I 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!