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15 Reasons to be Proud of the United Kingdom

June 17, 2018

 

The following speech was presented by Alistair McConnachie to the London Swinton Circle (Chairman, Allan Robertson) on Tuesday 5 June 2018 at 7.00pm at the Counting House, 50 Cornhill, London. All photographs are copyright AFFG.

 

In Memoriam Christopher Luke

Ladies and Gentleman, thank you for coming along tonight.

 

Before I begin, I'd just like to say a word about an absent friend who's not with us tonight.

 

As many of you know, Christopher Luke passed away at the end of last year.

 

I first encountered Christopher when I was publishing my monthly anti-EU newsletter Sovereignty. I began that in June 1999. Christopher must have been given a copy because towards the end of that year I was delighted to find in my post, a copy of his 4-page newsletter

Unionist, number 16.

 

So from then on, we did a swop – he'd send me Unionist from "The Royal Borough of Tunbridge Wells" as he liked to call it, and I'd send him Sovereignty each month and we did that for the next 10 years.

 

I was very interested to read his ideas about the Union and he definitely contributed towards my understanding of it, especially in relation to Northern Ireland.

 

During those 10 years, we corresponded via email and occasionally by phone, but it wasn't until I spoke here in 2009 that I actually met him for the first time.

 

Since then, he would come to my annual talk here, and I was always very grateful for that, and it was good to catch up.

 

I didn't know Christopher beyond our shared political interests, but in that sense, we knew each other very well!

 

Unionism lost a good thinker, advocate and a staunch British Patriot, when he passed away at the end of last year.

 

So, what I'd like to do is dedicate this talk to Christopher and his memory. I know he would approve of what I have to say.

I'm going to speak for 45 mins and I'm going to divide my talk into 2 parts. The first part gives some background Philosophy on the idea of pride in one's Country and Identity, and the second part gives 15 things related specifically to Britain and Britishness, that I take pride in, and perhaps you might to.

 

As always, I use the word Britain as shorthand for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

 

So let's begin with some background philosophy…

 

SHAME and GUILT as POLITICAL WEAPONS

The opposite of pride is shame, and it is shame which certain people will use as a political weapon if they don't like what you're about.

 

"Why feel pride in your country when you should feel shame about the bad things which have been done in its name", they say.

 

That puts us on the back foot. It makes us defensive. It makes us unsure about our beliefs. It enables the opponent to dominate the debate.

 

Such people want to pour vitriol over our history, or where they don't do that, they want to pour 100s of gallons of Tippex over it so we never knew it existed.

 

Why do they do this?

 

If you can pour vitriol over, for example, the significant people of the past then you can also destroy a nation's sense of itself because if you say that the historical people we are meant to respect and who helped bring us to where we are today, are in fact bad, then you destroy the moral legitimacy of the present.

 

They are using the weapon of Shame and the weapon of Guilt about things in the past in an effort to dominate you politically today; to make you keep your head down and shut you up, basically.

 

So, Shame and Guilt are weapons intended to dominate you politically and are used for that person's political ends.

 

 

HIRSCH – 'The BATTLE for BRITAIN'S HEROES'

There was a programme on last week on Channel 4 called "The Battle for Britain's Heroes" (29-5-18) where the left-wing commentator Afua Hirsch was looking at our national heroes and their monuments and applying her politically-correct tests to them – and of course finding that they fall considerably short, in her opinion!

 

"The Battle" for Britain's Heroes? "The Battle", strange phrase?

 

In this regard, Peter Whittle, a UKIP Member of the London Assembly, tweeted on 29 May that: "There is no 'battle'. No 'debate' outside the tiny world of left wing self-described pseudo academics. This is a concocted controversy imposed on the public, who are left feeling demoralized, confused and self-doubting. Which is the point of the exercise."

 

Very well put. He nailed it there.

 

The point of the exercise is to leave us "feeling demoralized, confused and self-doubting."

 

The aim is to make us feel uncomfortable and consequently reluctant to defend these national characters, or the national stories, of which they are part.

 

And ultimately, because we don't rise to defend them, they get pushed out of popular consciousness, and the Nation that they and their stories represent, no longer lives in the popular imagination and thereby dies, physically, in real life.

 

For a nation to live, we need to be constantly recalling to memory and expressing through many mediums, these elements of our past.

