The grandparents of a 20-year-old Marine, left without any legs by an Afghan landmine, want to build him a bungalow. But their planning application was rejected. Said Downing Street:
The whole country owes Joe huge gratitude for the sacrifice he has made for our country, and it is unacceptable that he is being stopped from having the home of his choice.
No. You can’t say injured soldiers have permission to do whatever they want. This isn’t insulting, or saying they’re not brave or heroic or deserving of thanks. It’s fair to the millions whose rights exist independently of brave people. Maybe it’s appropriate in this case (I don’t know) but as a general rule it’s unworkable, and it’s unfair.
What if there are good reasons it’s been rejected? It sounds like there aren’t, but that’s irrelevant – Downing Street and public outrage don’t seem to care about possible justifications. Wouldn’t the sensible action be to look at the reasons the planning application was rejected, then determine whether they make sense? If there’s a minor bend required, maybe it’s justifiable in the circumstances. But if, say, it’s genuinely going to cause hassle to neighbours (I have no idea of the specifics) then maybe the design can be altered slightly. Or maybe the neighbours could sign something promising they don’t mind. Whatever. This doesn’t seem hard: given that so many people care so passionately, it should be fixable in very little time.
But only if you do it rationally, without chest-swelling patriotism trampling all over (possibly) sensible systems. Sure, it’s not unreasonable to give badly injured soldiers extra consideration: sympathy probably dictates you re-examine the case. Then if the rules are unfair, change the rules. But if the rules are reasonable, and in place for the good of everyone, it’s unfair to override them just because you’re sympathetic to one individual. That’s the point, right?
I have no issue with this particular case. I just don’t like the black/white attitudes.