Monday, 25 January 2010

Former Labour Defence Minister blames Brown and Blair

Former Labour Defence Minister blames Brown and Blair

Brown failed to act on helicopter shortages

Before the Chilcot inquiry today (Monday), former Labour Defence Secretary Des Browne has admitted that military chiefs were concerned about a lack of helicopters in Iraq but refused to accept responsibility for the shortage and pointed the finger of blame directly at the those in power before him.

Browne, who was also Scottish Secretary at the time, further admitted it was unprecedented for a Defence Secretary to manage another portfolio and that his deputy was largely left to handle the Scotland Office.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesman, Angus Robertson MP said:

“By washing his hands of responsibility for helicopter shortages the former defence secretary is pointing the finger of blame directly at those in government before him - including Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

“This is utterly damning stuff. Here we have a former cabinet minister shifting accountability for the shortages faced by the our troops on the frontline to the portfolio he inherited from Blair and Brown’s Labour Government

“This is the strongest indication yet that Brown knew exactly the difficulties facing our brave servicemen and women as early as 2005 but failed to act on safety concerns. As Chancellor, Brown was there every step of the way, not only privy to information but actually actively involved in bankrolling the worst foreign policy disaster in modern times.

“This is exactly the reason why Gordon Brown must face thorough and searching questioning when he appears before the inquiry. The public deserve to know the truth about a war fought in their name. “

Shadow Spokesperson for the Scotland Office, Angus MacNeil MP added:

“Des Browne’s admission that he neglected his work in the Scotland Office comes as no surprise.

“Throughout his time in office the people of Scotland failed to see what role he possibly played in governing the country and this scrutiny has become even more intense since Jim Murphy took over. The job of Secretary of State for Scotland isn’t just a part-time job – it’s a non-job.

The Scotland Office is as irrelevant now as it was then. It costs more than £8m a year to run and the number of staff has increased by 300% yet its actual remit remains unclear. This money would be better spent providing front line services or protecting frontline troops than funding a department which is neither use nor ornament."

No comments: