There is no suggestion that the Jury’s verdict in the Inquest of Fusilier Gordon Gentle had anything to do with the departure of Defence Procurement Minister Lord Drayson. That has been attributed to his desire to race a car in les Vingt-Quatre Heures Du Mans, an interesting variation on the usual desire to spend ‘more time with one’s family’.

Lord Drayson was an improvement on almost every government minister you could name, for he at least had run a substantial business with great success. His company, Powderject, was sold in 2003 netting him a cool £80 million. The only fly in that particular ointment was controversy over the government awarding Powderject a plum contract in 2002 worth £32 million to produce smallpox vaccine without competition shortly after Paul Drayson donated £50,000 to the Labour Party. Following a Parliamentary enquiry no improper activity was identified. Others will have to tease out that puzzle if any teasing out remains to be done.

It was in May 2005 Lord Drayson replaced Lord Bach as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Procurement and as Government Spokesman for Defence. The latter went on to preside over the appalling farm payments fiasco as a DEFRA Minister, sufficiently badly that even Blair, notorious for his inability to sack people for anything felt moved to get rid of him. Since then Lord Drayson has presided over procurement. Those familiar with the relentless campaign of Defence of the Realm over the appalling inadequacies in equipment procurement, especially, though by no stretch of the imagination exclusively, in Iraq and Afghanistan will doubtless judge the departing Peer through that particular lens.

As noted, at least Drayson had been successful in the world of business. His replacement, however, in a sign of the paucity of ability and talent of Labour in the House of Lords (despite the presence of all those businessmen who were swathed in ermine by Whatisname for being eminently qualified as ‘working peers’ rather than, as was quite scandalously and outrageously suggested, for having given the Labour Party some really serious moolah) is a retread from the Callaghan Government, one Ann Taylor. She it was who served for a while as Blair’s Chief Whip. She was sacked from that job in 2001.

In a 1998 interview she said that she had been surprised to get as far as she had in politics, thus joining millions of her fellow citizens who had wondered the same thing themselves. As Leader of the House and latterly as Chief Whip she left no imprint to speak of, save being notable for lots of unseemly finger-pointing and sledging whilst seated on the front bench during PMQs. Her connection to defence was as Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee from 2001 to 2005. She will therefore know something of dodgy dossiers.

Whether she knows anything of the serious business of being responsible for equipping our armed forces properly remains to be seen. Her experience and record thus far gives little cause for optimism in that regard. Once again the armed services, whose principal Minister, Des Browne, is a part-timer, are given the Cinderella treatment of having an essentially failed former politician resurrected from the Lenin’s Mausoleum that is the Labour Peerage.

Meanwhile valiant young men and women sally forth to do battle with the Queen’s enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq. As surely as night follows day some will die because Labour cannot be bothered terribly with Defence. One hopes that Brown and Browne sleep well abed, for many of the parents of our gallant troops who have to make do and mend will surely not, against the day when they find a senior officer and a priest on the doorstep.