Rosie's Brexit Diary
6 January 2019
“For centuries, Great Britain has guided the globe. Now, the world needs us to do so again”
These are not my words but those of Ed Husain. Occasionally people from other nations, watching in horror as Britain falls into the clutches of the EU, make similar comments. I (Rosie) have tried to gather these comments together but events are happening so fast it is difficult to keep up. Back to Ed Husain:
Ed Husain was born in London in 1974 into a Bangladeshi family. He was raised in a spiritual tradition of Islam but as a teenager moved towards extremism. A few years later he co-founded the Quilliam Foundation, the first counter-extremism organisation to be formed by former radical Islamists. He is a senior Fellow at Civitas, and Global Fellow at Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC and has written several books.
Today the Daily Telegraph published an important article from him:
Here is his introduction:
“For centuries, Great Britain has guided the globe. Now, the world needs us to do so again. We must stop apologising for the past, and start advancing again as a free nation at home and abroad. The self-flagellation over Brexit and begging for European acceptance is unbecoming of this great country. Britishness is about values, ideas, history and an attitude, not skin colour. It is time to be proud of Britain again. Together.”
And here is Rosie’s paraphrase of the rest of his article:
Ed has recently visited many nations and found everyone crying out for clarity and leadership from Britain which is independent and confident, where Europeans are trading partners and not rulers.
Aside from Brexit, three other factors undermine British confidence:
First is guilt over the British Empire - but Ed questions why Britain should feel guilt when other nations, Turkey, for example, did not. In addition, Britain brought the Slave Trade to an end and defeated Nazism. Children of the Empire are part of British society and reach positions of political power. Instead of pride, a narrative of historical grievances has taken over [Rosie adds, created almost entirely by Tony Blair and the BBC. I am more than 20 years older than Ed Husain and there was none of this guilt complex before.]
Second, based on this narrative of historical grievances, an entire culture of competing victimhood is taking over university campuses in Britain. There are “safe spaces” and “no offence” and speakers are “no platformed”. Britain runs the risk of losing the liberties we protected.
Third is Identity Politics. Rather than feeling British, people have grouped into new tribes of gay, Muslim, transsexual, female, or black, etc - while ‘white’ [ie, indigenous] middle-class males are made out to be an eternal enemy. Group politics cuts right across traditional society because, traditionally in Britain, only individuals have rights and responsibilities, and only individuals can be held accountable.
Ed Husain then says, “We have forgotten that the world now runs on the laws, liberties and language spread from this blessed island.”
The laws of England, the English Common Law and the Magna Carta principles of 1215, form the basis of the constitution and laws of India, the United States and numerous other nations, most of which is written in the English language, and British philosophers provided the understanding and theories that work in practice.
In the 17th century, it was Isaac Newton who helped Locke consolidate natural law and human rights theories by drawing on the Bible and modern science; it was John Locke’s influence on the American founding fathers that led to the declaration of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
In the 18th century Adam Smith wrote his Theory of Moral Sentiments and then The Wealth of Nations in the 18th century. Adam Smith founded the study of economics and showed how free trade creates greater wealth for all, fulfilling a moral responsibility to minimise minimising poverty. This led to modern commerce.
Also in the 18th century, Edmund Burke coined the term “terrorism” and strengthened British traditions of non-violent social evolution. “For all its flaws, we still have a model of government here in Britain that works.” [See comments below]
In the 20th century almost every European country fell under the control of extremist ideologies. Britain and her allies upheld the rule of law and human dignity then, and, with turmoil again rising across Europe, Britain needs to be prepared to do so again.
Ed Husain concludes: “Confidence in our history and values invites migrants to integrate and become British. Together, we can defeat the forces of darkness on the rise across the world. But without a confident Britain, rooted in history and philosophy, we cannot lead. Patriotism, pride in our past and future, should be the clarion call of 2019 and beyond.”
So, what to make of it? In these days of deceit, when every word uttered by Theresa May leads us to assume that she means the exact opposite - and when we need to assume that everything is said and done for a purpose which is not immediately apparent - is this article for real and can we take it at face value? I am not sure. I think Ed Husain raises many valid and important points which led to an excellent exchange of views, but I remain cautious about his agenda. Here are the reasons for my concern:
(1) Long-standing connections to Tony Blair and for a long time a senior adviser to Blair and to his various foundations. While Husain seems to have moved on, this is obviously of serious concern.
(2) Is it a sly election campaign on behalf of Sajid Javid, who aims to become Prime Minister after Theresa May? Quoting from the article “the children of our empire now serve at the highest levels of government, including the Home Secretary Sajid Javid.”
(3) Trying too hard to be “more British than the British”? - it might be nothing more than an unfamiliar style, but it could equally be part of (2) above.
