The folly of UK foreign policy under the last government


Modern England and Britain has always had a simple aim in European policy. We have sought to prevent the domination of the continent by a single power. We have defended the smaller and weaker countries against overmighty neighbours. We have been a  voice for democracy, freedom of religion,  and the  self determination of peoples.

We championed the Netherlands against Spain  in its fight for independence in the sixteenth century. We fought for a range of smaller countries against French imperial ambitions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We fought for the freedom of most European countries against Nazi German aggression in the twentieth century. Europe is a  better place for the stances we took on those mighty issues.

England, later the UK, had to face down the might of Spain and the Habsburg Emperors, the power of France’s autocratic monarchs and then of Napoleon, and the  militarism of last century Germany. On some occasions we might have been more prosperous and had an easier life if we had ignored the barbarisms and lack of liberty on the continent. On other occasions the nation had to engage in a titanic struggle to avoid a single European power turning to damage us with the full force of continental manpower and economic resources behind it.

It makes more recent UK foreign policy almost impossible to fathom. Why did the Foreign Office persuade Labour to run up the white flag and go along with the idea of a single continental driven foreign and security policy?  Why has the UK made such a welcome for the integration of the Euro and the centralising Treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, to apply in full to the rest of the EU and in no small measure to us as well? This is against the whole thrust of  five hundred years of UK foreign policy. Our attitude was fashioned by our decision to become a Protestant state, protesting against the use of power from the continent in British matters.

I find the development of a fairly undemocratic Euro polity extremely worrying. I find it even more worrying that much of the UK policy establishment knows so little history and has so little wisdom that it does not see the longer term dangers of unifying the continent under one imperial power. They claim  it will bring or preserve peace in our time, yet the EU’s blunders in former Yugoslavia and more recently in the Ukraine should warn us that this is a centralising power that will soon be starting or fomenting wars of its own.

The UK should make clear it does not want to be part of a Common foreign policy any more than  it wants to belong to a common currency. It should also be more ready to warn of the dangers of a centralised EU that appears as a threat to its neighbours. Past attempts to unite most of the continent have led to attempts to regulate and stifle trade and commerce, as this one will doubtless do as well. The EU is currently engaged in a desperate attempt to tie up all pour overseas trade in EU agreements, so they can then threaten us with made up problems with non EU trade should the British people want to leave the EU.


  1. Lifelogic
    April 28, 2014

    I too find the development of a fairly (almost completely) undemocratic Euro polity extremely worrying. I too find it even more worrying that much of the UK policy establishment knows so little history and has so little wisdom that it does not see the longer term dangers of unifying the continent under one imperial power.

    They also seem to know little about economics, sensible taxation, sensible regulation or sensible energy production and economic strength is vital for defence too.

    We will have to see what Miliband makes of it alas.

    1. Hope
      April 28, 2014

      Thee is only cosmetic difference between Miliband and Cameron. JR’s blog made it clear to me Osborne has followed Darling’s plan to reduce the deficit mainly by tax rises not spending cuts. The Tories pledged to match Labour’s spending plans, and they have!

      Today is the vote on HS2 to waste £50-80 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money on a single rail journey to save 30 minutes. Utter economic madness. Gillian’s view in the paper yesterday was correct. I hope there is dissent across the board despite whipping.

      1. lojolondon
        April 28, 2014

        If you read John’s article from a couple of weeks ago, the HS2 will not even save 30 minutes – they are being told to run the trains at a lower speed to save fuel and ‘carbon emissions’. So even the name ‘HS2’ is a lie.

        1. Lifelogic
          April 28, 2014

          Indeed and HS trains are only quick if they do not stop much so you have to travel further at each end – so not even energy efficient.

          Any time saved will doubtless be lost in extra ticket buying time and security checks.

          Now that HS2 have cancelled the Camden HS1 link bit do you think it is too much to ask for them to write and confirm they have de-blighted my properties – of is that too much to ask? They have already wasted hours of my time with the endless, long complex and vague paperwork they sent out.

          Not the mention the huge amount of energy needed to build the pointless track.

        2. formula57
          April 28, 2014

          No, HS2 is the perfect name – once Sir H. Appleby’s remark is recalled: “Always dispose of the difficult bit in the title: it does less harm there than in the text”

    2. Lielogic
      April 28, 2014

      I heard some government person on the radio claiming HS2 had green benefits. Are they lying or just totally ignorant of the physics. Door to door full cars are far far better than half empty HS trains with few stops. That is even before the huge track building environmental costs.

