News & Views from the Campaign Team
|Posted by National Defence Medal on March 26, 2015 at 5:25 AM||comments (264)|
The campaign team are currently taking stock of recent events. Much has happened over the past year, and the conclusion we all hoped for did not materialise. If that decision against the NDM was shown to be fair, independent and well informed, I think we would finally accept defeat, however that is far from the case, and there is evidence suggesting, sadly, some processes have been less than proper.
Post-election we will publish the next steps we intend to take. There have been many ideas floated on the blog and other places, many of which have been tried already. If we continue to do the same thing we can probably expect the same outcome. We must be innovative but remain respectful. The case when scrutinised remains incredibly strong, in light of recent medal announcements it could be viewed as even stronger. The Cabinet Office recently quoted 'A pressing and urgent need to recognise' those fighting Ebola as justification for a medal not the more usual 'Risk & Rigour', for instance. So perhaps there is change afoot.
We remain apolitical in terms of allegiances, we feel there should be a cross party consensus. Having said that, the current political landscape is fairly clear. Libdems & UKIP have the NDM as policy, The DUP strongly support. Labour see cost as the stumbling block. Conservatives endorse the HD Committee decision and were lined up to block the NDM Bill. You must draw your own conclusions. We must take the case to whoever is in Government come May 2015 and not alienate ourselves from any.
|Posted by National Defence Medal on February 6, 2015 at 8:25 AM||comments (214)|
A letter sent today to my MP:
We have been told endless times that there is a long tradition of only issuing medals for campaigns or gallantry, this was restated in the HoC last week. We know that’s nonsense but that is what has been peddled. We now hear of a new medal for those fighting Ebola, a worthy and challenging endeavour, not a campaign though, so what kind of medal is it?
The NDM would have covered such efforts. The prime minister might as well said, all those involved in the ‘Cold War’ (1000+ killed on duty), Nuclear Test Veterans (100s suffered), 53 killed outside of Northern Ireland and 100’s maimed, Post Armistice Korea, those who supported the Yangtze incident, those who served less than 90 days in Cyprus, Post War Carnage in Europe and the Far East, Porton Down Test veterans, etc etc, well your efforts and sacrifice is not worth a jot.
Furthermore we were told that politicians do not make decisions on medals, so I quote the prime minister “I intend to recommend to Her Majesty the Queen the introduction of a new medal”
WE have been lied to and now made to feel undervalued and insulted. This is not a dig at those in Africa, this medal merely demonstrates what can be done with just a little good will, sadly we have been shown none.
If you look at the Australian or New Zealand medal system you would see that they have all these scenarios sewn up in a well thought out and fair way. Both systems we have long advocated for the UK to use as a paradigm.
All I can say is if ever a government wanted to rub salt in the wounds of thousands of veterans then this has done it. Let’s not forget that the way the Holmes review was handled in the later stages lacked any transparency and ultimately just created more mistrust and resentment, an absolute shambles with few willing to speak out. All in all an absolute disgrace.
REFERENCE: Hansard - Ebola
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I am sure that everyone would like me to put on record my praise for those incredibly brave people who have worked in very difficult conditions, including over Christmas. They include doctors and nurses from our NHS and people from our armed forces, our civil service and non-governmental organisations. They are helping to save thousands of lives in Africa and protecting the UK from the potentially disastrous consequences of the disease spreading. In recognition of the bravery of those from the UK, I intend to recommend to Her Majesty the Queen the introduction of a new medal to pay tribute to their efforts. Details will be out in due course, and this should be in place by the summer. It is absolutely right to say that those people are incredibly brave and that we owe them an immense debt of gratitude.
|Posted by National Defence Medal on February 6, 2015 at 7:15 AM||comments (26)|
Who is running this Country?
Mr Tilbrook informs an MP that the Government will oppose the NDM Bill:
|Posted by National Defence Medal on January 24, 2015 at 6:05 PM||comments (41)|
Head of the Honours and Appointments Secretariat
1 Horse Guards Road
London SW1A 2HQ 22nd January 2015
Thank you for your letter dated 21st January. I really am most grateful for your reply together with your commitment to bring both yours and my recent letters to the attention of the HD Committee in respect of the medal review and in particular the National Defence Medal.
However, as you are aware our veterans have concerns about the diluted submission for the institution of the NDM that was presented to the HD Committee from which they have made their decision. This situation also appears to apply to numerous other submissions from medallic campaign groups such as the Korea Post Armistice veterans and the Cold War veterans.