(4) Most seriously, Britain, and all the philosophy and the Common Law and the good that Britain has done over the centuries, was built upon its religious beliefs, upon the values embedded within Christianity. ‘The Bible’ creeps in but this just does not feel like enough. The Protestant Work Ethic was routinely recognised as an essential element in Britain’s success in recent centuries until as recently as the early 1980s. To completely omit this in an article of this nature is odd, and worrying, especially from a writer who has this to say about Islam:
“A faith rich with strong values and traditions, observed by nearly two billion people across the world, is seen by the West as something to be feared rather than understood. Sensational headlines and hard-line policies spark enmity, while ignoring the feelings, narratives and perceptions that preoccupy Muslims today.
Wise and authoritative, The House of Islam seeks to provide entry to the minds and hearts of Muslims the world over. It introduces us to the fairness, kindness and mercy of Mohammed; the aims of sharia law, through commentary on scripture, to provide an ethical basis to life; the beauty of Islamic art and the permeation of the divine in public spaces.” from https://bloomsbury.com/us/the-house-of-islam-9781632866417/
(5) Again, from Hussain’s article, we have “Confidence in our history and values invites migrants to integrate and become British” - again, the link to Tony Blair. How many immigrants does Hussain mean? British values are essentially, historically and factually Christian values - this does not mean one has to be a believing or any kind of active Christian, but those values of personal responsibility come direct from that faith, above all, from Protestant Christianity. This point is of fundamental historical and philosophical importance and in an article of this nature I would expect it to be addressed head-on. I would also have expected Queen Elizabeth I to make an appearance in the list of important historical figures referred to by Hussain.
I completely agree with Ed’s premise that British people have lost their confidence, and suggest the problem is substantially worse than he describes. Many British people genuinely believe that the rest of the world hate us; of course, some do, and sometimes with valid reasons, but mostly because the same agenda of victimhood and of portraying Britain to be bad is at work worldwide.
The movement to create hatred of Margaret Thatcher (who pushed back against the growing power of the EU) was basically successful right across Europe. She was the last British PM to stand up for Britain and our history - but she was in power in the 1980s and so almost everyone alive now has been exposed to this propaganda campaign for their entire life and knows no different.
So successful has the propaganda campaign been that many British people also hate Britain and British people, including members of the indigenous population. They have swallowed it whole. The whole thing is absolutely horrible and I am too upset to write any more -
The loss of confidence was well under way even in her day, see here, for example, https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/104107
Margaret Thatcher quotes a poem by Alfred Tennison from 1882
“We sailed wherever ship could sail, We founded many a mighty state, Pray God our greatness may not fail, Through craven fears of being great.”
On Britain’s former global leadership/influence
There is much evidence that America and its founding fathers were heavily influenced by their origins. For instance they spoke English and some passages of their constitution were actually copied and pasted from the 1689 English Bill of Rights. They used English Common Law as the basis of their legal system. They kept the good and threw out the bad. What is the problem with that? Why deny it? The left has to impose the false narrative that everything about Britain and England in particular, is bad. Well if you hope to persuade me, forget it.
Perhaps we should re-visit the Brexit ballot paper for this referendum? Those who decided to vote were requested to insert an 'X' in the box next to their choice. The question posed on the referendum ballot: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
Voters were thoughtfully provided two highlighted boxes where to insert the 'X' neighbouring the option: Remain a Member of the European Union or Leave the European Union!!
72.2% of the electorate turned out of which 51.9% voted to leave: 48.1% voted to remain.
Unless someone observed something I missed I did not see any small print that the terms and conditions included a 'soft' or 'hard' leave the European Union. I voted to remain. Was there a 'soft' or 'hard' remain that I also missed?
I am making the most of it and decided to move overseas, ready and waiting for the Brexit I didn't vote for but will make the best of it as we from that small island and one of the largest world economies will do as its just in our DNA to do so with respect to the doctrine of democracy - win or loose the vote and yield to the majority!
Former Australian PM Tony Abbott...has an opinion which resonates with mine...…..(Note Australia is a member of the Commonwealth)
"It’s pretty hard for Britain’s friends, here in Australia, to make sense of the mess that’s being made of Brexit. The referendum result was perhaps the biggest-ever vote of confidence in the United Kingdom, its past and its future. But the British establishment doesn’t seem to share that confidence and instead looks desperate to cut a deal, even if that means staying under the rule of Brussels.
Looking at this from abroad, it’s baffling: the country that did the most to bring democracy into the modern world might yet throw away the chance to take charge of its own destiny.
Let’s get one thing straight: a negotiation that you’re not prepared to walk away from is not a negotiation — it’s surrender. It’s all give and no get. ...
