Week 45: Villain – General Sir Nicholas Houghton

by George_East on November 20, 2015

villain_2_iconLast Week’s Villain of the Week Award goes to the Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Nicholas Houghton

One of the defining differences between developed democracies and authoritarian regimes is that the armed forces in democracy don’t involve themselves in politics. It is one of the reasons that the impression given in certain countries in Latin America and even southern Europe where the military top brass appear to be surround any major civic occasion (in particular go to the Easter service in Athens Cathedral) that they are only one wrong turn away from a military coup.

Britain has for a long time prided itself with keeping a proper distance between its military and its political class. The military may swear their oath to the Queen, but they are firmly under the direction of the democratically elected government of the day. There were dark whispers of the need for military takeovers in the mid-1970s but this does not seem to have gone much further than some renegade security service types, some over enthusiastic right wing journalists and a few disgruntled colonels.

It is for this reason that it was particularly disturbing when Britian’s most senior military officer, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton stated in an interview that he would be ‘worried’ if Jeremy Corbyn became Prime Minister because of his position on the nuclear deterrent, and his statement that he would never use it.   Unlike others on this blog I am no fan of Jeremy Corbyn, indeed I consider him to be the most catastrophic choice as Labour leader possible – but that does affect my view of Sir Nicholas Houghton. It is positively dangerous when a serving officer publicly attacks the policy of a potential Prime Minister, who may well be his boss in due course.   It is not for the military to have a public view on these things.   They should shut the fuck up and keep it to themselves. Villain indeed.

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