Labour conference diary: Ainsworth listens to soldier's tale
Tuesday 29 September 2009
"As I sit here, my legs are aching," Stuart Trow said. "I've got a bullet in my buttock and that's not comfortable."
You can bet it was not. Listening to the disabled former SAS soldier on the conference fringe provided one of those rare moments when the real-life impact of the decisions politicians make penetrated the strange bubble in which party conferences take place.
He was speaking at a meeting hosted by The Sun about the Afghanistan war. Mr Trow was shot during a tour of duty in Helmand and had a leg amputated below the knee. He has overcome his injuries sufficiently to be able to set out next month to climb Kilimanjaro but a lifetime of pain lies ahead.
He was wounded in 2001, too soon to benefit from the improved compensation scheme introduced in 2002, and although he said he was grateful for his pension, he would like to see that scheme backdated.
His remarks were directed at the Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, who has a reputation for being a poor communicator but on this occasion handled hard questions sensitively. However, he was in no position to give Mr Trow satisfaction. The Treasury is opposed in principle to backdating. Why, if it conceded that principle, it might have forgotten Falklands veterans who have suffered 27 years of pain and trauma stepping forward to ask if they can be compensated too.
*Alistair Darling's comment likening Labour to a football team that has started to "lose the will to live" is in danger of going down like Theresa May's description of the Tories as "the nasty party" – apt, true, and better left unsaid. Gordon Brown's people are furious. One cabinet minister remarked: "He could have got rid of Gordon a year go, if he wanted to, but he didn't do anything. Now he is transferring the blame for inactivity on to others."
*One person who certainly has not lost the will to live is Peter Mandelson, whose speech yesterday went down so well that David Miliband, among others, wondered aloud whether the Labour party has finally learned to love Peter Mandelson, as Tony Blair always hoped it might. Lord Mandelson declared himself bemused. "Odd, ain't it?" he said.
*David Miliband, meanwhile, would be grateful if delegates would stop congratulating him on his excellent speech. That was his kid brother, Ed. He speaks on Thursday. Eight people have made the mistake so far.
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Power of Nepal earthquake was equivalent to 20 huge atomic bombs
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...
£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...
£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...