UK soldiers who fought in the Iraq War may face prosecution for war crimes, according to a BBC report this week.
Here, in his own words, UKIP Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall MEP explains why this is a travesty of “justice” and a complete betrayal of our armed forces.
Most of us can only imagine the horrors of war.
Sure, we see the clips of fire and terror on television. We hear the bombs on the radio. We read about the aftermath and the destruction.
But we don’t actually live it, thankfully. Because we have an enormously brave set of men and women who do that for us in our armed forces.
They don’t get paid a lot for it. And while those who survive and receive medals may be thankful, the memories of how they got them will forever be seared into their minds.
It’s one – important – thing to buy a poppy every November. But it’s even more important to realise why you do it.
It’s because you’re recognising and appreciating the commitment and bravery of the very people who help to sustain our way of life.
So how does our government – people in expensive suits who send these poorly paid but tremendous individuals into battles they would never dare face themselves – reward them?
Astonishingly badly, as it turns out.
You’ve probably read about the estimated 9,000 forces veterans living on the streets of Britain, which is an utter disgrace in itself.
What you may not have read during the New Year festivities is something so contradictory it almost beggars belief.
They now propose to condone suing servicemen and women for doing what they are so meagrely paid for – going to war to protect us.
Yes. The soft, wet hand-shakers of Westminster are considering mass prosecutions of men and women who are paid and trained to serve and protect for doing just that.
The latest case revolves around the 2000s Iraq War – which pretty much everyone other than Tony Blair and his henchman Alastair Campbell agrees was completely illegal in the first place.
The following sentence, introducing a story on the BBC website over the weekend, made my blood run cold:
“UK soldiers who fought in the Iraq War may face prosecution for war crimes, according to the head of a unit investigating alleged abuses.”
Have we, as a country, gone quite mad?
Soldiers, sailors and the air force do what they’ve always, always done – which is what they’re told. They follow the orders that come from on high, rightly or wrongly.
But they don’t make the rules. They don’t set them. They don’t interfere in the political process. They don’t cause any kind of fuss. They do what they’re ordered to do to their highest abilities.
Ministers like to make much of the fact that any decision to send troops into battle is made gravely and soberly and with much sentiment for the victors and losers.
The problem is that the politicians will very probably be out of a job in four years’ time. Or at least out of Westminster, and possibly on a bank’s board of directors.
The servicemen and women, on the other hand, might still be out there getting shot at. Or they’re in hospital in Birmingham’s Selly Oak having a prosthetic limb fitted. Or they’re dead.
Or they’re physically fit but suffering from the post-traumatic stress of seeing their mates being blown to bits and left to live on the streets because we do not do anything even nearly close to enough in helping them when they finally, hopefully, make it home.
Or they could be the Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman, now outrageously serving a life sentence for killing an Afghan enemy while he was employed, as a commando, at war in Afghanistan, against an enemy who would, given the chance, have shot him back.
I’m a politician. I wear a suit. I’m one of them. And depending on the electorate I might be out of a job in years to come.
But we will always, always, always need the British armed forces. It’s about time we started to properly appreciate what they do for us again.