I joined the army when I was 16 – I remember it was just before my 17th birthday. It was either the army or some dead end job in Wolverhampton.
I came across the army in a local park where they were recruiting. They seemed more exciting than most things on offer to me at that time. I was in the Second Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (2 Para) in the Falklands War.
I didn’t originally choose the paras – I wanted to do a trade. But at the selection an officer who looked down his nose at me said that training for a trade would mean I was with people of the same or more intelligence than myself. I didn’t like his attitude, so I said that I wanted to go into the paras.
The Falklands was very tough. There were several times when I wondered if my time was up. One time I saw two people killed by a booby trap – they had burst into flames. It could easily have been me.
A lot of us were angry at how the politicians behaved. When we were marching to Goose Green, we heard that Tory defence secretary John Nott had just announced our position over the radio on the BBC World Service, recklessly putting us in unnecessary danger.
I left the army not long after the Falklands. My official date of leaving was the day before my 21st birthday. It was difficult readjusting.
It felt like nothing else was important. For ten years after I left, I was a bit of a mess. I reacted to things in I way that I wouldn’t have wanted to. In retrospect I was suffering from post-traumatic stress, although I didn’t know that at the time. It was my close friends that got me through.
If the soldiers in Iraq are spending months under the sort of pressure we were under, I worry about their mental health. They will need a lot of support when they get back. But the support offered for soldiers is inadequate. Most people are just expected to get by and manage on their own.
Once the army and the politicians have finished with you – after you have been paraded as their hero – they are not interested in you when you come back. They like to be seen to give a damn, but the reality is far short of that.
After I left the army I was sick of the lies and self-serving stupidity of the mainstream politicians and started looking around for an alternative perspective. The experience of the war made me feel that getting politically involved was important.
Now, 25 years after the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher is using the anniversary to try to rehabilitate her career.
She is a disgusting opportunist, happy to use the bodies of dead soldiers to try to rebuild her credibility. Tony Blair is the same – he has absolute contempt for soldiers and their families.
They use the lie that they care about people in the military in order to justify sending more soldiers off to war.
Soldiers today are being sent to the illegal war in Iraq just so that Blair can find his place in the history books and so that Britain can get its hands on more resources in the Middle East.
The Tories used the Falklands War to boost their support. In 1983 the Tories were re-elected on the back of the war and Thatcher continued to attack working class people.
So ordinary working class people lost out because Thatcher gained from the actions of ordinary troops. This also laid the ground for Blair.
He said that he modelled himself on Thatcher. He certainly has the same love of the free market, and he shows the same contempt for military families.
Blair has refused to meet with families who have lost people in Iraq because he doesn’t want to be confronted with what he has done.
Gordon Brown has shown himself to be Blair’s neoconservative partner in crime throughout the New Labour project. He has ordered a pay cut for millions of public sector workers to pay for New Labour’s priorities of war and helping the rich to get richer.
We need to send out a clear message to Brown on Sunday 24 June in Manchester that we have had enough of the illegal war for power and oil – bring our troops home now.
For more on the war read » Falklands: war and lies