The EU’s palpable desire to punish Britain for leaving vindicates the Brexit project.....Freed from EU rules, Britain would automatically revert to world trade, using rules agreed by the World Trade Organization. It works pretty well for Australia. So why on earth would it not work just as well for the world’s fifth-largest economy?
A world trade Brexit lets Britain set its own rules. It can say, right now, that it will not impose any tariff or quota on European produce and would recognise all EU product standards. That means no border controls for goods coming from Europe to Britain. You don’t need to negotiate this: just do it. If Europe knows what’s in its own best interests, it would fully reciprocate in order to maintain entirely free trade and full mutual recognition of standards right across Europe...............
Finally, there’s no need on Britain’s part for a hard border with Ireland. Britain wouldn’t be imposing tariffs on European goods, so there’s no money to collect. The UK has exactly the same product standards as the Republic, so let’s not pretend you need to check for problems we all know don’t exist. Some changes may be needed but technology allows for smart borders: there was never any need for a Cold War-style Checkpoint Charlie. Irish citizens, of course, have the right to live and work in the UK in an agreement that long predates EU membership.
Of course, the EU might not like this British leap for independence. It might hit out with tariffs and impose burdens on Britain as it does on the US — but WTO rules put a cap on any retaliatory action. The worst it can get? We’re talking levies of an average 4 or 5 per cent. Which would be more than offset by a post-Brexit devaluation of the pound (which would have the added bonus of making British goods more competitive everywhere).......
As a former prime minister of Australia and a lifelong friend of your country, I would say this: Britain has nothing to lose except the shackles that the EU imposes on it. After the courage shown by its citizens in the referendum, it would be a tragedy if political leaders go wobbly now. Britain’s future has always been global, rather than just with Europe. Like so many of Britain’s admirers, I want to see this great country seize this chance and make the most of it.".
On the idea that Britain can ‘lead the world’
How on earth are we going to ‘lead’ America, China, Japan, Germany and France?
It's a joke. One suspects that the author has availed themselves of some of the fine weed which now forms the principal industrial product of many parts of 'left-behind' England.
The word 'lead' has several connotations. It can include leading by example and influence for instance. Only a fool, or someone with an axe to grind, would associate it with anything else.
What this comment and many others shows is how appalling our teaching and appreciation of our history is. Most of you have little idea of what made this country great. It wasn't all about guns and ships you know.
I travel to Asia regularly - China, India, Philippines, etc. Without fail I find people showing respect for the UK in every way, often intangible. Brexit is seen as yet another example of the UK standing up for itself and demonstrating the power of our democracy.
In China, business colleagues observing UK elections have said words to the effect of "Maybe we'll have that one day, but we are not ready for it yet". Another said that in school they are taught how Britain stood alone against Hitler and fought for national salvation and freedom. They have never referred to the opium wars and British sacking of the summer palace. One friend says that after 1997, when his parents first travelled south and saw the lights of Hong Kong harbour for the first time, they commented that it was a shame the British couldn't run the rest of China like that. Of course their point was not that they wanted to be ruled by an imperial power from the other side of the world - more that our 'model' of running a country clearly worked! It was about that tie that Deng Zhou Peng made his black cat white cat speech, effectively acknowledging that the western economic model (largely forged by Britain) was the only way forward for China - leading by example, not through physical power.
My Indian software developers have said they have no negative feeling for the UK at all. They rightly say it is history and prefer to see us all as children of the past. They look at what the Empire left behind, like railways, common language, democracy, law, free trade and commerce - and look ahead. [Rosie comments - I visited India in 1980 and encountered nothing but welcome and respect; nothing to do with bakshish either, I might add.]
Dead easy, they are following us already in almost every aspect, so much so that in China every new born child has at least one English name, the Japanese have an Anglicised word for just about any verb often used in conversation, as do the French and Germans. Come on, we are leading without even trying or wanting. There are more Anglophiles than any another .......philes in the world. What on earth are we worried about? Fear is NOT in our character. We can do it and we can do it well!
Several commenters remark upon this statement by Ed Husain:
"For all its flaws, we still have a model of government here in Britain that works."
I (Rosie) disagree with this claim - it does not work for the good of the people of Britain. I believe our state system, in large and steadily increasing part, to be malign. My opinion is this: Britain is in dire straits and will soon be lost to the free world without help from friends and supporters old and new. The corruption and destruction that has happened here is so far beyond belief that people's minds cannot grasp it.
Really? It might work for the Establishment, but it doesn't appear to work very well for the 3.9 million UKIP voters in 2010, who got one MP. Whilst 1.4 million SNP voters got 56.
