Friday, June 09, 2006
Lions and Donkeys
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!
Keen eyed observers will have noticed that I am a fan of Kipling. I thought of him when I read about the treatment of the recently acquitted guardsmen. Initially because of his words, repeated above, and then because of his close personal relationship with the Irish Guards.
Blair and his government have treated the Army disgracefully. Overstretching it abroad whilst attacking its regimental structure at home has sapped morale to such a point that servicemen are absenting themselves without leave in record numbers. Those that do do their duty must now keen one eye out for improvised explosive devices and another for the Army Prosecuting Authority. They must patrol in inadequately armoured vehicles, perhaps without body armour or working communications, in areas of this dangerous world where Blair and his ministers fear to tread.
There is an unspoken covenant between the soldier and his government. He or she will put him or herself in harms way if asked to do so and the government is expected to provide if disaster ensues. That understanding is in danger of breaking down along with army medical provision and the community links of the ancient regiments. Who has welshed on the deal? Not Tommy. But then again he "ain't a bloomin' fool".
Updates here and here.