AT this very moment, thousands of British soldiers are risking their lives in a major offensive in Afghanistan.

Within weeks our local Royal Marines from 40 Commando will also deploy to the battlefield. They go with our gratitude and admiration.

Opinions will differ about our mission in Afghanistan, but all reasonable people realise that the well-being of our troops is above party politics.

Earlier this month, Britain’s Foreign Secretary held a public meeting in Taunton on the specific subject of Afghanistan. It was attended by a diverse audience, including relatives of serving soldiers.

It was a rare opportunity for Taunton Deane residents to ask questions directly to one of the most important Government Ministers. The Foreign Secretary has daily engagement with global-level senior politicians, from American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton downwards.

So I was pleased that he agreed to do a serious and non-partisan public meeting in Taunton. As the MP for everyone in Taunton Deane, I welcomed the Foreign Secretary, and listened with respect to his presentation and the questions from the public.