February 1st, 2006


And now that we have reached this point...

One Hundred British Soldiers have died in Iraq. A number of them died because someone intentionally killed them. Several died because of accidents and disease. And some will have died because the government decided to run this rotten war on the cheap and did not give them the right armour or helmets that would have saved their lives.

Of course it is important to record the deaths of Iraqi civilians, and discuss British military actions that may have attained atrocity and certainly approached it. It is also important to record that British soldiers have been betrayed by this government, sent to kill and die in a bad cause, and then left underprotected. Nation states have armies and the men and women who make up those armies have the same right to be properly treated as the rest of us, above all the right not to be ripped off.

Orwell says somewhere that it is always a bad idea for the democratic Left to sneer at soldiers, when they could be made our allies instead of our enemies. He suggests that it is never a good idea to be vulnerable to Kipling's 'Making Mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep/ Is cheaper than those uniforms, and they're damnation cheap.' It is not always the case that the army is a bunch of Tory or fascist hoodlums - the army that fought WW2 against fascism came home and elected the Atlee government. And one of the reasons for that was that elements of the left got themselves in place to run the Army Education Corps...

Meanwhile, an unattributable story from an unimpeachable source - you will have to trust me on this one.

When Blair visited the troops in Iraq for the first time, he got a lot of complaints about kit, and ignored them. In the evening, he stood on a platform and orated to the troops. 'I have to say...how moved...how very moved...I am to be here...on this liberated soil...I want to say... that never... in history...has any Prime Minister...been served so bravely...so gallantly...so loyally...by the men and women of his Army'.

At which point a Sergeant Major at the back shouts. ' We're fooking not your fooking Army. I fooking signed up for the fooking British fooking Army, and we fooking answer to the fooking Queen, Gawd Bless Her, and not to some fooking Prime fooking Minister'. Five minutes of applause followed.

Whatever one's view on the constitutional propriety of all this, it becomes ever more obvious that Blair suffers from President envy.

And looks tired.

If Prince Harry, who quite properly is insisting on a combat role when he goes to Iraq, gets killed, Blair has a problem.


Elsewhere in Roz, finished the trans-representation piece for the TLS, to be here in due course and have a new piece on Time Out, who one day will pay me on time. (Utopian dream)

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