Yesterday there was a similar response to the sudden emergence of the Sun-sponsored military awards, which the paper has already taken to calling the "Millies". The majority of the comments on the article which accompanied the launch, one by none other than Prince Charles, were far from complimentary:
"Our Forces are wonderful and I'm proud of them. This award thing is far too tacky for them, and reeks of self-promotion.I award it a golden raspberry."
"A trashy tacky idea that lacks any taste what so ever!"
"Terrible idea. And highly cheesy. Thanks but no thanks, a pay rise would be a better award"
"Words fail me.............Is this another project so that the Sun get more readers, a really tacky idea and one which Senior Officers in the MOD should never have agreed to. God help us."
As a serving member of Her Majesty's Forces I think this is is utter tat - the name and the design of the award for starters.
All we want is not to be treated like something the cat coughed up when we come home and the resources to do our job. We're proud enough already because of who we serve and the uniform we wear. The real respect in our job is gained via acceptance by our mates and a job well done."
Indeed, the awards have not only gone down badly with the Sun's own readers, but with the military themselves. Over on the British Army Rumour Service forums, the response has been so vociferous that a petition has already been set-up over on the 10 Downing Street site calling for the prime minister to prevent the awards from taking place. While most of the posters have objected to the Sun sponsoring the awards on the basis that it is both tasteless and trivialises the entire concept, others have been more forthright due to their own view of the Sun's real agenda behind their backing of the armed forces:
"If it wasn't being done by the Scum, I might be in favour of it. However, the Scum is so two faced, I see it as a way for them simply to gain dirt more easily."
"Of course the Scum would win the 'two faced coverage of our boys' award. do you think Newton-Dunn would turn up to accept the award?"
"It's our own fault. While the Sun has for years made play of supporting 'our boys' when it suits them and then turning on us with any whiff of a scandal or punch up within 15 miles of a barracks - still the most common rag to find lying round the NAAFI or brew room is the good old Currant Bun.
At the risk of being banned from Liverpool like Boris Johnson and others I must say that the unequivocal response of the Scouse nation to the Scum's reporting of the Hillsborough disaster - reducing the circulation in that city from over 200,000 to less than 10,000 overnight and maintaining the boycott today - is one of the few things that endear me to the current Capital of Culture.
If you buy it, let your mates buy it, read it/look at the tits in it then you only have yourself to blame. Only a complete military boycott of the Scum would send the message and make them fuck off and stop bothering us."
In fact, the only people who seem to be supporting the idea publicly are the aforementioned Prince Charles, the Sun's own Jeremy Clarkson and the MoD themselves.
This further exposes two myths - firstly that the Sun is beloved by its own readers and that it is such an effective weathervane that it always reflects and fights for their rights; and secondly that the forces themselves regard it as their paper, as the Sun itself so often claims. Nothing in fact could be further from the truth. They too see the support the paper gives as deeply self-centred, as nothing more than something to be used for profit, whilst they jump on the army as much as anyone else when a scandal erupts.
Whether the newspaper and the MoD take such concerns on board before the "Millies" ceremony takes place remains to be seen - but everything so far suggests that it will not be the money-spinner and PR building exercise that the two sides are hoping for.