  2. Mike Stallard
    April 28, 2014

    Until Henry VIII, England was definitely part of Europe. The church and the government were both European. Scotland, of course, was an independent kingdom. Meanwhile the King was styled Lord of Ireland, King of France and England. It is only since the reformation in the 1530s that what you say is true.

    Now that we are fast drifting away from our Christian roots (gay marriage, closed churches, secular schools and universities, multi faith government, vicars and vicarages disappeared) perhaps what you have just said needs examining.

    Maybe we ought to allow the last century to happen and join enthusiastically into the new state on the continent called the United States of Europe. After all, we are nothing without Baroness Ashton of Upholland organising our foreign policy.

    Our fatherland is now Europe. Our national anthem is Ode to Joy. And our flag is that of the twelve yellow stars on an azure background.

    1. Lielogic
      April 28, 2014

      “Secular schools” if only! Many are being actively taken over by radical proponents of the old religions and all the others have the new “renewable”, “equality” and “rights” one rammed down young, vulnerable minds. Often even in Welsh too I understand.

      Quack science and lefty BBC think politics all over them.

  3. Gary
    April 28, 2014

    Foreign policy under the last govt was bad, under this govt it is just as bad. What was Hague going swanning around Kiev? What about Libya ?

    Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. no difference.

    1. Hope
      April 28, 2014

      How about Hague kow-towing to the US over trade with Iran even though it was against our national business interest? He has been an utter disaster as foreign secretary. Why does he not have any views of conviction from his former past? A weak figure head doing what he is told by the FCO. A complete waste of space. Ditto for the rest of the Tory ministers. Osborne continued Darkings plan to reduce the deficit in contrast to his 80/20 spending split, May no significant change to immigration, quite the reverse droves of people keep coming, still does not pay to work despite claims IDS is changing things- earn more on welfare and benefit fraud, crime and disorder a joke under Grayling- sentences for murder and manslaughter totally inappropriate, pays to be a benefit cheat through sentencing guidelines, CMS giving away £18 million pounds for propaganda to promote closer union with the EU contrary to Cameron’s pledge, lib Dems ably helping in Energy and business to kill off any inspiration to grow a business in this country. Miliband might be a breath of fresh air.

      1. Narrow shoulders
        April 28, 2014

        IDS universal credit will require recipients to go out to work but on minimum wage it will be possible to take home £36K if you have a big enough family under UC. That is nearly £50k before tax but apparently earning £50k makes you wealthy enough to have your family tax allowance (aka child benefit) withdrawn.

        One rule for the aspirational paye fodder and another for the client state.

        1. Anonymous
          April 28, 2014

          Indeed, NS

          Even if we wanted that many children we couldn’t afford to have them if we behaved ways that are true to our Conservative values.

          What with the importation of Labour clientele and Labour voter funding-for-breeding the writing is on the wall.

      2. Bill
        April 28, 2014

        What surprises me is that Hague has written a good book on Pitt the Younger and another on William Wilberforce. You would have thought he would be an ideal person to lead and guide our foreign policy.

  4. margaret brandreth-j
    April 28, 2014

    It is not so worrying that the lack of historical knowledge is in abundance , but what is more worrying is the lack of understanding of the basic nature of man. There are many silver backs out there waiting to take their place.

  5. alan jutson
    April 28, 2014

    Why indeed

    Perhaps in the 1950’s and certainly the 60’s thoughts were that the world was changing, perhaps the thinking was that after so many wars with millions killed we could all live in peace at last, remember the threat of nuclear power/weapons meant assured self destruction, complete destruction.

    Thus perhaps this all played on the minds of those in power at the time, so it may have appeared that there was nothing wrong with very much closer ties to other Countries, and free trade agreements, and perhaps that is where it should have ended.


    Remember we have politicians in power, and power can corrupt, some politicians want more power because they are never satisfied with what they have, and some have their own hidden agenda.
    Nowadays we have politicians who want to seem to leave a legacy of their time in office. no matter what the cost in either lives or money.

    Thus we end up where we are today, with little bits of our self determination having been chipped away daily, until there is a huge realisation that we are as a Country no longer able to think or govern for ourself.
    The Socialist herd instinct also comes into play here, with the inner group making decisions behind closed doors under the guise of collective responsibility, which in reality means no one is responsible.

    Eventually of course the people will revolt, but before then we always have a chance if someone has the balls to stand up and act as a true Statesman or woman, and shouts STOP our people want no more of this sham, so count us out.

  6. Ex-expat Colin
    April 28, 2014

    I think what you have said here Mr Redwood appears to have been forgotten or likely not learnt. Thats despite the continual reminder that lessons need to be learnt emanating regularly. Lets be clear ?