 

I spoke about this in my speech to you 5 years ago on the 18 June 2013.

 

HOW a NATION COMES ALIVE

I asked, how does a Nation, in this case, Britain, come alive for us?

 

Because, often the idea of a nation, and a national identity, is intangible.

 

But one can connect to it – that is, sense it in one's heart and soul, and experience it physically in word and deed – through mechanisms which enable us to reach out and grasp the intangible.

 

What are these mechanisms?

 

I identified:

 

Symbols – through things like flags, passports, monuments, statues, the Queen – who is a symbol, a National Icon.

 

Rituals – through things like singing songs and anthems, marching, or watching marches, partaking in Remembrance Services, attending or even just witnessing on the television, events such as Royal Weddings, Trooping the Colour, National Commemorations, Award Ceremonies, or even Competitions on television – the National Lottery.

 

Institutions – through things like the Monarchy, Parliament, the Armed Forces; and in the past certainly the institution of Empire – which had a huge bearing upon one's sense of British identity. Today we have the Commonwealth, more about that later.

 

Institutions in which an identity can be vested also include things like sporting teams – Team GB, the British Lions – and also industries and services which have a national flavour, whether public like the Royal Mail, the NHS, the former "British Rail", the various Heritage bodies, or private such as charities like the RNLI, RNIB, RSPCA and so on.

 

Through Art and Culture – photographs, paintings, designs; cultural expressions such as video, TV and film productions, music, plays, comedy, dance.

 

Through Products – such as British cars, trains, ships, and all sorts of products which you can buy from fridge magnets to clothes to games and toys.

 

That is, the intangible can be reached, grasped and experienced through loyalty towards symbols; participation in rituals; membership, or at least support, of institutions; involvement in artistic and culture activity related to such things; and possession of, or at least appreciation of, products.

 

It is those things which enable us to connect to the idea of the nation and our national identity in a tangible way.

 

And I would add another…

 

Through Venerating Significant People of the Past – Britain has so many Explorers, Inventors, Engineers, Scientists, Medical Innovators, Kings and Queens, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Academics, Theologians, Sportspeople, Artists, Designers, Architects, you name them.

 

All of these people helped bring us through the centuries to where we are today.

 

Recalling to memory, seeking to understand, and to respect these people enable us to relate to, and thereby grasp, something which is intangible – the idea of the Nation and National Identity – to sense it and to experience it as part of our lived existence.

 

...which brings us back to this lady, Afua Hirsch.

 

But before I talk about her and whether Britain's History is good or bad, let me just put this into context.

 

BRITAIN has SO MUCH HISTORY

Britain is one of the few countries in the world which has a substantial body of opinion which criticises its own history.

 

Why?

 

Perhaps one of the reasons – at least a reason which makes it quite easy for the self-flagellant academic trying to find bad things to talk about – is that Britain just has so much history to speak about in the first place.

 

Think about it!

 

Britain's history is so vast, so immense, so wide ranging, so world-wide, so relevant to the modern age, so abundant.

 

We created huge elements of what we know as the modern world!

 

There is just so much of it to form an opinion around, that perhaps it is no surprise that those who want to look for bad things can find them; among of course, so much good.

 

It's a consequence of Britain's greatness on the world stage that there is so much history to our country, and therefore, so much for some people to make a thing about, for good or bad.

 

It is a consequence of Britain's dynamism in the past, that there is so much history out there – both the good and the bad.

 

Contrast this with countries which were not dynamic, which didn't explore, which didn't leave the safety of the home. They don't have this history – both good and bad – because they were not doing things in the first place.

 

If you don't do anything, you will never make mistakes.

 

If you don't get out of bed in the morning you'll never run the risk of doing anything, or succeeding, or failing, or being good or bad, or accidentally hurting yourself or others.

 

It is a consequence of us doing so much that sometimes we made mistakes along the way, and some bad ones. That's life.

 

So, I'm not going to apologise for things which we did as a consequence of taking action on the world stage.

 

Anyway, back to Hirsch, who finds herself in the enviable and highly privileged position of being able to explore this vast historical Well.

 

UNDERSTANDING HIRSCH'S PREMISE

Hirsch's premise, to the extent that I can divine it, from what she has written, is that Britishness is inherently 'toxic'.

 

She wants to – and she uses the phrase – 'detoxify Britishness', according to her article in The Guardian. (1)

 

She says that Britishness is a 'fragile' identity because of this 'toxicity' and reluctance to explore it!

