In praise of England

 

             The new arguments over a federal more centralised Europe pose again the biggest question of UK politics. What type of country do we want in the future? What should our relationship be with this new emerging state? Over the next week I wish to examine British foreign policy.

              I come to this proud of what England  has stood for over the centuries. I come to this proud of many of the things that the UK has achieved  in the last two hundred years.

              My pride in country swelled some years ago when I was taking a Russian visitor around the Palace of Westminster.  I told him part of the story of our natio. I  illustrated it  from the way the Victorians told it in the very fabric of the Palace building and the works of art they acquired. He responded, saying  he liked the way the UK was at peace with its past.

                There on the walls at Westminster are the outs and the ins, the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, the Catholics and the Protestants, Tory and Whig, Conservative and Labour, Establishsment and rebels. They have all helped mould what we are. They all are represented with their causes. Revolutionary societies do not merely re write history. They write the losers out of the script.  Older democracies which evolve like the UK also continuously  rewrite history, but there are always those who represent the losers as well, giving them their place in the plot.

              Let me describe my starting point for this examination of the UK’s sense of national purpose. Before you can define the “national interest”  you first need to say what you think is at the  heart of the nation.

               I am brought to my feet or moved to sympathy by the British love of liberty. There is in our national character a sense of fairness, a love of the underdog, a gritty determination to stand up for our beliefs when challenged. There is at one and the same time a deep democratic instinct, and an unruly anti clericalism that undermines pomp, questions authority and is suspicious of claimed expertise. At our best  there is that sense of enterprise, a buccaneering can do approach, which lay behind our maritime prowess, our sporting innovation and our commitment to the wider world. England has led through her industrial revolution, through her early development of more democratic government, and by inventing so  much that brings prosperity and pleasure to the many.

              I would have wanted to ride with the chariots of Bouddica. Her cause was to free our land from the Roman military occupation. They may have brought us baths and commerce, but they also brought slavery, and an eclipse of local political  freedoms. I would have wished to stand with Harold at Hastings, rooted to the sacred turf as Norman cavalry and archers fought for mastery.  

            I would have felt miserable as I saw the kingdom torn by the war of Lancaster and York, unsure who to back but certain that England was the loser whatever happened. I would have led the cheering for Thomas Cromwell’s Reformation.  I would have played court to Elizabeth, urging both caution and steely determination in seeing off the Spanish threat to our independence.

               In the civil war I would have started as a supporter of Parliament, but ended in disagreement with regicide. I would have been keen to restore the Crown,  and equally keen to change personnel at the Glorious Revolution, limiting the power of the monarch.

                  I would have given full support to Pitt the elder as England established her wider global role and to  Pitt the Younger  as he led coalitions against French domination of the continent.

                 Both my grandfathers fought in the mud of Flanders. They were the relatively  lucky ones, both surviving. The pointless slaughter of the First World War has always appalled me. Why did the UK involve herself? Did the balance of power on the continent matter that much?

               The UK  standing alone against the evil tyranny of the Nazis has inspired several generations. So too has the eventual victory of the mighty coalition assembled, once the USA was forced into the conflict. There were some arrangements and threats  on the continent that we could not ignore.

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55 Comments

  1. Stuart Fairney
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    That’s a very nice blog if I may say, it really encapsulates Britishness. I would only differ on one historic issue.

    “I would have wanted to ride with the chariots of Bouddica. Her cause was to free our land from the Roman military”

    Knowing what we now do about Julius Caesar’s Rome, we may question whether resistance was the best strategy? Perhaps becoming a Roman ally would have served us better? Not ideal I grant you but Caesar was good to his word more or less with allies, but pretty harsh with enemies, especially those staging a rebellion whatever Seutonius might claim.

    • Jeremy Poynton
      Posted July 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      Hindsight is a fine thing! Though I grant your point.

      Well put, Mr. Redwood; a neat summation of what our parent’s generation risked their lives for

    • rose
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink

      Boadicea and her husand were allies of the Romans weren’t they – until she was publicly whipped by them and her daughters raped? Rather stupid tactic on their part, I should say.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    “The older democracies” – in what real sense is the UK a democracy. MP’s clearly respond to party not electorate as their position dictates (as most seats are safe so long as you do not loose the WHIP). MP’s do not do what they promise even if these are Cast Iron promises. The parties in turn respond to the demands of the unelected EU bureaucrats who respond to powerful pressure groups from large industry and similar or often to the self interest of drawing more powers to the centre. The BBC drips the county in big state propaganda to defend this indefensible position and to distract from real issues with things like the phone hacking stuff, global warming or terrorist fear exaggerations.

