Turkey in the desert should be PM's menu

BRITISH soldiers serving in Afghanistan dutifully lined up to be photographed with Tony Blair yesterday when the Prime Minister dropped in to Camp Bastion, the main base in Helmand Province, on his way back from Pakistan.

By Graham Dines

BRITISH soldiers serving in Afghanistan dutifully lined up to be photographed with Tony Blair yesterday when the Prime Minister dropped in to Camp Bastion, the main base in Helmand Province, on his way back from Pakistan.

Of course, the PM praised their courage and dedication. But if reports are true that they are suffering from equipment shortages, I sincerely hope the commanding officers told Mr Blair a few home truths.

Later, he insisted that the international community had no choice but to continue the fight against the insurgency. “What is the alternative? We came to Afghanistan because the sickness and evil that was in Afghanistan came to us.”

He should have gone next month. How much better this would have sounded had the Prime Minister given up part of his Christmas holiday to share some of the tinsel and turkey over there with the troops.

I HAVE every sympathy with pensioners who find council tax a burden too much, but none at all for those who end up in clink for withholding what is a lawfully set property charge. I like the suggestion of the Salisbury councillor who says that OAPs who refuse to pay their tax should be spared jail and forced to attend council meetings instead.

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John Cole-Morgan, who serves on Wiltshire authority, believes a year's dose of democracy would be cheaper than jail, it would increase attendance at council meetings and would show people why their council tax was increasing. “The people who I have mentioned it to have said under those circumstances they would pay straight away. It's worse punishment than jail.

“I think it's pointless putting pensioners in jail. I think it would be much better to give them community service - let the punishment fit the crime,” says Mr Cole-Morgan

Attending most full council and committee meetings is like listening to paint dry. They last so long because repetition is the order of the day. An influx of pensioners giving councillors the bird would certainly liven things up.

TOMORROW marks the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. No doubt there will be the usual outpouring of liberal sentimentality, on the lines that America was robbed of its greatest president.

It's true that Kennedy could have been a great president had he lived. He did face down the Russians over the Cuban missile crisis. But don't forget that it was he who committed United States support to the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba, and who sent troops into Vietnam. It took Richard Nixon - the Republican he defeated in 1960, and who became president in 1968 - to extricate the US from the killing grounds of South East Asia.

Kennedy's serial womanising and the way the Kennedy clan used - or rather disgracefully abused - Marilyn Monroe are more than enough to put him way down the ranking of presidents. The only true greats of the 20th century were the two Roosevelt cousins - Republican Teddy and Democrat Franklin, with the Old Gipper himself, Ronald Reagan, not far behind.

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