The Sketch: A solemn list as Gordon went on manoeuvres around the Hindu Kush

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The Independent Online

Thirty-seven soldiers dead. He read out their names. People have been arrested for doing that in Westminster, without permission from the police.

Dead. Dead. Dead. Thirty-seven over the summer. In normal practice, Gordon Brown reads out the names of soldiers killed in Afghanistan every week and it only takes a moment. But over the summer holidays, when we've been on lying on the beaches and playing in the fields, the Army has been fighting a hot and unrewarding fight in which 37 have died.

"Every letter of condolence I write," he said (just so you know), "I ask myself the question." And whatever the question, the answer was the same: Gordon is right. The Government is right. The old strategy was right and the new strategy is righter still. Our army, 5,000 miles away, is keeping the streets of Britain safe.

More than 200 servicemen have died in that dusty, khaki-coloured country defending the streets of Britain. Is it possible to believe that? You can believe anything you like. When Peter Tapsell scoffed at the idea that 41 different armies of the coalition could train "61 mutually hostile tribes" to become community policemen, Gordon observed mildly that "there are many conclusions you can draw from history".

And many conclusions you can draw from intelligence reports. "Three-quarters of the terrorist plots to attack Britain have their roots in the area between Afghanistan and Pakistan." You can believe that if you put your mind to it. But experience tells us that a statement phrased in those terms is a woolsack full of weasels. The more Gordon manoeuvred around the Hindu Kush the more hits he took.

The country is larger and much more complex than Iraq where there are 600,000 security forces – how can Afghanistan be pacified with the 130,000 we are aiming for? (David Davis).

Our soldiers were dying to "protect a corrupt president and depraved police force" (Paul Flynn and others).

"We are building an ever stronger army for a corrupt and disastrous government. Is that wise?" (Mark Durkan).

Julian Lewis asked how many casualties from roadside bombs were soldiers bussing in supplies that could have been helicoptered in, if we'd had them. "I don't accept that conclusion at all," the PM said, too tired to take evasive action.

Adam Holloway repeated the question. "Are not troops dying for lack of helicopters?" The answer? No, some of the casualties were soldiers on foot patrols. "The deaths from IEDs have happened in different ways." (Some quiet gasps.) "You have to look at the evidence." (Audible gasp, at least from the gallery.)

Mark Lancaster made an easy army-style joke about his TA membership, then said he'd been told he'd get no more training until April (TA training has been halved). The PM said he'd get "all the training that was necessary".

Dead. Dead. Dead.

The 37 troops who have been killed while serving in Afghanistan since Parliament went into recess on 21 July

Trooper Phillip Lawrence

Trooper Brett Hall

Warrant Officer Sean Upton

Lance Bombardier Matt Hatton

Bombardier Craig Hopson

Guardsman Jamie Janes

Guardsman Chris King

Lance Corporal James Hill

Private Kevin Elliot

Sergeant Gus Millar

Kingsman Jason Dunne-Bridgeman

Fusilier Simon Annis

Fusilier Shaun Bush

Fusilier Louis Carter

Lance Corporal James Fullarton

Corporal Joseph Etchells

Sergeant Simon Valentine

Private John Young

Private Gavin Elliot

Private Jason Williams

Acting Sergeant Mike Lockett MC

Private Richard Hunt

Private James Prosser

Private Kyle Adams

Lance Corporal Dale Hopkins

Corporal John Harrison

Sergeant Lee Houltram

Corporal Kevin Mulligan

Rifleman Aminiasi Toge

Rifleman Daniel Wild

Acting Sergeant Stuart McGrath

Sergeant Paul McAleese

Captain Mark Hale

Captain Daniel Shepherd

C'ftsman Anthony Lombardi

Lance Corporal Richie Brandon

Acting Corporal Marcin Wojtek

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