    The MP’s choose and if and when to consult the people in referendums and choose the wording of the question and the dates of the general elections.

    In what sense Democracy? In the sense that you get to put a cross on a piece of paper every five years – but it changes almost nothing I assume.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 24, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Listening to any questions with, for once, three EU realists on the panel (more like the % of general feelings in the UK and indeed in France and Italy) I almost felt the BBC was changing slightly to a more neutral stance. But then I read in the Telegraph today of the absurd report into the BBC global warming exaggerations for the BBC by Prof Steve Jones (the BBC snail expert) which suggests absurdly that they have been giving “too much” air time to sceptics (realists). Clearly I must have missed it all.

      All sensible scientists think that the weather systems are too complex and have far too many un-knowable variables and feed back systems to make any useful long range predictions. They also see very clearly indeed (provably so) that with current technology PV cell, windfarms and similar will make very little if any difference – even if you accept the C02 theory. So Nuclear is the only current answer (if you do “Believe”). They further know that wasting money on this nonsense puts the world in an even worse position should we need to take action latter.

      Please Huhne just spend it on something sensible like clean water, food, inoculations and basic health care for the third world.

      Link to C Booker in the telegraph:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/globalwarming/8656765/Steve-Jones-tells-the-BBC-dont-give-denialists-so-much-air-time.html

  3. Alan
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I think this is an excellent article, particularly the paragraph where you write of the British love of liberty.

    It is always difficult to derive lessons from history because we all emphasise what supports our current beliefs and we down-play the parts that challenge them. We draw different lessons from the same set of historical facts, according to our current prejudices.

    From the UK’s point of view I believe the main error of the 20th century must be the failure to find a peaceful resolution to the challenges presented by Germany prior to World War I. We were the world superpower of the day and we failed to find a way of allowing Germany to grow whilst maintaining our own position. In a recent BBC interview Henry Kissenger drew an analogy between that period and the current period where China is beginning to challenge the USA’s leadership. A reason for optimism is that China and the USA appear to recognise the dangers in a way that Germany and Britain did not.

    Because of that failure we have lost our predominant position in the world’s affairs, and we are not likely to regain it. There is no easy lesson to be derived from history about where to go from here.

  4. Ken@Ayr
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Not wishint to be too pedantic. But you are confusing England with the UK. They are not one in the same. I think this sort of thing tends to grate with the Scots, Welsh and the Ulstermen. Who all fought for the same freedoms we enjoy in this country.

    But essentially you are right. There has been a shift in the EU after the Greek bailouts. We can see a clear desire for the USE emerging from the rubble. I don’t want it. As a Scot I don’t want it, I don’t want the break up of the UK, I don’t want to be up to the nuts in the EU and I am unsure how the world is panning out.

    I don’t like the way the BBC is being allowed to drive the news agenda, from the newspaper drivel to the shootings in Norway being “right wing”. I feel frustrated about a lot of things. Our state is too big, a lot of our politicians are “scunners”.

    I suppose we are living under that curse of the Chin ese “interesting times”.

    I must say that I do feel worried about the way this country (the UK) is turning its face to the wrecking ball on a variety of fronts.

  5. Anthony Harrison
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Interesting and thought provoking, Mr Redwood. The key is of course the concluding sentence….
    It is accepted universally in this country that we love liberty, and will always fight for it. My grandfathers too fought on the Western Front and both survived, though one was wounded twice; my maternal grandfather, like so many others, did not hesitate when his country called, and enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers on 31st August 1914. Like you, I am struck by the slaughter of that war, and amazed that our soldiers went along with it in the face of so much bad generalship: it seems to me that coupled with our love of liberty is a large dose of compliance with authority, in contrast to the bloody-mindedness and buccaneering spirit you refer to. Then there’s our worrying tendency to stick our heads in the sand and do the right thing only at the last moment: it’s not only Waterloo that was a “damned close run thing”, but WW1, WW2 and the Falklands War.
    This is being played out again vis-a-vis the EU. For how much longer will the leaders of your Party prevaricate, or continue in their suicidal belief that continued membership of an ever more centralising & dictatorial EU – the spirit of which is wholly at odds with the English national qualities you describe so eloquently – is somehow in our national interest?

