Not Bennies

Real Harry Real Harry
It is hard to see a reason for some things, then suddenly it all becomes clear. For most of my life I have had a relaxed attitude to the monarchy; for most of yesterday the news media has been far from relaxed about the comments of Prince Harry (see right). Frankly I could not give a damn about what he said but it is important he said it because the whole point of the monarchy, I've just worked this out, is to inflame passions and it does not matter which way, just so long as somewhere someone is annoyed. But this can cause confusion. To illustrate my point the Evening Standard said in a headline - Gordon Brown backs 'racist' Prince Harry while the Telegraph had the headline - Prince Harry's 'Paki' comment unacceptable, says Gordon Brown.

Perhaps within the depth of the article of each newspaper was, heavily nuanced, some wisdom I missed, oh well too bad. It was like that all day with journalists, MPs and sundry folk lining up to speak out and add nothing to this very minor incident. We have been told how offensive the term 'Paki' is; I'm sure this is so and I'll bet the term kafir is, to some, equally offensive. We have also been told it is all the fault of his background that he behaves this way. So hopefully the Queen, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles will do a bit of grovelling in the weeks to come. Mind you if this is the case then the Muslim youth who smashed up shops in London recently can watch their parents and grandparents do the same.

Another thing, Harry Wales is in the British Army and there is a bit of history here of British soldiers coming out with quasi offensive remarks. During the 1982 Falklands war the landed soldiers called the resident islanders 'Bennies.' This was because they resembled a character in the TV soap Crossroads called Benny Hawkins, played by actor Paul Henry (see below right), who was a bumpkin in nature, dress and accent. Worried that the residents may take offence at this the British Officers issued a command that islanders were not to be called Bennies. So the common soldier called them Not Bennies. This too was deemed a PR risk but what to do? Before another order came, some troops took to calling the islanders Stills. The logic here was order or not they still looked like Bennies. Sometimes you just can't win.

It has dawned on me that not only do we have TV soaps, we have the mainstream media and the Royal Family to keep us laughing, what a lucky lot we are! And today it goes on, the online version of the Telegraph still has a reference to this 'story' so does the Guardian, the latter at great length. Funny that as when there was the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross incident recently it was the Guardian that kept on with that story long after other newspapers could see the story was stone dead, I wonder why? The approach in the Guardian today is to mix the Harry Wales theme with three other reports which carry the headlines:' Army must confront its 'barrack culture' - watchdog and Diversity in forces slow to improve and Racist slur or army banter? What the soldiers say.It is the latter that looks into the whole business of the enclosed society. This can be a corrupting influence or an advantage and not just in the armed services. There is the Westminster village which can skew some people's judgement considerably. Take the Guardian journalist Michael White who, when the MP David Davis resigned his seat to fight a by-election on a point of principle, totally misunderstood what was going on and wrote -
Real BennyReal Benny
"Bloggers and newspaper letter-writers have been vocal in the MP's support, political professionals have been quietly embarrassed by what strikes many as an act of pointless exhibitionism."

"And he's placed a question mark around his judgment and reputation as a team player. At least, that's what I think, and I meet few people in what Davis dismisses as the "Westminster village" who disagree."

It's the phrase political professionals that suggests that barrack culture does indeed corrupt. The armed services have it and so does many a profession and there's nothing we can do about it.