A FEW months ago there was a kerfuffle over whether the Labour rule in neighbouring in Islington – where things are so red that one Green member sits as the only opposition – was screening the letters written by councillors to the local press. Such a system can surely not be in place in Camden. If there is, Kilburn councillor Doug Beattie can expect to be up in front of a court martial by sunset. In a missive to the CNJ’s letters page, he breaks the official party line by questionning why Camden raises the Union Jack on Armed Forces Day, dismissing the event as a PR operation which sends the wrong message about the military.
Given Nadia Shah, Richard Cotton and Heather Johnson were among his colleagues who helped raise the flag above the Town Hall on Monday, and joined personnel from cadets to veterans in the mayor’s parlour afterwards, it’s quite a rebellious move to essentially trash the occasion a couple of days later.
But Doug obviously feels strongly about it, as you’ll see from his letter in today’s paper, an excerpt of which follows:
“The borough, I’m told, is required to hoist the flag because in 2013 it signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant; a mistake in my view.
Armed Forces Day has been described by the Quakers as ‘a glossy front behind which sits a deliberate strategy to manipulate the public’. Celebrating our armed forces in this way suggests an uncritical acceptance of military approaches to conflict resolution.
The clear aim, led by the MoD and the Tory government, is for the UK to become more militarised in an everyday sense; adopting militaristic values and priorities and to see military solutions as particularly effective.”
Conservative councillor Oliver Cooper responds:
“Armed Forces Day is not a commemoration of war, but of the heroism of the men and women that are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice when asked to by our elected representatives. Our service personnel are not to blame for conflicts that any of us disagree with, and their commemoration should not be politicised. Armed Forces Day was introduced in 2006, under a Labour government, and I’m glad that it has cross-party support.
Only by opening our eyes to the sacrifices that our service personnel make can we realise the true horrors of war. This reinforces our commitment to making sure war is an absolute last resort.”