And we are currently seeing our so-called Representatives in Parliament doing their level best to prevent the result of the 2016 EU Referendum from being properly implemented / implemented at all. And that's before we get on to the unaccountable House of Frauds.
And it doesn't seem to work too well for the English, since the devolution settlement - which awarded the Scots, Welsh and NI their own Parliament, whilst the ENGLISH were denied one and are now having the EU's policy of splitting England into Regions imposed against their Will (as expressed in several Referendums) by the imposition of City Regions/Mayors.
The main problem this country has is an institutionally biased "liberal-left" Establishment which does exactly what it wants and ignores the wishes of a majority of the British people.
Recently I have had conversations with people who admire the British Empire including a gentleman from Hungary and two ladies of German extraction.
About 15 years ago I was a member of a group being helped with their back pain, organised by the NHS. The group included an elderly Sikh couple and at the end of one session the Sikh gentleman stood up to thank the presenter and the other members and, clearly wishing to reassure us and make us feel good, said “It is still God’s own country. A wonderful place, God’s own country”. He was thanked politely but nobody knew what he was trying to say - and only afterwards did I recall that Britain, the home nation under the British Empire in India, was referred to in this way, described as “God’s own country”. We really cannot - CANNOT - have been that bad, intrinsically evil by its very nature as we are told now.
A few months ago, watching the Brexit ‘negotiations’ with horror, a Bulgarian took the time to comment on what is happening in Britain, noting the same philosophers as Ed Hussain here (John Locke, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and others including Roger Scruton, here talking about national sovereignty: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/02/14/tories-will-win-electorate-showing-prepared-put-national-interest/).
More points of view about Britain’s past and upon the current political climate, trolls and all:
Never apologise, never explain. We did what we did and it was according to the social mores of the time. You can't change the past to assuage modern political correctness which is in fact mass manipulation and growing more and more sinister.
What a great article. The lack of self belief and patriotism including the obsession with past negatives and ignoring the tremendous positives that Britain brought to the world are of course part of the philosophy of the Left.
One of the regular Remainers below pinpoints the issue unwittingly, when accusing Brexiteers of 'denying globalism', as if this were a self-evident form of sacrilege akin to climate change denial. Of course it depends on what if anything that mantra means, but to some of us globalism is shorthand for a bland and all-controlling uniformity, embracing not just commerce but culture, outlook and speech and administered only by the enlightened ones who know best. The phrase in this article which enrages such people above all else is "confidence in our history and values": by their sneers shall we know them.
Another article full of bombast and pomposity. Britain is a middle sized relatively influential nation which will not lead or guide anyone. They are doing perfectly fine on their own and do not need Britain to tell them what to do.
Rosie replies: I don’t think that is what Ed Hussain is trying to say, but I think that most British people, me included, basically want Britain to keep out of any foreign meddling, and simply focus on restoring its own self. If we can restore our education system and traditions, including free trade and trading standards and honesty, then moral leadership would automatically follow. Remainers are obsessed with the idea that Leave supporters want to recreate the British Empire - which is nonsense on stilts - even apparently sane people make this absurd claim.
Another exchange with interesting points of view from both sides:
Much of the world speaks languages based on Latin, yet fortunately the Italians don't run around bleating how they are supposed to lead the globe. You either lead or you don't, but you don't lead by having some newspaper pundits babbling about it all the time.
However, this constant talk about Empire 2.0 is delusional anyway. It starts bad enough with the claim that people supposedly see this bloke as representing Britain and asking him questions. Maybe that happens where people are keen to hear a former member of Tony Blair's foundation, certainly a minuscule number of people.
There was a time when Italians were running around bleating about running the world and referring to the Mediterranean "mare nostrum". Later, in the short lived time of Mussolini those feelings resurfaced. Sic Transit Gloria.
A UK owning up to its shortcomings is one thing but striving for national self respect and nurturing feelings of affection for the place is okay too. It is apparent to foreign friends that the UK and her influence abroad is highly desirable.
Well, most people do not see Mussolini's rule as a great success (unless your focus in life is trains running on time, which doesn't seem to work anywhere outside of Japan nowadays).
Why do you suppose that "Global Britain" (or whatever the moniker is) would do much better?
No suppositions on my part. A person ought to use their best judgement and take action. The tradition of self governance, rule of law and freedom of speech are advancements in my book. The UK had quite a bit to do with enshrining them.
Britain was the country that denied self-governance to many nations around the globe. You may be assured that many people have not forgotten that role when UK politicians and newspapers crow about global British leadership.
It was the tradition of self governance set up by the British in North America [and elsewhere, combined with provision of education to do just that!] that has made it different than Central and South America where the Spanish ruled by fiat.
He speaks for Britain by how he behaves and talks when abroad - as much as you, I or football hooligans do.