Politician’s War

Tam Dalyell

  • The Battle for the Falklands by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins
    Joseph, 384 pp, £10.95, February 1983, ISBN 0 7181 2228 3

In the opening paragraph of their important book on the Falklands War, Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins write: ‘So extraordinary an event was it that, even after men began to die, many of those taking part felt as if they had been swept away into fantasy, that the ships sinking and the guns firing round them had somehow escaped from a television screen in the living-room.’ In their final paragraph the authors say that had Britain left the Falklanders to their fate on 2 April, the British people’s respect for themselves and their confidence in their political and military leadership would have experienced a severe blow. They concede that colonial wars can have dangerous side-effects on the nations which fight them. A people can turn to jingoism as they watch a distant game, played on their behalf by professionals safely out of reach of homes and loved ones. Hastings and Jenkins conclude by opining that the British people were reassured by the way the services performed, and were pleased that a job that had to be done was done so well. National pride and self-confidence were renewed.

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