  6. Simon
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Some very moving sentiments which will strike a chord with many and reinforce the perception of the predicament in which we find ourselves today. I too used to be proud of what this country was and when travelling abroad it was nice to hear kind words about the place. Now I hear jokes and jibes about our “Al Capone” government and people ask me how I can live here under the petty rule of spiteful bureaucrats and being spied upon by a government which is little better than a kleptocracy and does not carry out the wishes of the people (not that people reckon their governments are much better within the EU).

    When you meet ex-pats instead of wistful words about the old country they tell of how they never want to set foot in the place again, how ghastly it is to see (the armed and heavily equipped police-ed) on the streets instead of the police we used to know. We are now known for CCTV and corruption where we used to be known for the values you outline so well. How did all that happen in such a short spell of time?

  7. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Before the Reformation, England was just another part of Europe. Henry II was King of large parts of France. The fleurs de lys on the English flag went on for generations. It is often forgotten that Queen Mary (1553-1558) was married to Felipe dos who sent the Spanish Armada as Philip II. There were rumours that Queen Elizabeth might marry him too. Henry VIII was married to Catharine of Aragon.
    It was only the Reformation which separated us off from the continent. It was a religious movement too – the armada and the popish plots and Guy Fawkes were all religious. Cranmer’s words were burned into our souls right up until 1960.
    So I reckon it was Anglicanism what dunnit.
    And now Anglicanism is dead.

    • Ian Campbell
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Mike,
      Henry II was not ‘king’ of large parts of France. There was a French king after all. He owned more land than the king, as Duke of Anjou, Aquitaine etc but for his French lands he owed allegiance to the King of France.
      The Reformation did not ‘separate us from the Continent’ either – it separated us from the Catholic powers. We found allies in The Netherlands, which as you will know revolted from Spanish rule and among the Protestant German princes.
      England or ‘Britain’ is still just another part of Europe. Europe is a continent from which we cannot escape. The EU, which you may be implying, is not the whole of Europe (yet).

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    “In praise of England” – Did you mean England or Britain or the UK?

  9. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    All very romantic and true, as long as it won’t descend into narrow chauvinism. I trust that, by the time you get to describe the country you want in the future, you’ll make a serious attempt to actually understand your continental neighbours,as the continent will be your neighbour for a long long time.

  10. Iain
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    If you are proud of what the country has achieved in the past you must be appalled at what has taken place in the last couple generations, we have entered truly dark times as the ruling establishment have set about destroying the country. They are either incredibly evil or incredibly weak and feeble, I don’t know which, but I despair for I don’t know how we get rid of them and their corrupting defeatist ways. Any hope that the Conservatives would stop the rot have been squashed by having a leader who is more the problem than the solution, and any claims the backbenchers would shore up his backbone have been shown to be equally false as they meekly troop through the lobbies on the behest of the leadership.

    As to your question…What type of country do we want in the future? …simple, I want our democracy and country back, you don’t have to think of something new just look at our past when we were a sovereign nation, where the people got to decide on their priorities, not have everything stitched up in treaty deals that has disenfranchised us.

    Its worth noting in your trip through history that our country and people suffer and are impoverished when the leadership and ruling establishment forsake the country for foreign interests.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      I wish I’d had your eloquence, Iain.

  11. Martyn
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    John, you say “The pointless slaughter of the First World War …… why did the UK involve herself…. did the balance of power on the continent matter that much?” and “England standing alone against…. there were some arrangements and threats on the continent that we could not ignore”.
    Quite so and I suspect that it is because of that in my travels around France on two occasions in conversation with locals I have been vehemently told that England must never again be allowed to ‘interfere’ in Europe. If that is the view of some apparently quite ordinary French citizens, I wonder how far and how strongly it is held amongst the EU ruling classes? If nothing else it might explain why, when a UK politician seems favorable towards something that the EU wants to do and thereby weakens our position, the EU hierarchy esteems them as ‘good Europeans’.

  12. Matt
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Yes I’m proud to belong to these Islands.

    Both my grandfathers served in France in WWI one had Mons Star and my father in Italy in WWII

    Just wished I’d asked them about it – where they were – geographically – not interested until it’s too late.

  13. NickW
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    The European Project has created what it set itself out to avoid, a totalitarian superstate.

    The European leaders break their own laws with casual indifference, if not shameless braggado.

