Tuesday, 12 January 2010

32% of front line legislators unfit to vote, Public Whip figures show

I must state publicly that I am not entirely convinced by the blanket 'brave-soldier-hero' guff wheeled out by the MSM and even less by the 'case for war', however the breathtaking hypocrisy of legislators leaves me speechless - fortunately I can still manage a rant on my blog. You may think my comparison with commons division attendance ad hominen - I've spend the morning crunching the numbers from the Public Whip website and let me assure you it is far from it.  The next scandal?  It should be, I wonder if the figures on attendance in debates are available?

Believe me, if soldiers in the first world war achieved attendance figures close to that of the average MP, they would have been shot for desertion.

I decided to base my response on this headline piece as reported this morning by the BBC webshite, here goes:

32% of front line legislators unfit to vote, Public Whip figures show

More than 1,000 personnel suffered combat injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, their participation in increasingly unpopular wars of attrition nodded through by New Labour and Conservative politicians with no concern for legality or the probity of the case for war.

In an astonishing case of absolute cowardice on the part of legislators, and an attempt to distract the public from the real villains in this debacle the Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin [claimed > £60,000 on his expenses to rent his sister-in-law’s farmhouse, just over the road from a country home part-owned by his wife, voted for an illegal war in Iraq] has attempted to obfuscate the collective ineptitude and liability of the honorable members of the Commons by publicising deployment figures.

In an audacious act of self aggrandisment and diversion, that can only be interpreted as an attempt to further undermine the MOD and service personnel, Mr Jenkin cast doubt over the competence, commitment and fitness of service personnel - thinly disguised as concerned for injured service personnel.

According to Mr Jenkin military deployment availability stands at 80%, or as the BBC pejoratively put it '20% of army infantry personnel - are unfit for frontline combat duties'. Public Whip figures show that almost 209 MPs - or 32.19% of elected legislators are unfit for frontline voting duties at any one time .

Some are not fully deployable because of physical or mental injury or illness, or lack of fitness, others because of non-medical reasons - but mainly because they cannot be arsed working for their well above average salary packages.  Compare if you will the salary of an infantry soldier to the generous pension, salary and expenses extended to MPs.

The data from the Public Whip website showed that since 2005 in 151 divisions (votes, where the common 'divides') the commons had fewer than 50% (323) fully deployable legislators.

The MoD said most classed as medically non-deployable could still contribute, however MPs that fail to vote make no contribution - they are neither penalised financially or held to account, nor required to offer explanation.

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, who obtained the information, told the BBC: "To have 20% of the infantry unfit for the duties they are primarily employed and trained for is quite a staggering figure. Erm Bernard, not as staggering as your hypocrisy, Bernard Jenkin's voting attendance since 2005 sits at 64.5%.
As I see it Mr Jenkin, and every other MP who voted for the war, this is down to you.  Your headline grabbing attempt to bolster your reputation as a defence specialist only emphasises the UK government's willingness to bend over and take one up the arse for the USA and its military industrial complex - then complain about the pain afterwards.  It throws into stark relief your misguided collective decision to go to war.

You broke it, you fix it - and stop stating the bleeding obvious; the infantry are acquiring injuries and dying, what the fuck did you think would happen? At least they turned up..


  1. 20% is a low figure considering we have been in war situations for the past 10+ years Clara.

    Of course the BBC don't breakdown the 20%, just a few hints about below 18s etc. This figure will also include those who are on 'stand down' duties ie unable to return to the front line because they have very recently returned from there.

    The figure of 1000 injured has been plucked out of thin air. We have 247 deaths already in Afghanistan and 140 from Iraq. The injury figure is far higher I'm sure.

    As for Bernard Jenkins he's another placeman. If I've time I may just send him an email.

    The military don't particularly like the 'brave-soldier-hero' image either. They prefer 'soldier-veteran' by far.

  2. Absolutely right Subrosa - the military folks I know like their job, like fighting and accept that injury or death may be consequence (and know that is hard for their families to accept) - all quite modest about 'doing their jobs'.

    The figures and the way they are portrayed is typical media hogwash - it could have been a positive "More than 80%" as easily, but what kind of news is good news?

    As for MPs and honesty, I've given up hoping for that, long time since.

  3. And mrCameron wants more deference... for people like Mr Jenkins?

  4. I know what I would like in place of deference Tris. Starting with redundancy...