Let’s join Bill and celebrate self-flagellation!

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The archetypal €urophile: Lib-Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn

East Midlands Lib-Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn (who was elected as a Conservative in 1999, but transferred to the Lib-Dems in 2000 when he discovered — shock horror! — that there were one or two euro-sceptics in the Tory delegation), is co-sponsoring a European Parliament Written Declaration calling for the establishment of “A European day in recognition of the victims of European colonisation and colonial slavery“. Or as I abbreviated it in a Tweet: “A European Day of Contrition for Colonialism”.

It’s worth pointing out that EP Written Declarations are two-a-penny.  They don’t have official status until signed by 50% of MEPs (which rarely happens), and even then they have no particular force, and in Betjeman’s charming phrase they “Slip below the sliding stream of time”.  Much the same could be said for “Days” and “Weeks” and indeed “Years” dedicated to some cause or other, which do little but stroke the egos of those who proposed them.  Perhaps this is the Year of the Leek and String Bean Marketing Board?  Or the European Day of in-growing toe-nails?  I couldn’t possibly say.

But my concern is rather different.  I resent the relentlessly negative tone of self-flagellation implied by this sort of initiative.  Of course the history of colonialism included bad as well as good.  No one today will defend slavery, or the Amritsar massacre.   But we can still take pride in having taken democracy and development and modern healthcare to large parts of the world.  Would India today be the world’s largest democracy without the history of British involvement?  We should also be careful about judging past events purely by today’s standards.  No doubt our descendents will one day look back in horror and regret at the follies of 2013.

I recall visiting the Parliament of Singapore a couple of years back, and while the building is modern, the custom and practice of the House are closely based on the Westminster model.  British democracy travels, and we should be proud of it.

While Bill is making his grovelling mea culpas for colonialism, I wonder if he is also recalling and celebrating William Wilberforce, and the vital rôle that both the British Parliament and the Royal Navy played in ending the slave trade (which, by the way, was by no means the exclusive preserve of Europeans).

In times past Bill has accused me of being “against everything” (by which I think he means “against EU integration”).  Yet he is all too eager to take a wonderfully negative view of his own country.  We are not fit to govern ourselves, but have to be governed by foreign institutions in Brussels.  We can’t be trusted with freedom, or democracy, or even our own currency.  We shouldn’t be able to order our own affairs, whether the control of our borders or the hours our doctors work in the NHS.  Rather than celebrating our many achievements, our proud history and culture, we have to be perpetually apologising for past errors, even though “the victims of European colonisation and slavery” are, for the most part, long dead.

So you have a choice.  You can spend the rest of your days standing in the corner, on the naughty step, and apologising for the errors of your ancestors.  Or you can take a proper pride in your country, and make the most of it.

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17 Responses to Let’s join Bill and celebrate self-flagellation!

  1. “No doubt our descendants will one day look back in horror and regret at the follies of 2013.”
    Like actually being a member of the Socialist State of Europe?

  2. PitPony says:

    What have the victims of colonisation in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, have to apologise for?

    • Jeremy Zeid UKIP Harrow says:

      Many of the victims ended up chimneys in places such as Sobibor, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau and hundreds of similar places that the people of most of these countries swear blind they “knew nothing about”. And let’s not forget good ol’ “Uncle” Joe Stalin, Castro, Guevara, Arafat or Comrade Mao those darlings of the “liberal” Left.

  3. Well I suppose we could have a day of recognition for the rights and wrongs of every recorded historical event, although there won’t be enough days in a year. Although we could change the calendar and extend the length of a year to fit in with the ceremonies. The year has never been long enough, so should be reconsidered anyway.

  4. Do you know what? I was there at the end of the British Empire! I was in Ghana in 1959. I was in Sierra Leone in 1974. I travelled back from Australia through Hong Kong and newly independent Ceylon and the Yemen in 1964. I remember flying over Nigeria and the Governor of the Gambia getting onto the plane after Independence with he band still playing.
    It was law abiding. It was peaceful. It was happy. It worked. You could walk about safely. No children seemed to have their hands cut off. Everyone had enough to eat and clothes to wear. It was only when we dumped the Empire that all hell broke loose.
    But then I suppose that is our fault too.
    PS Compare China and India. Compare Ghana with Cote d’Ivoire. Compare Singapore or Malaysia with Indonesia of the Phillipines.

    • B Hough says:

      You forgot to say that you are also present at the beginning of the German Empire, in a few years time I think it will be found inconvenient to have the EU HQ in Brussels, far more convenient in Berlin!
      In 1941 Hitler in a speech envisaged a federal Europe leading to a German Empire, trading with the British Empire and the Americas, we prevented that and Hitler never forgave us, but retribution is here! And not a shot fired!
      Our government is no different to the French vichy government during WWII.
      The French feel secure but I suggest they watch their back!

    • Compare Haiti with Babados.

  5. Good letter Roger, and well said.

  6. cosmic says:

    Or as I saw on an internet news group a long time ago (before the WWW).

    “The UK should apologise for X”. ( X being colonialism in Africa, or something )

    Someone replied,

    “OK, we’re sorry, now **** off!”.

    I thought this fad for apologising for all sorts of things in the past was at its height about five or ten years ago and had faded.

    • Sadly, there are a hardcore of people who cannot let go of the ball. It’s the same with the smacking debate, every year or two some do-gooder raises it once again, and once again our spineless politicians discuss it, regurgitate the same middle class crap, and propose new parameters, like how many fingers may be in contact with the bottom of your child at any one time, or what psi of pressure might be used in conjunction with the velocity of the hand at the maximum point of speed, or a new limit to the size of any mark or reddening left in the area of contact, and how long it may remain visible, ad infinitum. This idiot clearly has nothing good to say or celebrate about his country, which begs the obvious question, why does he choose to represent it (it surely could not be the money and power could it?)

  7. Linda Hudson says:

    This man should get on with the real work of serving the people of this country, he must have too much time on his hands!

  8. Jeff Parkes says:

    I think you have to have a ‘CE’ stamp on your hand before you can smack…….

  9. DougS says:

    I thought that Gordon Brown had already apologised………for just about everything!

    Except of course, for selling 400 tonnes of our gold at the bottom of the market.

  10. David says:

    No doubt this is the first stage of a campaign to gouge yet more money out of his own country

  11. Jeremy Zeid UKIP Harrow says:

    We could commit mass national suicide and wipe ourselves from history. Oh wait, we have, we are in the EU and the lemming parties are too interested in their own personal gains to get off of the ledge. In the meantime the UK is gas becoming the offshore dumping ground for every waif stray and dysfunctional, lured by our generous “benefits” while the rest of our “partners” laugh at our stupidity. We are the Golgafrincham ” ‘B’ Ark” of the world, look up the Hitch-hikers Guide to he Galaxy, book-2 The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

    It all fits, the books are being used as the new Blueprint for Britain. You know/that there is a problem when rather than worry about whether they actually work, they spent more time worrying about what colour he useless windmills are.

    GB now seems to stand for Golgafricham Bastion.

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