him for everything. Many of the lads just closed their curtains and hid themselves away. I met Prince Charles and Sir Richard Dannatt [when they visited Selly Oak]. I have respect for them. Prince Charles spoke to me for two hours. I really didn’t want to speak to Gordon Brown.”

I think if I’d been so badly injured and was about to receive a visit from a man hellbent on cutting my compensation, I’d have closed more than my curtains. Another soldier, who’d lost his right leg after being caught in a mine blast in Afghanistan, said that more than two-thirds of the 25 soldiers on the ward closed their curtains. He, however, decided to speak to Brown.

“I wanted to find out how the guy’s head worked,” he said. “I was interested in what he had made of his trip to Afghanistan and what he had learnt from it. I feel that even if someone is a moron, he should have the opportunity to defend his moronity. [His response] all seemed rather textbook and not from the heart. The straight fact is this: we don’t like the man, he has done nothing for us and continues to kick us in the teeth over equipment and compensation.”

There’s not much you can add to that, is there?


  1. The young men and women who decide to join the forces and willing accept their deployments with a fighting spirit deserve all our respect and support - the man who uses his 'disability' of partial vision as a get-out clause does not.

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  3. I am surprised that none of the injured at Selly Oak took at swing at Brown with whatever they could use. Maybe they did. It would be covered up without a doubt.

    Brown has let down our forces badly, not just during the time he has been Prime Minister but when he was Chancellor as well. It is no surprise that many of our young and injured service men or women didn't want to meet him.

    As for them putting on a brave face about their injuries I can assure your readers that inside they will be very depressed and have very low self esteem, no matter what they show.

    I am speaking from experience - I have a facial disfigurement ( received over 20 years ago ) as a result of trauma. On the outside I try to be normal, but on the inside I am so so very, very sad.

    Our severely injured service people will need all the help and support they can get for the rest of their lives, whatever anyone thinks, and Brown and his lot do not give a monkeys.

  4. When the government of the day loses the confidence of the armed forces then it is time for that government to step down and call a general election.

  5. Brown had the chance to pull out and he did not. I don't think he can be blamed for everything but he could have made things better for our fighthing boys (and girls) and he has not. Obviously more concerned with Yankers.


  6. They wouldn't take a swing at the PM they are trained to fight for Queen and country. for them its not political its about honour, team work and a job well done.
    They face situations we cannot begin to imagine. They carry their wounds and their dead with a grace and dignity that most of our generation wouldn't understand.
    Well done Traction man for reporting factually and responsibly without the real need to interject 'how we would feel' ? How would we feel?
    Its a situation that until we have experienced we can't possibly begin to imagine. They don't ask for our support but it should be given with the same grace and loyalty with they conduct their lives. A piece well written without over sentimentality. Good luck to you traction man and good luck to them.