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Skidmore's Island: Lions Led By Donkeys

Ian Skidmore puts in an impassioned plea for Britain to be a little nation, bothering no one.

Lord Dannett, the noisy Christian who used to be Chief of the General Staff, is predictably against defence cuts. He says if we do make them we won't be a great nation any more. He asks if that is what we want.

General, you can bet your sweet arse it is. It is time we gave up our seat at the top table. It is time we gave up trying to turn Afghanistan into Slumberland. Afghanistanis are an undisciplined mob which lives to fight.
General, the MOD is already 3.5 million in debt financing your folies de grandeur. Add to that a further billion fighting the Libyan army, whose military experience in war is limited to stealing petrol from the 8th Army.

May I remind you that you are borrowing from your countrymen, who are so broke we are closing care centres and libraries, throwing millions out of work? We even have to buy hospitals on HP.

General, you seem to have misunderstood our role, or perhaps you have not noticed the Empire has gone. Nations sit on the top table because they are powerful and call the shots. We are not. Borrowing billions to buy lethal toys and giving billions in Aid to countries wealthier than we are will not buy us privileges to which we are no longer entitled.

But that is not the reason I want us to be a little nation, bothering no one. The reason is guilt.

My ancestors fought at Hastings, Crecy, Agincourt, in the Civil War; at Ramillies, Waterloo, Trafalgar; in the Crimea and in the Zulu and Boer wars, and every silly war including World Wars One and Two. A branch of us even fought in the American Civil War. It didn't do us any good. We learned nothing, Worse, I am of the generation of World War Two. I grew up watching the destruction of my cities, the death of my school fellows in a succession of blitzes. I spent two years in a beaten Germany, witness to its degredation and the mass obliteration of Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover and Cologne.

My guilt? I have fathered a generation which has learned nothing. A generation of people like you, General, who believe that war is a solution, not a problem. It is something of which I am deeply ashamed and eager to make reparations.

Thanks to my publishing friends Revel Barker and Neil Marr, the thirty odd books I have written are being republished and all the royalties are going to service charities. It won't wash away the guilt I feel but it might help the fine young men and women who will go through life without limbs or genitals just so that our generals and our politicians can swank on a top table they have no right to share.

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