WE ARE THE MILITARY COALITION INC.

WE ARE THE MILITARY COALITION INC

by Bob Shepherd
ONCE A SOLDIER.

We go into other people’s Countries and kick up a stink,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

It’s their Geo Political location…and what’s under the ground,
Leave it to our Governments to make the justification seem sound,
Our Grandfathers and Great Grandfathers fought to defend,
But fighting for giant corporates is our latest trend,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and all,
It makes their people seem oh so small,
What’s under the ground is what we’ve come for,
Democracy, woman’s rights, education…all done for,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

From the East India Company way back when,
Fighting for corporates is no new trend,
Our soldiers will fight for their mates left and right,
Until the enemy is kicked out of sight,
Because they are professional, gallant and tough,
But the people at home say enough is enough,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

We’ll bomb them from the air and send them underground,
Sound like a plan? No…not very sound!
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

We lost our lives, limbs, minds…in Afghanistan and Iraq,
Does anybody really care…now that we are back?
We’re from communities around the Thames, Mersey, and others like the Clyde,
We’re homeless on the streets, and more soldiers are being lost to suicide,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

We rely on charities, backed by our great British folk,
As the Government won’t help, as they say they’re broke,
What about the corporates…as they leave us to the evil drink?
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

Lions led by donkeys has been quoted through history,
When you look a bit closer, it’s really no mystery,
Whilst we defend ourselves from bullets, bombs and rockets,
We see the Generals playing politics, from inside the corporates’ and politicians’
pockets,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

The Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS et all,
Born from failed policies, US’s ya’ll,
For our amazing young soldiers, we must do better,
So I stayed up all night, and wrote this letter,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

Whilst we’ve been fighting for corporate greed,
The Chinese and Russians have strengthened at speed,
So now, we have to rebuild for a bigger, stronger Army,
To save our once great Nation, before things turn barmy,
No more…Military Coalition Inc.

Forget Building Iraq’s Armed Forces – Rebuild Our Own

I read this morning on the BBC website that yet more British troops in the position of “trainers” are to be sent to Iraq. Our government and top brass pulled our troops out 3 years ago. This “off the bus, on the bus” attitude of military operations really has to stop. Our troops and many others have already spent years training Iraqi, Afghan, Libyan, Kurdish and other troops from the region, and we’ve seen the poor results. Why? Because it’s been a facade of building a foreign armed force. We give them basic training over a farcical, unrealistic time frame. Why? Because it’s all political. Then they are armed with no more than the basics. Why? Because one day soon, we may be fighting the ones we’re training. And so it goes on…and so our tax paying pounds continue to be poured down the toilet; money that we badly need to train and equip our own armed forces.

Instead of our “two cheeks of the same arse” political parties looking 4 years in advance because of the next election, how about we look way in advance like China and Russia, and once again use every penny to get our own armed forces back up to scratch. After spending the last 15 years fighting for US foreign policy and making a mockery of “our” commitments, we need to now claw back the mantle of the finest military on earth.

I fear that future commitments for our brave armed forces won’t be against an enemy in flipflops, but against a formidable force beginning with “R”.

My Answer to “Child Soldiers” in the British Military

Why Under 18s Should Continue To Serve In Britain’s Military

Well meaning Human Rights groups are trying to change the British military structure that has gone on successfully for decades. Here is what they don’t understand.

I was born in Lochee, a very deprived area of the city of Dundee, Scotland in the mid 1950s. I was brought up in a Victorian tenement building sharing an outside lavvy with four other families. My father drank heavily and constantly threw my mother around the tenement like a rag doll. When I was around 7 or 8, I would step in to help my mother and get battered myself. At the age of fourteen, having spent more time looking after my mother than going to school, I chose to run away.

After chasing a dream of becoming a professional footballer but not making the grade, I joined the military. I entered the RAF Regiment just after my 17th birthday, did my basic parachute jumps and was sent off to a small simmering war in Oman. I was given special dispensation to go as a minor as my unit was undermanned.

I was chuffed to bits.

At the age of 20 I passed SAS selection (naivety got me through, lol) and I never looked back!

Joining as a youngster was good for me and it probably saved my life. It certainly kept me out of jail, off the streets and off drugs. It didn’t eliminate my voice, creativity or character, as those of you who know me or have read my blog know, ha.

The military gave me a set of front teeth as I’d had mine smashed out in a gymnastics accident at the age of 16. It showed me how to do laundry, stay tidy and keep my bedspace, shower and toilet immaculate…with the use of a toothbrush. It showed me the importance of being a team player, how to listen to your elders and how to never prejudge others. It gave me a family environment, something that I never had before, but would cherish for the rest of my life.

