I have a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about the case for prosecuting certain of the Bloody Sunday soldiers. I am aware that it is not a popular argument, and one that most British people tend to shy away from. It also seems to provoke a certain amount of confusion. On a radio programme the other day, discussing potential prosecutions, the interviewer went so far as to ask how or why somebody who is ‘right-wing’ could be making these points.
Firstly of course, this is a straightforward category error (‘right-wing’ equals bad and mean and therefore any ‘right-winger’ must be in favour of shooting civilians). Secondly, I think that there is in fact a vital conservative case for carrying this through to the stage of prosecutions. That is, as I point out in my piece, that on top of their undoubted wrong-doing on the day, Soldier F and other soldiers of 1 Para disgraced the British army that day. Their actions – and the fact that they got away with them – made things infinitely worse for their fellows in the army over the next three decades. In addition, their consistent and unnecessary lies to not one but two judicial inquiries mean they made a mockery of Britain’s repeated attempts to get to the truth of what happened that day.
There is an argument that going after your own soldiers when they do something wrong hurts morale. I cannot help thinking that refusing to do the right thing over Bloody Sunday in the end hurt everyone far more.