By Tommy Sheridan
5th April 2019
Often viewing the major social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter requires a high degree of scepticism and caution as posts, pictures and stories are so easily manufactured with modern manipulation apps that you could be duped into believing that Elvis is still alive and well doing Karaoke in Tenerife.
With such a cautionary approach I viewed a Russia TV (RT) tweet yesterday https://www.rt.com/uk/455441-corbyn-shooting-british-army/ which appeared to show 4 soldiers with Parachute Regiment emblems clearly on their berets engaged in a handgun target practice session unloading their guns at a target which turned out to be a large portrait of elected Member of the British Parliament and leader of the official Labour opposition, Jeremy Corbyn MP. A tag line across the video read: “Happy with that” without a question mark indicating it was meant to be a statement not a question.
I was both shocked and sceptical. Obviously the British Paras have form for civilian murders as the Bloody Sunday https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_Inquiry and Ballymurphy massacres https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/11/decades-of-deceit-ballymurphy-killings-inquest-opens-in-belfast both tragically illustrate but surely this video was a fake? The idea that British soldiers would ever, never mind in the current nasty and poisoned atmosphere of chauvinism and right wing nationalism which pollutes many parts of England and Wales on the back of the Brexit fall out and years of anti-immigrant and intolerant distortions of immigration by the gutter British press, use a portrait of an elected MP of 30 years standing to fire at is outrageous.
It is outrageous and it is deeply sinister. The soldiers are trained professionals. They are trained to kill in defence of Britain. They are supposed to be above politics and serve only the elected British Government. We are told consistently whenever soldiers in uniform appear to be showing sympathy with right wing elements in society that they are above that, they are apolitical. Surely it wasn’t a bona fide video? I issued a cautionary tweet to a @Tory Fibs tweet which suggested the video was actually real. I still wasn’t convinced:
If this is true, & there should be a full and urgent investigation to find out if it is, then it is disgraceful, disgusting and wholly unacceptable. If it is not unconditionally condemned by the media & all elected politicians we really are in a dangerous place #EjectTheseEejits
Tommy Sheridan added,
Tory Fibs @ToryFibs
The Ministry of Defence have confirmed this is real. Following on from recent threats & attacks made on Jeremy, it really is a matter of urgency that the press reconsider the merits of doorstepping Jeremy at his family home address
11:39 AM – 3 Apr 2019
As it became clearer that the video was indeed real I tweeted:
Tommy Sheridan Retweeted Alistair Bunkall
Tommy Sheridan added,
Alistair BunkallVerified account @AliBunkallSKY
Video has emerged of soldiers on a shooting range in Kabul firing at a target of Jeremy Corbyn. MOD confirms it as legit:
Show this thread
7:05 PM – 3 Apr 2019
The Ministry of Defence had confirmed the video was authentic. I was furious. I was also very pleased to see Scotland’s First Minister issue a clear and unequivocal tweet and said so:
So pleased to read this tweet from you Nicola. I find this video appalling, outrageous and sinister. An urgent investigation is required and soldiers and commanding officers should be facing dishonourable discharges. What message does this send? JC is an elected MP #Disgraceful
Tommy Sheridan added,
Nicola SturgeonVerified account @NicolaSturgeon
This is appalling and the MOD is right to launch a full investigation. https://twitter.com/alibunkallsky/status/1113352300037398528 …
7:09 PM – 3 Apr 2019
Nicola Sturgeon correctly called the video “appalling” and I fully expected this story to dominate the TV News shows, current affairs programmes and daily newspapers today, Thursday 4th April. How wrong I was. The story was far down the pecking order on all the news bulletins and as for the newspapers today it is given either little attention or none at all. Imagine footage emerged of soldiers in Venezuela using a portrait of U.S. appointed President Juan Guido for target practice? Or Islamic Republic of Iran army soldiers were filmed using a portrait of Donald Trump to hone their shooting skills? It would be major news leading to forthright condemnations from all and sundry and promoted as proof writ large that Venezuela and Iran were rogue nations that could never be trusted.
