Politics and the Poppy….

Today’s Observer has a short, pithy and trite editorial arguing that;

There is, in that confluence of past and present, a danger that grief is itself politicised. The act of remembrance is easily subverted to patriotic pageantry or attacks on government policy.

It must be neither.

So, quite clearly a side-swipe at the Independent on Sunday which has chosen to mark the occasion by calling for a phased withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.  The Observer is totally wrong; war is a political act, initiated by politicians towards political ends. Thus, the notion that somehow political debate becomes ‘off-limits’ on an occasion like Remembrance Sunday is repugnant and antithetical to the very notion of democracy. Rather than blurring minds it should focus them on the very human cost of political decisions and provides politicians with immunity from the consequences of their decisions.

Nobody wishes to disparage the sacrifices made but it is denying debate which is the height of disparagement; it is denial of that democratic right under the veil of ‘respect’ that is most disrespectful to those remembered. We should remember and honour all those who gave their lives in World War I for example, and also remember that they did so to defend vested imperial interests and the freedom of one empire to squash another. We should remember that and say never again should lives be given away so cheaply and for so little.

So, turning to the situation in Afghanistan we have to ask this; who seriously in their right mind cannot see that once again lives are being chucked needlessly away ostensibly for ‘freedom’ or ‘security’ but in reality in the service of another, quasi-imperial ideal, that we possess the divine right to order this world as we see fit. The arrogant belief that we can and should do this; and that somehow it will solve problems like Al-Quaeda when all the evidence points in the reverse direction. The public sees this quite clearly but in our democracy the Defence Secretary; the peoples representative tells them this doesn’t matter.

Representatives of the Liberal Democrats say that if the public was better informed they would fall in-line. However, the BBC poll on the subject says 52% say they are well-informed which doesn’t bode well for that line of  argument. Tellingly, 52% say that the war is not worth fighting; they are right and they, not the Observer are the ones who have remembered and learnt….


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4 responses to “Politics and the Poppy….”

  1. RobC says :

    The politics of this are quite interesting. The soft left as represented by the Guardian are behind the campaign in Afghanistan for obvious reasons – Labour got us into this mess and if they are to have any hope of being reelected cannot be seen to back down now. However in this they are given backing by the rest of the political class including Cameron and his front bench. Those who oppose the war on either end of the political spectrum are depicted as mavericks – Kate Hooey being a good example. The Lib Dems have a particular problem as they don’t want to be seen as conforming to the stereotype of being surrender monkeys or white flag wavers. Paddy’s recent comments and his proposed role also make it difficult for Clegg to strike an independent line.

    Yet the evidence supporting an early withdrawal is overwhelming as highlighted by the Independent on Sunday’s article and by Max Hasting among others. I happen to think the Liberal Democrats would receive the clear support of the British people by announcing a change of policy. We shouldn’t listen to carping voices saying it is too close to an election or we would be seen as playing cynical party games. We are talking wasting young lives here and a lot of them (far greater losses than the troops suffered in the worst year of the Northern Ireland troubles) and really that should be the end of the argument.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    Rob C,

    Agreed that this is interesting. Your right it is the soft left that is closing ranks with Labour; the Guardian did something similar over Iraq. Agreed again and this is becoming increasingly polarised between the poltical classes and the oppositional public. True our position is tough but Clegg is leader now and this would be a good chance for us to emphasises the ‘one foot’ we have outside the establishment of the ‘big two’.

    Again agreed. We would and your right that our position now is deeply cynical; Clegg looks every inch the stereotype of a Lib Dem, sitting on the fence to see which way the wind blows. Hear hear; this conflict is a complete waste of lives and should be ended….


  3. Douglas Fender says :

    After we leave Afghanistan who ever has the most guns, ammo, rockets and soldiers will run the country be it Al-Quaeda or who ever else is the most powerful.


  4. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Possibly but I am far from convinced that will have a bad effect on Britain’s own security. This will be the same result whether we leave now or in another ten years. Propping up a corrupt government can barely be said to improving the situation.


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