The GOS has to admit to feeling a bit confused about the sailors and marines who have recently been freed by Iran. It's obligatory to express relief at their safe return, but many commentators and journalists are asking awkward questions, like "how did they allow themselves to be captured in the first place?", "why weren't they adequately protected by their mother-ship?", and of course "why did they appear to capitulate and admit their guilt so quickly?"
The sailors evidently did the right thing is surrendering so quickly when their boats were surrounded (has anyone pointed out that their boats were RIBs, made of rubber?), because there was no gun battle and none of them were shot. So that was all right.
Once they were imprisoned, they did the right thing in not resisting their captors, and in co-operating with their captors' desire for admissions and apologies. It was obviously the right thing because none of them were tortured or killed (not properly tortured, anyway, and not killed at all), and they've all been released. So that was all right.
And for a miracle Tony Bliar and The Great Caravan also did the right thing for once. By not threatening, by not immediately launching a nuclear strike on Tehran, but not even shouting very much, they seem to have secured the release of the prisoners in pretty quick time, and can now concentrate on the really important tasks of making unproven accusations about Iranian involvement in terrorism, and screwing the British people till the pips squeak. So that was all right, too.
In fact, everyone's a winner. Iran is cock-a-hoop, despite the fact that they gained absolutely nothing from the whole affair and may have made themselves look weak in the eyes of other Arab nations (one man's magnanimity is another man's appeasement) because they have been seen to act in a calm and grown-up fashion and not at all like a bunch of fanatical rag-head loonies. The sailors are happy because they're back with their families with all their arms and legs, and nobody can possibly criticise them because we haven't been in that position, can we, so we don't know what it's like? The government is happy because it got its ball back, and has behaved in a calm and grown-up fashion and not like a bunch of dithering gutless posturers. It's all a bit like one of those dreadful American films which end with the hero putting his arm round his son's shoulder as they walk from the smoking building, stepping over the dead bodies of various family-members, hoods, zombies etc. and saying "Everything's going got be all right, son".
So why do the rest of us end up feeling … well, ashamed? Why do we cringe at the photographs of the 15 in their cheap suits, waving and grinning and generally looking as though they've just stepped out of Big Brother? And why, when we hear that they are being allowed to sell their stories to the newspapers, do we feel dirty?
Even before this débacle British people - particularly the English - were feeling hurt, humiliated and confused. We feel betrayed by our leaders who have embroiled us in wars and crises we didn't want and don't understand, and who seem set on using every politically-correct or environmentally-sound excuse for persecuting us and restricting our freedom of choice and action.
Our sporting representatives seem unable to compete with other nations as they used to. At home our sports fans are spied on by a quarter of the world's CCTV cameras and forbidden to indulge in traditional behaviour like a couple of pints and a fag after the match. When they go abroad they are demonised and set upon by Italian and Spanish police.
When we vote, our effort counts for nothing firstly because there is no discernible difference between the parties, and secondly because our undemocratic voting system means that the party most of us voted against is the one that wins. There is talk now of constituency-boundary alterations that would mean NuLabour could never, ever be ousted, the beginning of a Thousand-Year NuLabour Reich. When the election dust has settled we sit back ready to hear about the next wave of muddle, betrayal and repression in the name of the environment or global warming or human rights or whatever is the latest religion.
We see our town centres becoming no-go areas ruled by gangs of illiterate hoodies. We almost never see a policeman because the police are too busy completing reports for the government to show how they are tackling racial diversity or some such rubbish. If we try to protect ourselves or our loved ones the police will arrest us and let our attackers go, but we can no longer dial 999 with any certain expectation that anyone will answer it in time to save us from the crowd of stone-throwing, knife-wielding youths that surround the house. Our schools are not only failing to teach children the basic skills, but teachers have become little more than ineffectual Aunt Sallies. Last year teachers received £25 million compensation for assaults by pupils and their parents.
Every day more and more people we don't know and didn't invite are landing on our shores and disappearing without trace into our cities, where many of them will sponge on the state and a few of them will plot to blow us up. We have more people in jail than any other country in the civilised world, so many in fact that the Home Office don't actually know how many. Coloured youths are stabbing each other on the streets for reasons no-one understands. And any attempt to address any of these problems is met with cries of "prejudice" and "offence" to minorities who seem to hate us for being generous, or gullible, enough to have taken them in. And when we get ill … well, let's not even start.
When we go to war our troops appear demoralised, ill-equipped, poorly-trained and ineffective. When they and their officers do try to be effective they are hamstrung by political correctness, and have to be very careful to kill the enemy in just the right way or they'll end up facing murder charges. Once the war has run its course - in the old days one spoke of "winning" or "losing" wars, but these days only losing is really an option - it is revealed that in fact our leaders lied and we shouldn't have started fighting in the first place.
It's not quite so bad for the Irish, Welsh and Scots who at least have their nationalism to hide behind. They have something to give them a sense of pride and identity and cohesion - something to focus on, even if it only takes the form of a generalised spite towards the English. But what have the English got? Has anyone offered us a national assembly? On the contrary, we have to tolerate Irish, Welsh and Scottish MPs making decisions about the future of England while our own voices are ignored.
All in all, is it any wonder that as a nation we are seriously uncertain of our place in the world? Is it surprising that we no longer feel we can hold our heads up, but that we have become some sort of international pariah, fit only to sidle fearfully along the wall, not meeting anyone's eye? We British - and we English in particular - are desperate for something to go right. Who can blame us? We need something to rejoice in. We need something to feel proud of.
Sadly, the 15 little sailors and marines in unbecoming clothes who did the sensible thing and lived to not fight another day, well …. they just weren't it, were they?
So we'll just have to wait a little longer. Don't worry, something'll turn up. We'll beat Andorra at synchronised swimming, or something.
Just you wait, son. Everything's going to be all right.
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