Friday, 9 October 2009

Political Gimmicks

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt is to become a defence adviser to the Tories. It is good to have professional advice but is it right that a serving army officer should be making political statements? I remember well that he was asking for more troops and equipment, but others were saying that they didn't need more. If he has a political axe to grind then his judgement is impaired.

I particularly enjoyed the comment from the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling who misheard a question about General Dannatt and replied that he hoped it was not a political gimmick and it's all about PR. He is always suspicious of the government's motives. As it happens to be a Tory appointment he is really enthusiastic about it. I find it really hard to think of the question that he thought he heard without causing embarassment to the Conservative Party.

The General is entitled to his political views (in private). His public views should be restricted to advising politicians which do not include derogatory statements. The gimmick of course is that he has shown his political colours whilst serving as an officer in the army. I am not sure if this is grounds for dismissal but I hope disciplinary procedures are deemed necessary. The alternative is that all soldiers question their raison d’ĂȘtre. If there is one place where discipline is necessary then surely it is in the armed forces. If you are one of its members then your duty is to follow orders and political opinions must be left to the politicians. There are some people who do not agree with this statement but they go on to form military juntas.

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