On Sunday I had a stall of my work at Momentum's The World Transformed arts and politics festival at The Black-E in Liverpool. Some of my anti-army recruitment work was on display: 'Join the Army' and my 'Make Stuff Dead' mugs along with flyers for Action Man: Battlefield Casualties. This work is supported and endorsed by 100s of veterans, but why would the right-wing press let that get in the way of an opportunity to smear Jeremy Corbyn? My favourite part of the whole thing was Tory MP Johnny Mercer calling me a "Britain hating anarchist who knows the value for nothing" in The Sun's online article. The story was originally posted by Guido Fawkes and picked up by the Daily Mail who went fully haywire and claimed the stall was actually at the Labour party conference. But the journamislm required to find out that wasn't the case would have detracted from the DISGUSTED OUTRAGE.
It was also strange to see the press such as The Times claim soldiers were deeply offended by my 'Make Stuff Dead' mugs while my twitter feed was full of soldiers asking me where they could buy one. (Here, in case you were wondering)
Today Veterans for Peace UK have released a statement about the press reaction to this work. It is a powerful and eleoquent refutation of the media's use of soldiers for political ends. You can read the full thing on their website. Here's an excerpt:
"Let us be clear. The superb ‘Army, Be The Meat’ project and the ‘Action Man: Battlefield Casualties‘ films, which were launched 18 months ago, are nothing to do with Labour or Momentum.The credit belongs to the artist who conceived and created it and, spiritually, to the hundreds of veterans who endorsed it.
This work was conceived in response to years of dishonest army recruitment material and we continue to endorse it.The establishment response has shown two things.Firstly, it has highlighted the important and popular work done by Darren Cullen and VFP to educate people about the brutal reality of modern warfare and the possible negative outcomes of military service . For this we are grateful.
Secondly it has brought into the open the amateur journalism of sections of the press and the willingness of the elite to exploit soldiers and veterans for political capital.We might linger over the appalling journalism involved in this pathetic hit piece. In their jingoistic ardour for clicks, the reporters clearly did not even bother to check into the background of the project.
That this project was backed by hundreds of veterans – many of whom bear the wounds of active service in wars from D-Day to Libya – was as difficult to discover as typing words into a search engine and pressing enter.
We might also note that Johnny Mercer and Dan Jarvis, both former military officers turned politicians, both self-appointed “veteran’s champions”, used the Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper as a platform to attack the project and, by extension, attack the veterans involved in it.
This is the same newspaper group whose senior editorial staff acquired the personal details of dead soldiers, apparently by paying MoD officials."