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Symon Hill looks at how Armed Forces Day serves the political agenda of a government at war.
If I'd had any doubts about the real nature of Armed Forces Day, they would have been dispelled yesterday morning as I watched Sky News while eating breakfast. The Prime Minister had said that he wants the public to back the armed forces “more loudly and more proudly”, and Sky News certainly fell into line. Repeated pictures of marching troops were interspersed with interviews with politicians and generals telling us what a great job they do. Unlike last year, when Sky News briefly interviewed me about my objections to Armed Forces Day, there was not even a pretence of balance in yesterday's coverage. No dissenting voices were heard.
One of the few advantages of this blatant display was that the real purpose of the Day became clearer and at one point, was stated explicitly. A military spokesperson flashed onto the screen to tell us that one of the purposes of the Day was to help the British public to understand why British troops are in Afghanistan.