A promise is a promise - so give them their medal

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Of course we realise the government has a lot on its plate at the moment, dealing with the economy and the aftermath of the riots.

But whatever urgent matters of state are in the in-tray of the prime minister and the coalition government, there is one important outstanding issue that needs to be dealt with.

As Second World War veterans of the Arctic Convoys prepare to gather in Portsmouth on Sunday to remember 3,000 fallen comrades, 70 years to the day that the first convoy sailed for Russia, we say enough is enough.

They have already waited far too long for a medal that would recognise the many dangerous missions they undertook to deliver vital war supplies to the Soviet Union, enabling the Allies to eventually overcome Hitler and his troops in 1945.

It is high time that historical wrong was righted.

Each year, fewer and fewer of these brave men are left. When veterans lay wreaths at Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Southsea Common, they will be accompanied by relatives of those who are no longer alive.

It is important to them all to remember and to show their respect – and that is what the government must now do by awarding them a medal.

It’s 15 long years and more since the indomitable Arctic Medal Campaign leader, 91-year-old Commander Eddie Grenfell, began the fight for an Arctic Star medal.

When they were in opposition, senior Conservative MPs – including former leaders Michael Howard and Iain Duncan Smith – promised they would award a medal the next time the Tories came to power.

But the Tory-led coalition government has been in Number Ten for 15 months and all we’ve had is a prolonged Ministry of Defence review.

MoD officials think the Arctic Convoy men should not get a medal. But we strongly disagree.

There should be no more shilly-shallying and prevarication.

The government must do the right thing and honour these men while there is still time.

A promise is a promise.