    Where is the power grab going to end, given that those now in charge are unelected, accountable to nobody and have absolute power?

    One can only hope that the Greeks refuse to pay their taxes en masse, and that every country follows suit until the monster Europe has created is completely destroyed.

    • norman
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      The difference being that, like unreformed communists, these new leaders have ‘learnt lessons’ from past mistakes and so this time they know they will make a better fist of it.

      Rule by an enlightened elite, popular since before Plato, and never works out well in the end for us plebs.

      Give me individual liberty any day.

  14. Posted July 24, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    ‘There on the walls at Westminster are the outs and the ins, the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, the Catholics and the Protestants, Tory and Whig, Conservative and Labour, Establishment and rebels.’

    It would be interesting to have an award which the Prime Minister must give to the most effective democratic opposition group. Blair would have been forced to honour the Stop the War Coalition, Brown the Taxpayers’ Alliance, and Cameron perhaps UK Uncut.

    These types of groups are essential for ensuring that government decisions are scrutinised. That scrutiny, I think, is the reason why democracies tend to be more successful. They make better decisions because of this scrutiny, so it should—theoretically—be welcomed by politicians.

    Especially at the moment, we also need to draw a clear distinction between democratic opposition and terrorism. Part of the solution to terrorism is to draw more people into constructive, democratic opposition. Many people felt opposed to the Iraq war, for example, but a few people decided to oppose it by blowing things up (or supporting the people who did). In a way I think that is a misunderstanding of democracy. Apart from the moral argument, democratic protest is likely to be more effective.

  15. Derek Buxton
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    An admirable article with which I fully agree. It is just a shame that your party and it’s supposed rivals do not agree. We still face a major challenge from the continent of Europe but with politicians who colluded to get us into this mess still carrying on as a fifth column. History means nothing to them, just power and how much they can make out of it.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m intensely proud to be English and British, although not necessarily always in that order; I have no time for those among the English who are trying to stir up hatred of the Scots, in particular, and I have utter contempt for those cynical Conservatives who wish to see the United Kingdom broken up in their narrow party interests.

    Being European doesn’t really figure in my mind, and probably never would unless I happened to find myself as part of an isolated group somewhere in Africa or Asia, and even then I’d be more likely to identify myself as a “westerner” – a much wider albeit vaguely-defined category, globally multi-national but primarily cultural – but I also have no time for those who express their Englishness or Britishness through ill-founded hatred and derision of other nations in Europe or elsewhere.

    My concern is not so much about the disparate characters of the other nations of Europe but about the characters of the politicians who are allowed to get themselves into positions of power in those nations, and about the way national politicians including our own are using the EU to free themselves from the constraints of national democracy through the surreptitious establishment of a transnational, anti-democratic and arbitrary form of government.

    • Susan
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Denis

      I suspect you are not aware of the situation in Scotland. It is not the English stirring up hatred for the Scottish, I can assure you. It is very much the anti English sentiment in Scotland which is causing the problem. History is frequently distorted by the SNP, who are now the ruling party, to encourage a nationalism which breeds division and dislike for the English. It was not the English who voted for a nationalist party remember, it was the Scottish.

      Alex Salmond frequently uses the threat of the break up of the UK to gain ever more benefits for Scotland at the expense of the English. A small Country like Scotland has held the rest of the UK to ransom for far too long. If the English are now beginning to wake up to this problem and want change, it is not a moment too soon in my opinion.

      It is now time for the rest of the UK to call Salmonds bluff and give the Scottish people a vote on Independence for Scotland. If the answer is yes, this can only benefit the English economy and its people. My only hope is that Scotland will take its share of the debt, owed by the banks, which were predominately of Scottish origin, with them.

      Perhaps the English are finally seeing what the true meaning of the slogan, often written as graffiti in Scotland, “English out or die” really means.

  17. Derek Reynolds
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I am with you much of the way there, but you disappoint in the end.

    I too had Grandparents survive WW1, and parents survive WWII. None would dare believe what I have more recently found out, and which by your own words, you would appear yet to either find out or have the courage to contemplate, let alone investigate – that both World Wars and much besides were constructs of global financiers.

    Burdened by documented history, we believe those who write the history books – the victors. Such are the blinkers we wear.

    England stands no more. The Euro political scythe has sliced and diced. Only a new forge created in the hearts of people will rekindle any such England, or better – Britain, and the foundations will be laid when the EU as a political zone and power subsides into the quagmire of its own making.

