are we the baddies

We need to talk about the British Army.

Who are the baddies now?

Who are the baddies now?

WORDS: Gary Kelly

So is this another few hundred words having a pop at the British Army? Well that depends who you are. If you are one of those people who thinks the British Army is absolutely above criticism. To ‘disrespect our boys’ is akin to walking into the changing rooms at Spanish Inquisition HQ and pissing on a fresco of Jesus’s face shouting “The Earth revolves around the sun, the Earth revolves around the sun” then you will most likely be incandescent with rage.

If like me, you prefer to take a more balanced view, based wherever possible on evidence then read on. In fact, read on if you are the type to get incandescent with rage because you think supporting the army is some kind of secular religion. I’m a pervert, you make me hard. Not really, but nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

So why the British Army? What has happened now? What is with the inquest? 

New footage has emerged of members of 3 Para on a shooting range in Afghanistan taking target practice at a blown up image of Jeremy Corbyn’s face.

Predictably there has been widespread outrage from people on the left. With a perhaps more insidious amount of people on the right, on the same day, trotting out false ‘anti-British, Marxist, anti-semitic’ falsehoods, directed towards Corbyn. I’m sure that is just a coincidence, just like I’m sure Theresa May is acting in good faith and that she has no intention of asking Jeremy to jump on the live hand grenade that is Brexit, the very thing she pulled the pin on, and use him as a human shield. It was that Jeremy Corbyn what did it your honour.

Let us break this down piece by piece. 

Are ‘the army’ basically a pack of savage fascists hungry for Corbyn’s metaphorical head on a spike. The answer is Yes and No. Clearly the British Army has a proud history of fighting fascism, the Second World War for example. However, like the famous ‘Are we the baddies now?’ meme suggests, fascism is in the eyes of the beholder.

Does a large proportion of the population of the Island of Ireland think the British Army are fascists? The answer is yes. Being seen as the murderous attack dogs of colonialism and an occupying force tends to do that. Having your Uncle shot before your eyes would facilitate those thought patterns wouldn’t you say? Similarly, if you are from Iraq, or Afghanistan, or from many of the former colonies, you are far more likely to have a dim view at best of the British Army. Taking the emotion out of it, no matter how much you support our boys I’m sure you can at least in part understand why people would not share your positive view. 

If you were to think about it from a psychological perspective you aren’t much different from somebody who has experienced the trauma of sudden loss. We are all human, it comes from the same place. If the IRA shot your mate who was patrolling South Armagh then you are much more likely to hate ‘the Irish’ if you allow your feelings to consume you. Just the same as if your mate had fired that round a split second earlier than a combatant in a balaclava who happens to be a massive fan of The Wolfe Tones.

My point being, this tends to be a matter of perspective, often as simple as an accident of birth. Many of you reading this who were in the British Army, or who have loved ones who were are are in the British Army: if by some wrong turn the stork, on it’s way to Burnley it somehow came to rest in the Creggan Estate in Derry then you may well have took up arms for the Republican cause. You may have become one of the rifles of the IRA.

‘The British Army’, ‘The IRA’, one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. Often it is random chance what your opinions are, because our opinions are often based on consensus. That comes from socialisation, how we are taught by our peers, our families, what we are taught in schools. For example, you may have noticed my surname is Kelly, I grew up in Gateshead on the south banks of the River Tyne in the North East of England. However, if my ancestors had not emigrated to these shores because of poverty then who is to say what my opinions could have been had I grown up on a sink estate in Derry, instead of one on Tyneside. 

Indeed, my brother did in fact join the British Army, he served for over a decade and is now a serving police officer. Who is to say if we had been born anywhere on the island of Ireland that both of us would not have taken up arms against the British occupiers? Who is to say you reading this now would not have done the same. Random chance often shapes who we are, and what we find acceptable.

This brings me to the concept of the ‘British Army’, are they all rabidly against Corbyn as a lot of the commentators on the left and the right would have us believe today?

The answer appears to be no. It is not that simple.

Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford university said “Many of the junior ranks vote Labour, but senior officers tend to be Conservative,”. As we can see it is not that cut and dried. Often, because of socialisation, people of the more affluent socio-economic classes tend to vote Tory and scumbags such as myself tend to be more inclined towards our Nanna’s being able to afford to put the heating on and buy food in winter time. We’re funny like that on the council estates. Weird I know.

Some of ‘our boys’ are a bit spicy, but by no means all. Same as any other walk of life really.

Some of ‘our boys’ are a bit spicy, but by no means all. Same as any other walk of life really.

The point being, the rank and file actually quite like Corbyn in general, save for a few who think he is some kind of rat traitor who seeks to bring the British state down from within. I wonder why that could be? I’m sure it can’t have anything to the with the media could it with an additional layer of the top brass being raging Tories with the power of life and death over them. Nah, surely not that.

The evidence seems to suggest that the army is merely a reflection of wider society. We shouldn’t get to wound up about the lads from 3 Para in that video. The way some people have conflated that to mean that they all want Corbyn dead is a bit much in my opinion. Have you ever thought they might just have been having a bit of crack on a dangerous posting in one of the most hostile environments on earth? Maybe yes, one of those individuals has fascist views and should be court martialled on that basis, fine get to it. But maybe that isn’t the case, and it’s something less benign. They were bored. One or more of them may have actually voted Labour at the last election. By all means have an inquest, find out what their motivations are and dish out an appropriate punishment.

Like many people, their views can be shaped by an increasingly more right wing media, as can be seen in the header image of this article. They haven’t exactly been kind to Corbyn and you can see why lads and lasses in the Army just might have their heads turned by propaganda and lies when they are facing an existential threat everyday. The media have literally said, repeatedly, that Corbyn is a threat to national security. Baselessly might I add. Can you blame them for thinking so if ‘everyone’ is saying it?

This is all about proportionality in my view, especially considering that an unnamed General, lets just say he’s a Tory, was quoted in The Times in 2015 as saying that if Corbyn were to scrap Trident, pull out of Nato or indeed downgrade the Armed Forces that:

“The Army just wouldn’t stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that. You can’t put a maverick in charge of a country’s security. “There would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny.”  

What this gentleman is suggesting is tantamount to a military coup against a democratically elected government of the people. Fascism indeed. 

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Are ‘we’ the baddies now?