Uh oh. David Cameron’s moving into the phase of his leadership career where he says stuff out loud. For instance, he now has an official view on what our attitude to the military should be:
But supporting our Armed Forces isn’t just a government responsibility – it’s a social responsibility,” he said.
In the First World War those at home didn’t just sing ‘keep the home fires burning’, they practised it. In the Second World War, the military occupied a huge place in the national consciousness, partly because everyone knew someone in uniform.
I believe as a country at war we should see the same appreciation today, with the military front and centre of our national life once again.
Of course, we now have (a) an all-volunteer military and (b) a much smaller military, in terms of numbers in uniform. It’s odd that Cameron doesn’t seem to recognise these facts: they can’t but make for a large difference in the relationship between the military and the population in general. What’s harder to explain though, is why he felt the need to say something like this in the first place. I don’t detect any antipathy to the military itself, or towards its members: on the contrary, your typical Brit turns up at Navy Day, or any time there’s an RAF air show, and we are talking of attendances of up to 100,000. That looks like enthusiasm. So is it just that ‘public should support the military more’ is a current MOD talking point and he got briefed to say it? Or does it reflect Tory nervousness about the set of foreign policies inherited from New Labour?