Socialist Worker

Fife military deaths stack up under Gordon Brown’s watch

Issue No. 2058

Military families and their supporters held a demonstration outside Downing Street last Wednesday as Tony Blair left office and Gordon Brown took over.  (Pic:

Military families and their supporters held a demonstration outside Downing Street last Wednesday as Tony Blair left office and Gordon Brown took over. (Pic:

The mother of a soldier from Gordon Brown’s Fife constituency has called on the new prime minister to bring the troops home.

Paulene Ward’s 20 year old son Jamie Kerr was killed in Iraq on Thursday of last week – Brown’s first full day in office.

Jamie, from Cowdenbeath – one of the main towns in Brown’s consituency – joined the army two years ago.

He had been in Iraq for seven weeks. Jamie’s stepfather said that he had phoned his mother the night before he was killed, saying that he wanted to come home.


“Jamie said being out there was not what he thought it would be,” he told the local press. “He didn’t want to be there. He was more scared than anything else.”

Shortly after her son was killed, Paulene wrote on her website, “Gordon Brown must bring all the troops out of Iraq. How many more families must go through this pain? It’s not funny – bring our boys home safe and sound as soon as possible.”

Jamie is one of seven young men from Fife that have been killed in Iraq. Fife is a key recruitment area for the Black Watch regiment.

It is an ex-mining area with high unemployment and few job prospects. The End Child Poverty campaign reports that 24 percent of children in the constituency are living in families that rely on out of work benefits.

One of Jamie’s friends from Cowdenbeath told the Scotsman, “This is America’s war. We’re dropping like flies out there and if Gordon Brown is listening, he needs to get the troops out.”

Scott Kennedy, another soldier from Fife, was killed by the same roadside bomb. It was reported at the weekend that he had volunteered to be posted to Iraq.

But he revealed on his website that he was not impressed with the experience and wanted to come home.

Pete Wishart, the Scottish National Party (SNP) MP whose constituency includes the Perthshire headquarters of the Black Watch regiment, said, “My heart goes out to the families involved. I’d like to see all the Scottish troops returned home as soon as possible – and an end to the growing list of young men dying in Iraq.”

Roseanna Cunningham, SNP MSP for Perth, added, “The sooner they are brought home the better.”

Gordon Brown hoped that he would escape Blair’s legacy over Iraq. But Stop the War activists and military families campaigning for the troops to be brought home are determined that Brown should hear them.

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in Iraq three years ago last week, said, “Let’s hope Brown will not step into Blair’s shoes and won’t just look at the families of our brave troops as if we should shut up and go away.”

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Tue 3 Jul 2007, 18:28 BST
Issue No. 2058
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