    The ‘ship’ is afire and floundering. Abandon the ship, but before you do – tie the damn Captain to the wheel!

  18. MajorFrustration
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Could we get back to basics – a Government is responsible for the security and well being of the country and its people. So lets have some facts – like how much are we actually propping up Ireland both directly and indirectly, likewise Europe. Whats all this going to cost us. I presume we have to borrow the money yet despite all this we still increase the overseas aid budget.
    Despite a suggested slowing down of the economy we learn today of plans to reduce red tape – all small beer – but how long has this government been in power and done nothing. What about the bonfire of the Quangos.
    Whilst the politicians have had their eyes glued to the “hacking” scandal it seems that they are more happy dealing/enjoying this issue than actually attending to the country. Well I suppose we all like doing what we like doing rather than what needs to be done.
    Supposedly we are all in this together but surely somebody in government should be dealing with the wide range of problems – economic/social facing this country rather than be distracted by media events.

    • norman
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Maybe Nick Clegg has decided that drafting his ‘Great Repeal Bill’ isn’t actually too much like hard work and will revive it?

  19. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    JR, you look back at our history and conclude:

    “There were some arrangements and threats on the continent that we could not ignore.”

    In my view the existence and continued expansion of the eurozone, strengthened by its transformation into a federal entity, poses a deadly threat to the future of our country as an independent sovereign state.

    British ministers should be seeking ways to at least contain that threat; they should certainly not be ignoring it and enthusiastically signing us up to the “Save The Euro” campaign.

    In a letter published by the Daily Telegraph yesterday, the committed and well-informed EU advocate Alex Orr correctly wrote:

    “It is unlikely that the pound will disappear soon, but it may do eventually, when the pound and the euro remain the only currencies within the EU.”

    From the opposite side of the fence to Alex Orr I’ve been warning about just that eventuality ever since March 23rd when MPs voted to pre-authorise Cameron to agree to this treaty amendment:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:091:0001:0002:EN:PDF

    “EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECISION

    of 25 March 2011

    amending Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union with regard to a stability mechanism for Member States whose currency is the euro

    (2011/199/EU)”.

    Which Cameron then agreed to, without asking for any quid pro quo to protect our long term national interests.

    We could list all kinds of unrelated treaty changes which we would like to obtain in exchange for giving the euro-federalists this and maybe other treaty amendments they want to ensure the survival and continued expansion of the eurozone, but surely we should start with amendments specifically designed to counter the threat that this poses?

    Did Pitt urge Napoleon to “get a grip” and consolidate his existing empire, so that he could gradually expand it to cover the whole of Europe including this country?

  20. brian kelly
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    These are my feelings precisely but i would hesitate to match your breadth of history. But I am passionately proud of this ‘Island race’ and its story, the breadth of its achievements both at home and in the world at large. It is an inspiring story and I do not want it to end here – to sputter out in growing mediocrity and lack of determination and world vision. I have long thought that, sad as it would be, only austerity and great danger can galvanise this great Nation into action and only then if we can only still produce great leaders. The EU could be a great idea in spirit if not in fact but I think we should be more than at arms length with it. They are creating a superstate that will slowly become more and more uncompetitive in the world and will slowly decline against the rising, highly motivated, emerging countries.

  21. Electro-Kevin
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s also of great credit to the British people that they have always rejected the BNP, though listening to the BBC or the Left in general it is never acknowledged.

    All it took was for a woman to say “Where are all these immigrants flocking from ?” for her to be condemned as a bigot by our Prime Minister at the time.

    As for our wonderful history – never has it been so undermined as it has in the past fifteen years. Our country has undergone changes which cannot be reversed and which will result in it becoming somewhere our grandparents wouldn’t recognise and wouldn’t like.

    In fact I think that’s the case already. This country is finished.

    Reply: Our island has changed many times in the past from the arrival of many migrants. Many of them have offered new ideas, enterprise and energy which has made a welcome contribution to our common heritage.

    (Game show contestants yesterday – one a teacher – appeared to know nothing about our history)

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      “Our island has changed many times in the past from the arrival of many migrants. Many of them have offered new ideas, enterprise and energy which has made a welcome contribution to our common heritage”

      That’s a rather sanitised version of our bloody past don’t you think ?

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        What has happened in recent years – and is continuing to happen – has been unprecedented. I think you know this.

        Control of immigration and national culture has been lost and I think that you know this too.