Perhaps what is even more worrying is the following statement made by the HD Committee when considering the case for the NDM and being expressed by defence ministers in parliament and indeed yourself on behalf of the HD Committee in correspondence to MPs, veterans and members of the general public:
‘It would be against the tradition of the British medallic policy and, in particular, against the custom whereby medals are generally awarded to those who have participated in campaigns which have involved considerable risk and rigour.’
The National Defence Medal would fit into either of the latter two categories without creating a precedent. This was highlighted in recommendation seven of Sir John Holmes Medal Review report dated July 2012 in which he wrote:
It would appear that this has not happened.
I fully respect your decision that you would not write to me again unless there is anything new or different to report, and as I said previously I am grateful for the way in which you have responded to me already. However, we now have a situation where not only does it look as though the HD Committee were asked to make a decision based on an extremely diluted case for the NDM but it also appears they had been incorrectly briefed in respect of British medallic policy for medallic recognition of our Armed Forces.
I now seek your support and that of the HD Committee in obtaining the Prime Minister’s approval and direction to reopen what has been an incomplete medal review and one which has not fulfilled his early wishes to ‘draw a line in the sand’ in this matter. We surely owe this to those who have served this Nation in the Armed Forces since the ending of World War Two.
I greatly appreciate the recent support you have given me
Yours with best wishes
|Posted by National Defence Medal on January 24, 2015 at 5:45 AM||comments (8)|
To: Colonel Terry Scriven 21 January 2015
Thank you for your further letter of 30 December 2014.
I am not sure what more I can helpfully say. I think the best I can do is to bring your most recent letters, and mine, to the attention of HD Committee and to encourage a further discussion. But, as you will understand, I am not in a position to overturn its recommendation on the National Defence Medal. The Committee has not been persuaded that there is a case for an NDM at this time, noting that this would be against the tradition of British medallic policy and, in particular, against the custom whereby medals are generally awarded to those who have participated in campaigns which have involved considerable risk and rigour.
I hope you will not mind if I also say that I shall not write again unless there is anything new or different to report. Please do not interpret this as a lack of interest or disrespect: I fully appreciate the depth of feeling among veterans on this very important issue.
Head of the Honours and Appointments Secretariat
Ground Floor 1 Horse Guards Road London SW1A 2HQ
T +44 (0)20 7276 2770
F +44 (0)20 7276 2766
|Posted by National Defence Medal on January 13, 2015 at 2:00 PM||comments (41)|
National Defence Medal - Oral Answers to Questions — Defence (12-01-2015)
Anna Soubry (The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence; Broxtowe, Conservative)
I do not agree with my hon. Friend. Medals are for specific campaigns and acts of gallantry, and rightly so. In this instance, therefore, we will have to disagree.
Clearly she has no idea!! Read full debate HERE
|Posted by National Defence Medal on January 6, 2015 at 3:00 AM||comments (24)|
We have had a letter from Richard Tilbrook to the Campaign Chairman trying to explain his/their position and decisions. Click HERE to read it in full.
The reply is captured below:
Head of the Honours and Appointments Secretariat
1 Horse Guards Road
London SW1A 2HQ 30th December 2014
Thank you for your letter dated 22nd December. I am most grateful for your reply and I have asked, as you requested, that it appear on the National Defence Medal website alongside my letter to you dated 25 November. I am also placing a copy of this letter, which I again write on behalf of the Cold War veterans, the Korea post armistice veterans and National Service veterans, on the NDM website.
You are right, the content of the letters you have sent to a significant number of Members of Parliament and veterans have been disappointing however, I am sure they have not been interpreted as a lack of respect by you for those who have served. Our Nation and its interests have survived through the service given by people like your parents and it is people like those and many of their next of Kin that I have the honour to represent.
The Prime Minister promised he would address the inconsistency of medallic recognition; he promised greater openness and transparency in government; in rebuilding the Military Covenant he pledged he would review outstanding claims for medallic recognition and that this would ‘draw a line in the sand’. I am afraid that despite your reassurances in respect of transparency of the process and the detailed consideration given by the Honours and Decorations Committee to the institution of the National Defence Medal, the concerns of veterans have not been laid to rest.
I agree with you that Sir John Holmes’s review of military medals was the most far-reaching review of military medals for a generation. Indeed, it gave veterans great confidence that a ‘line in the sand’ would this time be drawn especially as it was to be carried out by independent reviewers. Sadly, Sir John, the Cabinet Office and the Honours and Decorations Committee have let the Prime Minister down, the Nation down and veterans down in the way the final stages of the review have been dealt with.
I am aware that Jon Thompson the MoD Permanent Secretary and Chairman of the Advisory Military Sub-Committee advised the HD Committee that the NDM was in a different category from campaign medals and needed broad political consideration. Yet this finding appears to have been ignored and on behalf of the Honours and Decorations Committee you indicate in your letter to me that unlike Australia or New Zealand, the UK only issue medals for campaigns. This is incorrect.
