(Sub Title: What can one say? The safe answer to the question ‘what can one say?’ might be to keep schtum. However many will be disappointed to know that such a response would have been entirely out of character – sorry.
After some three years of confusion we seem to be moving to a new surreal world in which our, still almost a nation – quaintly called the UNITED Kingdom, moves inexorably back into the cabalistic arms of the EU. With such a thought in mind, is the country heading Lemming-like to arrondissement or Stadt status? As events unfold I am reminded of my otiose imaginary efforts to change the denouement of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest; witnessing the will of ‘those who know best’ prevailing by sending a sane man for a lobotomy was almost too much to bear. There lies part of the rub – there are too many who claim to know better than the rest, camouflaging their frequently patronising advice under the banner of Representative Democracy; in fact, the man-in-the-street is generally much better informed than our political class allow.
After a brief period of positive thinking and a ‘can do’ agenda our politicians have now descended into the pre Summer Recess mindset of negativity, navel gazing, conspiracy and political constipation. The actions of the naysayers are akin to throwing a brick, rather than a life jacket, to a drowning man. All of which is in direct contrast to the thinking of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent piece in a newspaper. In considering some of the thoughts of a true friend of the UK it may be that we will live to rue the day that we did not hear him:
“It is in the best interests of the wider world [my stress] that Britain be strong; and Britain can’t reach its full potential strength without also being free to set its own course and chart its own future.”
“Yet this is the country that has seen off the Spanish Armada, the French Emperor [not the current one] and the German Kaiser. Against Louis XIV, Napoleon, Wilhelm II and Hitler, this country saved Europe. This is the home of the mother of parliaments, the industrial revolution and the worlds common language. No country should be more capable of standing on its own two feet. We must remember this, amid the declinism and defeatism because if Brexit fails, Britain fails.”
Against such an historical background why is it that we have become so risk averse – it is surely counter intuitive. Had the Pilgrim Fathers or Francis Drake decided that sailing the high seas was too dodgy where would we be now? Perhaps the underlying cause of our disinclination to tackle a new challenge is that there something cosy about being where we are and that, therefore, change is an uninviting prospect. Irving Wallace might have identified the right word for such thinking in his seminal work The Fan Club: “Familiarity breeds no attempt”. It is recognised that using his quotation is slightly disingenuous since the author was actually talking about sex none-the-less it is surely the case that most of us find the warm embrace of familiarity rather comforting; the downside of such a comfort is that it can all too often blunt the sword of ambition and progress. In the final analysis many might accept that both capitalism and Free Trade represent a severing of the umbilical cord of familiarity and cosiness.
The long shadow of my life stretches back to a more deferential age when we trusted our representatives and even some foreign ones like to General de Gaulle. What a pity that my generation lacked enquiring minds particularly in the lead up to our eventual entry into the Common Market. The French showed such disregard to the importance of the UK’s application that in 1963 French Foreign Minister M. Couve de Murville announced her rejection to a half empty National Assembly. It would now seem that having conned us on Commonwealth trade – industrial goods in particular – de Gaulle needed to be absolutely certain that the CAP and CFP were both immutably bedded down before agreeing to our application.
So, what characterised Mr Heath’s role in protecting our interests during the negotiations for our entry into the Common Market? Revelations from released Cabinet Papers under the 30 Year Rule http://www.eutruth.org.uk/fco30.html suggest he committed sins of both omission and commission (as any Editor will tell you the former is every bit as influential as the latter). All along he knew the political and monetary end-game. Many of us would have hope for more candour from a former Gunner Officer!
More recent events do not suggest that Heath’s Tory heirs are any more given to honesty and integrity than him. Consider Sir John Major who is making a hullabaloo about Boris withdrawing the Party Whip from ‘malcontent’ MPs. Could he be the same John Major who withdrew the Party Whip from eight MPs who did not support the EC Finance Bill and from Rupert Allason for his failure to support the government on a confidence issue related to Maastricht? Might he also be the same John Major who prorogued a parliamentary session for three weeks in 1997 thereby avoiding “the publication of an embarrassing report into cash-for-questions”?
It is also worth noting that not only did Major also threaten de-selection but also, as a result of the ‘open rebelliousness and infighting’, changes were made to the party’s procedures to reduce the freedom of backbench MPs to rebel. Perhaps the apogee of Major’s unparliamentary behaviour was to call three of his miscreant Cabinet Members “bastards” which nicely rounds off a spell of unparliamentary behaviour.
So much for the concept of the Tory ‘broad church’! Yet as Tim Stanley observes in the Daily Telegraph “I’ve seen Boris Johnson compared to both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell (quite a feat) and, of course, to Adolf Hitler”. Yet now the same John Major has joined forces with Ms Miller – an avowed Remainer – to pursue the Government through the Law Courts.
As for Dr Lee’s grandstanding conversion to the Liberal Democrats one might ask where his moral compass has gone. The recent Vote in the House surely related to preventing a No Deal exit whereas the Manifesto and campaign pledges of his new party are to Remain in the EU. Crossing the floor to join a Remain Party rather than simply rebelling over the No Deal issue somehow lacks legitimacy.
As claimed these are but random thoughts.