Pot and Kettle

 

The government religion is the execution of the rebel leader.
Harry Fainlight

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has now achieved sufficient credibility to join a long list of historical despots willing to turn the government’s military might against its own population to maintain a hold on power.

This is a common syndrome which any government of whatever nationality (including our own) will use, should the situation, in its own view, deem it to be necessary.

Government will use all and any means to defend its power, up to and including the mass murder of its own citizens. 

The Syrian, Egyptian, Chinese, Cambodian and countless other national governments have demonstrated this in recent history. These islands too are not innocent of this charge, despite the holier-than-thou tut-tutting of our leaders when referring to Assad, for of course only excitable and unruly foreigners are capable of such atrocities. 

The newspapers are full of the self-satisfied countenances of our present crop of leaders, but beneath those PR smiles lurks something a little less than benign. 

A quick skim through England’s recent political history reveals a no less merciless approach than Assad’s, although the outcomes were less genocidal. Nevertheless, on occasion the iron hand of suppression has cast off its velvet glove, and the willingness to murder its citizens in the cause of maintaining power clearly demonstrated. 


The Peterloo Massacre.     
St Peter’s Field 16th August 1819

A peaceful gathering by a group agitating for parliamentary reform to be addressed by the famous orator Henry Hunt, was deemed illegal and the military authorities sent in a squadron of cavalry. With drawn swords they charged into the crowd of unarmed men and woman, slashing and stabbing as they went leaving 15 dead and 700 seriously wounded while Hunt himself went down for three years hard labour.

 

November 4th 1839.

Welsh Chartists assembled to obtain the release of some of their number held by the army at Westgate Hotel, Newport.

The army opened fire leaving 24 dead and 50 seriously wounded.


General Strike.
8th May 1926.

Docks blockaded by strikers. Hyde Park became a tented city housing thousands of troops, while 20 armoured cars arrived at the docks with 105 army lorries carrying a large detachment of Grenadier Guards issued with 150 rounds of ammunition apiece. There they set up a cordon with machine guns aimed at the watching onlookers.

Churchill remarked that: ‘The military now have enough artillery assembled to kill every living soul in every single street of the capital.’ *

By his order the troops had carte blanch to open fire, which in effect was a license to kill. This order was later rescinded by King George V, possibly a kindly old man, or more likely Churchill’s precociousness got up his nose since as the King, he was Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and if there was to be any killing it was his prerogative and no other who would give those orders.

These facts need airing anyway given the lack of historical information among the young, for a recent questionnaire amongst schoolchildren found one small boy of the opinion that Adolf Hitler had been the captain of a German football team.

It might be supposed that in the ‘civilised’ society in which we now live the idea that our government could still resort to such  ruthless extremes seems preposterous. But it must be remembered that the ante has risen in the 86 years since the days of the general strike, with WWII introducing a weapon of mass destruction into the equation.

This new element should cause wannabe revolutionaries of these times to show a little caution. Since a Prime Minister on achieving office must sign a declaration of willingness to press the nuclear button should the occasion arise, a document with clear genocidal implications, it is hardly likely that the knocking off of a few stroppy proles will trouble his/her conscience over much.

 

Dave Tomlin

 

* ‘The road not taken’ Frank Mclynn

 

 


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