In an election year, a struggling right-wing British nationalist government, facing a 20% poll gap, deploys military action in Yemen, hoping for a Falklands-like boost, disregarding the consequences.

W hat do you do when you’re a right-wing British nationalist government in an election year, and you’ve been 20% behind in the polls for months?

Even with the assistance of a supine media which looks the other way when there is mounting evidence of your rampant corruption and chronic chaos and happily propagates your bare-faced lies and gaslighting, you still can’t make a dent in the polling lead enjoyed by an opposition party which has stolen many of your most egregiously nasty policies and which has abased itself to being an opposition in name only.

That’s the situation that the Tories currently find themselves in, they’re a right-wing populist party which isn’t very popular at all, the political equivalent of a pub bore who vomits up all over your shoes then demands that you pay him for regaling you with what he believes to be his wit and wisdom.

Rishi Sunak has now deployed the favourite tactic of vile British nationalist governments which have outstayed their welcome, joining in with American military action in a Middle Eastern country, launching air strikes on dozens of targets across Yemen following Houthi attacks on shipping transiting past Yemen in the Red Sea.

There’s nothing like a war to boost bad opinion polls. Sunak will be hoping that this is his Falklands moment, this is the unexpected turn of events that will save his political skin. He won’t care at all that it’s purchased at the price of the literal skins of innocent Yemeni civilians who are caught in the crossfire. Far from trying to de-escalate the conflict, the UK has joined with the Americans in bombing a third country in order to protect arms supplies to Israel, which stands accused of committing ethnic cleansing in Gaza.

Yemeni media has reported loud explosions in the cities of Sana’a, Hodeidah, Saada, Hajja, and Dhamar. There are multiple reports of British and American military aircraft in the skies across Yemen. The Iranian-backed Houthi regime in Yemen is already warning of retaliatory measures, and the risk of further escalation is now alarmingly high.

There’s nothing better than joining in an American-led war against the kind of people that the Daily Mail imagines to be ‘invading’ the UK in small boats crossing the English Channel to allow a politician to wrap himself in the Union flag and pose as a world statesman. Meanwhile, the excited talking heads on the right-wing channels gush about military hardware and puff up the fantasy that Britain is still a superpower.

Late on Thursday evening, the US and Britain launched air and missile strikes against Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, with the purported aim of halting attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The attacks came on the same day that the Israeli government was facing allegations in the International Court of Justice in the Hague that it was committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. But rather than forcing Israel to stop committing crimes against humanity in Gaza, the British political class seems intent on escalating the situation by attacking Yemen, risking provoking a more widespread war and heaping further misery on the beleaguered and impoverished people of Yemen, who have for years endured repeated attacks by the Western-backed Saudis.

Our politicians are psychopaths. They’ve done more to respond to some ships being attacked than they have for people being carpet bombed and killed by the thousands for the past 3 months.

Despite ordering the UK military to bomb Yemen without any parliamentary debate, scrutiny or vote, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will not be recalling Parliament to discuss the UK military intervention in Yemen. Sunak did, however, brief his cabinet, Keir Starmer, and Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House of Commons, before launching military action. He did not inform MPs or Stephen Flynn, the leader of the third largest party in the Commons.

Steven Swinford, the political editor of The Times newspaper, reported that Sunak had to dispense with the usual convention of informing Parliament of the military intervention because the airstrikes were expected within hours, in other words, because the UK was running to keep up with the American timetable.

This latest military adventure comes despite the fact, as Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf pointed out: “The UK does not have a good record of military intervention in the Middle East.” Lessons learned from Iraq and Libya, zero. Here we bloody go again, another dire and dismal cycle of death and devastation. More lives lost. More children maimed, more hatred stored up to be unleashed in an orgy of violence in the future.

The First Minister added: “It is therefore incumbent that Westminster is recalled, MPs briefed and allowed to debate and scrutinise any decision to pursue military action that the UK Government is proposing.”

The militaristic posturing of British nationalism takes priority over trivialities like democracy or accountability. It’s striking that the British Government can always conjure up a magic money tree for going to war but declares that it’s impossible to find the money to tackle poverty. There is limitless cash available for blowing up brown-skinned people with ruinously expensive military hardware, but not for paying doctors or nurses.

The British Government has once more shown itself to be Washington’s poodle, joining in as the wealthiest country in the world bombs one of the poorest countries in the world in order to prevent Red Sea attacks by the Houthis that a ceasefire in Gaza would prevent much more effectively. Brexit Britain, where a Prime Minister who wasn’t even elected by his own party goes to war, without debating the subject in our supposedly sovereign parliament, and where Scotland yet again gets dragged into a war without being consulted and without having any say.

British nationalism’s politics of psychopathy destroys all that it touches.

PMP Magazine


Text: This piece was originally published in The Conversation and re-published in PMP Magazine on 15 January 2024. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
Cover: Flickr/Number 10. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)
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