Thursday 15 October 2009

Don't They Know There's a War On?

As Gordon Brown read out the names of the latest war dead before Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, I must admit I felt a twinge of stony cynicism - not least because the recital takes a chunk of time out of PMQs and alters the mood of the occasion, knocking the fight out of all present. It surely isn't the right time and place. And besides, to adapt a phrase from the Last Spot of Bother, Don't they know there's a war on? Though every death is of course a tragedy for those close to the fallen, and some gesture of national mourning is demanded, these men are, after all, professional soldiers - not conscripts - fighting a war, and in any war there are casualties. Why the reluctance to face the fact that we are at war? Perhaps it's the widespread suspicion that this is 'really' America's war and we shouldn't be involved (it isn't and we should). Perhaps we're just too used to peace - that unnatural state of affairs - to be able to stomach the idea of war and its costs any more... Ironically, Brown's reading came on the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the battleship Royal Oak at Scapa Flow by a German U-boat, with the loss of 833 men and boys. We should perhaps think ourselves lucky that this time we're fighting a war where the names of the dead are few enough to be read out in a matter of minutes.


  1. If your 'twinge' makes you a cynic (a person who believes people are motivated purely by self interest rather than acting for honourable or unselfish reasons)then, with Gordon (not Roald) in our sights, that makes two of us, at least. I also had imagined that our 'lads' were in the death business, handing it out and receiving it. Perhaps it is the distance that now exists between our comfortable world today, and the wholesale slaughter of the last century, that has sensitized us to the value of a single life; this can only be a good thing I feel. Less attractive is the queasy feeling that Broon has used this moment for elevating his own position.

  2. No fan of Gord, but this is a bit 'damned if you do and damned if you don't'.

  3. And damned is precisely what he should be Brit - tho not necessarily for this.

  4. Two miles from here a piece of land next to Bemersyde (Earl Haig's estate) was renamed "Sorrowless Field", by whom I have no idea, possibly history's biggest joker. Late next year the nation could buy Gordon an allotment plot, for his retirement, and name it sorrowfull field.
    Hang in there boys and girls, the final nail was hammered into Sauron's coffin this week, the Scots Nats have said that they will be happy to work alongside the next Tory administration.
    What a combination, Dave's toffs and Alex's brownshirts.