Today is or should be a day when the politicians of Britain hang their heads in shame. It is today that the trial of two unnamed former soldiers begins in Belfast. These now elderly men are accused of murder for merely doing what they were asked to do during the so-called ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.
I must admit I never had much time for Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer, the former Army officer with three tours of Afghanistan under his belt. Mr Mercer, by joining the Tory Party and taking a job as a junior Minister, became a human shield for that supposedly patriotic party’s neglect of and contempt for the Armed Forces.
But Mr Mercer now has my respect for refusing to put up with the Government’s shameful abandonment of Servicemen who fought in Northern Ireland. This was always going to happen as it is a key part of Britain’s 1998 capitulation to the IRA, under severe American pressure. All kinds of IRA killers and bombers – nothing more than terrorists really – can now stroll about in freedom with no fear of prosecution, but soldiers accused of unlawful acts in the long and bitter struggle between Britain and those same Republican murderers can never be sure till their dying day that they will not face prosecution, and perhaps end their days in prison.
This is so obviously wrong and wicked that it cannot be publicly admitted. Mr Mercer’s attempt to put it right by changing the law ran into the bedrock of cynical power politics. Politics required him to shut up and swallow it. He did not, and for that he was summarily sacked by text message. He was not even given the opportunity to resign honourably and give his reasons for doing so in Parliament itself.
Well, I honestly feel that Mr Mercer should value that sacking and keep that text message in his trophy cabinet. It is a badge of honour worth as much as any medal and shows he was doing his job for the soldiers who are every officer’s ultimate concern. And one day, when this ineptly corrupt Government is long out of power and its reputation is no longer shielded by battalions of spin doctors, it will be clear to any decent person who was in the right.
I have often stated that all would-be government minsters should as part of the selection process for the office they wish to attain, be subjected to a period of life in combat conditions so that they can know and understand what it means when they send young men to do things that they would not do themselves.
When I fought my war, most of our political masters had fought for Britain in the second world war, but this corrupt, frightened and useless bunch of political nonentities who are busy ruining what was once a great country just do not seem to have any idea as to what they are doing.
A Land of Hope and Glory this might once have been, but now it is a land of shameful and apologetic capitulation.