Thursday 22 April 2021

Defence, People

Johnny Mercer and Bob Stewart seem to take it as read that Northern Ireland is Overseas. Not only that, but the DUP agrees with them. It is clearly preparing for what comes next, when whatever it had become would hold the balance of power forever in a 32 County Dáil. 

One million people once thought that they were living in France, in the départements of Alger, Oran and Constantine. But once indulging them stopped being in the interests of France, then that was that.

When any kind of Algérie française position has clearly never occurred to Stewart or even to Mercer, then the pieds-noirs know in advance that the game is up. They can have the double alienation of exile to Britain, or they can have a very good deal that even Sinn Féin now says must include a National Health Service for the whole of Ireland.

The Conservative Party has questions to answer about Mercer. By his own admission, he had never voted until he voted for himself, when he was 33. Not only did the party select a candidate like that, but it selected one who was a single issue fanatic, and it proceeded to give him the Ministerial portfolio that matched his obsession.

Heaven knows what, if anything, "Defence People" means. But as Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Mercer took little or no interest in the poverty, homelessness and mental illness that were rife among veterans. Instead, he galloped around on his hobbyhorse of rendering legally impossible what was already their vanishingly rare prosecution for offences that were in any way related to their military service. He believes that the Armed Forces ought to be above the law.

Mercer has now resigned from the Government, or been sacked from it, because the legislation to give effect to his mania is not going to be extended to part of the United Kingdom. He is not a conservative. He is not a Tory. He is a militaristic zealot, even if his 11 years of military service are a lot longer than most such people have ever managed.

He ought to be required to sit in Parliament, and to seek reelection to it, on that basis rather than as a representative of a party to which he was barely connected and of a political tradition to which his views were repugnant. Withdraw the whip. And then take a good, hard look at how he ever came to be in receipt of it in the first place.

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