Uniformed pall bearers turned away from Coventry pub


I just read this story and am absolutely disgusted. This is the latest in a long line of stories of shops and bars banning our brave military personnel. This story though has to be read to be believed.

Whilst wearing No2 (formal) dress practicing for a funeral – and accompanied by the deceased soldiers brother – the soldiers were turned away from the Bar. They only wanted a coffee or tea to calm their nerves before the funeral began. The bar has a policy of not allowing anyone in uniform under any circumstances. I could understand banning groups of 50 pissed up soldiers on leave, but a small group, or individuals, especially in formal dress during the day who didn’t even want alcohol? Absolutely disgusted.

We should pause to remember the brave soldier who died. Cpl Michael John Thacker, 27, of 1st Batallion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers). He died on 1st June after being shot whilst manning an observation post in Tir, Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife Catherine who lived in Coventry. She described Michael as the “love of my life… He was an amazing husbane and father who will always be remembered as a funny, loving and kind man. Everyone who met Mike instantly liked him and through time came to love him.”. You can read more about Michael here.

I support the boycotting of Browns pub in Coventry, but think it should be permanent rather than just on this Saturday, armed forces day. For the landlord to say they would have allowed them in if they had realised it was a funeral party is somewhat missing the point. Why are military personnel on the whole banned anyway? Do they ban black, gay, female, or muslim people too? Why are the military singled out? A group of people who fight for their country with worse pay and conditions than most pub landlords? Its bad enough they are turned away from Harrods on Remembrance Day without others joining in.

We should introduce legislation that adds being in the military as one additional group to discrimination legislation in this country. That way no one will be forced to go through this ever again.

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The cost of war


I’ve just watched Countdown to Zero, a documentary featuring past world leaders, intelligence analysts, and the general public about Nuclear Weapons. I wondered how much we spent on them. From what I can gather the UK currently spends approximately $4.5 billion per year on it’s Nuclear arsenal. That’s £2.85 billion per year. Can this money be better spent? That’s a saving of (not covering decommissioning costs) +£2.85 billion pa

Assuming a British Soldier has completed training and takes part in a 6 month posting to Afghan they will take home £22,265 in a year. [1] [2] The average public sector worker in the UK gets paid £28,802 per year. Our forces clearly aren’t getting paid enough, and the public doesn’t like going to war. So lets give them an extra 50% pay. That’s approx 189950 service personnel. This would increase the yearly wage bill by -£2.114 billion pa.

Now we’ll need to also stop nuclear proliferation worldwide. Let’s create a specially trained special forces group and train them for containing and defending another country’s nuclear arsenal. Lets use Pakistan as the example because that country destabilising is the real nightmare scenario. Currently Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG) are tasked with, amongst other things, securing nuclear facilities. They are approximately 7000 strong. Let’s assume we’d need a force double that size to take and hold facilities long enough to get nuclear material out prior to destruction of the facilities themselves from the air (there are also 14 nuclear establishments in Pakistan, and 3 commercial nuclear reactors to take care of). We’ll assume a force of 1000 technical experts, giving us a total requirement of 15000 personnel.

Let’s assume that their resources will match the current UK special forces equipment budget. They cost £2million to train, and are paid over £30000 per year. Lets increase their pay again (nuclear weapons aren’t nice afterall) and hire 15000 of them. That’s an additional yearly cost in wages of -£675 million. Lets give them a new Elizabeth class aircraft carrier, some J35C for top cover, and buy some nice american black hawks to get them in and out. A few chinooks to heli in vehicles too for good measure. Four C17s cost £100million to lease each year, so this equipment level should be do-able. Then we’ll fill the carriers with full crew including air element of 1600, at a pay rate of say £37000 per year each, totally an additional -£55.5 million per year.

We’re now at a total difference of +£5.5 million per year. This can go towards yearly equipment upkeep and painting scary animal motifs on vehicles and aircraft. It would also reduce the amount of nuclear weapons in the world and give the UK a massive ability of force protection. We could train for the mission in the Falklands… because… ah because it’s away from prying eyes. Yes that’s a good reason…

Seriously though, why not do this?

[1] Infantry pay http://www.army.mod.uk/join/20097.aspx
[2] Deployment pay http://www.army.mod.uk/structure/22781.aspx

Thought for Christmas (of Brave British Soldiers)


I don’t usually repeat these types of chain email, but this one is just so well written it deserves to be sent on. The remaining text in this post is the original author’s as I received it, not my own.

T’WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,  HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE,  MADE OF PLASTER AND STONE.
I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY, WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO, IN THIS HOME, DID LIVE.

I LOOKED ALL ABOUT, A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS, NOT EVEN A TREE.
NO STOCKING BY MANTLE, JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES, OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.

WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,  AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,
A SOBER THOUGHT, CAME THROUGH MY MIND.
FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT, IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER, ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.

THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING, SILENT, ALONE,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR, IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.
THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE, THE ROOM IN  DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED, A TRUE BRITISH SOLDIER.

WAS THIS THE HERO,   OF WHOM I’D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,  THE FLOOR FOR A BED?
I REALISED THE FAMILIES, THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS, WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.

SOON ROUND THE WORLD, THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE, A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.
THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM, EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS, LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.

I COULDN’T HELP WONDER, HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE, IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.
THE VERY THOUGHT BROUGHT, A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES, AND STARTED TO CRY.

THE SOLDIER AWAKENED, AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
“SANTA DON’T CRY, THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;
I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM, I DON’T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD, MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS..”

THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN’T CONTROL IT,  I CONTINUED TO WEEP.
I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS, SO SILENT AND STILL,
AND WE BOTH SHIVERED, FROM THE COLD NIGHT’S CHILL.

I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE, ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR, SO WILLING TO FIGHT.
THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER, WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, “CARRY ON SANTA, IT’S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE.”

ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,   AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,    AND TO ALL A GOOD  NIGHT.”

This poem was written by a Peacekeeping soldier stationed overseas. The following is his request. I think it is reasonable

PLEASE. Would you do me the kind favour of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to all of the service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let’s try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.  Please, do your small part to plant this small seed.