        I think that most people know that the stock answer you have just given me is something that you hang on to in the hope that the reasonableness of the English people will prevail over what is being forced upon them – as it always has in the past.

        As you can’t possibly be suggesting that this characteristic is mapped in our DNA (you’d be had up for racialism in this ‘free’ country) then one must presume that this nation-saving characteristic will be transmitted through the proud teaching of our history.

        Oh dear.

        Mr Redwood. I hold you in the highest regard as a politician, but with the utterance of such a weasel phrase (I’m sorry) I wouldn’t want you beside me in a fight in a pub car park – so I much less doubt that Boudicca would have wanted you riding one of her chariots !

  22. alan jutson
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    An interesting post John, and since I have just returned from a couple of weeks in Austria where the world service of the BBC suggests that everything in Europe is now wonderful again, with harmony all round, and absolutely no cost to UK PLC for the recent bailout of Greece, one would be forgiven to think that everything in the garden is rosy.

    If Only.

    Your post begs a few Questions.

    Yes we do have a form of democracy (now being eroded) in this Country, and as you say it was gained after many centuries of struggle and strife both from within our own borders, and with other nations from outside. So pray tell me why we expect our imposed democracy to be up and running in just a few years, in many of the Worlds trouble spots, and then be surpised when it does not happen in an instant.

    Our own democracy is steadlity being erdoed day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, by the EU which itself is only in its first stages of development.

    Our nations spirit, beliefs, humour, religion, and sense of fair play is under strain, due now to the huge numbers of people who have entered our country for various reasons, and from polticians from outside.

    Will there be a turning point at some stage in the future ?
    I really do believe there may be, but hope that it can be achieved through truly democratic means, but that in turn, surely means that our Politicians have to wake up to the reality that we are no longer masters of our own destiny any more, if the present thinking does not change track.

    Yes I to am pround to be British, and yes members of my family fought in both world wars as part of their duty, loyalty, and wish to retain freedom, but I tell you, this is not the country now, that they fought and believed in then.

    Given the ease of world travel, and the multicultural nature of the present population, I do wonder how many would be willing to step up to the plate, and put their lives on the line now.

  23. Posted July 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    The operative word is ENGLAND,we should be under NO illusions ,the manifesto and ideas behind it of the Norwegian incident,are brewing all over Europe,yet the Commissars of the EU
    are all fiddling while everything is burning OR has the potential to do so,in England the rage will rise,because the political class has Ostriched itself about Immigration,multiculturalism,the EU,
    diversity and all the other buzzwords of politico speak,and through political correctness has
    decreed how people can Think.They are MAD as HELL,just start up the subject in a supermarket queue or in the pub,and like the saying light the blue touchpaper and stand back.All I do is wear my T shirt that says Foreign AID and the Eu plus immigration STOLE
    my PENSION.
    By doing this the political class has sown the seed for this and it doesn’t even need watering to grow, events under the peoples noses are enough for that.Today I got a round robin Email from a fellow UKIP member [like me ex Conservative in his eighties and Ex
    fleet air arm Pilot in WW2] which pours vitriol over William Hague on the EU issue,I was quite frankly shocked because he although apologising for sending on such a piece,felt obliged to send it on,I sent it on to 22 people 4 in South Africa,3 in Australia plus to Hague himself and Jeremy hunt.The next election is going to come as as a shock

    Reply: We have ways of settling disagreements and differences of view through the ballot box and through democratic debate. Mad violence is both to be condemned and rooted out.Spreading hatred is an evil itself which damages societies.

    • sm
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Indeed we do but most MP’s seem to be leaving it very late to represent their electorate first instead of the current hegemony imposed by the main parties?

      Where was consultation on the various ratchet treaties and the EU ever closer union?
      Where is the referendum (as if one is needed really)?
      Where was consultation on mass uncontrolled immigration?
      Where was the consultation on various EU/bilateral bailouts?
      Where was the debate on allowing multinationals and banks so much influence?

      I do not wish the courts to get involved but i feel the need is coming for the law to ensure legally that politicians represent faithfully the electorate.

      Discarded (all parties) manifesto pledges prior to winning the levers of power?

      Mad violence is to be condemmed but one should not let the horrors blind you to what drives it. It may not actually be mad but extremely cynical coldblooded calculations. After all bubbleworld is well protected.

    • rose
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      PS: By cultural conservatives and anti-multiculturalists, I mean Christian European ones, not Moslem.

