It’s the obsessing over Miliband’s wreath that really demeans the war dead

Millions died in World War One. Millions of people are still dying today as a result of conflict. Should we not remember them in a more serious way?

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Millions died in World War One. Millions of people are still dying today as a result of conflict. Should we not remember them in a more serious way?

Many Twitter users are outraged by the wreath that Ed Miliband laid at the Cenotaph today to mark 100 years since Britain entered World War One.

It’s true that the wreath doesn’t look especially sensitive, touching or profound. It simply reads ‘from the leader of the opposition’ in large letters – as though it has been written in a felt tip pen (which it probably has).

The Great Outraged of Twitter have denounced this as disrespectful to the war dead and yet another reason why Miliband isn’t fit to be Prime Minister.

But really, is this what our politics has become? Is respect to the military and dead servicemen really commensurate to the quality of the message on a wreath that Miliband was probably handed, with message already written, only a minute before he had to lay it on the Cenotaph?

It is common for politicians of the left to be denounced as unpatriotic and disrespectful to the military, and its fair to say that in the way ‘Wreathgate’ is being presented by the media, it plays effortlessly into this narrative. I’m sure the Sun and the Express will be splashing on it tomorrow. Maybe, we will even hear a Cabinet minister express their ‘disgust’ at Miliband’s wreath. Inevitably there will be lots of people up and down the country shaking their heads in horror.

But this condemnation and outrage is all ridiculous. Firstly, as already pointed out, it seems most likely that Miliband was handed a prewritten wreath only seconds before he went to the Cenotaph to lay it down. He didn’t write the message, in the same way that Nick Clegg didn’t write the message on his wreath, which reads quite simply ‘from the Deputy Prime Minister.’

I wonder if we will see this pointed out by those expressing outrage at Miliband’s wreath.

Secondly, doesn’t Wreathgate just blind us to the real politics and debates behind war and the military? It reminds me of other things that the tabloids and twitter obsess over. It reminds me of the continual references to Miliband’s bacon sandwich photo, but on a deeper and more disturbing level.

Our whole political culture is devalued when a message on a wreath is regarded as representing the values and attitudes of the leader of the opposition. It makes it harder for us to have a serious debate about war, because Miliband is painted as someone who doesn’t really care about our military. He is being accused of showing a lack of respect when he has shown no lack of respect.

Millions died in World War One. Millions of people are still dying today as a result of conflict. Should we not remember them in a more serious way?

The most warmongering media institutions and politicians often attack left-wing politicians as being ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘disrespectful to our military’. Before we hear the condemnations from tabloids and Conservative politicians, I would like them to consider their own track record with the military.

Many of the current government supported the Iraq War, including the Prime Minister.

The Sun supported the war as well.

Before they stand on the moral high ground and condemn Miliband, I want them to think about how they have supported actions that have sent hundreds of our soldiers to die.

Obsessing over Miliband’s wreath only devalues the political climate in which politicians and the public make decisions about the military and war. It makes it more difficult to think seriously about what it means to send people to fight for their country.

Getting angry about Wreathgate will bring us no closer to a world free of war.

Ben Mackay is the editor of Clarity News

3 Responses to “It’s the obsessing over Miliband’s wreath that really demeans the war dead”

  1. tanith

    yu are so right and its disgusting the way they keep on and on attacking and slandering ED MILIBAND ED is a good man with principles integrity also honesty which is sadly lacking in this current lot /they have to keep doing this as they know he will win in 2015 so are running scared and doing their utmost best to bring him down turning the public against him the media arent much better either /IT MAKES ME SICK but they will never turn me nor will they turn all of his other loyal supporters come on ED yur our next PM x

  2. swatnan

    Can we please get a graphologist to analyse that ‘odd’ handwriting; the M’s and r’s are distinctively ‘odd’ and says somthing about the author..

  3. Cole

    Disgusting Tory dirty trick.

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