Saturday, 14 May 2011

There seems to be a sudden flurry to get the question of the Military Covenant sorted out. I put this down to the government looking for something that might bolster their sagging reputation. The purpose of a covenant has been bandied out for a few years but I wonder just how many know exactly what it was before the drafters got their hands on it. It was included in a MOD document. Never had any legal status. The full detail was
Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices – including the ultimate sacrifice – in the service of the Nation. In putting the needs of the Nation and the Army before their own, they forego some of the rights enjoyed by those outside the Armed Forces. In return, British soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they (and their families) will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service. In the same way the unique nature of military land operations means that the Army differs from all other institutions, and must be sustained and provided for accordingly by the Nation. This mutual obligation forms the Military Covenant between the Nation, the Army and each individual soldier; an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility which has sustained the Army throughout its history. It has perhaps its greatest manifestation in the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, when the Nation keeps covenant with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in action.
Note that it was not specific as to what would be covered - it is akin to a parent's duty to their child. This original concept of the Covenant really needs to be understood. Now let us have a look at the scope of the proposed legislation. First though, see just how keen the government has been to adopt the spirit of the Covenant. In February 2011 the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government decided that there was no need to make the Covenant law, proposing instead to cover it in an annual report to parliament - a Labour attempt in an opposition day debate to reverse this was defeated by 86 votes.
From what has been revealed very recently, the legislation is not expected to detail specific commitments about individual public services but will instead concentrate on broader principles - such as that no-one should be disadvantaged because of their military service and, beyond that, that special treatment could sometimes be justified. Ample opportunity there for the mealy mouthed lawyers of the MOD to evade responsibility. Forces personnel experience considerable disruption when the leave active service; mainly in finding a home. Compare this to what is done for immigrants. Priority medical treatment does not seem to be a concept known to GPs. The vast numbers of former service personnel suffering from PTSD would surely wamp the psychiatric services of the NHS and would conflict with the concept of the government's idea of a NHS remodelling. Yet another instance of big brave words at a sound and photo opportunity ending as bullshit.
This came up just after I posted this blog

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