YOUR MP WRITES: Paul Flynn Newport West MP

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

IT’S a deeply perturbing thought. 617 British lives may have been lost partly to serve the interests of the US defence industry.

The evidence is persuasive. The disgraced General Petraeus, when he was the top US commander in Afghanistan, allegedly allowed lobbyists Frederick and Kimberly Kagan unique access to secret information. The couple allegedly used these privileges to advocate beefing up the US war plan and rubbish peace initiatives. Not to save lives but to provide fat profits for US defence contractors.

They were always at the elbow of Petraeus, but not paid by the government or military. Their income was from arms firms. This is lobbying at its most pernicious. Petraeus allegedly allowed the Kagans to help draft his reports to the US government.

The resultant war-mongering decisions probably increased the total of NATO soldiers and Afghan civilians killed.

I accused our government of using our soldiers as human shields for politicians’ reputations.

The UK was dragged into avoidable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must steer clear of new conflicts in Iran and Syria. History will rightly condemn British donkey leaders who led our brave soldier lions into conflicts that primarily piled up profits for the US arms industries.

● Royce Gardener’s life was a triumph and inspiration for all pensioners.

He was proud that he was a policeman for 30 years and had been retired for 34 years. That’s bad news for the pension fund but very satisfying for Royce.

He was a great campaigner until the end. Very recently he was in touch about the closure of the HSBC branch in Caerleon.

He was a giant of a man with a vast personality that charmed and dominated. A great humourist he compiled a history of the constabularies of Gwent – complete with fascinating anecdotes about the scandal, fragilities and foibles of past serving police.

He was a stalwart of the Home Guard. Later he resented the way that Dad’s Army belittled the value of their work.

Royce was a great friend and companion.

He will be greatly missed by the thousands who knew him.

He is genuinely irreplaceable. His full varied marvellous life of service will be gratefully celebrated.

● Waiting to use the tiny Ministers’ lift in the Commons with former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell and Minister Tom Brake, Ming said he was recovering from norovirus. “I thought I was going to die,” he said.

Tom blanched and said: “I think I’ll use the stairs.” I braved the lift with Ming.

I’m still worrying.

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