That the Labour mayor of Chepstow, Hilary Beach, should ask that troops taking part in the town's Remembrance Parade should do so without their weapons, is a shameful disgrace and an insult to the serving men and women of this country. This crass attitude fortunately remains exceptional. But the widespread disquiet with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fuelled as it has been by negative reporting from the media and inept handling by the Government, is making people become increasingly embarrassed when discussing the Armed Services and there is a danger that indifference is creeping in.
The public's opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan must be directed towards the Government not towards the Armed Services who are, rightly, obliged to carry out the Government's commands.
The Labour Government has so far failed to provide visible, public recognition for the work that our troops have being doing on the Nation's behalf. It's almost as if the Government itself is embarrassed about publicly demonstrating their thanks to the troops who have been doing their dirty work for them. Instead of allowing, by their neglect, the reputation of the Armed Services to be tarnished, the Government should be publicly honouring them and thanking them; they should not be bringing the troops home through the back door.
The Government should organise morale-boosting parades for returning regiments in the UK's capital cities and ministers should themselves be visible at them. Local councils too should be providing civic receptions and inviting the troops to parade through their towns. [Well done to Norwich and Bury St Edmunds who have organised parades and services for the Royal Anglians - Norwich on Thursday 22nd November starting at 2:15 and in Bury St Edmunds on Friday 23rd November].
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, has today backed the growing campaign for returning troops to be rewarded with parades: "Equally they [the troops] are concerned the British public does not appreciate or understand what they do. We need to express that a bit more visibly. I welcome recent efforts to do that. We need to have a little more tangible and visible expression of our appreciation."