Labour conference diary: Ainsworth listens to soldiers tale
From an article by Andy McSmith, The Daily Telegraph, 29 September 2009:
"As I sit here, my legs are aching," Stuart Trow said. "I've got a bullet in my buttock and that's not comfortable."
You can bet it was not. Listening to the disabled former SAS soldier on the conference fringe provided one of those rare moments when the real-life impact of the decisions politicians make penetrated the strange bubble in which party conferences take place.
He was speaking at a meeting hosted by The Sun about the Afghanistan war. Mr Trow was shot during a tour of duty in Helmand and had a leg amputated below the knee. He has overcome his injuries sufficiently to be able to set out next month to climb Kilimanjaro but a lifetime of pain lies ahead.
He was wounded in 2001, too soon to benefit from the improved compensation scheme introduced in 2002, and although he said he was grateful for his pension, he would like to see that scheme backdated.
His remarks were directed at the Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, who has a reputation for being a poor communicator but on this occasion handled hard questions sensitively. However, he was in no position to give Mr Trow satisfaction. The Treasury is opposed in principle to backdating. Why, if it conceded that principle, it might have forgotten Falklands veterans who have suffered 27 years of pain and trauma stepping forward to ask if they can be compensated too.
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