    It appears to me that any well established barrier has to be torn down to make way for something that allegedly has to do with modern thinking….the 21st century requirement of poor quality. That would be to do with minorities and ultimately pleasing all. Not possible to please all and will result in an unsafe society, slowly being delivered. I thought Gov was supposed to look after its people or is that well out on the back burner?

    Foreign Policy as witnessed over the last 15 yrs is murderous in nature and will reap a whirlwind. The frightening thing is that we may have reaped such a whirlwind about now and there are more in the making. I dread to think what we have stacked up against us particularly in the M. East. Not content with that it appears that we are stacking similar closer to home currently.

    I don’t see an end to it either…UKIP has no significant impact here despite the sudden realisation by a few of us that they are mainly right. Who on earth can reverse this mess? Farage cannot and has likely had enough. Cameron is nowhere in the real world (minor issue man) and the rest have and will wreck us further.

    1. Vanessa
      April 28, 2014

      The trouble is that the majority of the British public would vote to stay in the EU if given a referendum. They are generally, so ignorant about what is happening to our laws, freedoms etc. that they are frightened of any change (especially after 40 years) and most would vote for the status quo.

      We are lost.

  7. Douglas Carter
    April 28, 2014

    When I watch EU-associated debates held in the House of Lords one little thing which strikes me is the justifications that the older members make for membership.

    …We decided to join fifty years ago’…. Will tend to be the explanation. No further illustration or reasoning – just ‘We decided to join’. Less frequently will be the usual strange and disposable excuses, nebulous twaddle about ‘influence’, but ultimately, it’s only too easy to believe that ‘we’ joined for reasons of fashionable dogma and dogged pursuit of a pipe-dream which should have remained only that.

    It’s a much grander version in phenomenon than the similarly flawed reasoning behind Blair’s ID Database. Every time a reason for its existence was attempted to be made, that reason was easily killed off in quick time. It became clear that the reason for the Database existence was for it to exist, and that only – no coherent justification for it has been made, even yet. As per the EU – the reasons for its existence fairly easy to demolish but its adherents clutching hold in a manner unerringly alike to religious extremists violently protecting sacred icons. However – notionally – in some of the answers you will find a deep-seated xenophobia particularly against the USA. The EU is frequently held as a figleaf against that particularly left-accepted bigotry.

    This brings the discussion to something I mentioned to you a few months ago Mr. Redwood. A very simple (and very pertinent) question I asked of my own MP to request of David Lidington. I simply wanted a description of ‘What is the EU?’. My MP was not able to secure an answer which went anything beyond ‘It’s a treaty organisation’.

    If it is to be believed that EU membership is a vital, pivotal aspect of UK Foreign Policy (…but even yet – during this campaign, mouthpieces for both Labour and Conservatives are desperately attempting to advise us the entire debate is also simultaneously irrelevant and meaningless…) then any Government, the Europe department within it, should be able to advise us of what the EU actually is? And equally important, what it is not? I’m drawn to wonder if such a description was to be penned, that the department concerned may just be panic-stricken that description might be as easy to demolish as the ‘arguments’ in favour of the ID Database?

    I’m aware you’ve been seeking clarification from this Prime Minister on such like, but maybe there would be benefits in asking that simple question more loudly, more frequently and in public. It’s a fair question, as they say?

    1. uanime5
      April 28, 2014

      It’s a much grander version in phenomenon than the similarly flawed reasoning behind Blair’s ID Database.

      The point of this database was so the UK could have ID cards, which would make it much for difficult for illegal immigrants to work in the UK. That’s why most other European countries have ID cards.

      ‘What is the EU?’. My MP was not able to secure an answer which went anything beyond ‘It’s a treaty organisation’.

      That’s pretty much what the EU is. If you’d have asked your MP what is a house or what is a contract you’d have gotten similarly vague answers because you’re asking a very vague question.

      1. Edward2
        April 29, 2014

        Not a vauge question at all Uni
        We were told originally it was a common market which would bring employment, peace, prosperity and increased freedom.
        Failing on all accounts.

  8. Atlas
    April 28, 2014

    In agreeing with you John, I have to ask about the quality of the higher education system that produces such mandarins. Or is this quality more a reflection of the promotion system now used in the Civil Service?

  9. Iain Moore
    April 28, 2014

    One of the Foreign Office traitors , Philby, Burgess or Maclean, I can’t remember which said they were attracted to the USSR because they didn’t want, post empire, to have to look after Britain’s petty concerns.

