As General Sir David Richards takes over as Chief of the Defence Staff today (Friday) the SNP called on the UK Government to get behind the new forces commander – and put an end to the Labour smear campaign which had been directed at his predecessor.
SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said Ministers must give their full support to Gen Richards as he focuses on the military effort in Afghanistan . Labour has been under fire over attempts to smear his predecessor, General Sir Richard Dannatt, after a peer, Lord Foulkes, tabled parliamentary questions seeking to embarrass the head of the Armed Forces. Lord Foulkes previously accused Gen Dannatt of giving 'succour to the enemy' for demanding more helicopters in Afghanistan, and recent media reports suggest Labour are co-ordinating an effort to smear the outgoing commander.
Mr Robertson said:
“General Richards takes on his role at a critical time, and he must be able to count on the support of ministers and be able to speak frankly about operational issues without fear of vilification.
“Sir David’s predecessor spoke out about defence needs and was met with slurs and smears from Labour.
“Instead of asking serious questions about equipment and military strategy, Lord Foulkes was more interested in trying to embarrass the chief of the defence staff over his travel arrangements. As our forces face very difficult challenges in Afghanistan , we must have no repeat of these petty attacks.“The UK Government must give our forces, at every level, the support they need as they serve the country.”