Yet another chance to right a wrong is wasted

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H ere we go again. Another chance for the government to finally do the decent thing for a band of heroes results in another opportunity missed.

The latest lamentable snub to the veterans of the Arctic Convoys came from Andrew Robathan, the minister paid to represent the interests of all those who have served in the armed forces.

Mr Robathan knows the issue well, as do previous ministers at the Ministry of Defence and indeed our last three prime ministers, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

All have turned their back on the valid case put forward by the men who served in the Arctic in World War Two that they should be awarded a campaign medal in its own right.

It was bad enough that the previous Labour government failed to take positive action to reverse a decision taken in the Cold War era when, with relations with the then USSR at a frosty low, it was decided not apposite to honour those who had run a terrible gauntlet to keep Russia supplied.

What’s worse with the present government is that it is guilty of the same inaction despite having promised in opposition to right an historic wrong.

Now, in answer to a question from Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, Mr Robathan gives the appearance of a man desperately trying to wash his hands of the whole issue.

Pressed on the length of time it is taking for a new review surrounding war medals to be set up, he complains: ‘It’s not being led by the Ministry of Defence so it’s not up to us.’

This simply is not good enough. Once again, the government of this land is prevaricating rather than taking decisive action on this matter.

No-one expects a decision to be made without due process, but there has long been time for that.

Instead of ducking the issue, the government should proactively push this matter to a swift conclusion and, in doing so, fulfil a promise it made before being elected. The men of the Arctic Convoys, who have waited far too long for full recognition, deserve nothing less.