    What the foreign policy was before empire, is very different to foreign policy run by the Foreign Office post empire. Just like one of the traitors, the Foreign Office finds its self to be diminished looking after Britain’s petty concerns. They feel they are due better than that. As such felt it their role to ‘manage Britain’s decline’ by moving it inexorably into the new EU empire, where they could claim a seat at the new empire and play the great game again.

    It has long been my opinion that the personal ambitions of the Mandarins at the Foreign Office have been at odds to the interests of our country. It is a rogue department. They have been the ones to have sold out our sovereignty for they negotiated all the EU treaties. They are the ones to have founding it so demeaning to see Mrs T swung her handbag around to ‘get our money back’. It was the Foreign Office Ambassadors who consistently wrote to the Times complaining about Mrs T’s strident attitude to the EU. It was the Foreign Office that wanted us in the Euro. It was the Foreign Office where the plot to stab Mrs T in the back originated. And look at what happened, when they complained that Mrs T broke their bat before they got to the crease, they signed away every bit of sovereignty without so much of a whimper when they didn’t have her looking over their shoulder.

    1. Max Dunbar
      April 28, 2014

      You mention Foreign Office traitors. Have another look at the early 1980s film Who Dares Wins. The Left hate it.

  10. Antisthenes
    April 28, 2014

    It is a rare occasion that I find fault with your reasoning but I do feel I should challenge it this time. My nit picking arises from you equating the past with the present. England and then the UK were indeed a great power and could with devastating effect control what happened not just in Europe but in places as far away as China and beyond. Alas that is no longer the case and we can no longer influence events in any significant way on our own. For the past century we have had to rely increasingly on the USA for us to have any impact on foreign policy and still do to a lesser extent as we have in our wisdom decided to throw our lot in with the EU. We have gone from top dog to lap dog and you wishing for that situation to be reversed is a forlorn hope. The EU ring was actually the logical choice to throw our foreign policy hat into as the US no longer looks eastwards but westwards to protect it’s interests (if a cold war or conflict occurs because the Ukraine situation then that maybe somewhat reversed). I have said before I do not have a problem with the concept of the EU as in theory that is where the UK and the rest of Europe’s best interests lay to improve prosperity and security. What I do have a problem with is how the EU actually works in practice. It has been constructed based mostly on lefty policies and practices and it employs mainly lefty incompetents Baroness Ashton being a prime example. It is because of this I call for radical reform of the EU or for the UK leave it. Radical reform will not happen so the UK must leave. Leaving will not effect prosperity in fact it may enhance it or security but for which the UK will still be beholding to the US and the EU when it comes to foreign policy and we will remain a medium size fish in a pond stocked with larger more aggressive ones.

    1. lojolondon
      April 28, 2014

      There is no country in the world near our size that carries our weight on the international influence / negotiating table.
      Under Labour, their ‘sucking up’ strategy meant that we became a small fish in the global pond. We need a PM like Thatcher to leverage our power, not the current or previous misguided wimps.

      1. Max Dunbar
        April 28, 2014

        Perhaps we could borrow another formidable woman, Marine lePen. She is more impressive than Farage and doesn’t allow the BBC to force her on to ground of their choosing.

  11. Leslie Singleton
    April 28, 2014

    John, The views in today’s Article (all of which I agree with now that we are not talking about UKIP) are the very essence of the reason why you are not in The Cabinet. Personally I find watching Hague on the box (when I cannot reach the Off button fast enough) positively embarrassing for it is obvious that Russia could not give a rat’s rear end about sanctions, given the issues involved. Why a vast country like Russia with its skills and unlimited resources should need the EU in any way I cannot imagine; and if one or two sanctions do bite Putin will just take steps to compensate. One of the many many problems with the Treaties is that of course nobody could possibly read and digest their consequences before it was too late. Who could have predicted, or even believe if told, the advent of Baroness Ashton? One is reminded of Clarke not only not reading Maastricht (I hope I have spelled that right–where is it again?) but boasting about it.

    1. lojolondon
      April 28, 2014

      If you want to see Russia retaliate, just wait until the first signs of winter. Merkel knows she is absolutely over a barrel, the fools in the EU haven’t realised yet, but they will soon enough!!

    2. Leslie Singleton
      April 28, 2014

      Postscript–Tried to stay away from UKIP I really did, but then I read the comments of your colleague Jeremy Hunt. I say colleague because I think he masquerades as a Conservative: if ever a man doesn’t get it, it is he. I hope he gets exterminated along with the LibDems.

      1. Anonymous
        April 28, 2014

        We didn’t realise what a claustrophobic political system we lived under until a political party outside the main three began to make headway .

        We were told we lived in a free country and we believed it because we have never before tested the boundaries. UKIP haven’t had to push very hard at all to show us how narrow those boundaries are.

