Minister defends Afghan mission as a nation remembers

As the Queen led the nation in paying respect to Britain's war dead on Remembrance Sunday the Defence Minister, Bob Ainsworth defended the country's mission in Afghanistan, saying the level of involvement could not be determined by public opinion.

As the death toll among British troops rose to 231, Mr Ainsworth acknowledged that support for the campaign had been "dented" by recent losses.



But he said it was important to "persevere" and "show some resolution", adding: "Failure will be a disaster for us."



A ComRes opinion poll today found that almost two thirds - 64% - now believe that the war is "unwinnable", while a similar proportion - 63% - wanted British troops to be withdrawn as soon as possible.



Speaking to Sky News, the Defence Secretary said: "British public opinion has been dented by the level of losses that we have received but we cannot run a campaign like this off the back of an opinion poll.



"We have to persevere, we have to show some resolution.



"This campaign is directly connected to our safety back here in the United Kingdom and people need to recognise that. Failure will be a disaster for us."



Mr Ainsworth insisted that progress was being made in Afghanistan and said troops on the ground understood the campaign was linked to Britain's national security.



He also said the Afghan government would address fundamental issues such as corruption.



Meanwhile, the Queen, warmly clad in a black coat against the autumn chill, placed the first wreath in the annual event at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

Skies were threatening but the rain held off as the Queen was followed in placing wreaths by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Harry, on behalf of the Prince of Wales who is on an official visit to Canada, and Prince William. More wreaths were also placed by the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

They were followed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, foreign secretary David Miliband, high commissioners from Commonwealth countries and defence chiefs. Approximately 7,500 ex-Servicemen and women and 1,600 civilians then took part in a march past the Cenotaph.

The crowd 10 deep on the pavement observed the two minutes silence in perfect quiet at 11am before the wreath-laying event. Their minds were no doubt on the recent losses in Afghanistan, which were referred to frequently last night at the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Stuart Gendall, director of corporate communications for The Royal British Legion, said: "It's gone very, very well. It's been a very touching ceremony, it's made all the more poignant that foremost in people's minds are the tragic deaths in Afghanistan.

"I think there are more people here today than other years, and there's a definite emotion in the air, you can really feel it.



"People are marching past remembering their fallen comrades from the Second World War, and people are falling even now in a foreign country, young men of the same age."



He said it was the first time that Prince Harry had placed a wreath on Remembrance Sunday.



The Prince has served in Afghanistan.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn