On Question Time:
Was Gordon Brown’s visit to Afghanistan an attempt to distract attention away from his insufficient funding of troops?
Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of the Sun and one of the panellists, responded in his usual outspoken way:
Brown is a compulsive liar, he has no truth in his soul.
Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government at the University of Oxford, has this to say on the war of words over the funding of the armed forces:
If the defence budget was indeed “unbalanced” and the priorities were wrong, the heads of the Armed Services cannot escape their share of the blame.
The heads of the Armed Forces are required to serve governments of different political colours. They are, therefore, constitutionally, in a similar position to civil servants. They are not entitled to express views on policy matters that differ from those of the government of the day; and indeed when Conservative governments in the 1990s decided to close military hospitals and to sell off service housing, the chiefs of staff, rightly, made no public protest.
It is unseemly to use the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan as the basis for a personal attack upon the Prime Minister.
It is a proven fact that when Britain colluded with France and Israel at the time of Suez, Eden didn't tell the truth. Neither did his Foreign Secretary, Selwyn Lloyd, who did lie to the Commons and went on to become Speaker.
In Brown case, there is no proof that he has lied. Mackenzie's accusation could well rebound, with unforeseen consequences, on him and anyone else who associates with the remarks that he has made.