Bloody hell. A serving general has threatened mutiny if a Corbyn-led Labour government attempts to scrap Trident or otherwise downgrade our military capabilities. The Independent reports that the general said that the military would attempt to stop such policies being enacted, “by fair means or foul”.
Aside: This is actually a tacit admission by the officer in question that he is a rubbish soldier. Either he is saying that he will refuse to obey orders given legally by a democratically elected government; or he is saying that he lacks the authority to prevent others from disobeying orders.
Either way, these comments show why we need strong human rights protections. If the military are contemplating using ‘foul’ methods to attempt to unseat a Prime Minister or to obstruct policy, that makes me extremely worried for what human rights they are capable of abusing along the way.
Assassination seems a rather extreme and unsubtle way to force a change in policy. I think it is inconceivable that the British military would do this, and (for now) talk of a full scale coup seems shrill. It would signal the end of our democracy as we know it.
But what of other human rights transgressions? The military has significant technical and intelligence capabilities. Who is to say these will not be deployed against Mr Corbyn and anyone supporting his policies? The Government is eager to enact new surveillance legislation that would grant the security services unprecedented new powers to copy and keep every e-mail we send, log our phone conversations, and even record the location data that our mobile devices give away every moment we are connected to the web. Unfortunately the ‘watchdogs’—the MPs and judges who are supposed to scrutinise how these powers are used—have no additional support, and will not be able to keep up.
So it looks like we’re headed to a situation where the security services have carte blanche to invade our privacy, with all the possibility for smears and blackmail that entails. Meanwhile it has emerged that our military are happy to use underhand and illegal tactics in order undermine their political opponents.
This is a big deal. We should be scared and angry.