In response to Viv’s excellent article “Sickness of the Mind“, I asked her if UKIP Daily contributors could make a collective protest to the PM about the persecution of veteran and serving soldiers over deaths in overseas armed conflicts. I often send emails to 10 Downing Street about various important issues on the official messaging page, but who knows if they are read or immediately trashed. I wanted to be part of a louder voice, one that couldn’t be ignored so easily.
Viv suggested that I start a petition to Parliament and gave me the link. I had signed many of these petitions in the past (not impressed by the responses) but never started one, so I decided to go ahead. Then it occurred to me that, surely, a petition on this topic must already exist. Having tried a few key words in the Search facility on the site and finding nothing, I began the process of submitting a petition. As soon as I entered my topic, the site informed me that there were NO OTHER PETITIONS of this nature. I was surprised, but carried on.
The process tests your patience a little, by rejecting initial attempts to produce a title, an explanation and follow-up details, but by dint of reducing the number of words and rearranging the points, my petition was finally accepted. The title was as follows: “End the prosecution of soldiers for causing deaths in armed conflicts”. Next, I had to wait for an email link to click and was informed that I needed five signatories to support my petition. OK, no problem, I circulated our Branch and got ten signatories. Another email informed me that, “We’re checking your petition to make sure it meets the petition standards. If it does, we’ll publish it. This usually takes a week or less.”
The very next day I received this: “We rejected the petition you created. There’s already a petition about this issue. [?!] We cannot accept a new petition when we already have one about a very similar issue.” And they added a link for that existing petition, the one they had previously denied existed. Here it is, it’s entitled “British servicemen and women to have legal immunity from prosecution.”
I signed it, naturally, but I doubt it will make much more progress than it already has achieved. At time of writing there are 11,497 signatories, which means it reached the 10,000 required for a response from the government. It cannot be debated in Parliament until it attracts 100,000 signatures, but considering that the deadline is the 17th February 2017, it is hardly likely. Besides, when you read the lengthy response from the Ministry of Defence, which boils down to “Things are just fine as they are”, you get the feeling that a Parliamentary debate would be a waste of time. There’s a map you can click on to see how many people voted for that petition in your town, and I was ashamed to see how few there were in mine.
I suspect that my petition would have been rejected even if there had not already been one (as they belatedly discovered). Why? Because mine had a different slant to it that raised the political and philosophical question of culpability for deaths in armed conflicts. The following is the meat of my argument, expanded from the meagre word limit imposed on the ‘Explanation’ and ‘More details ‘ sections of the proposed but rejected petition.
No one but politicians who send our armed forces into wars are responsible for the deaths that occur.
Think of Tony Blair, unpunished for the lies he told in the run up to the Iraq war, the dodgy documents he produced, his manipulation of Parliament, and his ‘no guts, no glory’ determination to join the Americans, however questionable the intelligence about Iraq’s ‘WMD’. The blood of every British soldier and the civilians they killed in that conflict is on his hands alone, yet he has never been prosecuted for one death. Instead, soldiers are scapegoated and persecuted by the law, hounded by immoral compo-seeking lawyers on behalf of dubious claimants. It’s outrageous, and dangerously demoralising for our armed personnel, whom we need more than ever to defend our country in a world that becomes more chaotic by the day.
I don’t think that a government site would really appreciate the idea of politicians and their lackeys being held responsible for all deaths in overseas wars to which they sent our soldiers. Do you?