In a letter to the Independent newspaper, Lord Malloch-Brown said that the Taleban were not a resurgent force and did not pose a credible threat to the democratic government of Afghanistan.
The minister was responding to a Senlis think-tank report last week which said that the Taleban were the de facto governing authority in much of the country.
So, if the Taleban pose no threat to the Afghan government, what the hell are UK forces doing in Afghanistan? For what purpose are they risking their lives?
Is this this recent atrocity what Malloch-Brown means by things getting better?
Nato planes hunting Taleban militants have killed 12 men from a road building crew in Afghanistan’s north-east as they slept, a provincial governor says.
The strike took place in Nuristan province, 180km (112 miles) north-east of the capital, Kabul, said Nuristan governor Tamimi Nuristani.
But Nato and US officials said a local Taleban leader “may have been killed” and the strike was legitimate.
Another story relating to the armed forces is that of their living conditions which, according to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, will remain substandard for the next twenty years:
The committee noted that the MoD had cut £15m from its estates management budget in 2006/07 after “unforeseen rises in the cost of fuel and other problems”.
Its report said: “It decided to cut planned maintenance work, including re-roofing projects and repairs to hangar doors, rather than postponing other work such as the construction of all-weather pitches and the resurfacing of tennis courts.”
Mr Leigh said: “In response to funding cuts the MoD put off essential maintenance work such as re-roofing buildings, but still found the cash to build all-weather sports pitches and spruce up tennis courts.
“Nobody is saying it is inappropriate to offer a range of leisure facilities on site, but the department has to get its priorities straight.
“Let’s mend the leaking roofs first, and then worry about the state of the tennis courts.”
And it gets worse:
Forty per cent of the £5bn set aside to improve military housing will be spent on renting the buildings from a private landlord […] £2bn will be spent renting back premises sold off by the state in 1996. […]
The Conservative government sold most of the defence housing stock to Annington Homes in 1996 for £1.6bn. […]
The Army Families Federation said the sell-off had led to an under-investment in homes for service personnel and their families.