On behalf of veterans right across the country I ask you to explain how the HD committee were able to carefully and fully consider the merits of the National Defence Medal and decide that a strong enough case could not be made at this time if all they were presented with was what you have published? The ‘options paper’ containing the ‘issue and analysis’ which you claim is all that was produced just does not tally with Sir John’s previous findings and assessment, and certainly does not portray the extremely strong and evidence based case submitted by the NDM campaigners. Veterans from the other medallic campaigns are equally concerned about this situation. Why was there such a dilution of the facts presented to the Honours and Decorations Committee for their deliberations? This situation alone is considered justification for total public disclosure to be made of the deliberations by both the Advisory Military Sub-Committee to the HD Committee and the HD Committee. It is also considered justification for the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, who have both been fully involved in supporting the veterans in these medallic reviews, to direct the decisions made should be revisited.
Your office was very clear about the national significance of the NDM and process that should be followed when Gary Rogers wrote in a letter dated 19 May 2014:
“I can only repeat what Richard Tilbrook said and as Sir John noted in his report of July 2012 - the National Defence Medal is an issue of broad national significance which would require broad political and public consensus and the consideration of the government as a whole in consultation with other political parties and concerned organisations.”
In the absence of transparency and openness surrounding these final stages of the medal review I want to also touch on the likely costs the institution of a National Defence Medal has had on the decisions made. Funding retrospectively, a medal in recognition of over four million former service personnel who have sacrificed so much for their country, over the past 69 years, was always going to be a dilemma for the Government, especially with so many present day ‘asks’ of a reducing defence budget. This is a situation that has been highlighted in letters from both Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and I know Nigel Farage is well aware of this although believes there are ways of dealing with such costs.
Sir Nick Harvey a former Armed Forces Minister in a letter to me recently, confirmed the cost of £300m+ in the medal review ‘Options Paper’ is an exaggeration. He places the costs at possibly £100m for production and distribution. I believe this figure is also prohibitive to the Government but is well able to be significantly reduced to an affordable figure. Estimates have been obtained from medal specialists, which assess the production of a cupro-nickel medal (38mm), ribbon and light cardboard box at less than £5.00. As the medal must be seen to be the award of Her Majesty on behalf of a grateful Nation it is the production cost of approximately £20m spread over 5 to 7 years that veterans would expect the Government to budget for. All other administrative and distribution costs would be privately funded through differing income generation streams.
So in summary where are we? As the Prime Minister nears the end of his tenure in office, the ‘most far-reaching review of medals in a generation’ which he was personally responsible for, is on the verge of being discredited unless something is quickly done to avoid this; I doubt he has been fully briefed on this situation. The costs for the institution of a UK National Defence Medal have been inflated for some unknown reason, and this issue should be speedily addressed. You have stated, on behalf of the Government, that there are no plans for further work on the issue of the NDM yet this is an issue of national significance and as a consequence there has recently been a ‘ten minute rule’ debate in parliament for the institution of the medal with its second reading scheduled for late February; in addition, an Early Day Motion was placed before Parliament on the 17 December by the Rt Hon Bill Cash and is attracting signatures from MPs of all parties.
I have to date been unable to secure a meeting with the Prime Minister but I will write again to seek such a meeting and request that the medal review is reopened. Although Nick Clegg has said he is too busy to personally meet with me he has arranged for me to meet two of his advisers early in the New Year to discuss my concerns. Perhaps you would now consider meeting with me, and possibly find it helpful, to discuss a way forward in achieving medallic recognition for our veterans or at the very least, how to explain fully why detailed submissions for medallic recognition, from so many campaign groups, were not seen by the Honours and Decorations Committee in their deliberations?
Yours with best wishes
|Posted by National Defence Medal on December 29, 2014 at 8:00 AM||comments (26)|
Session: 2014-15 Date tabled: 17.12.2014
That this House notes the significant personal sacrifice armed forces personnel make in their service to the nation once they take the oath or affirmation of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen; acknowledges that ex-service personnel are proud to receive and wear Her Majesty's Veterans Badge, but notes that it is not awarded posthumously and it is considered by many to be insufficient recognition of the contribution veterans have made to the safety of the nation since the end of the Second World War; and therefore calls on the Government to rescind its decision not to recognise the veterans more appropriately by the award of a national defence medal and instead to establish a working group to work with the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals with a view to implementing a National Defence Medal as soon as possible.
Primary sponsor: Cash, William
Sponsors: Brooke, Annette; McDonnell, John; Cunningham; Jim; Bottomley, Peter; Russell, Bob
Again we must ask you to contact your MPs, why wouldn't they sign?
