On Remembrance Sunday, mindful that Leonard Cohen died a few days ago, and given that Gerry sent me this (thank you, Gerry), I thought it was appropriate to feature this poem today.
You’ll all know by now that I’m a kinda anti-war person, I think Niko called me a peacenik at one point, and that’s fine. I’m cool with that description. It doesn’t stop me being aware that sometimes wars happen; sometimes you have to defend yourselves. I just don’t think you should go looking for war. Particularly if you do it for self-aggrandisement, or to please your more powerful ally.
This pic was captioned by the Daily Mail: “Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn prepare to lay wreaths”. Respect Scotland and the Scottish fallen.
I do think, though, that if you, as a country, send people into war, for whatever reason, you have a duty to look after them, provide them with the very best of equipment and facilities and care when they are on active duty. You also have a sacred duty of care to those who are wounded in your service, whether that is physically or mentally, and to their families and, to the families of those who died. It seems to me that that is something that this union falls down very badly on, and indeed has always fallen down on. Why did Earl Haig have to set up a fund to help the wounded, ask yourselves!
Men (mainly) come back from war, are discharged into “civvy street” and are left to deal with the trauma of what they have seen, and of their physical injuries, often at the tender mercies of the DWP determined to save a grubby penny here and there and meet the targets set by a malevolent government, penny-pinching over the sick and lavishing money on the splendours of parliaments and palaces.
And this has its inevitable consequences.Some people come back from war zones having witnessed, on a daily basis, people, their own, or the enemy’s, civilians, sometimes children and babies, being blown to pieces. Is it really reasonable to expect them to settle down to 9-5 with a stiff upper lip, and pretend they have never had to brush someone’s brains off their uniforms?
However, the top brass will all have put on a good show this morning. The Queen, and the party leaders, and princes* left, right and centre in Colonel in Chief uniforms; princesses wearing expensive black hats and oversized poppies, wiping tears from their eyes.
They do that once a year: and good for them. Perhaps, though, one of them would like to look into why, only last week, 12 homeless ex-servicemen were evicted from a squat in Manchester, and within hours, once of them “George” was dead from Bronchial Pneumonia, at 82 years old!
What in heaven’s name was an 82-year-old doing living in a squat in the 6th largest economy in the world, especially an 82-year-old who had served in the forces? Why were 11 other ex-servicemen living in squats?
Any answers, Fallon?
Showing grief and concern, tears and £1000 hats would be a lot more convincing if anything like the same concern was voiced for the “survivors”.
- *I’m mindful that of all of them, Harry does a lot of good work with veterans.