DULCE ET DECORUM EST

 

I’ll have no truck with the ceremonies in London where royals and political leaders gathered to pay their respects to people who died in a war that ended at 11 am 100 years ago today (and in the many conflicts since).

Not because I think we should forget war, and most assuredly not such a stupid pointless war as the one from 1914-18 that killed so many millions of people and wrecked the lives of countless more, because we should never forget this kind of monumental folly.

No, rather we should remember and learn from them.

But I want nothing to do with this tra la la, because that is what it will be. There’s no learning to be done. Just the Brits showing off their ceremonial prowess.

Image result for the queen at the cenotaph

The “great and the good” will be there in their expensive black clothes, looking suitably solemn, many of them wearing the “exclusive” poppies that posh people seem to get a hold of. And they will bow their heads in a show of respect for the dead. The dead that they, or their ancestors or predecessors, sent to war, sometimes arguably justifiably, and sometimes most definitely not.

All the remembrance has taught us nothing because, of course, it is rarely the sons of the great and the good (with a few honourable exceptions) that end up in the firing line.

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Then, once the ceremony is over, those and their likes will retire to the Foreign Office, mix with minor royalty and doubtless sup taxpayer-funded drinks. Duty done for another year.

Now all of that is fine… or it would be, if along with appearing at the Cenotaph* and looking sad, they would take action to ensure that those who did not die in their many and various wars, but who came home with horrible injuries to body and mind, and the families of those who did perish, were looked after by a grateful state.

Like so much else in this country, remembrance and the poppy have been devalued by politicians who use them as a political tool. If you don’t wear a poppy you are not patriotic. You don’t support ‘our brave boys’. Be ashamed.

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Incidentally, funds raised by the Scottish Poppy Appeal are directed to:

  • Providing direct financial assistance to ex-Service men, women and their dependents in Scotland.
  • Funding an advice service, including pension claims and appeals.
  • Supported employment for veterans with disabilities.
  • Grants and research for ex-Service organisations that deliver specialist services to veterans in Scotland.

All very worthy.

But my question is, why has this ever been necessary?

Are we not told over and over again what an important state Britain is, and how we punch above our weight and gain respect from countries all over the world for doing so?

Are we not one of the richest countries in the world?

So, why oh why are people who are sent by the government to do Her Majesty’s bidding and who come home less than whole, not looked after by that rich above-weight-punching government?

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I can only presume it’s because that government is too busy doing up palaces, paying for weddings of nonentities and continuing to punch above its weight LONG after it had any right to.

It’s not me who should be ashamed.

So, I’ll take no lectures on respect for troops from any of them.

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Today I HAVE been thinking about the unimaginable conditions that these men, and possibly a few women, had to endure in France. I’ve read some poems and listened to memories of people like Harry Patch, who was, I think, the last surviving British soldier from the 14-18 war, and who spoke with such horror of what he, at 16, had had to witness. And I wonder how that could possibly have happened, and worse, still be happening.

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I’ve thought too about the people who, because of war today, are starving and dying of completely or avoidable curable diseases in Yemen, of the scenes of destruction we have witnessed so recently in Libya and Syria and of the ongoing misery in Palestine.

For all the remembering that they do, they never seem to learn.

…And then I’m reminded that Bonespurs Trump wouldn’t brave the rain to show some respect for Americans who died in France.

(*I chose the Cenotaph ceremony because that is where the people who make decisions on wars, their funding and their aftermath, will be gathered. Not in Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast. And not in any of the towns and cities across Britain.)

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TIMES WHEN IT’S BETTER TO JUST “HUD YER WEESHT”

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Jeremy Corbyn has graced our humble country with a visit this week, and Carry on Dick is beside himself with joy. Rabbiting on about how only Labour can end the austerity that the Tories and the SNP have brought down upon us.

It’s interesting though, to see that in Wales, where labour IS in power, they don’t appear to have done much austerity busting.

They weren’t in favour of equal pay either. Indeed they fought hard against it.

And when it came to voting for Mr Cameron’s Welfare Cap, where were our trusty socialists? Well, it seems that most of them were in the lobbies with their Tory mates.

And here is a list of Labour MPs who didn’t vote against the Tories’ Welfare Reform Bill, reducing the Child Tax Credits, and imposing a benefits cap.