Yet we have well trained, uniformed and armed members of the British Paratrooper Regiment using the portrait of the elected MP and leader of the official opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, and it fails to become a major story.
Make no mistake this is a worrying and very sinister development which requires an urgent enquiry conducted by professionals outside the army empowered to recommend dishonourable discharges from the army. After the heinous actions and consequent cover-ups at Ballymurphy in 1971 and Derry in 1972 the army cannot be trusted to properly investigate their own. Members of that regiment shot down unarmed men and women with criminal abandon in the past but then lied to internal enquiries about the presence of weapons on the citizens they shot and that they had been fired upon and were under threat. The army swallowed that claptrap and colluded in trying to cover up the murders for years. What is required now is a proper, full and urgent independent enquiry which ensures that the soldiers involved, their immediate commanding officers and the commanders of this regiment are drummed out of the armed forces for good.
Less than three years ago a female Labour MP, Jo Cox, was murdered while doing her job in her constituency. A far right white extremist was convicted of that crime https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/23/thomas-mair-found-guilty-of-jo-cox-murder. Recently a plot by another far right white extremist to kill another female Labour MP was foiled when one of the far right activists involved blew the whistle https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/03/hope-not-hate-spy-played-key-role-in-stopping-far-right-plot-to-mp?CMP=share_btn_link. Only last week Jeremy Corbyn was physically assaulted by a male Brexit supporter who slammed an egg into his head while he was conducting constituency business. The thug has been imprisoned for his actions and Jeremy Corbyn has been forced to implement precautionary security measures from now on https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/egg-attacker-jailed. Almost daily MPs report threats on their lives and fear of walking unprotected in their constituencies https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/05/death-threats-every-single-day-mps-on-effect-of-brexit-vote.
Yet despite all this fear and hatred we witness the army being infiltrated by far right extremists who consider it appropriate to use the picture of an elected socialist MP and leader of the official opposition to practice discharging their weapons on? It really is appalling, outrageous, sinister and unacceptable. If individuals of all ranks are not now dishonourable discharged for their actions, role and lack of control in this incident then confidence in the army will fall generally and stoop to even lower levels among Labour supporters, socialists, the Irish community and anyone who values democracy.
Last year the British army was shamed when pictures of uniformed army cadets with the well-known racist and fascist extremist, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), appeared online https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/11/tommy-robinson-photos-british-army-far-right?CMP=share_btn_link and the stories of senior army discontent with the potential election of a Jeremy Corbyn government are credible https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jan/25/corbyn-trident-military-revolt-unfriendly-fire and real https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-army-could-stage-mutiny-under-corbyn-says-senior-serving-general-10509742.html.
It is not alarmist or paranoid to suggest that higher echelons of the armed forces would consider a military coup should a socialist government be elected. It was seriously contemplated before when fears that Harold Wilson would implement radical wealth redistribution policies provoked right wing reaction:
“As Peter Wright confirmed in his book Spycatcher, Wilson was the victim of a protracted, illegal campaign of destabilisation by a rogue element in the security services. Prompted by CIA fears that Wilson was a Soviet agent – put in place after the KGB had, the spooks believed, poisoned Hugh Gaitskell, the previous Labour leader – these MI5 men burgled the homes of the prime minister’s aides, bugged their phones and spread black, anti-Wilson propaganda throughout the media. They tried to pin all kinds of nonsense on him: that his devoted political secretary, Marcia Williams, posed a threat to national security; that he was a closet IRA sympathiser” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/mar/15/comment.labour1.
This latest scandal is far from isolated and only serves to highlight once again that proper monitoring and democratic control of the armed services are necessary and urgent lest they be mobilised in the future to hinder the democratic will of the people instead of protecting that expressed will. Instead of an MoD investigation let us have an independent and public enquiry into the outrageous ‘shoot Corbyn’ video.