 

So, she's approaching the debate as if she's handling a highly toxic substance.

 

Whereas people such as myself – who have a solid British identity – approach it with the confident and relaxed premise that Britishness is what it is...and what it is...needs no excuses! (to paraphrase the song).

 

From that position, I'm totally cool about Britishness even if we did things that we can all agree are bad.

 

And we have to agree that they were bad in the first place, which is of course another debateable matter!

 

I'm cool about my identity because I know we also did good things, and at the end of the day, I know it all balances out, and the good outweighs the bad.

 

From that position, we do not condemn the past in order to condemn the present.

 

And we do not condemn the present because of what may have happened in the past.

 

Rather we work to understand the past, and to learn from it, so we can do better.

 

But from her position, we are meant to constantly examine the bad stuff – and here's the thing – with no hope of redemption offered.

 

In other words, her road is a dead end.

 

There is no redeeming light at the end of her tunnel, for us.

 

The only hope of 'redemption' she appears to be offering, is for us to give up on the identity entirely and get rid of it.

 

This would leave us with no identity other than something we are meant to be feeling ashamed and guilty about!

 

I do hope it is not her political agenda to break us in this way!

 

So how do we respond to people like her?

 

REALISE this is REVOLUTION v REASON

Firstly, as I say, I suggest we respond from the fundamental Premise that Britain is what it is and what it is needs no excuses.

 

With that attitude, we can be open to examining the darker recesses, with an intention to learn from them, in order to try to be better.

 

Secondly, we should be wise enough to realise that sometimes these people do have a revolutionary agenda, and reason is not always effective against that.

 

That is, some of them really do want to destroy us – to put it bluntly – and as I say, they do that by using the political weapons of Shame and Guilt.

 

So we should be careful when trying to fight revolution with reason. We should be wise to them!

 

For example, a person who believes Churchill is somehow condemned because he was a 'colonialist', or because he had a negative view of Islam, is not someone who is going to change their opinion because he helped us defeat the Nazis!

 

The person has made up their mind. To such people, Churchill is irredeemably bad and nothing people like us can say to the contrary is going to cleanse him of the irredeemable 'sin' of being a colonialist.

 

Therefore, it's necessary to realise that such people are usually not open to nuance, subtlety, ambiguity, or 'both sides of the story'.

 

Having said that, it is still important to respond with reason for the benefit of the people who are looking-on.

 

Thirdly, also know that the question about whether "the British Empire was good or bad" is not likely to ever be answered to everyone's satisfaction because it depends on whether you believe in Britain in the first place.

 

If you believe in Britain in the first place, then you will tend to want to emphasise the positive elements.

 

If you are against Britain in the first place, then you will tend to want to emphasise the negative.

 

Nor is it really possible to weigh the negatives (concentration camps for Boers) against the positives (building railways, communications, developing democracy and so on) and come to some balance because it is not comparing like with like.

 

Sure, we could create a long list of bad things, as could other countries.

 

But we'd rather create a long list of good things, while learning from our mistakes so we can do better, now and in the future.

 

And that brings me to the second half of my talk...where I shall list some good things about Britain to be proud of.

 

 

COMMUNICATING the VALUE of the UNITED KINGDOM

But first, why am I doing this?

 

We at A Force For Good believe the United Kingdom is a precious possession, but like any precious possession it can be broken; so it has to be constantly valued, esteemed, built up, supported, spoken-well-about.

 

So I speak about "Things we're Proud of" here in order to help communicate the Value of the United Kingdom, both to itself and to the world.

 

Many people don't have a sense of the Value of the UK because we don't always have a political class which understands it, or talks it up, and which openly values it.

 

For example, most of the discourse in the 2014 Scottish Referendum campaign focused on the Union's value to Scotland. Not the value of Scotland to the UK, and the value of the UK to itself and to the world.

 

Secondly…

 

WHAT we MEAN by 'PRIDE'

I often hesitate to speak about 'pride' because pride is one of the 7 deadly sins. However, pride in its place – which is not excessive and boastful – is often essential to a healthy attitude.

 

And when we talk about 'being proud', let's be clear that we're separating the government of the day, from the idea of the Nation.

 

It is important to do that, otherwise you will be critisising a country because you don't like its temporary government.

