Some of you may have read about the protests of returning troops to England from Iraq last week. They were greeted by a friendly welcome by the majority with a minority holding signs describing them as “Butchers” and “Terrorists”.
I read this and felt torn. On one hand the protesters are voicing their complaints against the British Army’s part in death of thousands of civilians. On the other hand they are raising the issue in a hugely polarising way which probably does more damage to their cause than aid it. After this brief pondering I returned to my week.
Over the following days the typical figureheads gave their sound-bites to the media about how awful this was and about how the protesters should be ashamed of themselves. Gordon Brown made one of his stereotypical comments, trying desperately to prove that he can do something right to a increasingly disappointed public. Basically, an fairly expected reaction.
What was unexpected was today’s story about David Davis MP calling for it to become a crime to incite hatred of serving soldiers. “Inciting hatred” is the clever new way to sweeten further restrictions of our free speech in a way the public will seemingly happily accept. David Davis admitted personal concerns about the war but insists that British soldiers are “our finest young men and women, the cream of society”.
Personally, I believe that most soldiers are brave men and women. I don’t think that they are necessarily finer people than the doctors or members of the emergency services who save lives daily but that’s another debate. I’m came pretty close to joining the military myself. I had several successful interviews with the British Army and was one away from a university bursary which would have got me a place in Sandhurst after graduation. Despite my current pacifist leanings I respect the opinion of those disagree and I respect those in the military.
The initial reasons given for the Iraq war have been revealed as mistaken at best and outright deceit at worst. Iraq is turning into a nightmare with thousands upon thousands of civilians displaced or killed. There are several accounts of Iraqis describing Iraq under Saddam as a better place to live. If more of the military had been men like Malcolm Kendall-Smith and Ben Griffin then perhaps we wouldn’t have this disaster our hands.
This is why at the next election I will be voting for a party that campaigned against the Iraq war and is putting forward a bill to repeal some of the laws that have reduced our civil liberties. It’s time to take a stand against these attempts by Labour and the Conservatives to further reduce our freedom and increase their power. It’s time for the government of this country to be led by a party that stands for the rule of international law and respects the rights of the citizens of this country.