Saturday, 21 March 2009

Truth is the first casualty ...

The other day, The Daily Mail ran a story about how the British government was allegedly insulting World War Two veterans by refusing to contribute to their appeal to raise funds to attend the 65th commemorations of D-Day.

Shrilled the Mail:

The Ministry of Defence has rejected requests for financial aid to survivors and says there will be no further official commemoration of D-Day until its centenary - when all those involved will be dead.

To compound the farce, the American and Canadian governments are sending top-level delegations to mark the momentous date.

Even the Germans will join the commemorations and remember the fallen on both sides.

Today, the Mail launches a campaign to honour and support the 500 remaining veterans' cause. (1)

The indignation was rather phoney, however. The supposed disrespect was a long held policy, of both Labour and Tory governments, that only set anniversary dates were commemorated - the last one being the 60th anniversary in 2004. Which, you'll recall, was under a Labour government.

The Mail does admit this, far down the article and after much of the huffing and puffing and "Hell in a handcart" bollocks typical of the rag:
This is on the bureaucratic grounds that the MoD supports official events only for 25th, 50th, 60th and 100th anniversaries. (2)
So, manufactured indigantion, really. This is not a dastardly plot by New Labour to disprespect our war heroes. For all the Mail's talk of giving them one last officially sanctioned hurrah, that was what the 60th aanniversay commemorations in 2004 were all about. But there was political capital to be gained by the fiercely natonalistic Mail, and the Mail is a paper that has never let something as trifling as the truth stand in the way of a chance to spew rightwing propoganda.

Then today, another twist, to the Mail's furth discredit. The British government - demonstrating the lack of spine to which we have become accustomed - has decided to cave in and, after all the commemorations will receive lottery funding and the will be attended my government figures - even though the veterans don't want them there (3).

What was really interesting, however, was the revelation that the money is not needed - the cash needed to send the 500 British veterans to the ceremony has already been raised. How so? Through a campaign launched by The Independent:

Survivors of D-Day reacted angrily yesterday to what they claimed was a belated attempt to politicise and hijack a nine-month campaign to take British veterans to mark the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

A public appeal for funds to take 500 ex-service personnel to the commemorations in France, launched in The Independent on 6 June last year, has been assured of success for weeks. The Government had been criticised for not paying the travel costs, and for not planning to send Gordon Brown to the event – but yesterday it said there would be "appropriate British attendance" and that it would "provide support so veterans can participate".

So the 'patriotic' Daily Mail is in fact just seizing the Independent's coat tails, making a fuss about an issue that has already been resolved. Their interest in the issue is political, without any sincerity. Meanwhile, the Indie, the organ of the supposedly unpatriotic and revisionist left, has been quietly working for months to get the old soldiers over to France.

Laughable. God, I hate the Daily Mail.
1 - 'Obama set to shame Brown by attending D-Day anniversary... as Labour refuses to pay for veterans' return to Normandy,' by Matthew Hinckley, Ryan Kisiel and Peter Allen, published in The Daily Mail, 19th of March, 2009. (
2 - ibid.
3 - ' We'll fight Brown on the beaches,' by John Lichfield, published in The Independent, 21st of March, 2009. (
4 - ibid.

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