Sunday, October 15, 2006

Is Lord Drayson a Liar, a Spinner or Just Plain Incompetent?

On Wednesday last week, Defence Minister Lord Drayson made a startling claim in the House of Lords. He asserted than on any given day there are an average of 50 British soldiers in hospital anywhere in the world. Given there are over 200,000 in the armed forces and there are two wars on, I find that completely implausible. The exchange is HERE. Lord Trefgarne is clearly bemused and asks Drayson to repeat the figure, which he duly does.

Apparently he can only get to that number by excluding field hospitals, ie nearly all the injured from Iraq etc. The Government is clearly desperate to suppress information about the wounded, which is one reason Sir Richard Dannat is so cross and has spoken out.

Why is no journalist or politician making more of this? Just how many injured servicemen do we have in Afghanistan and Iraq? I think we have a right to know. The trouble is, we may all be shocked by the answer.

28 comments:

griswold said...

He is all three. If you would like a reference on Drayson (bribed his way into Lords and ministerial post)from House of Lords, please refer to the distinguished ex Lab Peer and now a crossbencher, Lord Wedderburn. He is so ashamed of Blair's conduct in Upper House matters that he has just resigned the Labour Whip. Here is a story.

The Druid said...

One for the Freedom of Information act or those superb terriers over at EU Referendum Blogspot.

Why is more not being made of it? The problem is simple. The Tories shut most of the military hospitals. Yet another black mark against the so-called Conservative govt of John "Minnow" Major. The party can hardly complain when it is the chief architect of this shameful mess can it? Besides hugging trees is so much more rewarding......

Bob Piper said...

Keep asking the question, Iain. Both Labour AND Conservative politicians sent these young people to fight these futile wars and they should all be held accountable for their actions. The fact that more Labour MPs opposed the invasion of Iraq than did Tories should not mean that those of us who opposed the war from the outset should allow either lot who voted for it to evade the responsibility.

Buster George said...

supprisingly there is very little information on British casualties available from the government or MOD websites,

There is however plenty of info on american casualties.

Blair would not want the true casualty numbers listed, I would ask do Lord Drayson's figures include those soldiers that have been suffering from mental issues?

It is a disgrace that our troops sacrifices are being hushed up to protect the arses of this Government.

Blair sent them to fight he should do them the service of acknoledgement.

Anonymous said...

If he is a spinner, we should send him out to India pdq!

CityUnslicker said...

Great point Iain. We need to uncover the hidden horrors of the war that Blair and his cronies want to hide

hatfield girl said...

Drayson said, " On any given day, on average, there are 50 personnel in-patients in our hospitals for any condition whatever, from an operation on a knee to pregnancy. We do not have substantial numbers of cases, but we must make sure that the best possible care is given to the small number of cases that there are.". Pregnancy to knee operations; hardly covers the kinds of conditions resulting from warfare - roadside bombs, rocket attacks, gunfire, mines, ...

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

Drayson bought his peerage from Blair over breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Must have got his figures off gordo to be that far out.Mans an idiot and a liar

Chuck Unsworth said...

Iain,

A very good point. It's remarkably difficult to obtain any figures at all from the Ministry of Defence. As always their responses are surrounded by prevarications and dissimulation. For example, there is no 'definition' of what constitutes a severe or slight injury, and MoD has said that it does not keep records of injuries which it regards as minor. That leaves the door wide open.

It is very telling that each and every statement issued by this Government or by the Civil Service must now be microscopically scrutinised for obfuscation. The first and immediate reaction of the public to any statement is to look for the double-meaning. By contrast, a Chief of General Staff makes his views known and those comments are widely accepted and applauded.

It's appalling that this should be so, and it is the direct result of Blair's administration. He has, almost single-handedly, utterly discredited politics and politicians. It will be decades before this destruction is repaired.

That is his true legacy.

ian said...

Maybe soldiers are treated as outpatients?

The only reason this could have been covered up, and hence become a story, seems to be the general public's disconnect between soldiers and killing - hence their recent tax-free bonus for doing their job.

Ted said...

The weasel words are "in-patients" - cases receiving outpatient treatment and continuing care, follow up care etc as well as those in field hospitals or being treated elsewhere overseas aren't included.

The whole media coverage of our troops in particularly Afghanistan is poor and only glimmer of hope is the Sun taking an interest.

fred said...

The conservatives support the Blair Government on these wars and are to some degree complicit in the putting of our soldiers at risk.It is therefore plausible to say that the conservatives have as much to gain by keeping information tight.Why else are they not raising questions for information?

Anonymous said...

Iain, this government seems very reluctant to publish any real figures on British casualties. I think its called hiding bad news.

Unixman said...

