Monday, March 05, 2007

Dulce et Decorum est..

I’ve been in Westminster today and had to rush back to tie the aircraft down at Manston against the fierce gales predicted this evening. I watched the Coastguard Islander trying to land against the crosswind earlier, well done that pilot, he was almost flying sideways by the time he managed bring the nose wheel down on the runway.

A couple of news items caught my idea today in the absence of any visible local interest stories.

The first is that David Cameron is arguing that Head teachers should be given tough new powers to expel disruptive pupils from their schools. Now to me, this sound like an attack of common sense politics and the Conservative leader said that boosting the authority of heads would be a key weapon in the fight against teenage gangs and in tackling a growing culture of "disrespect for knowledge".

One radical Tory plan to boost discipline is the scrapping of parents' right of appeal against permanent exclusions.

Now does anyone, outside perhaps of the BBC, really think that disruptive pupils should continue at school regardless of their impact on the children around them? I know there’s no easy solution to the problem and I recall, many years ago, when I was teaching at Tulse Hill Boys and came across a big lad called Michael G. who had been excluded from Wandsworth Boys when I was teaching there too. In fact, Michael, by the end of his short school career, had, I think, been excluded from every school in South London, some more than once. He wasn’t a bad lad as such; he was just large, had a short fuse and was very violent and perhaps should have been directed into boxing like his namesake, Mike Tyson, who he did rather resemble.

Unfortunately, David Cameron doesn’t seem to have a really good solution in regard to what you do with a lad like Michael G. when you have run out of schools to expel him from; wait for him to carry out a nasty assault and end up in Jail or simply hope that one day he’ll discover a vocation for social work and the priesthood? Stranger things have happened.

The story that most raised my blood pressure today, was the one involving an “Injured soldier who was told to take off his uniform in hospital to avoid offending ethnic minorities”, and who is now suing the Ministry of Defence for £2.8million.

Reportedly, after landing at RAF Brize Norton he was taken to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham in a lorry because no ambulances were available, which is bad enough if you’ve been blown-up but to be told by the doctor to remove his uniform, in case it caused offence, is mind boggling.

The last time I looked, Birmingham was still part of the United Kingdom, even though there are some who would prefer otherwise and I think it’s time that we allowed our soldiers to wear their uniforms in public again, as a badge of pride and not prowl around in “civvies” just in case someone might feel oppressed or offended by their presence. With two more Royal Marines killed in the last twenty four hours, it strikes me that it’s fine for our soldiers to wear their uniforms when they are dying in the service of our country but it’s not acceptable for them to wear that same uniform on the streets of the country they are dying for.

"My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori."

Wilfred Owen pictured.


Jeremy Jacobs said...

What's happened to our country Simon?
That story about the soldier is almost unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Anon Again!
The way things are going, I am beginning to think that the Public need some kind of protection from this 'Loutish' Government! One reads with utter horror about a Soldier who is injured badly in a War that, or so it appears, only our Leaders want to participate in. A Country full of Banks announcing BILLIONs of Pounds profit yearly, and people committing suicide because these same Banks are screwing them of their last few pence. (Students & Pensioners alike). Why can't we have someone in charge who believes in Human Decency and Common Sense. It is no wonder that Brits move abroad to get out of this greedfilled, hatefull society.

Anonymous said...

The Army's policy of going 'civvie' when off duty, came about as a result of IRA targetting of off-duty soldiers. I was under the impression that this restriction had been lifted. I found the story abhorrent when it appeared last year and I am delighted the soldier concerned is attempting to sue the MOD; he wont have much success. A touch of Kipling comes to mind:

"I went into a theatre as sober as could be
They gave a drunk civilian room but 'adn't none for me"


"Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that
guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap"

(Tommy - Rudyard Kipling)