        It is inevitable that UKIP candidates/canvassers will be subject to violence by such as the UAF.

        It’s a good bet that the Tories will remain neutral when it happens.

        The first time we heard ‘racist’ and ‘UKIP’ in the same sentence was from Mr Cameron. That is incitement.

        1. Lifelogic
          April 28, 2014

          David Cameron; “A Bunch Of Fruitcakes, Loonies And Closet Racists”

          But nearly twice as popular as a serial ratting, pro EU, green crap, tax borrow and piss down the drain, anti science, say one think do the opposite, HS2 loving, fake Tory party – that is what the electorate seem to think anyway. Perhaps even Union splitting too.

          1. Lifelogic
            April 28, 2014

            I missed out “sitting duck election throwing”.

      2. Max Dunbar
        April 28, 2014

        Yes Hunt has probably lost the Tories a good few thousand votes. If ever there were any doubt about voting Conservative he has confirmed it.

  12. English Pensioner
    April 28, 2014

    Many people, and in particularly politicians, simply won’t look at the past or elsewhere to learn lessons. Whilst their favourite expression is “lessons will be learnt” whenever there is a disaster, in practice they never do.
    Britain tried for a century or more to pacify Afghanistan and the Northern Territories of what is now Pakistan, and failed. Russia tried again in Afghanistan and failed; why didn’t anyone learn the lessons from the past? Why do they all think that they know better?
    I think it was Bismark who, when asked whether he learnt from his mistakes, said that he much preferred to learn from the mistakes of others. I wish our politicians would do the same. If so they would realise that people don’t like to be governed in huge empires like the EU which always have failed in the longer term because they have to impose their will by force.

    1. uanime5
      April 28, 2014

      Britain tried for a century or more to pacify Afghanistan and the Northern Territories of what is now Pakistan, and failed.

      Actually we did have some initial successes, though replacing a pro-Western Afghan khan with an anti-Western one did result in problems. But after he was defeated the Britain had a lot of influence over Afghanistan.

      Russia tried again in Afghanistan and failed

      Though many Afghans hated Russia, Russia was able to maintain control of Afghanistan.

      why didn’t anyone learn the lessons from the past?

      In the past Alexander the Great, the Mongols, various Iranian dynasties, and the Mughals controlled part or all of Afghanistan. So the evidence shows that you can control Afghanistan, especially if you’re a Muslim with a large army of horse archers.

  13. NickW
    April 28, 2014

    Labour’s entire foreign policy was predicated on Blair’s desire to become President of Europe.

    1. margaret brandreth-j
      April 28, 2014

      Yet when I blogged to him a few years ago,he made it quite clear that he didn’t want the job.

  14. Peter Stroud
    April 28, 2014

    Frankly, I have to agree with others who find find the current government’s foreign policies somewhat eccentric. Remember how Cameron and Hague were for arming the ‘good’ rebels in Syria. Now it seems we have Hague siding with the EU and the USA over the current Eastern European problem. This is very strange, bearing in mind that it was the EU that assisted the destabilisation process.

    I thought our Foreign Secretary boasted that he was Eurosceptic: when in opposition. Now in power, he has a strange way of demonstrating his scepticism. Unfortunately, our Prime Minister shows a similar change of course.

  15. Martyn G
    April 28, 2014

    John, your “I find it even more worrying that much of the UK policy establishment knows so little history and has so little wisdom that it does not see the longer term dangers of unifying the continent under one imperial power” is something I, too, feel.

    The only explanation I can come up with is that too many of those of whom we speak are young, have done little else in their lives other than be an aspiring politician, have found a comfy nest within the Civil Service and actually couldn’t care less about ordinary people or history, being almost entirely focused on expanding their own empires within the munificent embrace (at taxpayer cost) of the EU.

    I also suspect that, being young with decades of work on and in the EU ahead of them, they can safely ignore us old ‘uns with memories of the past and our history, because in time our numbers must inevitably diminish until no more is heard from us of a like mind with you.

  16. Andyvan
    April 28, 2014

    An interesting take on the history of Britain. An alternative view would be that Britain has always backed it’s smaller rivals against larger rivals in order to weaken them and increase Britain’s power. At the same time it has engaged in conquest and brutal repression in most parts of the globe. It monopolized the drug trade in China, eliminated competing foreign trade anyway it could, invented concentration camps during the Boer War, and used chemical weapons against tribesmen in Iraq after WW1. Only after it’s incompetent leaders ruining it’s economy in two world wars did it retreat from Empire and tag onto the rising US empire. Since then it has given material and political support to every illegal war, CIA backed revolution and (questionable ed) adventure Washington has dreamed up to further it’s ambition of hegemony. Now we appear to want to encourage Obama to start a war in Ukraine.
    Given all that we should not only withdraw from the EU but also NATO. We should never get involved in any war unless sovereign UK territory is invaded. Then perhaps our noble leaders could stop giving away our sovereignty and the lives of it’s brainwashed soldiers to either the US or EU.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 28, 2014

      Just one point, you should check the accuracy of that:

      “invented concentration camps during the Boer War”.