Joining the military as an under 18 year-old (child soldier) is the best thing that happened to me- and thousands of lads and lassies before, during and after me I’m sure. I really hope that never changes.

 

Why are British Generals good at talking sense only after they leave the military?

General David Julian Richards, Baron of Herstmonceux GCB,CBE,DSO,DL,ADC Gen….I think that’s about it, spoke to the BBC the other day about the fact that the British Army should be much larger than it is, in order to meet today’s requirements!

Really? I left the military after 23yrs with the great title of Bob Shepherd, and I and all my ex military buddies knew that was the case years ago. Yet I’ve heard him and other “Generals” over the years in press conferences explaining why, due to the current climate, the military should be cut down and/or replaced by part timers.

Today’s Army is the smallest in it’s history. It’s due to people like him signing off and agreeing with politicians instead of standing up for his men and women in uniform and resigning, thereby keeping his integrity and his military in one piece.

But here we are today, British soldiers yet again proving time after time that they are the best in the world, simply by showing how well they can operate in survival mode in places like Basra, Iraq and in Helmand, Afghanistan. No other military could have operated so well. I know that as I’ve spent years in military embeds whilst working with the media studying other NATO units versus the Brits.

I am so proud of our soldiers in uniform, regulars and TA, but I am not proud of the serving and ex Generals who have failed them.

If you’re a General and you’re wearing the hat…make sure it’s the military hat and not the political one, even though the latter will guarantee you a place in the House of Lords. The former will guarantee you a place at the bar with my ex military mates and myself!

I took this photo the day before Basra fell to the British Army.
Basra Bridge, Iraq. 2003

Want to Get the Economy Moving, Create Jobs and Make Housing More Affordable? Here’s How We Get It Done.

It’s easy to feel powerless these days.  Jobs are scarce and insecure, wages are flat, fuel prices are soaring, rents are going up and all the while the rich keep getting richer.  At my age, it’s tempting to leave it to someone else to fix.  But as a parent and a patriot, I can’t and I won’t. An entire generation of Brits is being left behind.  1 in 5 young people are unemployed. Those who can find work often end up in part-time, poorly paid, dead end jobs. Then there’s the significant matter of putting a roof over their heads.  There’s a chronic lack of social housing and most young people don’t have a hope in hell of getting a foot on the property ladder, especially when the majority of jobs are being created in and around London where the average mortgage deposit for a first time buyer is projected to hit £100,000 by 2020.

That’s no typo.  It really is one hundred thousand pounds.  Talk about a hefty punch in the face.

For centuries, the British tax system has been rigged to benefit wealthy land owners.   It’s no surprise then that 70% of the land in the country is owned by 1% of the population.  The  majority (i.e. the working classes and the squeezed middle classes) put up with the arrangement so long as children had a good shot at a better life than their parents. But all that’s changed now.  We have reached a dangerous tipping point in our economy. Our children face a future of declining living standards.  The lucky ones will claw their way into social housing while the rest will be condemned to either live rough or spend their lives beholden to rich landlords who bleed them dry.

We don’t have to stand by while our children are railroaded into serfdom.   We are not powerless. We can make affordable housing a reality, and boost the economy in the process.  By demanding a LAND VALUE TAX.

LAND VALUE TAX or LVT is an annual tax on the value of a plot of land.  Unlike VAT, income tax, council tax and business rates which hit people of modest means the hardest, an LVT shifts the tax burden to the wealthiest land owning members of society.  As things stand now, land owners do not pay taxes on land they haven’t developed, which means they have everything to gain by sitting on real estate instead of putting it into productive use by building houses or businesses on top of it.  It’s a simple study in supply and demand. The fewer houses/buildings there are the more valuable the existing stock becomes. This is precisely why we have housing bubbles.   A LAND VALUE TAX would change everything by unlocking the value of the nation’s vast tracks of under-utilized real estate.  Hoarding would become very unprofitable, forcing land owners to either sell to developers or build on it themselves.  As the housing stock increases, prices would drop, recapturing the dream of home ownership for the nation’s youth.  And all that building would kick start the economy by creating much needed jobs, not to mention providing an incentive to improve our crumbling infrastructure which would make us more competitive.

Affordable housing.  More jobs.  Economic growth.  Competitiveness. That’s what a LAND VALUE TAX can do for us.  And unlike other forms of taxation, this one is very tough for the rich to dodge.  You can’t hide a piece of land offshore. Continue reading

AFGHANISTAN: TRUTH AND LIES

It is at least six years late, but finally a senior political figure has found the courage to call for an immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.  Lord Ashdown pulled few punches in his impassioned plea in The Times, criticising Britain’s early military strategy and accusing the government of becoming distracted by adventures in Iraq when it should have been focused on Afghanistan.

