Sunday, 13 January 2013


I wish I knew how to express this in more portentous language...

Apart from Boy Scout promises to honour God and the Queen, and suchlike, I've sworn two sacred oaths of loyalty in my time, one in uniform and one as a civvie.

To the Queen and, as I recall, her heirs and successors, and to her government and duly appointed ministers. Or words to that effect.

[Mind you, aged about 15, I also had to swear not to commit fornication (when I was apprenticed to a city guild)...]

The young man I was when I swore those oaths of loyalty took them seriously: I regarded them as binding. Even when I was older/more cynical, and the time came when I had second thoughts, I continued to regard myself as honour-bound.

It's impossible not to face the fact that sometimes the government commits criminal acts, against the laws of our own country as well as international law. To my shame, however, it was not until Iraq, in 2003, that I realised that I must, and could only, regard my oath as conditional.


For a moment, I don't ask you to understand why I should now feel so strongly about the present government's attack on so many of the most vulnerable. Unless you've been at the receiving end of it yourself, there's no reason why you should. I will say this, however: it's only partly about the money - a great deal has to do with the contract which I always believed the government would, at least within limits, respect. (I don't why I should have believed that; there's very little history of them, for example, respecting their contract with our servicemen - more of that anon, perhaps.)

However, I will ask you to respect my view that it is so cruel, and so calculated, that:

Today I tore up, in my own mind, any and all obligation that I have felt stemming from those long ago oaths.

And I am certain of this. It is not I who reneged, but them.

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