Saville should not diminish the security forces’ record

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…according to Harriet Harman, at least!

“May I restate our sincere admiration for our security forces’ response to terrorism in Northern Ireland? Many lost their lives. Nothing in today’s report can or should diminish their record of service. They have been outstanding.”

One of the few advantages of being in opposition is that your party’s stand-in leader does not receive so much attention when she utters such words. Thankfully this means no-one notices Harman’s response in the Commons to Cameron’s unequivocal condemnation of the killing of unarmed civilians by British troops. Suggesting that the Army’s record should not be diminished is an odd thing to say. I think it’s pretty obvious that Saville does diminish that record. Perhaps the Army’s record in Northern Ireland should be looked at further so that more grievances can be settled and lessons learned.

Hopefully Harman’s replacement as Labour leader in September will have more impressive critical faculties. The pressure on politicians to appear unquestionably ‘pro-troops’ must be resisted. Reluctance to acknowledge that soldiers in dangerous situations can act in a disgraceful manner – especially if they are not properly trained, equipped or deployed with clear orders –  will only make such self-defeating occurrences more likely.

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