LAST week I was at a reunion of sappers - mostly national servicemen - who had served in the army in the 1950s and 1960s.

Besides reminiscing about our time in the Royal Engineers, we talked of how the politicians treated those in the armed forces then and how, today, little has changed for the better.

When Blair sent our men (and now women) into Iraq with all manner of inadequate equipment, on the still unproved claim of weapons of mass destruction, now extended to fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan (and Brown and other Labour MPs refuse to have an open inquiry into what we are doing there) all the National Veterans Days, Armed Forces Days and marching bands will do nothing to bring back a single needlessly killed soldier or airman.

The idea that any Labour MPs should be present at a memorial service - except to apologise unreservedly for voting in favour of the Iraq war but against any investigation into it - is a direct insult to all present service personnel and the families of those killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Handing out lapel badges and all the ceremonies are no substitute for not going to war in the first place.