|Tony's General||James Thurgood on Britain's top PC general|
WHEN the bombing of Belgrade was going full steam ahead last year, a face appeared on our television screens which I had not seen before. It was that of General Sir Charles Guthrie, who was announced as the Chief of the Defence Staff. In current parlance, this means he was and, until later this month, is Britain's top soldier. A few minutes of listening to the arrant nonsense spouted by Sir Charles about the obvious rectitude of the attacks on the Serbs, and how Britain must do her bit to bring the tyrant Slobodan Milosevic to heel, were enough to convince me that he was clearly a very "political" general - appointed as a thoroughly loyal and reliable servant of the liberal-globalist establishment rather than because of any special merit as a would-be leader of men in war.
In fact, Guthrie could hardly have been otherwise - and for reasons entirely separate from his enthusiasm for the crusade against Slobo. In recent years the British armed forces, not long ago envied as the world's best, have been demoralised and rotted by political correctness. Discipline has been undermined. Training has been softened, with stress counselling - introduced for recruits who don't like being barked at by NCOs. Strenuous efforts have been made to get more "ethnics" to join, and "anti-racist" drives have been launched against anyone who might object. The door has been opened to homosexual recruitment. And women have been enlisted for strenuous combat roles on a basis of complete equality with men - sometimes indeed in command of men.
None of this could have happened had the military top brass not been thoroughly compliant in its attitudes. Honourable senior officers, ordered to carry out schemes which they must know would dangerously reduce the fighting efficiency of the forces under their command, would face their political bosses down and threaten resignation - then carry the threat out if the nonsense were not stopped. That Britain's service chiefs have failed to do this simply shows that, at the very top level at least, they place careers before duty. This is a chilling portent of what Britain might expect if she is called on to fight a really serious war for national survival.
To those concerned about these matters, an article appearing in The Spectator on May 27th should be of much interest. Titled ":officer and politician", it told us a few things about General Guthrie which go a long way to explain what has been happening to the British Army. When the General steps down as Chief of the Defence Staff later this year, the article began...
This simply has to be bad news. Warm relations between a prime minister and the nation's top soldier can only mean one of two things: either the prime minister has a regard for the military that is exceptionally high among politicians, or the top soldier has a regard for the political class that is unusual among the military. In Blair's case, we can straight away dismiss the former possibility. He is head of a party and government comprised of people who hate the armed forces, who have for the most part never served in uniform and who simply do not believe in defending the nation. The warm relationship between Guthrie and Blair can therefore only mean that: (1) Guthrie likes Tony's way of politics; and that: (2) Tony finds Guthrie a very willing stooge.
Considering the Blair Government's record on defence, this is nothing short of alarming.
The Spectator article, by Peter Oborne,justifies such apprehension. "It is striking," says Oborne...
But that's only the tip of the iceberg. Says Oborne:-
Oborne underlined the visceral anti-military mentality of the Labour hierarchy, while making the rather questionable observation that it was not shared by Blair himself. In their attitude to the armed forces, he said, some of Blair's ministers...
Well, whether or not the Parachute Regiment is "linked to right-wing extremism," as Mr. Vaz has claimed, this should not be seen as "offensive." The regiment is supposed to be an institution comprised of some of the very cream of the British Army, and able to acquit itself in battle to the very highest standards of valour and efficiency. The politics of its members should not be an issue of any consequence, but if by "right-wing extremist" is meant "ultra-patriotic" then government ministers should be grateful for that tendency rather than condemning it. Perhaps though, the background of Mr. Vaz makes it harder for him to appreciate the glorious traditions of this fighting force than is the case with indigenous Britons of whose heritage it is a part. As for the "Day of Reconciliation" in Northern Ireland, officers who would lend themselves to such a hideous charade would deserve no better fate than the traditional one meted out over the ages to those in uniform who declined to do battle with the enemy.
For services rendered?
Guthrie, however, seems to belong to that class of Briton who finds it difficult to determine just who the enemy is. Perhaps he appears to the General in the form, not of a foreign army threatening this country, but of those modern Labour demons "racism", "sexism" and "homophobia." Hence the high esteem in which he is held in Westminster. Says Oborne:-
In this regard, the good General seems really to be in no different category to the legions of chief constables of police up and down the United Kingdom, who have prioritised their duties first and foremost as being those of combatting politically incorrect tendencies in their forces and among the public at large rather than fighting crime. Lucky Britain - to have this huge and growing network of public servants to whom career promotion, a good pension and perhaps a place on the Honours List are the number-one imperatives, and who, it seems, will toady to any political boss, of whatever complexion, to secure these goodies!
In the case of Guthrie, it appears that he is destined on retirement to that kind of lucrative job in the City that is the reward of countless politicians who have done nothing for their country but have been conscientious servants of their party.
Oborne says of Guthrie:-
Now that Guthrie is stepping down, who will be his successor as CDS? According to Oborne, military traditionalists favour General Rupert Smith, "a brave officer who has served only one tour of duty at Whitehall." His chief rival seems to be Admiral Nigel Essenhigh, "who recently caused purring at Westminster by writing a letter to The Times insisting that government cuts had not damaged the operational effectiveness of the British fleet."
So who would you bet on?