Top military brass planned to drop the British Army’s famous ‘Be the Best’ recruitment slogan and crossed swords crest, alleging they are “elitist” and “non-inclusive”.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson stepped in at the eleventh hour to veto the politically correct plans, which were to take effect from January 2017 on the expensively-procured advice of third-party “image consultants”, the Mail on Sunday reports.
“Market research in May 17 found that ‘Be the Best’ did not resonate with many of our key audiences and was considered dated, elitist and non-inclusive,” noted a document title ‘The Army Brand’, produced under the direction of General Sir Nick Carter.
“The ECAB [Executive Committee of the Army Board] therefore agreed that its use should be phased out as soon as affordably possible. The retirement of Be the Best will commence immediately with all planned refreshes of Be the Best branded material cancelled in favour of brand-compliant products.”
The planned overhaul was described as “futile lunacy” by critics, with rebranding costs estimated in the millions at a time when the Armed Forces are facing savage cuts.
“The Defence Secretary believes that the British Army is the best of the best and has put these proposals on hold,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence.
Commons Defence Select Committee chairman Julian Lewis had also spoken against the changes, saying: “Being the best is nothing to be ashamed of – it is a matter for pride and a very positive message to transmit. Why should we be afraid of excellence when we are constantly saying our Armed Forces are the best in the world?”
While the move is likely to prove popular with the Tory Party’s conservative base, which has been frustrated by its leaders’ love affair with social justice and long pressed it to stand up against such politically correct initiatives, some critics have suggested the Defence Secretary effectively vetoing commanders will strain relations between them.
These have deteriorated significantly since the Tories first returned to office in 2010 — initially in coalition with the left-wing Liberal Democrats — and began drastically curtailing the Defence budget, while EU contributions and commitments to the inflexible and often questionably allocated foreign aid budget were protected and steadily increased.
Some veterans defended the Government’s decision, however, with Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British Forces in Helmand, Afghanistan, and COBRA Committee member, saying it was “lunacy to squander money on a futile branding project” in a time of cutbacks.
“‘Be the Best’ is popular because it encapsulates the desire for our troops to be better than their enemies,” he explained.
It has never been about them looking down at anyone in society, so any suggestion it is elitist is nonsense. The Army needs to be the best and to know that it is.”