Friday, February 21, 2020
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Patriotism, the sleeping giant that crushed Corbyn

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AN important turn-off to the erstwhile Labour voters who switched to Boris was Labour’s attack on patriotism.

This has been mentioned by several of our sharpest pundits, notably Rod Liddle, who said that ordinary decent Labour folk value flag, family and faith.

Corbyn’s support for the IRA and Islamic terrorist ideologues was viscerally hostile to these basic values and assumptions, and one felt that the final ‘debate’ on BBC between Johnson and Corbyn had a decisive moment when Johnson landed a decisive blow on the IRA credentials of a wannabe British PM. 

Patriotism has been embarrassing since Blair’s globalist cultural revolution antipathy to the British Empire and history was first dripped into the educational syllabus. Michael Gove, we recall, as sacked as Education Minister for his efforts to reform the teaching of history after protests by the educational professoriat.

Corbyn’s neo-Marxian ideology very much resonates with this capture of the mind of our youth in schools and has permeated mainstream culture. When Andrea Leadsom pleaded on BBC’s Newsnight for more patriotism from broadcasters she was roundly castigated. As she was called ‘stupid’,‘witless’ and an ‘utter joke’ by Left-wing critics, few if any of her colleagues leapt to her defence.

Now, as Dominic Lawson writes, Corbyn’s scorn for working-class patriots has got its just deserts. He argues that it was George Orwell who best captured this cast of mind in his 1941 essay England Your England, in which he expressed his contempt for much of the well-to-do British …

‘In the general patriotism of the country, they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In Left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save the King” than of stealing from a poor box.’

Lawson ends his article:  ‘Orwell would absolutely have recognised why, more than three-quarters of a century later, so many English and Welsh workers rejected the party that claimed to be the sole legitimate guardian of their interests but insulted what they hold most dear.’ 

A complicating factor here is that the ‘heir to Blair’, and his successor Mrs May, also absorbed this cold indifference to patriotism as the Conservatives, like chameleons on the Blairite leaf, went the colour of New Labour in all things moral and cultural.

But the ordinary voters did not – and have voted against all that, instead ‘coming out of the closet’ and declaring themselves patriotic citizens proud of their national history.

The decision to take the UK into what is now the EU was itself an expression of contempt for patriotism, as an anonymous Foreign and Commonwealth Office mandarin in 1971 cynically accused the ordinary populace of being xenophobes.

‘There is another, less attractive, aspect of this national pride,’ the mandarin wrote in a brief for Tory PM Edward Heath. ‘This is the large measure of dislike and mistrust of foreigners that persists in Britain. Nancy Mitford’s Uncle Matthew was not alone in considering that: “Abroad is hell and foreigners are fiends”.’

A Case for Treason Section 15 was the Whitehall  document which justified the secret and gradual transfer of parliamentary sovereignty to Europe, a process which has now, 48 years later, just been halted at the democratic behest of the people.  

But the fact is that the Remainer sector of the Conservative Party is just as anti-patriotic as the Blairite and the Marxist Labour MPs. And now they have all run up against the solid and repeated ‘No’ of Joe and Jill Public. Democracy has triumphed despite the level of Establishment hostility, triumphed over the abuse of the law and of Parliamentary conventions and the cohorts of the broadcast media.

We can again feel proud of our country as a democratic Parliamentary sovereign state. And we are relieved to have resisted a regime imbued with anti-Semitic hostility to a minority group.

But vast numbers of voters did back this grotesque Labour machine and the ‘echo chamber’ of the Twitteriat boomed with support for it and the ongoing smearing of Leave voters as stupid racists.

This cultural movement has not gone away, has not learned any self-criticism, and remains locked into its Remainer fundamentalism, with its detestation of patriotism, just as Orwell described it and as found in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as academia.

In 2002, journalist Janet Daley described the success of the Left’s ‘long march through the institutions’ and this last election was essentially a battle between the people and those who have learned to loathe the UK and its history as totally evil.

The long march through the institutions has clearly paid off in the professions, notable now in the judiciary, police, broadcasting, schools and universities.  The febrile and intellectually unbalanced attacks on Professor Nigel Biggar for his Times article arguing that the British Empire had a downside but also an upside revealed the grip of the ideological Left on universities today.

Guy Adams and Stephen Glover evidenced this grip and the use of the Twitter echo chamber of abuse and power play. One ‘scholar’ even called for Biggar’s work to be ‘shut down’. What an irony that Cambridge University appealed to freedom of speech in defence of that ‘scholar’.

And indeed Orwell does come to mind: Some are more equal than others in this academic zoo of dogmatic Marxism.  The march through the institutions has gone extremely well.

It is no accident that Twitter has been the medium to hurl hate at opponents instead of intellectual argument being engaged in respectful fashion: This was the same strategy used by Momentum in the general election campaign.

Patriotism of course should be self-critical. We cannot possibly defend the slave trade, but we can rejoice in its abolition and the Royal Navy’s success in shutting down the Arab slave trade across the Red Sea during the 19th century. I wonder how much attention the new Marxist ‘academics’ now controlling so much of university life are giving to the Islamic colonisation of Africa?

True patriotism is not blind support for wrongdoing. Our nation and empire has dark patches which we acknowledge. But Nigel Biggar is quite correct in arguing for balance and eyes to see the deep moral good flowing from its parliamentary democratic rule of law in justice and administration, in scientific and technological advance, in the arts of all kinds, in industry and commerce – let alone the fight against Nazism and its deeply inhumane racist regime, for example. 

This general election affirmed this realistic patriotic identity, and denied the absolutist claims of the neo-Marxist Momentum movement.  It’s now OK to love your country. How the UK-hating history narrative is to be rolled back from our educational system is the next challenge for Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson’s new Minister of Education.

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Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw is a Theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman

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