The Holmes review has now been shown to be another political whitewash in terms of the NDM element.
|Posted by National Defence Medal on November 25, 2014 at 3:55 PM||comments (68)|
Dear Mr Tilbrook,
I write to you on behalf of the Cold War, National Service, Korea Post Armistice and the National Defence Medal campaigners and many of their families.
They are aware of the standard letter which you have sent out to many MPs and veterans in response to the issues I have raised on their behalf in respect of the recent medal review. Many are also aware of the failure in the House of Lords recently by the Government to answer a straight forward question about the release into the public domain of the full report of the medal review completed by Sir John Holmes. They are also aware of the actions in the House by one MP who considered he had the power to ‘kill off’ a bill on the institution of the NDM presented under the 10 Minute Rule but let it go through as he considered it was unlikely to get its second reading on the 5 December. As I read all of this I find it difficult to believe that the issue under debate is whether or not our servicemen and women who have kept the Nation and its interests safe and secure since the ending of the Second World War should receive medallic recognition from a grateful Nation.
As you are aware, the Prime Minister has been very clear in his commitment to veterans campaigning for medallic recognition, the medal review would be open and transparent and such matters would be laid to rest once and for all; that was the reason the discredited MoD review findings were over turned by him and Sir John tasked with the independent review under the Cabinet Office and not MoD. Sir John was also clear that issues surrounding deliberations on medallic recognition should be much more transparent.
Sir John’s review got off to a good start, he spoke to all the veteran groups and in the case of the NDM considered it had national significance and should be treated as such. It was therefore a surprise to find that unlike his interim report to the Prime Minister that Sir John’s final report was not released into the public domain and that there was no opportunity for the leaders of the various campaign groups to be able to comment on his findings.
I am sure you are aware that rather than ‘putting to bed’ the various campaigns for medallic recognition, which was the Prime Minister’s wish, the way the review has been handled in its final stages has created even more of a furore among the veteran groups. Despite your assertions in the numerous letters you have sent to MPs across the country and to the various medal group representatives and other concerned veterans, this review has been discredited. It was not open and certainly not transparent, veterans have not seen Sir John’s report, they have seen an ‘options’ paper. It is understood that In the case for the Cold War medal campaign it did not feature in the report and the case for both the National Service medal and the Korea post armistice medal that their case was dismissed without due consideration.
It is also not satisfactory on issues such as the institution of the NDM, considered to be of national significance, for the Honours and Decorations Committee to claim they, ‘carefully considered the matter but decided that a strong enough case could not be made at this time for a National Defence Medal’ and then not explain what the weaknesses of the case was and to conclude that, ‘there are no plans for further work on this issue but it might be usefully considered in the future.’ Another concern around your reassurance in the letters circulated is that the full consideration of the merits of the case went beyond narrow financial considerations, a fact that does not seem to be supported in a letter on 20 November by the Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband who indicated the Government did not intend to introduce a National Defence Medal due to likely cost implications.
Overall, veterans consider that yet again their submissions for medallic recognition have been dealt with in a shambolic fashion and without due respect. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister gave reassurances, on behalf of the Government, that this time the review would be open and transparent and despite your assertions this has not been the case.
On behalf of the numerous veteran campaign groups, I have written to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and requested a meeting to discuss the content of your letters and what has again been shown to be a discredited review process. I have also copied this letter to the Leader of the Opposition and to the Leader of UKIP whose election policy it is to implement a National Defence Medal, it is also that of the Liberal Democrat party. A copy of the letter has gone to a number of MPs who received your letter and who considered unlike the Honours and Decorations Committee that the case for the National Defence Medal was compelling. In addition a copy of this letter will appear on the National Defence Medal website with the generic letter that you in your capacity as the Head of the Committee have been circulating about my efforts to achieve greater transparency.
The bottom line in all of this is not to alienate you or your committee or the Government but to make the point, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families across the country, that even if the case for medallic recognition is not strong enough, surely in the democracy that we live in, they have the right to see clearly how and why such decisions have been arrived at especially after such a strong reassurance from the Prime Minister.
|Posted by National Defence Medal on November 25, 2014 at 3:40 PM||comments (8)|
For those who have not seen it, below is an example of the new standard letter from the Cabinet Office. There are a couple of versions but all more or less say the same thing, and of course they completely miss the point.
The campaign will be sending an Official response directly to Mr Tilbrook, and we will share the content in due course.
We want to thank those of you who have also written to your MP, when they receive this reply, you must urge them not to be brushed off. It does not answer the questions posed, we and they should not settle for that.