Yesterday Labour and the Greens jumped on a bandwagon, once again. This time it was about public money that had gone to an arms firm, Raytheon.

It turned out that the money, awarded by Scottish Enterprise (SE), was destined to help the company to diversify from weapons manufacture into other fields, thus retaining Scottish jobs, while reducing our dependency on weapons manufacture.

As  Craig Dalzell pointed out, it is important to ensure that the money IS indeed used for that purpose and not to subsidise anything else. We must demand that SE does this. (Having been involved in projects funded by SE, I suspect that this will be done. In my experience they are strict in inspections of outcomes compared, for example, with the DWP.)

It was certainly unfortunate that Labour got involved in this argument given the funding that the Labour government in Wales has been giving the same company.

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Oh no… Is that a Welsh flag I see?

And lest we should forget, Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair (yes, he was Labour) was the bloke who took us into an illegal war with Iraq to get rid of Weapons of Mass Destruction which everyone, except the stupid UK, knew didn’t exist (even Gordon Brown admitted that). And we know how that ended up, don’t we?

Hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed people; the destabilisation of Iraq; the rise of ISIS and terrorism, not just in Iraq, but all over Europe.

Bravo, Tony. Still, you got a Congressional medal and got to play with George W Bush.

So, if I were Labour, I’d stay clear of criticising anything to do with war.

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John Major privatized railways all over the UK in a step that even Thatcher refused to contemplate.

Like most other things that were privatized, (health services, prisons, probation, water, telecoms, electricity, gas, etc) they have met with varying degrees of “success”, mainly “very little” and in some cases “catastrophically little”.

In 13 years of power “New” Labour didn’t reverse any of these Tory privatizations: indeed it added to them.

But that didn’t stop their Scottish branch complaining that the SNP hadn’t re-nationalised Scotrail. Until recently, of course, Edinburgh didn’t have the power to do that. (You can never be sure that Labour actually knows any of this stuff, or says it in the hopes of getting some SNP baaaad headlines.)  Now, although the current contract has some time to run, the government is looking at nationalisation after it runs out.

However, one ex-Labour stalwart is against it.

Struth, what are they like?

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PS: Do you remember the time that The Most Noble Lord George ffoulkes, Baron Cumnock, fumed at the Saltire livery of ScotRail, introduced in 2007, just after the election of the SNP government?  It was apparently designed to brainwash people into becoming nationalists.

He had to be informed that it had been agreed by a Labour-Liberal Dem government (Liberal Democrat Transport Minister, Tavish Scott) long before the SNP were in power.

Duh!

RANDOM THOUGHTS

And in many cases, offering military expertise, which I suppose is why there won’t be retaliation against Saudi Arabia for bombing the wedding party. Ooops, My Bad!

!war
Yep, I got it now… I think????
!trump
I think that was only if the president was black. If he’s orange it’s an entirely different thing.
£trump
Well, yeah, but that was different. I got better shoes now because presidents get the best shoes in the world. FACT.
£wind
As they bloody well MUST be…
£wind1
Ah, yes. Well maybe if they can prove the unprovable… a bit like the victims of Grenfell Tower who were promised new homes within 6 weeks, and are still waiting.
!this is your
Sounds like that lovely Christain woman whose worst deed ever was to run through a cornfield. Coz clearly taking someone’s citizenship from them, having them lose their job, home and actually deporting them, or denying them cancer treatment, is far less offensive than running through a bloody cornfield, you odious woman.
!gove1
Winston Smith hard at work in Whitehall.
!gs
Alive and well, it seems.
!gove
Could? Well, yes, I suppose it could. Martians could land too and then what would happen to the NHS? But look on the bright side, Michael. You won, at least in England and Wales and you’ve forced us into it too. And one of the results of this is that no one from Europe wants to come and work in your NHS. So it will become unsustainable anyway because there won’t be many nurses or doctors by 2030. It would be fair to say that the scenario you outlined could have been avoided in numerous ways. You could have vetoed Turkey’s membership (although you wouldn’t ahve to because Greece would have done it for you). Or you could have simply enacted the provisions that exist and which other EU countries have done viz a viz only allowing people to live here when they have jobs (and are paying taxes). Still, nothing like a bit of racial hatred to get the terminally thick on your side. Filthy foreigners coming over here to die on our trollies.

