Recovering National Rational Self Confidence for Independence.
by Edward Spalton, Chairman,
Campaign for an Independent Britain
Address to the BIWF Conference, the Palace Hotel, Buxton, Derbyshire
17 July 2015
copies available from 1 Barnfield Common Lane,
Hemmingford Abbots, PE28 9AX
“To be ignorant of what happened before you were born, is to remain a child forever” – Marcus Tullius Cicero, orator and defender of the constitution of the ancient Roman Republic.
Cicero knew this over 2000 years ago. So do our political masters today. By the measure of Marcus Tullius, the people of this country – particularly the young – are being kept deliberately in a child-like state of mind, rootless and easily manipulated according to the Politically Correct dictates of our EU-subordinate government.
The Royal Air Force Association recently conducted a survey which showed widespread ignorance about the Battle of Britain. SSAFA, the Soldiers,Sailors and Air Force Association, conducted a similar survey about VE Day which revealed that over half of 18 to 25 year olds did not know that VE Day celebrated Victory in Europe. Thirty eight per cent could not identify Winston Churchill as the prime minister of the time. More worryingly, seven per cent thought it was President Kennedy, seven per cent thought it was Margaret Thatcher and four per cent even believed it was Tony Blair! They had little sense of chronological sequence. Thirty eight per cent believed that the first moon landing, Britain’s entry into the European Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall had all happened before VE Day! A 2004 survey by the BBC showed that half of the 16 to 34 year olds did not know that the Battle of Britain had happened during the Second World War.
More worrying still, a survey of results from 2006, 2007and 2008, published in 2009 showed that undergraduates in the top 15% of academic achievement were also extremely ignorant. Here are the percentages of correct answers to the following questions.
1. Who was the general in charge of the British army at the Battle of Waterloo?
2. Who was the reigning monarch when the Spanish armada attacked Britain?
3. What was Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s profession? 40.5%
4. Name one prime minister of the 19th century. 11.5%
5. In what country was the Boer War of 1899-1902 fought? 30.6%
Professor Matthews of Cardiff University, who set these questions, also recounted how students in a typical tutorial had never heard of the Reformation and did not know what was meant by the term “Protestant”. He said “This implies that, all things being equal, 85% of my undergraduates’ age group know even less than they do. In other words we are looking at a whole generation that knows almost nothing about the history of their own (or anyone else’s) country. This is an outrage and should be intolerable”.
Details of how this appalling situation has been deliberately, officially fostered by the “progressive “ educational establishment can be found in our CIB booklet on the national curriculum for history “Generations Betrayed – Cutting the Roots of our National Identity”, researched and written for us by Chris McGovern, an experienced headmaster who leads the Campaign for Real Education.
We commissioned this booklet and other studies with the help of volunteers because members of CIB serve in the CIVITAS programme of information about the EU, speaking to sixth forms in balanced debate with representatives of the European Movement. I have done this for about eight years now and, until quite recently, I won every one – often by landslide majorities.
Well, pride goeth before a fall! Around two years ago I had the salutary experience of losing a debate with an MEP who advanced very little of substance except to say “The EU is like a family. Like your own family it’s not perfect but you would be very lonely without it”. He said a bit about opportunities for study and careers in Europe and that the EU was democratic because the voters elected him to sit in the EU parliament. He urged the pupils to take an interest in politics and concluded “one day, one of you could be President of Europe”. He really did! It was like a child’s bedtime story. It was mortifying to lose to such tripe when I had made my usually successful, reasoned case.
The next school I attended had an organised group of Pakistani boys who were determined that I was a racist. When I pointed out our unfavourable balance of trade with the EU, I said “So our biggest export to the EU has been skilled British jobs and we have got back shelf stacking and spanner and screwdriver work.” To them, this was proof positive of my disrespect and hatred for immigrants! A large proportion of pupils abstained from voting at that school – something I had not experienced before. The school was later the subject of a complaint because a lesson on the Holocaust of the Jews had included a UKIP logo in association with symbols of Nazism, fascism and racism.