All true, but while Ashdown called out the government for its political failings, he neglected to mention the string of lies senior ministers have perpetuated about Afghanistan, or point the finger at senior military figures who’ve been more than willing to support that deceit. How any politician can say with a straight face that we are in Afghanistan to keep the streets of Britain safe is beyond me, when everyone knows our involvement has fuelled the flames of home grown terrorism.  Then there’s the lie of the moment—that Afghan troops can somehow be vetted to stop ‘rogue’ recruits from turning their weapons on their NATO mentors.  As I argued on BBC Radio 5 Live earlier this week, nothing can be done to stop green on blue attacks because an element of the men we’re trying to train up have viewed us as the enemy since we entered Afghanistan back in 2001.

I’ve been screaming it from the rafters since I started this blog and I’ll scream it again.  AFGHANISTAN IS NOT AN INSURGENCY. IT’S A CIVIL WAR AND WE’VE TAKEN ONE SIDE IN IT.  Since 2006 when British troops entered Helmand Province, they’ve been trying to win over the people on the other side of that conflict—a futile, senseless task presided over by sloping shouldered generals and senior military brass who care more about pleasing politicians than they do the lives of their troops.  These senior officers know who they are, and they should hang their heads in shame.  I really don’t know how they or their chums in government can sleep at night knowing how many brave British troops they have and continue to put in harm’s way for no other reason than to justify past mistakes.

Why is it taking our government so long to act in the best interest of our troops when our Canadian, Dutch and French NATO allies have found the political will to bring their forces home? There is no justification for Britain’s continued presence in Afghanistan. None. Continue reading

PLEBS Unite!

Andrew Mitchell of Plebgate infamy has finally resigned, freeing Prime Minister Cameron to rebuild his party’s credibility with the great Pleb masses before they go to the polls in 2015.  Two and a half years is an eternity in politics, but the Tories are kidding themselves if they think time alone will wipe the stain of Plebgate from the public consciousness—at least if I have anything to say about it.

As I argued in an earlier post, the precise wording of Mitchell’s rant was never the real issue.  His tantrum at the gates of Downing Street was significant because it exposed the mind-set of a ruling party that sees itself as vastly superior to the people it governs—a party which has jealously guarded the privileges of the wealthy and well-connected—a party which has done everything in its power to ensure that the income gap between rich and poor in this country continues to widen.

Labour has grasped the golden PR opportunity of Plebgate to hammer home the message that the Tories believe in ‘one rule for those at the top, another for the rest of us at the bottom.’   I agree. But the hard working people of this country need more than catchphrases from the opposition.  We need political warriors who will fight for our interests and close an income gap which has risen faster in Britain than anywhere else in the industrialized world.

Income inequality is not only a problem for those at the bottom.  The chasm between rich and poor hurts all of us by slowing economic growth and nursing a slew of social ills from substance abuse and obesity to prostitution and domestic violence.  If attitudes are anything to go by, many members of the ruling class believe these problems will never affect them directly.   All I can say is you’d better wake up before you find yourself on the receiving end of a popular blowback that has every chance of turning bloody.

I don’t want to see the country I served for 23 years as a soldier and would still die for today tear itself apart.  That’s why I’m writing this post –to reach out to people who are as frustrated as I am by the failure of our major political parties to close the income gap in Britain. We need to work together for change. I’m not proposing a new political party, but a grassroots movement advocating economic policies that benefit the majority of Brits, not the privileged few; a movement that will send a clear message that we will no longer tolerate a Government that sells out to the City of London and other powerful interests; a movement that will fight for a Progressive Liberal Economy for Britain a PLEB Movement.

There are many worthy economic changes to fight for.  I’ll kick things off by advocating for a cut in VAT—a tax which hits the poor the hardest and impedes economic growth.   I will write to my MP (who happens to be a Conservative), and tell her that if her party does not cut VAT immediately, I will lobby everyone in her constituency to vote her out of office.  A letter may seem like nothing, but multiply it by tens of millions and our government will be quaking in their boots.

As I said, cutting VAT is only the beginning.  I invite everyone who reads this post to help shape the PLEB agenda by leaving a comment below.  If you want to write a letter to your MP, you can find their address here.

Remember, we are the majority, not the elites. There is strength in our numbers that we have not begun to tap.  We’re only powerless when we fail to act. So PLEBs Unite, and let’s take back our country.