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Tony Grist

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Armed Forces Day [Jun. 20th, 2010|01:29 pm]
Tony Grist
Today is Armed Forces Day (apparently). Or maybe it was yesterday. I don't know. These top-down impositions rarely catch on. There's an article in this morning's Telegraph- purportedly penned by David Cameron- in which we the public are urged to give more support to our Armed Forces. Actually, I was under the impression the public was doing pretty well; it wasn't a Government initiative that got people turning out on the streets of Wooton Bassett to greet the returning war dead- and it wasn't a Government initiative which set up the charity Help for Heroes which (I humbly suggest) wouldn't need to exist if the Government were doing all it should. Still, Cameron is offering better pay to frontline troops and more assistance to families and ex-soldiers- and that's all good- I just wish he wouldn't preach. 

[User Picture]From: calizen
2010-06-20 12:44 pm (UTC)
I think it's in many of our our natures to appreciate those in the armed services. And its also in our natures to be suspicious of politicians exhorting us to support the troops (especially if they've never been part of the troops themselves).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-20 12:51 pm (UTC)

When was the last time we had a P.M. or Minister of Defence with significant military experience?
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-06-20 04:15 pm (UTC)
I just wish he wouldn't preach too! I especially wish he hadn't chosen Little George as chancellor with such a zeal for cutting stuff that won't affect his own family. I'm dead worried about the effect on jobs ahd benefits that his budget will have.
Jenny x
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-20 05:39 pm (UTC)
We have a government full of millionaires- few of who will ever have had any working experience outside politics. I'm not thrilled.

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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2010-06-20 09:55 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting question. With PMs you have to go back over thirty years to Callaghan and Heath, who both served in WWII (in the navy and army respectively). Beyond that it's Macmillan, who (according to Wiki) "during the Battle of the Somme... spent an entire day wounded and lying in a slit trench with a bullet in his pelvis, reading the classical Greek playwright Aeschylus in the original language." But the last PM to have been a professional soldier was Churchill.

Of course, the turnover of Defence Secretaries is greater than that of Prime Ministers. Looking back down that line, we see Liam Fox, Bob Ainsworth, John Hutton, Des Browne, John Reid, Geoff Hoon, George Robertson, Michael Portillo, Malcolm Rifkind - none of whom served in the military at all. Then come Tom King and George Younger, who both did National Service, as did their predecessor Michael Heseltine, for a very few months, having pulled every string possible to get out of it. You have to go back to John Nott to find someone who served for a substantial length of time - in his case, four years with the Gurkhas.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-21 09:08 am (UTC)
Thank you. I had Ted Heath in my sights- he won the MC didn't he?- but I'd forgotten all about Sunny Jim.

My respect for Macmillan- never all that high- has been raised a notch.

It bothers me that today's top politicians have so little experience of life. Does anyone in Cameron's cabinet have the ability to read Aeschylus in Greek? I doubt it.

As for the Ministers of Defence- what a dismal shower! If the Armed Forces feel neglected it's no wonder given the host of second-raters who have been put in charge of them.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2010-06-21 09:12 am (UTC)
Alas, the only current politician I'd lay an even-money bet on being able to read Aeschylus in Greek is Boris Johnson.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-22 09:33 am (UTC)
I've never quite made up my mind about Boris. I guess that's because- way up here in Greater Manchester- I'm beyond his reach. Obviously he contributes to the gaiety of the nation.
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