STUDYING Greek Literature at school introduced me to Xenophon and all his prejudices.
History is supposed to teach us lessons so we don’t make the same mistakes.
Xenophobia is alive and well in my country. Expressed by people who are often armed with comic book ideas of what Great Britain is or was.
For me, Brexit is not about taking power back, but of weakening the resolve of the population further and giving more power to the money men. Take Britain out of Europe and lose further protections for workers and British business.
It’s been happening for decades.
Remember the idea that nationalisation was bad and we would have cheaper utilities, rail fare and a better chance of our products being the most sought after if we introduced private sector attitudes?
What did we get? The most expensive rail fares in Europe, utility bills that have soared way above inflation for years, and a manufacturing sector decimated by cuts.
Millions of people made redundant because the businesses that took on the nationalised industries had to make profits. Or those who remained were forced to take on poorer contracts.
Furthermore, while Britain said ‘no’ to own state ownership of ‘our’ businesses, the powers that be have had no such qualms in selling off stakes in ‘British’ companies to state owned companies from elsewhere. Or to foreign owners and hedge funds. They’re making huge profits while the average man and woman pays much more than in nationalised days.
It’s fact. It doesn’t make me a Marxist or anti-establishmentarian. But if that’s what I have to be to recognise the iniquity of that, then maybe that’s what I am.
Best of British? It’s out there, but often in cottage industries, or sectors where workers’ rights and pay is an absolute disgrace. And often relying on ‘foreign’ workers. They pick the vegetables, clean offices, take away our rubbish, build our homes. How very dare they?
Europe had its faults and Britain’s entry into the Common Market was mismanaged from the off – incidentally, by Tory governments.
But it’s the politicians of this country that have hurt Britain far more than anyone else. That’s what Brexit is about. The continued slow death of a once proud nation.
Time hasn’t stood still. We’re no longer an empire, with armed forces to make others sit up and take notice. Or industry.
We have got the scandal-riven financial sector, that helped nearly bankrupt the country, but that’s another story.
In Truro on Saturday, there was a wooden table manned by Leave Means Leave activists. I overheard one man talk about the Battle of Britain, proudly remembering ‘This was our finest hour’ and ‘we stood alone’.
Not quite, while giving voice to his supposed inner Churchill, this man obviously showed ignorance of the truth and was more akin to Xenophon with his racist arrogance. He also repeated the common ire against the Polish, the old ‘coming over here and doing our jobs’ argument.
In terms of governments, Britain did not stand alone in those early days of World War Two. The Commonwealth Nations stood shoulder to shoulder with Mother England. In the dark days following the fall of France and much of Europe, and the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, while European governments could not ‘stand with Britain’, their people did.
In fact, Churchill talked about ‘their finest hour’, including the Commonwealth dominions, not ‘our’.
That includes those of different colours, races, religions and creeds, that so many of the Brexiteers have an issue with. Muslims – imagine that! – Hindus and Sikhs among them, people with darker skins, from India, the West Indies, Africa…
And Churchill aligned himself, the country, and the empire with the struggle of France and Europe in that famous speech.
‘However matters may go in France or with the French Government or with other French Governments, we in this island and in the British Empire will never lose our sense of comradeship with the French people…’
Then a shout out for the Czechs, Poles, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians…
Yes, the same Poles we’ve had such a problem with since Poland became part of the EU.
For the record, while Dunkirk was propagandised as a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, it was a disaster. But the Battle of Britain was a success.
The image of fresh faced young English pilots flying their Spitfires and Hurricanes above the Kent countryside to foil the Nazi menace isn’t quite the case. It ignores the efforts of fellow Britons from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
And it completely forgets that there were pilots and aircrew in that battle for air supremacy that included Irish, French, Polish, Belgian and Czech, who fought with honour. Those pesky Poles again. Without whom…
Airmen came from America, Canada, Palestine, New Zealand, Australia, Jamaica, South Africa and Rhodesia to secure victory for Britain.
Recruits from all the above countries served in the army and navy, too.
We never stood alone. We didn’t win World War One on our own, either. We stood shoulder to shoulder with the French, Belgians, Commonwealth nations and others.
The myth we in Britain won two world wars and a world cup in 1966 against the Germans is as populist and the politics of mischief today. It might do well down the local boozer and at a Tommy Robinson rally, but then again…
I am proud of my country. I love my country. But I also love truth, balance and knowledge.
If you want out from Europe, so be it. But learn your history first. Find the truth, not the lie.
And consider why the politicians would vote for moves they clearly do not believe in.
Because this Brexit shambles is anything but ‘their finest hour’.