At Hawkeys Lane War Memorial last Sunday the names of the fallen in 1915 were read out by Tynemouth World War One Project volunteers. The recently unveiled commemorative boards in the memorial garden at the Linskill Centre shows the effect of war on our community. Remembrance services last weekend were well attended, despite the inclement weather and the wearing and laying of wreaths of red poppies symbolised not the glorification of war but a mark of respect to those who gave their lives in the defence of our country.
I can respect other people’s views but for me defence is a deeply embedded principle. In our area many people have served in the Armed Forces or have family who have done so. Strong Labour areas like the North East have traditionally provided the staunchest defenders of our country. And the two local veterans awarded the Legion d'Honneur at a recent service I attended in Durham Cathedral demonstrates that defending our country can also mean defending others.
Over the next few months Parliament will face big decisions not least about a replacement for Trident and my party’s position remains in favour of multilateral not unilateral disarmament. For us defence is not just about guns, ships, planes or even missiles, it is also about the pay and conditions of those who serve. We owe that to those who currently serve as much as we owe respect to those who have gone before.