Archive for Defence

Tom urges local companies to enlist in scheme to get Veterans back to work

Tom Blenkinsop MP today (4th July 2012) urged local companies to join a new effort to get former members of the Armed Forces into work.

Labour’s ‘Veterans Interview Programme’ involves companies voluntarily guaranteeing an interview for job seeking ex-Forces. Participants include O2, Aldi, Greggs, John Lewis and many others.

Tom said:
“The Veterans Interview Programme and other initiatives underline our country’s respect and goodwill towards the Service community. This scheme is voluntary and valuable, and I hope local businesses will get involved.

“It is wrong that someone who has served in Afghanistan is expected to join the back of the queue at the local job centre. This is not about special treatment but overcoming barriers to provide a level playing field for service people.

“It is all of our duty to help provide a smooth transition from military to civilian life. Increasing veterans’ wellbeing and opportunities is a priority for Labour.”

Tom’s Armed Forces Day 2012 message

Tom criticises ‘sneaky’ Army unit cuts

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (8th June 2012) criticised Tory Defence Minister, Philip Hammond, following yesterday’s announcement that historic Army units would be scrapped as part of the cuts agenda by the Coalition Government.

This has led to further speculation that the 2nd Battalion, formerly the Green Howards, could go – echoing concerns already raised by Tom earlier this year.

Tom said:
“This announcement has been sneaked out during the Parliamentary recess – offering no opportunity for debate – by the Defence Minister after many delays.

“It is an announcement that further cements the North-South divide as the Minister himself admits that ‘the South and South-East of England will see the lowest decline’. These comments are disgraceful and show no respect to the service men and women from Teesside, many of whom are active in Afghanistan at the moment, who risk their lives protecting our country.

“I will be raising my concerns with Labour’s Shadow Defence team and also the Minister responsible to see what can be done to protect this important and historic Army unit.”

Tom calls for action against Armed Forces discrimination

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has echoed calls for more protection for serving and retired troops to ensure they don’t face discrimination because they have served or because they are serving.

Tom’s calls follow a poll commissioned by Lord Ashcroft which suggested that more than one in five personnel had suffered verbal abuse while in uniform and almost as many, 18%, had been turned away from pubs and clubs. More than a quarter said they had been refused a mortgage, loan or credit card despite having a full-time job with a decent income, as a result of having a long list of recent addresses.

Tom said:
“I am hugely supportive of our armed forces and I would hate to see them facing such unfair treatment merely for carrying out their role of protecting the country. Although the Military Covenant is a step in the right direction it is clear that more needs to be done to support the troops.”

“I have already been campaigning to defend Teesside’s own Green Howards, from Government cuts; so to hear stories about soldiers being unable to get a loan or a credit card, as a result of their long list of previous address, is shocking and is only adding to the pressure they are already under.”

Tom Blenkinsop MP Fires First Shot in Battle to Save the Green Howards from Government Cuts

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (March 1st 2012) fired what he said ‘may be the first shot’ in a new campaign to save the Green Howards, Teesside’s local regiment.

Tom asked the Leader of the House today to confirm or deny that a forthcoming Defence Ministry will be recommending the slimming down of the Army, and the loss of many old established regimental identities and compulsory redundancy for many serving servicemen and women.

Tom said “Press reports over the past weekend indicate that there is a major threat to the future of many historic army regiments because of the coalitions cuts policy. Amongst the regiments fingered in these reports are the second battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment – the Green Howards – one of the oldest and most distinguished regiments in the North of England and in which many Teessiders now serve or have served.

For such action to be contemplated when they – and the other Yorkshire Regiment battalions – are serving in Afghanistan is horrendous and will distress many in my constituency. I therefore asked the Leader of the House, Sir George Young MP, if he will order a full debate on the issue so I, and my local Teesside colleagues, can make a stand for the future of the Green Howards and the communities from which it recruits, and to defend the welfare of Green Howard troopers and their families.

His reply was very disappointing. He could not promise an early debate, merely pushing the issue back to the Defence Ministry. This shows just how uninterested the Tories are in the welfare of servicemen and women putting their lives on the line, or on the impact on areas like Teesside if the Green Howards were to be expunged from history.”