I think I may have discovered a phrase, which neatly sums up IDS’ career in the forces.
Looking through Partridge’s Dictionary of Historical Slang last night, I found the phrase ‘Gentleman Ranker’. This meant ‘A broken gentleman serving in the ranks’.
Until quite late in the 19th century, officers bought their commissions. This policy was abandoned after the mass incompetence of the British officers during the Crimean War, and competitive exams were brought in, so that aptitude, rather than just material wealth, gained you promotion and a position of leadership in the British army. This was duly sent up by Gilbert and Sullivan in their song, ‘I am the Model of a Modern Major General’.
It also seems to describe the military career of the current mass-murderer now head of the DWP, Iain Duncan Smith. Despite his claims to have been an officer in the British army, there are rumours…
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