 

Scottish Nationalists want to destroy the British Nation because they don't like the British Government of the day. They think "the best way to get rid of a Government is to end a country". That's madness. (2)

 

Of course, there are many things which successive UK governments have done, or are doing, which some might consider – including myself – definitely not something to be proud of, maybe even something to be ashamed of.

 

But we don't throw the British Baby out with the political bathwater!

 

So I am not talking here about what the government of the day may be doing on the world stage. Let us separate the parties and their policies from the ideal of the United Kingdom.

 

To the extent that the government is involved, we want to be always holding it to a high moral standard; while also understanding that any government made of imperfect people will always fall short.

 

I'm also not talking about characteristics of the British people, such as fair play, courage, decency, but rather things generally related to historic and constitutional achievements, with some emphasis on the British Union.

 

So...

 

15 REASONS to be PROUD of the UNITED KINGDOM

These are some things which make, and have made, Britain a Force For Good in the world.

 

These are some things which we at A Force For Good take pride in, and hold dear.

 

They are not in any order of importance, but I've tried to make them follow each other appropriately.

 

I'll start with this...

 

1. Our Democratic Heritage and Parliamentary Democracy

Our Representative Parliamentary Democracy, with our Mother of Parliaments, is something to take pride in, regardless of what we may think about the people occupying it and exercising the powers.

 

It represents centuries of political development. Beginning with Magna Carta (15 June 1215) the idea of democracy has developed on these shores.

 

We can also mention the Declaration of Arbroath (1320), to the extent that it mentions that rulers should rule with the consent of the governed.

 

The British have a Democratic Heritage, which we can trace in documents going way back in our Island Story, in a way that other countries of Europe do not. We have a tradition of gradual democratic development in a way that countries such as France and Germany do not.

 

Of course, none of this was without conflict. The Glorious Revolution was crucial in developing our Representative Parliament but it saw considerable bloodshed, especially in Ireland, and the development of fault lines which are still with us.

 

We also Spread Democracy throughout the world. For example, the British took our democratic ideas to India and parts of Africa. Many countries which are democratic today developed their political structure from Britain.

 

I'm talking generally here. I understand this is not without its problems. I don't mean to condone Britain's latest efforts to "bring democracy" to the Middle East, for example!

 

Number 2, an Event in our History...of which we can be proud.

 

2. The Union of the Crowns

 

 

A Force For Good was amazed and delighted to discover this painting, called "The Union of the Crowns" when we visited London. It is part of the ceiling of paintings by Rubens, in the Banqueting House, which are all dedicated to James VI. It depicts James looking on as two women representing Scotland and England hold a new born baby representing Great Britain being crowned by the Goddess Minerva. Below them are artifacts of war symbolising Great Britain's birth out of internal conflict. (Copyright AFFG 7-6-18)

 

In 1603, England accepted a King to rule it – James VI – from a much smaller, less powerful country, Scotland. That in itself was a remarkable political achievement, for both England (that it should do so) and Scotland (that it should succeed in doing so).

 

Granted, he had a rough ride from some people in England who were not fans, but he pulled through for the Greater Good at the end of the day.

 

James VI was an ardent Unionist and his writings on the matter still help to provide a fundamental philosophy for British Unionism today.

 

Historians often refer to him separately as King of England and King of Scots but he wanted to be known as King of Great Britain, which is how he is described in the publication he created, my third point...to be proud about.

 

3. The King James Bible

It was this book which, to a large extent, Christianised large parts of the world during the time of the British Empire.

 

The Frontispiece of the King James Bible states, "James by the Grace of God King of Great Britain".

 

It doesn't say "James VI of Scots and James I of England". No, it says "King of Great Britain".

 

We believe his proper styling should be James VI of Great Britain because he was the sixth James in the territory which had become the Kingdom of Great Britain, even though there had been no James previously in England. Just as Elizabeth II is the second Elizabeth in the territory which has become the United Kingdom, even though there has been no Elizabeth previously in Scotland.

 

Although James VI sought political Union during his time, and was unsuccessful, his efforts did contribute over time to the next event, which I'm noting, and which is a proud one in British History.

 

4. The Union of the Parliaments

The 1707 Union was able to recognise the existing distinctions which existed in Scotland and managed to create a Union without obliterating the component cultural parts. That again is something unique.