      • rose
        Posted July 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        And why isn’t the BBC telling us the Norwegian who snapped was on steroids? Surely more of an explanation than the colour of his hair and eyes, or those widely held politically incorrect opinions.

        • rose
          Posted July 27, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

          Not just steroids but stimulants too.

  24. Epigenes
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, admirable sentiments re England with which I agree. However, how does one reconcile them with the insulting comments by Mr Cable with respect to the senior GOP representatives in the US?

    How can our beliefs persuade others of their merit when a senior member of the British government berates Conservative allies in the US?

  25. BobE
    Posted July 24, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    You can see that John is an EU sceptic. Unfortunately his paymasters are EU pro. You can see how John speaks against but to support his pension, then votes with them.
    John, I don’t blame you, your own future is allk that matters to you.

    Reply: I vote against EU integration. Check your facts before making allegations.

  26. REPay
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    A fine article and I applaud your choices in historical causes. (Well done also on Any Questions this week…)

    I do take exception to “England” standing alone against the evil tyranny of the Nazis has inspired several generations…I think this has to be Great Britain (the contemporary preference) or the United Kingdom for sake of historical accuracy, though I am reluctant to bandy details with someone with an Oxford starred first in history!

    Reply: The piece bgeins by saying proud of England, and proud of many of the causes of the UK since 1800. The UK is a relatively new construction in the sweep of history I was describing. I have amended it to say the UK standing against the Nazis, when the brunt of the attack was on London and England, but the whole of the UK was mobilised and at risk.

    • REPay
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      I feel badly as I know you know the distinctions. I have always been a stickler/bore for pre- and post union definitions…we did share the same history master, R.C. Wright, a decade apart!

  27. Edward.
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    If you love and believe in Britain so much John, then why do you still remain a member of a party, who are steering the leaking hulk [former HMS Redoubtable Britannia – a once great and majestic sea going ship of trade and War] into and down the into the ‘gorge’ of the Rhine.

    They, [the EU] even wish to rewrite our history, in ignoring our great Naval traditions, the celebration of Trafalgar was muted and now it seems this damnable Axis of the nuts and the Vichy – will meekly acquiesce and attempt to forget the forthcoming great Victory and biennial celebration of Waterloo.

    How British is that?

    Reply: I was elected as a Conservative and intend to continue as a Conservative, true to the principles I put to the electors.

  28. forthurst
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    The 20th Century found our politicians profoundly wanting: they inherited a powerful and prosperous maritime nation and delivered up a country, profoundly weakened by involvement in two wars of choice which they managed to turn into global conflagrations, thereby leaving us too weak to nip the scourge of the 20th Century, Bolshevism in the bud when it arose. Half way through WWI, they had an opportunity to negotiate a peace, and chose war, then at the end, imposed a unfair peace which together with the existential threat of international Bolshevism ensured a resumption of that war.

    Not content with weakening this country on the battlefield, they then endeavoured to destroy it from within: the 1948 Nationality Act nominating a third of the globe as prospective citizens of our country; then to ensure that those of non-native stock were more privileged than us, they introduced a succession of laws promoting positive discrimination and ‘thought’ crime laws for those of us who might in their opinions be too vocal in our criticisms of the presence or behaviours of those who had invited themselves to our shores without adopting our mores, or did not offer the interlopers in their opinions a ‘fair’ slice of the cake.

    Now we are the fig leaf of the evil empire on the other side of the Atlantic that occupies large swathes of the globe with their military bases and attacks countries denominated by them as either rich in natural resources, of strategic value, or considered a threat to Israel. We are also a dominion of the EUSSR, ruled from Brussels, our capital is the dealing platform and playground for a high proportion of the world’s spivs and we are the most overcrowded country in Europe.

    Welcome to Airstrip One.

  29. adam
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    I think its coming to an end

  30. stred
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Almost. My father and uncle fought with Monty, but admired the Germans (not the Nazis) and Rommel in particular. In the 60s I heard him say that ‘if the present lot had been in power 20 years ago, we would never have won the war’. And so it has gone on.

    During the ERM debacle, did not the Germans advise Lamont to stop digging. Did they not avoid boom and busts while here we had the Barber, Lawson/Lamont and Brown triumphs. The Europeans supported their industries, while we buried them in favour of the city boys. They have not wasted their pensions on fees for the slickers and the Brown tax. This is where most of your pension disappeared, not the EU.

    On the other hand, in the EU we can do nothing much to put things right. Any attempt to put right the rip offs is illegal and most current immigration is from the EU. My partner came from Eastern Europe, has contributed greatly to the UK and hears conversations on the London Underground, where English is a minority language. I am told that many of our new citizens would not even be welcome back in their own countries.

    John would make an excellent leader for the Enlish Bitter Party. Anybody interested in finding him a new job?

  31. RDM
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    O, come on!

    The English had their arses kicked by the French and the Dutch. Which is when we learnt to do things together! It’s called a Union! Within which we can challenge extremes, develop our values, be guided by established principles, etc …

    Besides; The Celtic British & Irish were here long before any other national identity! Even when Ireland and Britain were land locked! We are all ethnically the same, especially the Scots! And no wall will alter that!

    The activity underlying all human interaction is Trade.

    So; it should be on that basis that our relationship with the EC be based!

    Any further, and we will lose our ability to challenge and shape the country we live in. Any further, and we will lose our ability to challenge Nationalism and Socialism.

    A lesson not learnt within Wales!

    Viva a Liberal democracy, an Enterprise culture, and an effective Banking system!

    Aaaaa, …. That’s better!

  32. stred
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Please add a g.

  33. Gary
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    “I am brought to my feet or moved to sympathy by the British love of liberty. There is in our national character a sense of fairness, a love of the underdog”

    Ah, so the Empire was a benevolent takeover of foreign peoples and their land for the love of liberty, a sense of fairness and a love of the underdog. I am sure the 18th and 19th century Chinese, the Boers, the 18th Century Americans, the Indian textile workers and the West African slaves(whose free labour in the cotton fields ensured the destruction of the Indian textile industry) may beg to differ.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Nothing like a bit of retrospective analysis and application of modern values and patronising morality to events several hundred years prior. If it makes you feel better, than so be it.

    • rose
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      The Yemenis complain to this day that they weren’t colonised. It isn’t fair they say, that so many others have still got the benefits, and they haven’t.

      As for slavery, who outlawed it across half the world, and at very great expense and trouble? It is back now of course; but until the 18th century British abolitionists got people thinking, even Jesus Christ Himself had accepted it as part of the natural order.

    • E Justice
      Posted July 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Ah! Gary the thoughts and Dogma of a true lefty, what country in the world has not had a dodgy past by today’s standards? so are they all hating their country ? no it is just the leftspeak that blames England and let’s face it it is England you mean.
      And Mr. Redwood ,even you are mix up British with English it is not the same I am English ,not Scottish or Welsh or N.Irish , none of those Nationalities would make that mistake ,it is only when England is being talked about does the “British” word creep in.

  34. Posted July 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    John although you say we have the ballot box to sort out differences,this is untrue as the elected make promises and then Break them,just look at your leader [NOT MINE OR MANY OTHERS FOR THAT MATTER] ,and look at all the majority of other posters on your site,they
    feel the same.When decent people feel impotent and not listened to when they are being reasonable ,then they become unreasonable sometimes VERY unreasonable,and that is what I outlined in my post,and some very few thank god end up doing the Unthinkable. BUT
    IF the rulers listen properly and DO the RIGHT THING,that they have been elected to do,after
    all every MP is REPRESENTING their constituents [ie does what they want],then the terrible seed that caused this would not have a chance to germinate.

    Reply: In a democracy where rulers can be removed by ballot, and policies changed by peaceful means, there is no excuse for violent actions.

  35. James Matthews
    Posted July 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    An article entitled “In praise of England” then goes on to talk almost entirely about Britain. There is a distinction and it should be recognised.

    I was talking of England up to 1800, and the UK since 1800. It is an historical piece.

  36. Posted July 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    What a shame your “United Kingdom” denies England recognition and representation.

    12 years ago I would have described myself as a proud Brit. Now I regard British as an insult. I am English and only English and long for the day your so called “Union” is confined to the history books.

    Home rule for England.

  37. lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    One of the best moments of our history was when the other Cromwell – Oliver – had Charles the First’s head chopped off. The divine right of Kings is a doctrine we can well do without.

    One of the worst moments in our history was when Lord Kitchener incarcerated the Boer women and children in order to stop them supporting the Afrikans guerrilas of Christian de Wet. 25% of them died of starvation. Food was limited and he had to feed his troops, don’t you see?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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