 

So, not only do our pensioners live in poverty… our kids are among the hungriest in Europe. Proud?

 

 

 

WELL, THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG

awar

So, here we are, four days into Brexit and we are already threatening war with a fellow EU member.

This morning the Tories, for some weird reason, wheeled out Michael Howard, who, as you might have guessed, is one of these noblemen the Tories keep locked away for just such purposes. You probably remember him best as Michael ‘Prison Works’ Howard, Michael ‘Are you thinking what we’re thinking’ Howard, or even Michael ‘Something of the Night’ Howard, but we must refer to him by his proper name The Noble Baron Howard of Lympne, CH, PC, QC. It’s only respectful. And we are nothing if not respectful.

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Right, so the Tories dug him out from whatever dungeon they have been keeping him in, to remind us that a precious female prime minister, when a Great British territory was threatened, hastened to dispatch a mighty Task Force and, like Britannia herself, became the greatest military leader of all time.

Old Howard was, he said, sure that the current lady prime minister would not hesitate to do the same. Although she might have to ask President Hollande for a boat.

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Now old Howard, for all he reminds even his colleagues of Dracula, used to be someone. Indeed, after Wee Willie Hague and then his grandad, Iain Duncan Smith, he was the third disastrous leader of the Tory Party to sit opposite Tony Blair on the opposition benches. So, I suspect that he was sent out to fly a kite that they should use military might to deal with Spain if they don’t get their way.

awar

If it goes down in a frenzy of red white and blue waving fascist nutters, then it may become policy. If not then the Tories can say that it was just some batshit mad old aristocratic senior citizen having had too much Port for breakfast.

One of the reasons that the EU was set up was to try to foster peace in a continent which had been constantly at war throughout a thousand years and more. Four days into Brexit and the Brits are sabre rattling. (Probably all they have to rattle.)

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It may, too, have escaped Mr Howard’s notice that Spain is a NATO member and that NATO is a “one for all and all for one!” organisation. In short, if you attack one member, you attack all members. Oh well…

Fortunately not all talk today has been of war.

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Brexiteers are making plans for the future. The Great British Passport all in blue will be making a return according to the Sunday Diana. (So usual caveats apply.)

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And some fossil from the Telegraph wants Imperial Measures brought back.

12 d = 1/-; 20/- = £1; 12”- 1′; 3′ = 1 yard; 1760 yds = 1 mile… and don’t get me started on tons, hundredweights and quarters, chains, poles and gills!

aafar

I look forward to farthings’ return. A wren on the back, and, who knows, a portrait of Queen Victoria on the front.

Very Jolly.

BLAIR IS BACK

0If you thought that Trump and Brexit weren’t quite enough to finish off the world as you know it, the good news is that not only is Tony Blair making preparation to do a Norma Desmond style comeback (hopefully without the close-up), but he’s dragging  Spud Murphy and possibly even McTeacake with him as advisors.

Oh, how we laughed!

Apparently, he wants to save the UK from Brexit because he thinks Tessy Mayhem is a lightweight and that Corbyn is a nutter. So clearly, he’s learned a lot about diplomacy from all the murdering dictators he’s been working with over the last 10 years.

Clearly, by employing Murphy as an advisor (I assume that the Rt Hon’s conflict settlement agency hasn’t been doing too well),  he is hoping to lose Labour another 97% of its seats at the next election. If he sticks to meddling in Brexit, with that team I’d say we’ll leave in 2 years’ time without one single concession, and with a boot up our backsides.

If I were the Defence minister at Westminster I’d get buying a pile of ammunition, because Blair can’t be anywhere near the seat of power without bombing a few middle eastern within an inch of ruin and then withdrawing wearing one of his smug smiles and saying “job done, Mr President, Sir”.

The picture at the top of the article is either Blair wearing his military outfit, ready for a good bombing somewhere, or it’s a bus inspector who’s just heard that Blair had the effrontery to call someone else a nutter!!! I’m truly not sure which.

THEY PUT ON A GOOD SHOW, BUT THAT’S REALLY ALL IT IS.

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.

 

 

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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?

Hardly.
centoaphHowever, 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.