 

I am not saying the aftermath of the Union of Parliaments was smooth sailing – far from it! There were the Jacobite Wars, for example. But ultimately, the Union was to prove accommodating to those who didn't initially support it.

 

…which leads on to the fifth point that I'm calling

 

5. British Cultural, Economic and Social Integration

The political Union opened up opportunity on our Islands for everyone on our Islands to contribute all over our Islands.

 

Culturally: The Union enabled us, not only to share in each other's culture throughout the British Isles, but to create each other's culture – from everything to architecture to modern pop music.

 

 

Some quick examples: It was a Scotsman from Paisley, William Young, who designed the War Office in Whitehall as well as Glasgow City Chambers. (Above: The top floor window is where M meets James Bond in many of the films!)

 

It was an Englishman – Sir George Gilbert Scott – who designed Glasgow University, and St Mary's Cathedrals in both Glasgow and Edinburgh; as well as the Albert Memorial and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office here in London.

 

Last week, on 1st June was the date of the death in 1935 of the Englishman, Sir Harold Boulton, who wrote the quintessential 'Scottish' song – 'the Skye Boat Song' (1884).

 

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,

Onward! The sailors cry;

Carry the lad that's born to be King

Over the sea to Skye.

 

It was this song, in particular, which had a huge effect in communicating the story, and romanticising the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, to everyone in the UK – yet it was written by an Englishman.

 

 

It was a Scotsman from the Gorbals – James Robb Scott – who designed Waterloo Station and its beautiful Victory Arch War Memorial entrance.

 

My point is that the extent to which people from England have influenced (that which might be thought of) as Scottish culture, and vice versa, is a demonstration of British social and cultural integration, and has been a huge benefit of the Union.

 

It's something to be proud of.

 

Our organisation lists examples almost daily on our Facebook page. Long may it continue, but it can only continue within the Union, because if we were to go our separate ways, then the shutters would come down...'and thereby might ensue great trouble to the Realm'.

 

Economically: Pooling and sharing of economic resources is another thing to be proud of.

 

I am proud that the taxes I pay in Glasgow go to help people here in London. I want to know that if I move to London then my taxes will also go back to help people in Glasgow.

 

I'm proud that people in Aberdeen are helping people in Aberystwyth; that people in Belfast are helping people in Birmingham.

 

Unionists are proud of this pooling and sharing, but you know what, the Nats hate it!

 

Oh, they absolutely loath it! Seriously, they are always whining that 'Scotland' is paying for 'the London Underground', or some other absurd and selfish complaint.

 

It's genuinely embarrassing. It is like they cannot conceive of a world outside of their immediate tiny scope.

 

Socially: The British Union – and those of us who believe in it – have plenty of room for the Nats to be as 'Scottish' as they want. But they have no room for us British.

 

Our openness to them does not work the other way.

 

For example, witness the SNP's attempt to remove the British flag from its 'government' buildings. We don't mind the Saltire flying on them, but they hate to see the Union Jack.

 

Many of them won't even accept that the United Kingdom is a country. They won't even accept that there is such a thing as 'being British'. They won't even allow us to have our own country and identity!

 

The Union has room for them, but they have no room for the Union.

 

Moving on…

 

 

The Statue of Clive of India, by the Glaswegian John Tweed, stands outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on King Charles Street.

 

6. The British Empire

Whatever people like Afua Hirsch may say, we know it was largely a Force For Good in the world.

 

Indeed, many people saw the Empire as a means of enabling the British to serve humanity.

 

This was especially so after the 7-year trial of Warren Hastings (1788-1795), and as we began to enter the 19th century.

 

As Jeremy Paxman has written:

"the impeachment of Hastings marked the point at which Britain became the first of the modern empires to mount a detailed interrogation of what was being done abroad in its name. It was part of a wider moral awakening in the dying years of the eighteenth century, of a piece with a growing revulsion at the cruelties of the slave trade." (3)

 

We're speaking especially here of the period known as Pax Britannica (Latin for 'British Peace'); the 'imperial century' between Wellington's victory at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 and the start of the Great War on 28 July 1914.

 

This was a period of relative peace between the Great Powers during which the British Empire became the dominant global power and adopted the role of a global police force.

 

During this time, with some exceptions – which no doubt Afua Hirsch would jump up to tell us about if she were sitting here tonight – Britain spread Law and Order, created Civil Service structures, built Public Works including roads, schools, canals, railways. Spread Industry, and new Technology.

