- June 30, 2014
A councillor has apologised today (Monday June 30) after criticising war veterans and brave soldiers as “hired killers” on the day the UK celebrated forces personnel.
Thousands of people lined the streets across the country for Armed Forces Day on Saturday as the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment paraded from the Peace Statue to New Road.
But Ben Duncan, a Green councillor for Queens Park ward on Brighton and Hove City Council, came under fire after he labelled the armed forces personnel “hired killers”.
After the comments provoked disgust from around the country, Cllr Duncan, who claims he is a proud socialist who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has since apologised.
But political rivals are calling on the councillor, who is no stranger to public controversy, to stand down.
Cllr Duncan, who stood for the party in Brighton Kemptown in 2010 at the general election, wrote on Twitter: “Armed Forces Day has certainly brought the hired killers onto the streets of Brighton today. Hard to explain to my son.”
After members of his own party – including Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas – distanced themselves from the comment, Cllr Duncan wrote today: “Apols [sic] for offence caused by tweet re soldiers on streets. Many will have been remembering loved ones who died & was insensitive to their loss.”
Armed Forces Day was established in 2009 to honour the country’s servicemen and women and their families across the Army, Navy and RAF.
Events have been held every year in Brighton and Hove to thank serving and former personnel for their service.
Speaking in response to Cllr Duncan’s initial comments, Mike Weatherley, Conservative MP for Hove, said: “Slurring our brave soldiers, on Armed Forces Day of all days, is unbelievably insensitive and presumably cause for resignation.
“We have the right to free speech – a right which Cllr Duncan is more than happy to exercise – because of the very people whom he insults.”
Warren Morgan, a Labour councillor in Brighton, said: “Cllr Duncan should resign and he should do so quickly. He is free to criticise politicians who send troops to war, but not those who risk and often sacrifice their lives as a consequence.
“His comments are stupid and deeply offensive, particularly when we are marking the anniversaries of D-Day and World War One.
“Were he a councillor in my party he would be gone by the end of the day, however based on past experience the Green Party will do nothing.”