Listening to Nick ‘Blue Robbo’ Robinson’s interview (actually more a mix of bullying and hectoring) with Emily Thornberry on this morning’s Today programme, reminded me of how infantilized British mainstream political discourse has become in the last 10 to 15 years, perhaps more so since the Tories came to power in 2010.
Today is Armistice Day, a fact that seems to have escaped Blue Robbo, whose questions were framed to suggest that these weren’t questions at all, but statements produced by Conservative Central Headquarters to be put to any Labour politician who entered the studio. I would argue that Robbo’s questions were an insult to the memories of those who perished, both military and civilian, of all the wars since World War One.
The person who posted this YouTube clip of the ‘interview’ clearly has an ideological agenda, as the title suggests. Ignore it and listen to the interview.
This isn’t so much an interview as it is a ideologically-charged inquisition. Robbo says “he [Corbyn) hasn’t backed the use of British armed forces” and goes on to list every single conflict since the Falklands in 1983 that he’s opposed. Many of the interventions that Robinsons lists have proved disastrous and have caused more problems than they solved. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and on the list goes. Doubtless Robbo supported every military intervention, but hasn’t discovered the benefits of self-reflexivity. For if he had, he wouldn’t have allowed his prejudice to colour this interview.
Predictably, Blue Robbo demanded to know why Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t ‘press the button’. Such a juvenile question demands nothing more than disdain and contempt. The idea that a potential Prime Minister should state their desire to annihilate millions, possibly billions of people without a moment’s hesitation, as proof of their suitability for office is not only absurd, but shows how mainstream political discourse has been systematically degraded. The blame for this degradation falls squarely on the shoulders of moronic, bloodthirsty politicians and the media, which thinks it and it alone has the right to choose the next government. Worse, they see each and every conflict as an opportunity to reduce bloodshed and destruction to some morbid team sport.
Robinson also brought up the subject of British troops being given immunity from prosecution for war crimes. This is little more than an unarticulated claim that British troops are above committing war crimes, which is patently untrue as veteran, Joe Glenton, makes clear in this article for The Independent.
If the legacy of allegations concerning killings and abuses, indeed the legacies of the wars themselves, are ever to be settled then we must look to the greatest, most far-reaching and effective war crimes trials of all, those at Nuremberg, where generals and politicians were put on trial. We should follow in their footsteps.
In the minds of Tory politicians and their media helpers, like Blue Robbo, such views, coming as they do from a former soldier, are tantamount to heresy. ‘Our boys’ don’t kill for sport or so the sentiment goes.
No wonder people go around throwing about words like ‘treason’ with such casual abandon when we have so-called journalists like Nick Robinson using the BBC as his bully pulpit. Not once does Blue Robbo mention the fact that our service personnel are under-paid and under-equipped. Not once does he acknowledge the terrible condition of married quarters in the British military nor does he comment on the numbers of veterans sleeping rough on our streets. Instead, he’s more concerned with whether or not Corbyn would be willing to ‘press the button’. It’s as reductionist as it is absurd (ad reductio absurdum). Objectivity and impartiality, my arse.