 

We promoted Christianity, and Religious Toleration. We built Hospitals, and fought infectious diseases with medicines and vaccination; and built Trade and Wealth world-wide.

 

George Macaulay Trevelyan said it well: "Her command of the sea, her far flung empire, her mounting industrial power, her commercial supremacy, her inventive genius – above all, her increasing moral stature and her expanding spiritual vision – won her a place of unique leadership amongst the nations."

 

Number 7…

 

7. The English Language

At the same time, we spread the English Language throughout the world, especially in India and Africa, where the English Language itself helped to break down ethnic and cultural rivalries, as well as promote education.

 

Even in the British Isles, the English language has promoted cohesion.

 

You know, Scottish Nationalists will talk about the promotion of "the Queen's English" as somehow meant to deliberately "oppress regional accents, or languages".

 

That's not the reason at all. The reason for attempting to enforce standard English was to ensure the people of these Islands could communicate with each other in the first place.

 

It was entirely practical and was intended to be a democratising act – to make us all speak the same so we could all understand each other!

 

Indeed, even today, those people in the UK who struggle to speak English in a coherent manner severely limit their life's choices and chances.

 

With the English Language and the Empire came…

 

8. The World of Sports

The World Cup is in a few days. It's a good time to remind ourselves of the astonishing extent to which the British invented virtually the entire modern World of Sports!

 

We invented them, codified them and spread them throughout the world, often at the same time as the Empire. Think of the joy these Sports have brought to countless millions the world over...thanks to the British.

 

Coming down on the train, I was catching up with some reading and I discovered that Water Polo was invented in the Arlington Baths, in Glasgow. Water Polo!

 

After the Empire came another thing to be proud of…

 

 

The Memorial Gates, on Constitution Hill, commemorate the services and sacrifices of the men and women of the Indian Sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean who volunteered to fight with the British in the two World Wars.

 

9. The Commonwealth

It no longer gets called The British Commonwealth, but I like to call it 'the British Wealth that we have in Common'.

 

I say this to the ScotNats, you know, if the British Empire was so bad, how come the Commonwealth has got 53 members? Seems they still want to be associated with us!

 

Indeed, it is unprecedented in the history of the world – and in the history of world empires – that an empire should dissolve, yet the countries should stay together on this scale in a less formal way.

 

The Commonwealth is direct evidence that Britain continues to enjoy immense goodwill around the world, and it is very much something to be proud of, in a national sense.

 

At this time in our history – especially with Brexit – it has never been more important for Britain to cultivate our links with the nations which have remained close to us over all these years.

 

The Commonwealth is a vast and potential Force For Good in the world – with a combined population of 2.3 billion people, almost a third of the world population

 

It enables those of us who believe in the UK to make the case alongside all the other people throughout this world, who believe in us.

 

10. The Monarchy

It provides human embodiments of the Nation itself. It's a unique inheritance which helps to make Britain instantly recognisable in the world.

 

It gives Britain a recognisable human characteristic which sets it apart from other nations. People worldwide have been able to recognise and imagine Britain simply by the picture of the Queen or King.

 

I read a quote recently that the Monarchy "testifies to the good fortune of our country". 

 

"The Good Fortune of our Country" – I like that. (4)

 

 

Union Jacks, Chinese Flags, and Well-Wishing Banners in Chinatown, London, celebrate the marriage of Harry and Meghan. 

 

11. The National Anthem

Related to the Monarchy is the National Anthem. Perhaps the tune isn't the funkiest in the world, but it is unique in that it is in the form of a prayer to God to protect the individual who embodies the national soul; "God Save our Gracious Queen"; rather than like many other national anthems which can be jingoistic appeals to abstract notions of national greatness.

 

That's a unique thing, and something to be proud of.

 

Related around the Monarchy is number 12…

 

12. British Pageantry

The British do this extremely well.

 

Think of the Opening of Parliament, or the latest Royal Wedding of the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton – otherwise known as Harry and Meghan. Fantastic pageantry.

 

There's an interesting short film from 1951 called "Family Portrait". It was made for the Festival of Britain that year by Sir Humphrey Jennings. It develops the narrative of Britain as a family, involved in a common project.

