James Forsyth

An impossible position

An impossible position
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The moment that stuck out for me from today’s PMQs came right towards the end, the exchanges between the leaders were not particularly enlightening. Gerald Howarth, a member of the Tory defence team, rose from the backbenches to tell the House of an email he had received from a friend of one of those men killed in Afghanistan in recent days saying that the coalition is winning there. Howarth asked the PM to help spread this positive message — prompting Labour cries of ‘tell The Sun.’ But in his reply, Brown conspicuously did not say that we were winning. Instead, he concentrated on paying tribute to the bravery of the British forces serving there.

It is understandable that Brown is not prepared to say we are ‘winning’ in Afghanistan, there is plenty of evidence that we are not. However, I wonder how long public support for a war can be maintained when the Prime Minister can’t say that we are winning but is also not announcing a new strategy. As I said on Saturday, President Obama’s delay in making a decision on Afghan strategy is making Brown’s position nigh-on-impossible.