David Cameron worships at the altar of the military

The Prime Minister has been over in Afghanistan extolling “our boys”.

The Guardian's Nick Watt reports on David Cameron's speech to British troops out at Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan, where the Prime Minister paraphrased Charles M Province:

I want you to think of that great quotation that it's not the politician that brings the right to vote, it is the soldier; it is not the poet that brings free speech, it is the soldier; it is not the journalist that brings free expression, it is the soldier. So I want you to help me create a new atmosphere in our country, an atmosphere where we back and revere and support our military.

Put aside the ahistorical (and neoconservative) nonsense about soldiers bringing the "right to vote" and protecting "free speech" -- is Niall Ferguson writing Cameron's speeches now, as well as advising the Tories on the history curriculum? -- and focus instead on the jingoistic and martial final sentence: "So I want you to help me create a new atmosphere . . . where we back and revere and support our military."

Revere? When did the UK become Sparta? And should we revere our troops when they are involved in this, or this, or this? Or turn a blind eye?

Before I'm accused of lacking patriotism or being "anti-armed forces", let me point out that I care about the fate of our men and women serving in Afghanistan and I am depressed and saddened by each and every pointless death. If Cameron (and Brown before him) really cared about the lives of our military personnel, he would withdraw them from Afghanistan, where they are engaged in a dishonest, counterproductive, immoral and unwinnable war.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

Getty
Show Hide image

Could Jeremy Corbyn still be excluded from the leadership race? The High Court will rule today

Labour donor Michael Foster has applied for a judgement. 

If you thought Labour's National Executive Committee's decision to let Jeremy Corbyn automatically run again for leader was the end of it, think again. 

Today, the High Court will decide whether the NEC made the right judgement - or if Corbyn should have been forced to seek nominations from 51 MPs, which would effectively block him from the ballot.

The legal challenge is brought by Michael Foster, a Labour donor and former parliamentary candidate. Corbyn is listed as one of the defendants.

Before the NEC decision, both Corbyn's team and the rebel MPs sought legal advice.

Foster has maintained he is simply seeking the views of experts. 

Nevertheless, he has clashed with Corbyn before. He heckled the Labour leader, whose party has been racked with anti-Semitism scandals, at a Labour Friends of Israel event in September 2015, where he demanded: "Say the word Israel."

But should the judge decide in favour of Foster, would the Labour leadership challenge really be over?

Dr Peter Catterall, a reader in history at Westminster University and a specialist in opposition studies, doesn't think so. He said: "The Labour party is a private institution, so unless they are actually breaking the law, it seems to me it is about how you interpret the rules of the party."

Corbyn's bid to be personally mentioned on the ballot paper was a smart move, he said, and the High Court's decision is unlikely to heal wounds.

 "You have to ask yourself, what is the point of doing this? What does success look like?" he said. "Will it simply reinforce the idea that Mr Corbyn is being made a martyr by people who are out to get him?"