I haven't yet seen Jimmy McGovern's drama Accused about military life in Afghanistan, although hopefully I'll catch up with it on the BBC iplayer at some point. But I don't actually need to have seen it to spot the slight flaw in this argument from Con Coughlin in the Telegraph -
"I’m as much in favour of artistic licence as the next man, even if I violently disagree with the views expressed.
But what makes the broadcast of “Accused” so offensive is the fact that the BBC thinks it is a good idea to air this material at a time when we have 10,000 of our service men and women daily risking their lives in Afghanistan."
Well, British troops have now been in Afghanistan for nine years (more than twice as long as the entire span of the First World War), so perhaps we can rest assured that Coughlin isn't necessarily in favour of suppressing artistic freedom for any more than a decade at a time. Or can we? After all, does anyone seriously imagine that if the troops were no longer in Afghanistan, but were instead in harm's way somewhere else, he wouldn't still be denouncing the broadcast? Before Afghanistan, British troops were risking their lives in the Balkans. Before that, they were being routinely murdered by the IRA. Just when was this golden window of opportunity during which it was permissible for writers to paint anything other than the officially-sanctioned rosy picture of army life?