January 14

Prince Harry: political establishment goes to water


Is the British establishment almost totally bereft of good sense and courage?  Why is it that almost the only prominent person to be reported saying something sensible about the three year old banter that the appalling News of The World unleashed for its usual unworthy mendacious purposes seems to be one Rod Richards?

Mr. Richards, a former Royal Marine, once served as a Foreign Office minister.  He said: "I am a Welshman and it was quite common for people like me to be called Taffy … the use of the word Paki doesn't surprise me but in a military context, it is not derogatory."

Mr. Richards seems almost alone among his class, most of whom are falling over themselves to justify the actions of the tabloid which no doubt purchased the video. This is the same tabloid whose journalists and Royal Editor not so long ago broke the criminal law to get similar cheap headlines.

(In the meantime, in the real world, 63,000 have voted on the TMZ poll and its running 73% Prince Harry's way.)

Now it is should surprise nobody that when the tabloid launched its particularly stale beat-up, the  usual self selected bien-pensants would roundly condemn Prince Harry.

Few of them in their longer lives would have contributed anything as effective in terms of working for charity as he has in his few years on this earth. Few of them would have risked their lives for their country, as he has and is so willing to do so again.

Few of the critics will have actually served in the armed forces and have known from personal experience that men will address one another with words which for both the  user and the recipient, and importantly for the audience, are intended as and received as terms of affection.

It all depends on context. Surely anybody with a grain of sense knows this.

As an example the use of the word “mate” is almost synonymous with being Australian. It is used as an indication of closeness, in the sense of “he’s my mate.” It can be used, and is used too often pro forma, or as a space filler. But it can be also be used more ominously as a term of aggression and indeed intimidation.

Former governor-general Bill Hayden once advised great caution if you happened to be addressed that way by members of the right wing of the New South Wales Labor Party; in his view the usage of the word in those circles, especially with an  excessively elongated vowel, is likely to be the precursor of a political back -stabbing.

So where is the sense of proportion in the British establishment?   The young Prince has gone out of his way to assure anyone, particularly those most concerned, that if offence was caused, this is regretted.

He has assured them – and no one can doubt this with a straight face– that none was intended.

And to repeat, this was three years ago.If the media is correct the Army seems to have its priorities wrong.

They should recall their egregious and surprising error in announcing in advance that Prince Harry was going to Iraq.

They did not apparently know that the enemy also read newspapers, listen to the radio and watch television.

It is absolutely appalling that soldiers on operations are allowed to use video cameras to make this sort of film. Apparently such personal records can now be found on YouTube.  

The Army should be concerned about security, not whether the ephemeral rules of political correctness as decreed by the drones in the commentariat are being applied.  


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