“Warrenpoint all over again.” What I remember most vividly is the smell that lingered for over 24 hours. There is still a jagged legacy. The contrast is between the Wooton Bassett ritual of the bodies coming home from Afghanistan today and the acceptance, almost the indifference in the 70s to the 90s, of the wider British public to the losses of the “long war.” Even Troops Out had little traction. It remains to be throughly explored but however much the controversy raged in Ireland, the British public seems to have grimly accepted that Northern Ireland was a duty to be performed, however distasteful. Afghanistan may be a different matter. The unfolding Aghanistan week on the BBC should offer insights. Meanwhile here is a home grown inight.
Militarily the Taliban cannot sustain this rate of attrition. It is losing scores to our every one. Its bank is going bust and terrorist volunteers to go into this mincer are increasingly hard to find. Let’s keep faith with our deployed troops. Let’s support the judgement and experience of Brigadier Radford and his men. They are on the ground and we are not. If we lose, it will be because we have defeated ourselves by a lack of nerve, and if that happens the sacrifice will be in vain. Keep the faith.
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