Saturday, 3 August 2013

Daily Telegraph: "The Queen's 'speech' and Wintex 1983: How not to lift morale at a time of crisis"

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"Papers just released by the UK National Archives cast light on a major Nato military/diplomatic exercise, known as Wintex 1983.

"... Part of the Wintex planning included producing a text that the Queen supposedly might use to address the nation as hostilities began. As we have discovered, the speech was dismal. I suspect that the sensitivity of the policy issues involved meant it was drafted by someone who had no idea how to set about this momentous job.

"The tone of the text was all wrong. It made the Queen sound like a nervous health visitor, not the leader of a defiant nation ready to do what it might take to win: there was too much about the Queen and her feelings, and nothing on what the war was about or why our cause was just. It included this bizarre passage, with its cringing hint of mutually-assured blame for the unfolding conflict:
"The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns, but the deadly power of abused technology."

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The Guardian:
"The Queen's unused nuclear war speech has a ring of Beyond the Fringe about it"
"Drafted by civil servants in 1983 as part of an extensive government exercise in precaution and preparation, it has a cadence, style and language that goes back to the early 1960s era of the cold war.

"Take this, for instance:
"Now this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds."
"And, even more so:
"The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns but the deadly power of abused technology."
"Clearly, the civil servants responsible were fans of Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller in their Beyond the Fringe revue, and, in particular, the civil defence sketch.

"Cook, Bennett and Miller play mandarins attempting to calm the nation's fears about mass extinction. 'The airman prowling the skies above our cities' is a fine echo of Cook's opening remark that:

"A lot of people in this country tend to think of the whole problem of the hydrogen bomb as being rather above their heads."

Beyond the Fringe:
"Cook as Macmillan recounting a summit meeting with U.S. President John F. Kennedy:
"We talked of many things, including Great Britain's position in the world as some kind of 'honest broker'.

I agreed with him when he said no nation could be more honest. And he agreed with me, when I chaffed him and said no nation could be broker."

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