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Why I didnt support the first “Armed Forces Day”

June 28th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized by

gordon-brown-hijacks-national-armed-forces-day-actI opened up the Sunday Telegraph of all newspapers this morning to be greeted with what amounts to 2 full pages of government propaganda with the headline “Nation salutes its heroes on the first Armed Forces Day”. They campaigned for it – so I guess they wanted to shout about it.

I didnt support it yesterday and I wont support it any time soon. Not because I am anti the armed forces. I actually think that, of their kind, they are pretty damn good.

I dont support it because this is just another example of the government hi-jacking a PR event to suit their own agenda.

This is the same government that skimped on equipment going into the Iraq war. Many deaths can be laid at the door of the then-chancellor Gordon Brown who refused the budgets necessary to keep these soldiers alive. This is the same government that has overseen record numbers of ex-soldiers ending up in custody. Ex-military personnel comprise by far the largest occupational group in the prison system – because there is no money to help them get over the trauma of war. This is the same government that wanted the inquiry into Iraq held in private – despite military leaders demand that they have their actions judged by the public. This is the same government that wanted to turn their back on the Ghurkas lest we forget.  I could not find any mention of any of that in the Telegraph’s patriotic report (please tell me if I missed it).

If this government cared that much about these people they would have done more – and do more – where it matters. Not create a tokenistic flag-waving  “Armed Forces Day” in the hope that the remaining good will for the forces will somehow rub-off on them. With a few handy pictures of Gordon with the boys and girls in uniform along the way.

What is also disappointing is that the armed forces seem unable to stop the goverment using them for their own political ends. I understand that they crave a return to the warmth and respect that was once theirs without question. But they wont get it from me until they stand up to this government. Perhaps that we will see that during the Iraq inquiry (those bits we are allowed to see).Lets hope.

PS: Was it purely coincidence that the date chosen – 27th June, also marks the Day Gordon Brown became Prime Minister back in 2007? What a day to choose whoever thought it up!

4 Responses to “Why I didnt support the first “Armed Forces Day””

  1. Bunny Smedley Says:

    Can it really be true that no one has commented on this? Well, if no one else is going to, I’ll have a go.

    Your point about self-promotion for what is in many ways a repulsive, irresponsible and far from forces-friendly government is well-taken.

    Marginally odder, perhaps, is your desire to see the armed forces ‘stand up to this government’ – I mean, as places go, Guinea, Mauritius and Honduras all have their qualities, but not everyone would chose them as exemplars of the ideal relationship between a more-or-less democratically elected government and the military.

    Clearly, the LibDems are a rather more exciting party than they used to be! ;-)


  2. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Always love feedback-thanks Bunny.

    Yes I take your point about the military. I was not in fact suggesting the military go so far as park their tanks on College Green (great picture though) or indeed take over the ruling of this country (though I doubt their rule would be MORE dictatorial than the current government).

    My thoughts were along the lines of not allowing the government to use them as cover or excuses for their actions – standing firm on the government NOT getting involved in Armed Forces day – and most importantly – and as alluded to in the post – being utterly brutal and frank at the “public” Iraq inquiry about what really happened – what was said – and done during the build up to the invasion.

    As for the Lib Dems being exciting…. come to Party conference in September and bring the beta blockers – its going to be Fun!


  3. Bunny Smedley Says:

    What a nice answer, Angela!

    For what it’s worth, I strongly suspect that senior figures in the armed forces would be absolutely delighted to stand up to the government in the way you suggest, but when they attempt this (c.f. Gen. Sir Mike Jackson, Gen. Lord Guthrie, Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt) the press is very quick to accuse them of political meddling – and although Julian Harris will perhaps accord this a wry smile, even I consider general vigilance on this matter a thoroughly Good Thing, if only because, as a conservative, one of the features of our informal constitutional settlement I’d very much like to preserve is our habitual national squeamishness about letting the military draw too close to our democratic political structures, which – even a liberal ought to admit – has, in comparison with some of our continental European friends, served us well in the past. And I write this as someone who’s a major fan of the first Duke of Wellington, although also a vigorous opponent of Cromwell …

    On a slightly less lapidary note, though, it will be fascinating to see what figures from the armed forces end up being called before the ‘public’ inquiry … some of our fighting men (and women) are, as it were, more up for a fight than others, and if only the tame ones get called, this ought to be noticed.

    Finally, one feels that the Liberal Vision team did quite a lot to make last year’s Conference the sort of event which even a Tory of 1980s vintage might regard as less than completely dull. That, in itself, should count as an achievement. ;-)


  4. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Bunny – You are SPOT ON with the question of WHO from the military will be called to the inquiry. I will be monitoring closely. I have a vested interest as a close personal friend (a journalist) was killed by so-called friendly fire in the early days of the invasion. So this beady little eye will watch very very carefully.


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