Performance of the Economy

In this imagined scenario, could anyone anywhere believe that the French government of today, or of any time, would ever contemplate, let alone plan, that France be subject to the decisions of fourteen other countries, through an organization whose official language was English, whose plans over the next five years contemplate the abolition of France’s currency and by which French citizens would be subject to an as yet unknown range of duties specified by this organization? Of course this imagined scenario does not exist – but its mirror image does. Interchange English for French and Britain for France in this scenario and you have the exact situation in which the people of Britain find themselves today. How has this come about? How can it be that a country of such achievement in the recent, not distant past, has progressively surrendered the right to govern itself – not to overwhelming military might – but to a bureaucracy whose only real weapons are words and regulations? How is it that once again:

“England that was wont to conquer others, hath made a shameful conquest of itself”?

The answer to this question is the key to the future of our country.

Donkeys, Defeatism and Disparagement

There is a famous aphorism in a letter written in 1917 by his Chief of Staff to General Ludendorff, German commander on the Western Front, to the effect that the British Army was made up of lions led by donkeys. The origin of this aphorism has been disputed, but it is singularly apt as a description not of the British Army of today, but of the conduct of British affairs since 1945. Only Donkey Rule could have brought a country with the assets I have alluded to in the prologue so low in so short a time. In a short essay there is not space to trace all the threads of the story, but three interrelated themes stand out. One is the growth of a corrosive defeatism about Britain and Britishness by the supposed leaders of our country, the Establishment of politicians, business leaders, academics and senior civil servants. Second there is the failure of that same Establishment to give British industry, especially British manufacturing industry, the primacy in our affairs that it must have if we are to survive and prosper as a modern nation. Thirdly, there is a relentless disparagement of our country in both popular and “serious” publications, in particular making it almost indecent to recall the achievements of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution. This wicked attempt at national deconstruction is being pursued through a ceaseless harping by the media on our supposed faults, especially in our dealings with other peoples, and through the educational establishment’s deliberate withholding from our children of any historical event, person or achievement showing our country in a good light. This has got to the point revealed by a recent poll that a majority of children under 15 thought the Germans had won the last war, and by reports of some English children having no sense of national identity[2] . The combined effect of these three factors has been to induce a widespread feeling of resignation and apathy which often expresses itself in an absurd belittling of our country. Thus we perpetually hear remarks in the media, especially the BBC, to the effect that we are now a “small, insignificant third-rate country”, unable to exist without the support of other countries, but much given to glorying in our past. Now I yield to nobody in my pride in our past achievements – I only wish they were more widely known among people under 40 – but as I shall show, my view of our future is governed by an objective view of the world as it is today and how I think it will be tomorrow. For the moment, it may be observed that there are currently 185 states represented in the United Nations, that out of these 185 Britain has the fourth largest economy (after the United States, Japan and Germany), it is home to three of the twelve largest industrial corporations in the world, and it is home to one of the world’s three major financial centres. Britain’s military forces are second only to the United States’ in all-round capability and arguably the best in the world for “small” wars, it publishes more books than any other country, it is the fourth largest First World country in terms of population, and its total of foreign assets is second only to the United States’ and greater than the foreign assets of all the other 14 member countries of the European Union put together. It is not a matter of founders’ privilege that we have one of the five permanent Security Council seats in the United Nations, nor are we “punching above our weight” in Douglas Hurd’s favourite expression. By any measure, among the world’s 185 states, we are a powerful and significant country.

Suez and its aftermath

While the landings at Suez in 1956 were a military success, the operation as a whole (to regain control of the canal) was a humiliating failure because of Britain’s then economic weakness. At this point, the political establishment was presented with a clear choice. It could have told the nation the plain facts of our economic inadequacy and laid out a design for the future which would have ensured that never again would we be beholden to the USA or indeed any other country. Alternatively, the political class could carry on as before, living on its diplomatic wits externally and within Britain, relying on exortation, fiddling with interest rates, and commissioning an endless series of reports from the very people who, in the 35 years or so after 1945, so conspicuously failed to solve our economic problem. The net effect of this failure has been to imbue much of the political class, and many of the most visible corporate businessmen with an irradicable defeatism about our country. It is basically this group, led by Edward Heath, which in 1992 supported ratification of the Maastricht Treaty with its clear signposts to a Franco-German dominated United States of Europe. This group propagates, among itself and among those it comes into contact with, the view that being part of a big group dominated by foreigners is the only solution to Britain’s problems – whatever they might be.

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