Armed Forces Day is rightly subdued

I may be counting my chickens, but I suppose at this time of year we ought to be grateful that the massed ranks of the righteous on both sides aren’t making too much of a demonstration out of Armed Forces Day. The Newsletter seems to be making its point on line. Whoops, I’ve just caught up with the Portadown demonstration of just wrath. We’re a long way off from the ideal, that national flags should be treated as just that, rather than party banners, for as long as national gestures of one sort or another spill over into sectarian flashpoints like Drumcree. But you don’t have to be an Irish republican to dismiss the whole event, like military commentator Max Hastings, in the Mail.

It seems to soldiers a mockery that when they are struggling to fight an unpopular and chronically under-resourced war, the British Government’s Big Gesture is to give them a day out with the kiddies in full-dress uniform on the streets of Chatham.You can bet your socks that some idiot minister will say in a speech today that ‘Britain’s Armed Forces are the finest in the world’.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London