Soldiers on the Streets

Here we go. Armed soldiers – not just police – in the streets. Entirely unprecedented, I think, in (mainland) British history. (But then, as we know, Theresa May doesn’t read history.) We’ve always resiled against being policed by the military. That’s why the civilian police were invented in the first place. Doesn’t she know that? Clearly not, if she doesn’t know her history. And it’s surely unnecessary, except as a way of (a) reassuring the general populace, or (b) emphasizing how ‘strong and stable’ our current prime minister is. Even if Jeremy weren’t currently being smeared with past IRA sympathies – vide my last post – he couldn’t compete with that. The terrorists and the authoritarian Right have won. Soldiers in the streets are the visible signs of that.


Yet the real lesson of the Manchester bomb should be to back up Corbyn’s basic message about peace and co-operation. The murderer was one man, with maybe someone to help him make the bomb. A handful, anyway. Among the many, Mancunians distinguished themselves by their refusal to be cowed, and by rushing to the help of the victims: hotels offering free accommodation, Moslem taxi drivers giving free rides, even the homeless lending a hand: This is ‘community’, even perhaps ‘socialism’, in action. And there is an argument, at least, that this kind of approach, at a government level, would do more to curb terrorism than any amount of ‘strength and stability’. The soldiers might even prove provocative. But people will be too angry and vengeful to see this, in the short term at least. These feelings are natural. But wrong.

And in the very short term we have our General Election coming up, which is almost bound to be affected by the Manchester atrocity, or rather, by the government’s reaction to it. What a stroke of luck for Theresa! And of bad luck for the Left. Though of course we mustn’t say that, in view of the much worse luck suffered by the poor bloodied and bereaved victims of this cruel religious psychopath. That would be ‘making political capital’ out of a human tragedy. As if the political Right wasn’t doing just that…

But still – why soldiers, for goodness’ sake? I suppose it’s because they’re running thin of police officers, after all the cuts. But whose fault was that? See this: it’s very telling.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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