He is bull-shitting. Go and look at the breakdown of the US figures - http://icasualties.org/oif/ especially at the wounded column. These are the numbers of wounded that do not return to duty within 72 hours. Over a 12 week (Jul-Sept 2006) period the Septics sufferd over 750 casualties that fell into this category .... Note that the numbers are for wounded IN ACTION, not those who fell of the crapper when pissed. There are about 140,000 US troops in Iraq. I suspect that the British casualty rates are similar.... NB That is just for Iraq ...

Gracchi said...

Yes I agree with you time that this was investigated and gone into thoroughly. Field Hospitals being excluded are typical of new Labour's thinking- take the education spending which was announced as a three year instead of a yearly total to inflate the number.

Anonymous said...

NuLab promoted the war and IDS backed it. He however intended it should be fought in order to succeed, and not to become an example of cynical news management.

Brown would have known about the Dannatt revelations from Dacre, it is inevitable, and approved them or Dacrew ouldn't have piublished. Now Brown is trying to cover up his involvement by telling Matthew D'Ancona that Dannatt's revelations put him into a difficult spot as he's the one who will have the extricate the army from Iraq.

Gordon's a devious fucker - from stealth taxes that wreck pensions, to trying every trick he can to flush Blair out. If this piece of outspokennness hadn't suited Brown, it would not have happened as it did and when it did.

Peter Hitchens said...

Most clowns read the word "injured" in the Sun and think
"ooh he has a bit of shrapnel up his arse"
Not the reality of limbs blown off, blinded, castrated or horribly burnt.
I sincerely hope Blair Burns in hell ,preferably after we have hung him.

Peter Hitchens said...

unixman

The US also do not count casualties that die en route to Germany , you die on the road in Baghdad you are counted, die on you way to hospital on an air craft, nothing.

Shotgun said...

No Iain, we have apparently we have apparently no rights because we are currently under the yoke of a constitutional dictatorship with Bliar in receipt of the royal prerogative and therefore all powerful...according to some mongs around here.

I would say that there would be 50 servicement in hospital as a matter of course just with things like flu or appendicitus etc. and that does not include any disease or virus contracted outside the UK, and does not include any wounded or sick from active service.

There's always been sick chits and malingerers and these would account for these at the very least.

The Government is desperate because May elections are getting ever closer.

On Arrse there was a campaign some years ago to get all soldiers to register to vote in Sedgefield, which is their right, and to vote Bliar out, but it never came to nothing. Now however, it might.

New Labour are desperate because they have wasted nine years and fucked up virtually everything they have touched, and the public have rumbled them.

Buster George said...

The MOD make this statement about casualty figures
"there is still variability in the nature of these reports, and so we cannot produce a fully reliable and consistent set of figures."

THey only keep records from april 2005 because of "the tempo of operations" before that date.

I thought that we had won the war long before then, so surely operations should have been winding down long before that date.

In any case a soldier that has been hurt would have been seen by his CO, surley there would be a record of that even if it was only kept within his regiment, how hard would it be to collate this information for more accurate figures?

You can check out what the MOD say in full here.

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets/OperationsInIraqBritishCasualties.htm

The Morningstar said...

Notice the word average is used, over what period is/was that average worked out?

Then you should ask how many are on sick leave recovering from whatever injury they have suffered, it doesn't mention how many are at home waiting for medical discharges.

How many are at places like Headley Court (if it's still open) undergoing rehabilitation.

I spent several periods in Military hospitals, most of which had far more than 50 beds each, and most of which had a fair turnover of patients.

Military training is harsh enough, and general illness prevalent in the armed forces like any other section of society, that there will be a damn sight more than 50 patients in hospital for some reason or other at any one time without us conducting operations in two theatres (pun not intended).

He's a liar.

Tom Paine said...

The first step towards restoring a decent political culture, not to mention political accountability, in Britain would be to stop distinguishing (as you do in your question) between lies and spin. They are synonyms.

strapworld said...

Iain,

Could you not, as an A Lister, ask David Cameron, on behalf of the nation and as Leader of the Opposition, to ask Blair the true figures for ALL casualties of the Iraq war

and also a seperate similar question relating to Afghanistan.

How many injured armed service personnel have been or are being treated in civilian wards/hospitals?

What especial orders do those hospitals receive on the special treatment of injured armed service personnel?

You are in a much better position than most of us. I do not think it matters much that the tories supported the war. Most of us did on the lies given to us!

The Tories OWE it to the armed services and the extremely brave general to speak up NOW.

I do have an interest, My son is in Iraq in the Army.

Iain Dale said...

Strapworld, Liam Fox is coming into 18DoughtyStreet today so I hope to talk to him about this.

Anonymous said...

