Peter Hoskin

The war on Dannatt continues

The war on Dannatt continues
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Today's Telegraph has a dispiriting addendum to the spat between Labour figures and General Sir Richard Dannatt which surfaced fully last weekend, and which will intensify after Dannatt's interview with the Beeb this morning.  Here are the key passages:

"Relations between the Chief of the General Staff and the Government hit a new low after senior Labour sources warned the general will be 'fair game' for political attacks when he leaves his post at the end of August...

...after Sir Richard’s retirement on August 28, some Labour MPs plan to raise questions about the general’s role in recent decisions on defence policy.

One minister said: 'Once he’s gone, we can have a go at him. He can write his book and talk all he wants, but he’ll be fair game then.'


Sir Richard is understood to be thinking of writing about military strategy and the future of Britain’s defence capabilities when he retires. Friends say he will not shy away from passing judgement on the Government’s treatment of the Armed Forces.

'Richard will do his duty and carry out his responsibilities to the Army and the country whether he is in uniform or not,' said a friend. 'He does not go out to be political or seek conflict with ministers, but he takes his responsibilities extremely seriously and he will say anything he feels he has to say about the situation facing the Armed Forces.'

A Labour source accused the general of 'building up his own reputation at the expense of the Army' and added: 'The man’s a hypocrite. He’s sat in these meetings and approved these things, and then he comes out in public and complains about them.'"

Whatever you might think about Dannatt's conduct (personally, I think he's far more in the right than those Labour sources are allowing), it's sad that the debate over Afghanistan has reduced into these destructive accusations and innuendos.  The last few days have proved that some "seniour Labour figures" think that Dannatt is "fair game" now; let alone once he's retired in August.

P.S. Brown's evasiveness in this video doesn't exactly support the line that's being trotted out by his Labour colleagues above: