David Blackburn

Thank God they’re not running a war

Thank God they’re not running a war
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Last week, defence maestro Kevan Jones launched his master-strategy to smear General Sir Richard Dannatt. It was ingenious. An FOI request would reveal the General to be a spendthrift, abusing taxpayers' generosity by lavishing their money on his grace and favour accommodation and on raucous parties for his army mates. To borrow a phrase, there was just one small flaw in the plan: it was rubbish.

The Mail reveals that General Dannatt’s grace and favour apartment is a stable block, not a palace, and that he pays tax on it because he views it as a perk. His other claims are modest. Audiciously, Sir Richard secured £19,270.77p in expenses between 2005 and 2009. He had spent taxpayer’s hard-earned cash on such fripperies as entertaining British officers to improve morale and cohesiveness, and on our Pakistani and Nato allies, in an effort to improve relations.

By contrast, between 2005 and 2008, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth and Kevan Jones claimed £394,306 and £454,324 respectively. But be thankful, it could have been more: Jones claimed only £33 on cleaning his second home. Imagine the bill if Jones suffered from the Howard Hughes-esque need for cleanliness which besets Alan Duncan and others.

Battlin’ Bob et al can’t even pull-off a straightforward political smear. It’s small wonder that they’re yet to apprehend that complex epistemological dilemma: that the best way to get more helicopters to Afghanistan is to fly the ones we have, to there. Never in the field of human conflict has so much been run so badly, by so few.