This is treason, sirs!

HcockwoodA guest post by Captain Horace Cockwood, RN, on the problems besetting the Labour Party

Why is it that so many of the men and women running this country are such damnable scoundrels?

Whether they be Whig or Tory, these infernal swabs seem only to think of lining their own pockets, of accumulating titles and honours for themselves and their families.

If any man on board my vessel behaved in a like manner I’d have the skin off his back!

And now, as we rest in port to take in water and provisions, I read in the newspaper that one of these great men has deserted his post. Leapt overboard! Jumped ship!

This treasonous fellow, who goes by the name of Mr Jones, went over to the enemy. But instead of hauling him back and flogging him around the fleet, they’ve let the blackguard go on his merry way.

By God, I’ll never understand these lubbers! They’re soft, that’s what they are. They wouldn’t last more than a day on board one of Her Majesty’s ships.

The willainous wretch would get no quarter here, let me tell you, sir! Were I to be charged with the task of dealing to this treasonous dog, I’d pursue him to the ends of the Earth. Give me a fast ship and a sturdy crew, and by God I would lead a cutting-out expedition right into the heart of the enemy’s port!

They say that the man has been a valuable and loyal member of the Labour Party, and yet the rogue was in contact with the enemy the whole time. This close to an election they ought to be sailing in smooth seas under a good weight of sail with a fair wind to power them. Instead, he’s bilged the Labour ship on her own anchor, dashing her upon the lee shore.

On my ship, as in every vessel of the Royal Navy, the Articles of War rule supreme, and Lord help any man who would dare to contravene them. Mr Jones was perhaps in need of a reminder as to what Article Four says on the subject of communications with the enemy:

If any letter of message from any enemy or rebel, be conveyed to any officer, mariner, or soldier or other in the fleet, and the said officer, mariner, or soldier, or other as aforesaid, shall not, within twelve hours, having opportunity so to do, acquaint his superior or a commanding officer, or if any superior officer being acquainted therewith, shall not in convenient time reveal the same to the commander in chief of the squadron, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall be punished with DEATH, or such other punishment as the nature and degree of the offense shall deserve, and the court martial shall impose.

The emphasis is my own, though it hardly needs to be added, on account of the punishment for most offences in the Royal Navy being death. And so it should be. Most of the men think only of their grog and their whores, and it is only the threat of ruthless punishment that keeps them in line.

Under my command, this man would not have got away with his foul misdeeds. The wretch has been causing trouble for his captain for many a month: questioning orders, embarrassing and inconveniencing Labour’s allies, and speaking out of turn. And yet not a finger was laid on him. By God, he’d have felt the sharp claws of the cat if he’d served in my ship. I’d have had Mr Jones kissing the gunner’s daughter, let me tell you sir!

This Mr Jones may have been one of Labour’s big guns, but any captain worth his salt knows the damage a loose cannon can cause on the deck of his ship. That’s why when seas are rough he has his guns lashed down, rendered immovable. This particular cannon appears to have slipped its bindings one too many times, crushing the hopes of many within Labour. At least he’s off the ship now, although he may remain a danger to shipping for some time yet.

And now the damage is done. The enemy have the weather gauge, and the advantage is theirs.

Update: Well damme! My first officer has just pointed me to Article Eighteen of the aforementioned Articles of War:

If any person in or belonging to the fleet shall make or endeavour to make any mutinous assembly upon any pretence whatsoever, every person offending herein, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall suffer DEATH: and if any person in or belonging to the fleet shall utter any words of sedition or mutiny, he shall suffer DEATH, or such other punishment as a court martial shall deem him to deserve: and if any officer, mariner, or soldier on or belonging to the fleet, shall behave himself with contempt to his superior officer, being in the execution of his office, he shall be punished according to the nature of his offence by the judgment of a court martial.

It’s a great relief that I’m not the commander of the Labour ship. It’s so full of mutinous dogs that I’d have to kill half the goddamn caucus!

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