Change Concepts

Establishment Fear and Defeatism

The fundamental reason why, unbelievably perhaps to our generation, the very existence of Britain is at stake, is that the political Establishment – which does nt as we know include Mrs Thatcher – have simply given up on Britain.  They are like a lawyer or accountant with an expensive motor car which no longer goes very well – they lift the bonnet, gaze uncomprehendingly at its engine – kick impatiently at its tyres, and then try to hitch a lift to the next international conference in someone else’s vehicle.  After Suez it was the purchase of American weaponry via the Special relationship which was the vehicle.  And since the 1960s we have been pushed into the EEC for fear of losing this American favour.  For in all the gravest errors of policy in the last seventy yers, fear has been the predominant emotion of the British Establishment.  As Burke said:

“No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its power of acting and reasoning as fear.”

It was fear, fear of being left out, and in particular John Kennedy’s oft repeated view to Harold MacMillan that Washington would view Brussels not London as its chief partner on this side of the Atlantic, which impelled us to try to join the EEC with its agriculture rigged against us and its federal objectives clearly written into the Rome Treaty – as even the Times recognised in 1961 when negotiations first began.

Thus the new Prime Minister in 1979 inherited a timorous Establishment.  When the crisis with Argentina came out of the blue:

“The whole of the City, the senior Civil Service, the Banks, not to mention the membership of Wites, Brooks and the Garrick, were united in mocking the will to fight.  There was barely a member of the Establishment who did not recommend a deal with Argentina just as they invariably used to recommend a deal with the unions”

as a letter to the Sunday Telegraph from Alan Clark MP expressed it.  It is precisely this same Establishment with its soft centre parliamentary allies who are pushing Britain along the road into a United States of Europe, just as they pushed us into Appeasement and refused until it was too late to halt or rather slow down immigration from countries they feared to offend.

But we have in our long history been here before:

“If our leaders are timid, how shall our soldiers regard them?”

spake Archbishop Alcuin of York 1200 years ago as England was ravaged by the Danes as surely as our industry today is ravaged by Continental, chiefly German, competitors.

But the Falklands war in 1982 was in fact a start on the journey back to national self-respect:

“It was worth it, for all the pain, for Britain’s pride”

were the words of one Falklands Widow on Yorkshire TV on 1st April 1987.

The Way Back to Industrial Strength

To continue the journey we must look at the other fact I quoted about our industrial decline – because it is industry which is the battleground for survival – the progress made since 1910.  For, a modern country depends absolutely on the technology and techniques deployed by its citizens – in all the wide range from consumer durables to animal husbandry, from aircraft to man-made fibres.  It is the steady fall in the real price of manufactured goods and agricultural products, which has given the dramatic rise in the standard of living of the last one hundred years.

Two simple exampes will illustrate: for that absolutely central product of the chemical industry – synthetic ammonia – the key step in the fixation of nitrogen and as such the basis of all the colossal increases in agricultural yield – we see in Figure 1 how advances in technology have driven down the critical costs – the real cost of capital per ton per annum by a factor of 100 and the use of energy per ton by a factor of three over the years from 1920 to 1980.

Figure 1: Capital Cost per ton/year of Ammonia

Figure 1: Capital Cost per ton/year of Ammonia


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