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Who’s got the biggest Afghan problem – Dave or Gord?

July 28th, 2009

What’s an incoming Tory government going to do?

Two of what used to be called the broadsheet papers are once again making Afghanistan and the problems for the government their main lead.

The Independent focuses on the findings of the first part of its monthly ComRes poll which has 52% wanting troops out straight away with 43% against. By 58% to 31% those sampled believed that the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily and by 60% to 35% of those polled did not want more troops and resources should be dispatched to the war zone

These are tough figures and in a leader the paper argues that we should not be afraid to talk to the Taliban.

The Times makes its lead comments by Brigadier Tim Radford, commander of Task Force Helmand, that the existing troops could not be expected to mount further significant operations without reinforcements.

Meanwhile James Forsyth at the Spectaor CoffeeHouse blog says that the Tory leadership is really worried that former Tory leadership front-runner, David Davis, might intervene on the subject. Forsyth reports: “Davis has mused to friends that the best option might be to get out completely”.

Davis’s own military background (he was in the Territorial Army’s 21 SAS Regiment) could make anything that he said carry more weight – something that would be a gift to Labour in the run-up to the election. Brown could taunt Cameron over the issue and move the debate on from helicopters and the equipment British troops are provided with.

For such a prominent figure as Davis to be saying such things would lead to the charge of troops on active service being undermined.

Cameron has never really articulated the Tory approach other than the general positioning as the party that sees itself as being more likely to support the armed forces. Is that the right way given all the other pressures?

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  • Mike Smithson