It is coming up to Nov 11, Whitehall will troop out lay wreaths, and on the following Monday morning will be back to the same cynical games. The British public are seen as expendable or a milch cow by the Whitehall elite, politicians and Civil servants alike. The conservative government uses civilian aircraft to put intelligence teams into Kuwait, so not a lot is going to change with a change of party. The Conservatives and Liberals have been supine in opposing the Government and now the Military have been forced to oppose Government policy. This is dangerous constitutionally. We need a New Reform Bill to deal with this rotten political system. The voters are withdrawing their support, because voting changes little. We need less MP's who are more powerful and are prepared to hold the executive to account to start with.

Anonymous said...

How come the Americans can produce the exact number of killed and injured servicemen updated virtually daily?

Anonymous said...

From the Committee Stage of the Armed Forces Bill:

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 171:

After Clause 339, insert the following new clause-
“MAINTENANCE OF RECORDS
The Secretary of State shall ensure that records are kept of every person subject to service law who is evacuated from an overseas operational theatre as a result of injury or serious illness.”
The noble Earl said: Recently, there has been concern, inside and outside Parliament, about the casualty rate in current operations. We are told that figures are not available or not collected, which is convenient. I have resisted the temptation to table suitable Written Questions using inside knowledge of the system; in other words, I have not asked the right questions. How can Ministers balance the benefits of current operations against the human costs, when they do not know how many casualties we are sustaining and their severity? We know perfectly well that our servicemen have been sustaining serious, life-changing injuries. It is not healthy for our democracy if we do not know the extent of those injuries, so this amendment requires the Secretary of State to keep records.

At Question Time on Tuesday, the Minister claimed that on average 50 members of the Armed Forces are hospital inpatients. Is he absolutely confident of those figures, and do they include people staying at Headley Court? I beg to move.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: Amendment No. 172, tabled in my name, is grouped with Amendment No. 171, although it deals with an entirely different subject. It deals with an issue raised by Nicholas Blake QC in the Deepcut review. Recommendation No. 30 of that review was that there should always be an inquest or, in Scotland, a fatal accident inquiry, into the sudden death of a soldier, wherever the death occurs, and my amendment reflects that recommendation. However,

12 Oct 2006 : Column 413

the Minister wrote to my noble friend Lord Garden on 9 October and pointed out that work is being done on that recommendation, that it has not yet reached fruition, and that it should be more properly considered under the Coroner’s Bill that is to be brought before Parliament. If I can have an assurance to that effect this afternoon, I do not think it will be necessary for me to pursue my amendment further.

Lord Astor of Hever: With Amendment No. 171 my noble friend Lord Attlee raises an important point about the maintenance of records. I support his amendment. There has been considerable concern in the country about the casualty figures, and it is vital that records are kept.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: I support this amendment because I remember that at the beginning of the Gulf War inquiries many details of records had vanished because the IT arrangements were not effective. I sincerely hope that there is now no danger that important records could be lost, through no ill will but a failure to control the IT aspect of record-keeping.

Viscount Slim: In war, if you are killed, you are killed; if you are wounded, you are wounded; and if you are injured, you are injured. Occasionally, there is a bit of a muddle in reports from the MoD about wounded and injured. You can be injured in an operational area; you can also be injured playing soccer for your team in England. It is perhaps convenient, to put it politely, that these days many injury figures are given but not many are given for the number wounded—and there are quite a lot of wounded servicemen.

Lord Drayson: I have listened carefully to noble Lords and I recognise absolutely the deep importance of recording casualty figures.

Our argument that Amendment No. 171 is unnecessary and inappropriate for primary legislation is based on our belief that we are collecting and communicating the data on the casualty figures appropriately. Nevertheless, I understand the concern raised this afternoon. I will provide the Committee with further information on initiatives being undertaken in the department. For example, we will be introducing a defence medical information capability programme to strengthen the processes in this area. Given that I make that commitment this afternoon, I ask the noble Earl to withdraw his amendment.

The noble Earl asked about the answer I gave during Starred Questions. Our data shows that, on any given day throughout the year, in the United Kingdom the Ministry of Defence has on average fewer than 50 inpatients in any type of care facility. If the noble Lord wishes me to give further information on that, I would be happy to do so.

The noble Viscount, Lord Slim, makes a strong point about the potential for confusion in describing those who are wounded and those who are injured.

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That is a very important point. In some of the debates I have seen in the media about this there has been confusion. The Ministry of Defence needs to do everything it can to make it absolutely clear where people have been killed in action, where they have been wounded and to differentiate between those who may have been injured for another reason.

On Amendment No. 172, I am happy to give the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, the assurance he seeks. I ask him, on that basis, not to press the amendment.

Earl Attlee: I thank the Minister for his response to the short debate. My only observation is that if the MoD is collecting and communicating the data, why is there so much concern in Parliament and the media? I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.