The publication of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report on service families accommodation, which reveals the scale of the ongoing mismanagement of the MoD housing stock and the lack of investment into the welfare of troops and ex-servicemen which should rate far higher then it clearly does when it comes to Government thinking, will no doubt cause a bit of stink and much muttering in the media - but none of it should come as a surprise.
Oh, it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Tommy, go away':
But it's 'Thank you, Mister Atkins,' when the band begins to play -
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
Oh, it's 'Thank you, Mister Atkins,' when the band begins to play.
Every now and again you honestly sit there and blink and think that nothing has changed; once again our heroes and heroines are doing battle in a distant land and their families are living quietly in sub-standard accommodation at home. They (My grandfather amongst them) were promised many years ago 'Homes fit for heroes' – I think not and clearly neither does the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee - perhaps Kipling had it right – we don’t, well successive Governments at least; don’t appreciate our soldiers one bit; with their hack the budget there and save money here.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Sadly it should come as now real surprise, as there is a long tradition of successive Governments (with ironically the exception being the 1945 Labour Government) of betraying it's service personnel admittedly usually after a wars conclusion rather than while it is still going on. It is deeply ironic that with the ninetieth anniversary of a UK Government betraying its promise to our soldiers to ensure that they had homes fit for heroes after the 1914 – 1918 war; that we find ourselves in a situation where soldiers families are living in sub-standard accommodation.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?'
But it's 'Thin red line of 'eroes' when the drums begin to roll -
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
Oh, it's 'Thin red line of 'eroes when the drums begin to roll.
This timely report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee clearly shows that resources at the MoD are being scandalously mismanaged. It is absolutely unacceptable that a third of forces families are living in poor accommodation and is equally amazing that such a large number of MoD properties remain empty at huge expense to the tax payer. It is clear that there has clearly been a long term underinvestment in service housing stock which is unacceptable.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
It is a grave insult to our forces that while the UK Government is considering sending more troops to fight in Afghanistan, and questions are already raised as to the provision of their equipment, that their families at home are being badly let down. The families of our service men and women deserve much better than they are getting from the current Government. The Ministry of Defence must act on this report and improve the condition of service families’ accommodation.
Perhaps the last word should go to Kipling's Tommy...
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!'
But it's 'Saviour of 'is country' when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!