 

It makes reference to Pageantry. The narrator says:

 

"We like pageantry. But then pageantry in Britain (believe it or not) isn't put on by a sinister power to impress anyone, nor just to have fun. It's part of the pattern of life. The year itself swings round in a pattern of events. The secret is that we created these things ourselves, gradually, but as Milton warned us, not without dust and heat. The banks of Runnymede, the heights of Edinburgh, the Palace of Westminster itself, were once battlegrounds where the burning ideas of other civilisations were bitterly adapted to the climate at home."

 

This Saturday, we have Trooping the Colour, where we will see the Household Cavalry in action. They are crucial to British Pageantry. They are another iconic thing, like the Monarchy, which people think about when they think of Britain the Nation.

 

They are such a precious inheritance that we can be proud of.

 

Related to Pageantry, number 13...

 

13. The Union Jack

Of particular interest to Unionists is that it was the Scottish King, James VI, who ordered its creation on 12 April 1606, to fly from the main mast of all English and Scottish shipping to signify the Union of the Two kingdoms.

 

And what a stunning design! Today, in addition to the United Kingdom, there are at least another 30 national and state flags in the world which also feature the Union Jack

 

 

The Rifle Brigade Memorial, by the Glaswegian John Tweed, commemorates the men who lost their lives in the Great War. It sits at the junction of Grosvenor Gardens and Hobart Place, near Victoria Station. Tweed also designed the Clive of India statue above.

 

14. British Armed Forces

Still something very much to be proud of – what's left of them – and composed of men and women from throughout Britain and the Commonwealth.

 

Related to our Armed Forces is the final one here…

 

15. We Fight and Beat Tyrants

Francis Drake and his sailors saw off Phillip II of Spain (in 1588)...we saw off Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser, Hitler, and we faced down the Communists right up until the end of the 20th Century, sometimes fighting them directly in various post-WW2 conflicts. These are all proud accomplishments of our ancestors.

 

WE have the BIG BRITISH PICTURE

Few separatists have an understanding of Scottish, let alone British history and culture and world connections through time, in the manner that we do!

 

For many people today, throughout the UK, the idea of the Union, and especially our narrative of the Nation of Britain and its coming together through social and cultural and economic unions and regal and political unions through time – and the importance of all that – well that's not something that occurs to them.

 

So we have to articulate it.

 

Many of them don't know what they stand to lose because they don't know what they have!

 

They play with fire, and they don't realise that they could burn down our house that we've built together, over thousands of years!

 

That's one of the reasons why our educational work is so important.

 

We work to introduce people to their British Inheritance and to the Vision of Britain as a Force For Good in the world.

 

We work to help people realise that it's important to stay together so that this Vision can be achieved.

 

If we're broken up then that Vision is destroyed...and for what?

 

How is an 'independent Scotland', constantly bickering with its Island neighbours, going to add value to anything?

 

You know, I don't want to see the UK being broken up! I'm going to do everything I can to prevent that, and everything I can to make the bonds of Britishness stronger!

 

I like being British. Indeed, I think it's Great to be British!

 

And perhaps my Speech has given you some reasons why.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for listening.

 

If you appreciate our work, please Donate to help us keep doing it! As little as £2 a month is appreciated!

REFERENCES

(1) Afua Hirsch, 'Britain doesn't just glorify its violent past: it gets high on it', The Guardian, 30-5-18,

theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/29/britain-glorify-violent-past-defensive-empire-drug

 

(2) In 2013, the Labour MP for Glasgow East, Margaret Curran accurately said:

"Instead of providing a positive vision, the Nationalists are increasingly reliant on a negative argument that says the best way to get rid of a Government is to end a country...The playbook for the SNP's campaign now only goes as far as a belief that people hate the UK Government enough to break up the United Kingdom...It's a curious argument from the SNP that says we should be in all other unions except the one on our own doorstep...The truth is that if the partnership between our nations didn't exist, then someone would have to invent it."

Tom Peterkin, "Scottish independence: Curran 'negative' SNP claim", The Scotsman, 27-3-14, scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-independence-curran-negative-snp-claim-1-2860241

 

(3) Jeremy Paxman, Empire, (London, Penguin paperback, 2012), pp.83-84.

 

(4) Robert Tombs, 'Britain's monarchy testifies to the good fortune of our country', The Daily Telegraph, 20-5-18, p. 28.

 

If you appreciate our work, please Donate to help us keep doing it!

 

 

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