Steve Celebrates Armed Forces Day

(June 30, 2012)

Steve 7 HMS Liverpool

Liverpool Walton MP, Steve Rotheram, celebrated Armed Forces Day in Liverpool today and thanked the Armed Forces for all that they do.

Steve explained, "This year, our Armed Forces are facing an exceptionally difficult time. Not only are many of them fighting in very difficult circumstaces in Afghanistan and around the world, but they face uncertainty over whether or not they will have a job upon their return."

Steve went on to say, "Today I will be remembering the eight brave men from Liverpool who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan;

  1. Lance Corporal Peter Eustace
  2. Lieutenant Sergeant Mark Burgen
  3. Corporal Simon Hornby
  4. Kingsman Jason Dunn-Bridgemann
  5. Marine Michael Laski
  6. Class 2 Warrant Officer Michael Smith
  7. Sergeant John Langton
  8. Flight Lieutenant Steve Swarbrick

"Every single one of them is a hero and on this Armed Forces Day, I would like to pay special praise to the Royal Navy. Liverpool has a long history with the Navy and HMS Liverpool is a reminder to all scousers of the sacrifice and bravery of our ancestors."

With speculation rife that Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond is set to announce the abolition of several historical regiments in Force 2020 this week, Steve spoke out in the House of Commons last Tuesday against the Defence Secretary's political posturing explaining,

"Britain has a proud military history and throughout that history, sailors, soldiers and airmen served our country with a courage and bravery that has become synonymous with the British armed forces. It is a pleasure to place on the record tonight my appreciation for our armed forces, as I will when I attend a ceremony in Liverpool town hall on Saturday. I will be remembering the eight brave men from Liverpool who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, but of course the deaths of those brave men do not tell the full story. Countless others from the Merseyside area have been killed or injured in the line of duty during other conflicts and it should be recognised that Liverpool produces more men and women in our armed forces per capita than probably any other area of the country. As people will know, the Mersey is the lifeblood of our great city and Liverpool has a long history with the Royal Navy and the merchant navy. Its maritime history is a reminder to us all of the sacrifices and bravery of our ancestors.

In the somewhat limited time I have left, I want to talk about the lack of consideration that this Government have recently shown to our armed forces. I am primarily referring to the widespread reports that the Defence Secretary is to make soldiers who are currently serving redundant on their return from their tour of duty. What kind of Government would do that to their own brave soldiers? Decisions taken today, matters of life or death, spending commitments and diplomatic negotiations can and invariably will have ramifications for generations to come. What is more, some of the policy decisions made by the Defence Secretary today are likely to take decades to become manifest.

Yes, we need reform—that is why my right hon. Friend the shadow Defence Secretary outlined £5 billion-worth of reforms recently—but a reduction in Britain’s capability based on opinion polls is irresponsible. Controversy is not an excuse for carelessness or, dare I say, callousness.

The Defence Secretary should not underestimate the part that morale plays when it comes to our soldiers and armed forces. He would do well to remember the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower:

“The best morale exists when you never hear the word mentioned. When you hear a lot of talk about it, it’s usually lousy.”

Our armed forces deserve a Defence Secretary who understands defence and does not use it for political expedience. Our British armed forces deserve a Secretary of State who demonstrates compassion for the mission, empathy for the families and a determination to stand up for defence in Parliament."

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