|Issue 17 - December 1973|
Feeling quite aroused by your publication in August of the TUC anti-army recruitment propaganda I would like to ask just what sort of society it is that you support, if "support" is the right word. The TUC text is so full of emotive language and therefore suspect that it is surprising that the (presumably) thinking folk who do Muther Grumble should so uncritically support the TUC outburst by publishing it.
The TUC offer no alternative to an army. What for instance could they suggest might help to restrain the evil slaughterers in Ireland? They would like to see the Army withdrawn, leaving the Paddies to sort out their problems once and for all and sparing us taxpayers further expense, discreetly averting their eyes from the unpleasant-looking pieces of non-union women and children. Maybe they think that one of their silly picket-lines between one side and the other would effectively deter the bomb terrorist. (Any volunteers, Brothers?)
Having had an active hand in the attempted demolition of Adolf's War Industry; opposition to Japanese nastiness in the Far East (I was one of those luckily spared Jap hospitality, but did meet a crowd soon after the Americans had processed them and the feeling seeped through, just as it did at Dachau before the mess had quite been cleared up); opposing the Red Menace in Malaya - pardon me, TUC - discouraging the Red Horde's nudging at peaceful folk in the West; and so on, I feel that a military force is yet of value in this belligerent and dishonest world. Incidentally we also delivered free food to many a starving tribe, helped out no end of distressed folk after earthquake, flood or major accident (while many a civilian was averting his eyes) - and got between quite a few bent on murder. We prevented a lot of blood tapping by sitting between the nasty ends of Turk and Greek guns in Cyprus and carried out many who did in spite of that get hurt. We carried atom bombs around night and day, thus showing others anxious to let theirs off that we meant business.
So who isn't doing a useful job? The TUC criticises the British Army (from a safe distance, you bet) for having been sent to get between a horde of murderers and their victims. It seems that the Army's true interest is to protect working people from mindless and ignorant violence. One is obliged to wonder if the TUC really has the interests of the worker at heart; it would be nice to think that the South Shields leaflet has embarrassed the TUC proper, and to see a saner response from the leadership. Any soldier knows that his main function is not killing, but the prevention of killing; and incidentally the preservation of this grey, grumbling, sagging, lazy, gimme, tellycackling, bingorotted, newsofthescrews, leachinfested land from such as gun-toting-torturing-police-state solutions to social unrest.
I bet now, men of England, that before long you'll be humbly touching your footlong forelock to an honest, dedicated, industrious, non-union comrade, thanking your unions the while for that handful of rice. And I hope you relish the time-and-a-half grains, cos your "reasonable standard of living" in a world that has to fight just to stay alive is a lot higher than you deserve it to be.
Should you join the Army you might have to work twenty hours a day, eat Compo and live it up in freezing mud for a while each year, with blokes you can trust (they try to exclude crumbs these days): you will probably get some beer too, along with a chance to defend this island's right to mouth meaningless bullshit, strike constantly at any infantile excuse, and holler more pay. Certainly you will evade for a few years much crap as some (not all) trade unionists inflict. You will, indeed, ,be expected to obey orders - just as trade union members must (or didn't you notice?) but, I submit, orders with a lot more thinking and generally little selfishness behind them. And whatever else, no big baby will send you to Coventry if you disagree.
The only sense in that essay in pettiness is the advice to try for some extended education; those birds on the poster are for real but, since usually the officers get there first a GCE or two will help no end.
Having seen both sides I am now a loyal toe-the-line union member, and know how hard unpaid local union officials work in their own time for the welfare of their members. I'd like to think that they are as shocked as I was to see this South Shields manifesto. Let us have a look at its author. Can you do a biography on him, please?
(If he'd care to let us have the number of his Cortina young Patrick here would be delighted to leave a nice crate of Guinness and an alarm clock in the boot.)
NB: The Anti-Recruitment leaflet had no single author. It was produced, as it states, by a number of local trade unionists - a sub-committee of the South Shields Trade Council.
The committee members between them represent many years of trade union experience and include the "hard working unpaid local union officials". They include men who have served in HM Forces and a young soldier with recent service in N Ireland.
The leaflet has been distributed to local young people and trade unionists and support has been expressed by trade union branches Trade Councils, and students' organisations all over the country. These include student teachers of Northumberland College of Education.
It has been reprinted in several N Ireland community newspapers.
The leaflet has been reprinted by the South Tyneside Action Committee and copies are available from the Peoples Place, Derby Terrace, South Shields