Monday, 9 February 2009

Basra Memorial: Ainsworth's word ain't worth it?

It was only a week ago that Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth was promising the families of those who have lost loved ones in Iraq that the Memorial to their sons and daughters would definitely be coming home to the UK.
This promise had already been made by Gordon Brown last December when he visited the Basra Memorial Wall to lay a wreath in memory of the 178 servicemen and women who had died in Iraq.

Despite these assurances the MoD reported on its blog today that: "There has been no decision about final arrangements for memorials in Iraq, either in Basra or in the UK." Does this ambiguous statement mean that the Memorial may be left behind in Basra after all?

The MoD professes that it "takes its obligation to support families of those who have lost loved ones in conflicts very seriously". We can only hope that the only decision that hasn't been made is about where in the UK the Basra Memorial will finally be re-erected and not whether it will be brought home at all.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph Bob Ainsworth also promised that the families of those killed in Iraq will get Government help to visit where their loved ones died. But here again the MoD is putting a different spin on things by saying: "Mr Ainsworth discussed the options that could become available in the future for loved ones to visit, once the security situation has improved sufficiently. The appropriate support we could provide would need to be assessed across Government nearer this time."

The Minister for Defence and the Ministry of Defence seem to be saying different things. Promises or compromises? The MoD has certainly muddied the waters on what appeared to be clear commitments.
The Telegraph: Families of British servicemen killed in Iraq to get Government help to visit country
UKNIWM: Basra Memorial to Iraq Casualties to come home with Troops