  17. Bert Young
    April 28, 2014

    Absolutely right what you say . So , what is to be done about it ? . Creating change depends entirely on who leads and the quality of their leadership . There are many voices of criticism and a great deal of dissent around at the moment , but , apart from Farage , who is there who has the credibility and the right point of start to achieve the shift we would all like to see happen ? . I definitely want this change and I will lend what little support I can muster to achieve it , but , WHO is it ??.

  18. Edward.
    April 28, 2014

    I would love to discuss British [and German – MittelEuropa] history and from a geopolitical standpoint with your good self John, you always come across as a pretty erudite and learned fellow. What I think is the real shame of it – is that you and some notable others do not, cannot impress your thinking upon the witless beings who sit in the executive, because although as you rightly point out the crassly stupid mistakes of the Socialists – nothing seems to have changed much.

  19. theyenguy
    April 28, 2014

    You write, I find the development of a fairly undemocratic Euro polity extremely worrying

    The UK will be subordinate to the Eurozone.

    Jason Ditz of Antiwar posts UK Foreign Secretary William Hague Says Britain Will Accept Economic Damage to Sanction Russia …. Insists anything that hurts Russia is a price worth paying With the failure of credit seen in World Stocks, VT, trading lower … and the death of currencies seen in the Australian Dollar, FXA, and the Chinese Yuan, CYB, trading lower … it is God’s purpose and design … that in the age of regional governance and totalitarian collectivism … that the UK exist as subordinate to the EU.

    A new currency and governmental regime is coming out of the failure of credit and the death of currencies; it is the regime of regional diktat money and regional economic governance, something that is implicit in Daniel’s Statue of Empires, seen in bible prophecy of Daniel 2:25-45, where the two iron legs of global hegemonic power, these being the UK and the US, flow into the ten toes of iron diktat and clay totalitarian collectivism; these toes are the same reality seen in the governance of the ten horns, that is the ten world regions, and the totalitarian collectivism experience of mankind’s seven institutions, foretold in the Beast prophecy of Revelation 13:1-4.

  20. forthurst
    April 28, 2014

    …but is the orthodox version actually true, or is it simply propaganda to hide ulterior motives which should be kept from the children? It is undoubtedly true that when Europe was ruled by princes, one of their favourite pastimes was invading a weaker domain to expand their own property portfolio. Later, we and others discovered a new world of possibilities to create property folios across the seven seas; then it became a necessity to prevent the emergence of a more powerful nation in Europe which could threaten our holdings or our mutual trade. As to the twentieth century, there is no doubt that France wished to recolonise the Germanic speaking Alsace, a source of the subsequent great conflict as well, and Russia to seize control of the Dardanelles to re-enforce its control of the Black Sea. As we ourselves did not covet any Continental asset, the subsequent carve up of the Ottoman Empire between ourselves and France, ensuring control of our oil holdings in Persia, denying the same to Germany and destroying its burgeoning industrial might, a emerging threat to Britannia, might be enough reason to tempt us into the fray. Our actual motive for entering the WWI rematch seems obscure unless we were pushed into it by those wishing for a total victory for the Bolshevik Empire over Europe, an outcome that was almost achieved in its entirety.

    So what of WWIII? The authorised version will describe how we gave a guarantee to ‘Yats’ that we would come to plucky Ukraine’s aid if attacked by the evil dictator, Vlad the Bad, whilst we engulfed his country from the West; how Vlad refused to hand back the Crimea and instead encroached on Russian-speaking Yats-hating SE Ukraine, how the heroes of our conflict with Russia were the great statesmen, Obama, Cameron, Hollande, and of course, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, but of those who had been pulling the strings from behind the curtain all along, pathological haters of Slavic controlled Russia and its agenda of denying the same people’s ambition for total domination of the ME, driving an unwilling Obama to war, will be nowhere to be seen, and anyone who writes differently will be a revisionist, a denier etc etc.

  21. Mark
    April 28, 2014

    Keeping off the folly of today – HS2?

  22. formula57
    April 28, 2014

    Surely nothing has changed. For half a millennium or even more, our foreign policy has been to oppose the strongest power in Continental Europe. Today that is the EU so giving it a pasting just seems the natural way of proceeding – and given the mess the EU is in now, we might congratulate those in the FCO and elsewhere for their success.

  23. Denis Cooper
    April 28, 2014

    The opportunity to make a stand came and went in 2010, JR, that “golden opportunity” we were told to expect when the eurozone countries would need EU treaty changes and we could bargain for EU treaty changes in our national interests.

    As your colleague Mark Reckless said very directly to Cameron on October 24th 2011, at Column 36 here:

    “The Prime Minister tells The Daily Telegraph today that we should use any treaty change to shore up the euro to get powers over employment and social policy back, yet on 25 March, he agreed to precisely such a treaty change, but did not ask for anything in return.”

  24. Denis Cooper
    April 28, 2014

    Off-topic, JR, any thoughts about it now being an arrestable criminal offence to make a speech quoting from a book by Churchill?

    Reply I do not kn ow the rights and wrongs of the case you raise.However, saying you are quoting someone else does not remove you from the laws about racism, libel etc.

  25. uanime5
    April 28, 2014

    Why did the Foreign Office persuade Labour to run up the white flag and go along with the idea of a single continental driven foreign and security policy?

    Because the EU is a trade bloc, so they need to make rules on who to trade with both inside and outside the EU. So perfectly reasonable of the EU to sanction Russia for their behaviour in Ukraine and require all EU members to obey these sanctions.

    Our attitude was fashioned by our decision to become a Protestant state, protesting against the use of power from the continent in British matters.

    It was more of a protest against the excesses of the Catholic Church than the continent, which is why other continental countries also became protestant.

    I find the development of a fairly undemocratic Euro polity extremely worrying.

    It’s only undemocratic if the majority of the eurozone doesn’t support it. Unless they’re using a first past the post system then it’s democratic as long as the largest minority supports it.

    I find it even more worrying that much of the UK policy establishment knows so little history and has so little wisdom that it does not see the longer term dangers of unifying the continent under one imperial power.

    What danger are we going to face? I doubt the continent is going to invade the UK.

    Also isolating the UK from the EU brings its own dangers as we’ll be more vulnerable to other countries.

    It should also be more ready to warn of the dangers of a centralised EU that appears as a threat to its neighbours.

    Given that most of the EU’s neighbours want to join the EU how is it a threat to them?

    Past attempts to unite most of the continent have led to attempts to regulate and stifle trade and commerce

    When did the Romans, Franks, Hapsburgs, Napoleon, Nazis, Soviet Union, or any of the various coalitions try to stifle trade and commerce (other than when they went to war with another country)? In most cases they increased trade because they removed the trade barriers between countries and in some cases harmonized the legal systems.

    Speaking of folly today Osborne has launched the Conservatives’ latest folly know as the “Help to Work” scheme where the unemployed have to sign on daily, are forced to work for free, or have to undertake training. Each area is floundering in its own way.

    Daily signings are having problems because the DWP wants to increase the work of the Jobcentre staff 5 to 10 fold at a time when they’ve been cutting Jobcentre staff. There also seems to be no clear plan on how to pay the additional travel expenses of the unemployed because the current system of delaying payments by a week won’t work as most jobseekers won’t be able to absorb the 5-10 fold increase in travel costs.

    Community Work Placement AKA Workfare is failing because the DWP not only can’t find enough companies that are willing to force people to work for 6 months for free but they haven’t even decided who’s going to run this scheme. Though the group “Keep volunteering voluntary” has had no problem convincing companies to boycott workfare. Given that even during the trials a third of those forced onto this scheme couldn’t be found a placement and this was before charities started boycotting this scheme expect this workfare scheme to collapse just like all the previous attempts at workfare (even the DWP’s own figures show workfare doesn’t make people more employable).

    It seems that no one could be found to offer training to the unemployed because Osborne has dropped this part of the “Help to Work” scheme and is now pretending that it only has two parts.

    Just like Universal Credit this scheme is failing because it was designed by ministers who are only interested in abusing the unemployed rather than helping them.

    1. Edward2
      April 29, 2014

      I presume that the allocation of work to its citizens by every socialist regime is something you therefore do not support Uni.
      And don’t give me the nonsense that Germany is socialist.

      1. uanime5
        April 29, 2014

        I presume that the allocation of work to its citizens by every socialist regime is something you therefore do not support Uni.

        Care to name some socialist regimes that forced people to work for free. You can’t be referring to the Soviet Union because they paid their employees, gave them housing, and even gave them holiday pay. Communist China and Cuba also didn’t force people to work for free.

        The only regime that forced people to work for free was the Nazi’s, who herded anyone they didn’t like into concentration camps and made them work until they died of malnutrition. They also did a similar thing in death camps but they often gassed people who could still work.

        Reply Ever read about the USSR camps for dissidents? How about the mass murders under Stalin? Not great features of communism.

        1. Edward2
          April 30, 2014

          Your innocence is worrying Uni.
          Have you never been to Cuba, as just one example of many, where citizens are allocated work they cannot refuse, on wages barely enough to survive on.
          Prison awaits those who refuse the offer of a few dollars a week.
          No welfare because there is no unemployment allowed.
          They get a state allocated home and ration cards for basic foodstuffs and health cover but little else.
          Poverty is everywhere.
          You should go and see it for yourself, as I have done.
          Thats why many risk their lives trying to escape their socialst heaven.

  26. Max Dunbar
    April 28, 2014

    Another very good insightful article Dr Redwood, which is why you must be considered to be as dangerous to ‘modern 21st century Britain’ as second-hand bookshops undoubtedly are.
    I hope that we live to see the population of Europe tearing down the horrible monstous buildings of the EU as they did with the Berlin Wall in 1989. Maybe now the British people are begining to realise that we have been living, not under a democratic system, but one more like that of the German Democratic Republic. The three main parties in this country have given us no choice since 1990.

    1. Max Dunbar
      April 28, 2014

      Correction – ‘monstrous’

  27. Lindsay McDougall
    April 28, 2014

    Mr Redwood, would you please emphasise, in the Commons, that we are in this pickle specifically because we acceded to the Lisbon ‘Treaty’ (i.e. EU Constitution).

  28. bluedog
    April 29, 2014

    An excellent post, Mr JR, and this writer ascribes the FCO’s stance to snobbery and racism. The FCO position goes more or less like this:

    Europe, as any fule no, is full of beautiful medieval cities, excellent restaurants, enormously cultured, amusing and sophisticated people, and possibly one’s Tuscan farmhouse or gite on the Dordogne. All of which makes a welcome change from (words left out ed) the former Empire, the crass and uppity lower middle classes who settled the (word left out ed) Dominions, or even worse, the Americans.

    With ironic thanks to the Kaiser and Adolf Hitler, we were able to escape from the tedious responsibilities of Empire and Commonwealth with all that long-distance travel; and who on earth could have foreseen the rise of China immediately after the Hand-over?

    Anyway, thank God the Americans were there, ready and willing to take-over, although their price was steep. Wonderful to find a country full of yokels suffused with moral superiority and a desire to assert themselves. Let them do so. They knee-capped us at Suez, we can quietly let them get on with it.

    Now, having been eased out of wider responsibilities, we can indulge ourselves with a sort of perma-retirement job in the EU. After all, as the Spanish say, living well is the best revenge.

    We know it makes sense.

  29. Peter Davies
    April 30, 2014

    Is this a symptom of stuffing PPE graduates who have been schooled in a way of thinking then thrust either in Civil Servant & political positions and fall in with “group think”?

    The EU needs to revert to being a NAFTA/EFTA style trading organisation which regulates goods and services and maintains a free trading block and STAYS OUT of national politics – given their thirst for ever more power I’m not sure how that will be achieved but hey ho.

  30. J Melford
    April 30, 2014

    It’s not just Labour, John.

    The European Court decided in Case 22/70 (1970) that where the EU/EEC had an ‘internal’ policy, member states were bound to adjust their ‘external’ (i.e. wider foreign) policy in keeping with it.

    As governments, both Con and Lab, proceeded to give away powers like bread to the ducks, thus increased our foreign policy obligations.

    People talk about taking powers back, but you can’t change EU case law because of the acquis communautaire. Definitely ‘Life after EU’ for me.

  31. Neil Craig
    April 30, 2014

    This divide and conquer tactic wasn’t done purely out of nobility, but at least as much out of self interest, and we shouldn’t preen about it. Nonetheless the importance of doing so to European and human culture should not be underestimated. Europe, being divided into stable small countries is why that continent became the leader in technological innovation and thus world leader, while unified empires like Ming China stagnated.

    British support of the EU in the 1970s was because the hegemonic power we were opposing was the USSR (the real divergence from historic policy was that we did not oppose the USA as the world hegemon – partly because it was extra-European but mainly because it is culturally the extension of the British empire by other means). Which means that with the fall of the USSR we should have united with Russia against the hegemonic EU – as Britain reversed alliances with Austria to support Prussia in the 1750s.

    We do seem to be taking rather a long time to do so, but our politicians aren’t as enterprising as they were then.

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