I am in touch with three other speakers on the CIVITAS programme – one in Shropshire, one in the West Midlands and one in London – all experienced speakers. They ALL report a similar experience. From always winning, they quite suddenly went to always losing. I think that the general Politically Correct, multi-culti indoctrination has played its part but the EU itself has been very active in providing materials to schools – starting with attractive colouring books and the like for infants up to course materials for older pupils and a comic paper hero, Captain Euro. I don’t think it is likely that we four experienced speakers in different parts of the country all just went off-form simultaneously. Something else had happened. I believe that a long-standing programme of subtle indoctrination has now worked its way from infants to sixth forms. This is known to our enemies and I believe it to be behind the demand for votes at the age of sixteen. All the youngsters I have addressed will be of voting age in the referendum.
There is one bright ray on the horizon. A year later, I returned to the scene of my first defeat and won the debate by a modest majority with a slightly amended presentation. It included a fair amount of emphasis on youth unemployment in the Eurozone and the terrible tragedy of Greek babies dying because of the collapse of the Greek NHS, de-funded by order of the order of EU authorities. So the “Blob” (as the “progressive” educational establishment is called) can be defeated by adjusting our approach to something genuine but with a strong emotional content.
So we have a population with rapidly changing attitudes and indeed changing racial composition too. Yet many of us long-serving activists in the independence movement have not shifted our ideas to match. I am not suggesting that we relax our determination to win. But we should adjust our outlook to take account of people as they are and the institutions of the EU as they are today after over forty years of our self-inflicted subjection.
Admirable fixity of purpose can become mere bone-headed stupidity in changed circumstances – just as some doubtlessly brave Colonel Blimps opposed the replacement of the British soldier’s traditional red coat with khaki or the replacement of cavalry with tanks. Different times call for different methods, strategy and tactics.
But some people think they have the gift or office – or perhaps delusion- of immutable infallibility – rather like the law of the Medes and the Persians which altereth not – and where are those Medes and Persians today?
(This audience will certainly know of the sixth chapter of the Book of Daniel. Daniel fell foul of a Directive issued by King Darius. The King found that his Directive was unalterable according to his own rigid law which you could call the “Acquis Communautaire” of of its day. Even though Daniel was Chief President of the Commission, appointed by Darius over the Medean-Persian Union, he was sent to the lions’ den. The Medes and Persians were not quite as advanced as the EU and had not invented the rule which makes officials permanently immune from the law.
As an EU Commissioner, Daniel would have got off!)
Those of us who do not have inflexible infallibility have to look at situations as they arise and, although it can be very strenuous and painful indeed, to change our minds about strategy and tactics whilst sticking to our objective, when the facts change or when previously unknown or unconsidered facts come to light.
When the independence movement was a scorned, small minority, it was very sustaining to know that we were right, everybody else was wrong and furthermore acting illegally and unconstitutionally. With the arrival of the Great Day of liberation from the European project, there would be a glorious deliverance: our chains would fall away and the world would watch in dread amaze as Britannia waived the rules and all became sweetness and light. Noble Lords and faithful Commons would well and truly serve their Sovereign, freed from Political Correctness and alien law; our yeomen would till the soil, our ships plough the sea whilst our factories would hum with renewed prosperity. In face of the shoddy reality of economic decline, utter scorn and contempt from the powerful, sparsely attended meetings in draughty, comfortless halls and occasional infighting of astonishing viciousness, it was a noble enough myth and aspiration to sustain many of us through long decades of dispiriting, unrewarded toil. Like all good myths, there was plenty of truth in it.
But as the prospect of actually leaving the EU moved from pure imagination into the realm of political possibility, it became clear that the world was a far more complicated place than this myth allowed – this myth which really did not look much beyond the great internal wrong of the EU project, the slighting of our abused constitution.
We live by trade. Global trade depends on global regulation, global standards of goods and services in which the EU is but a small and declining part. But we are plugged into this global circuit through our membership of the EU , as we have been for forty years of increasingly complex agreements. Simply to repudiate these treaties, which were freely entered into by our own elected governments and parliaments, would not only create enormous, quite unnecessary economic dislocation, uncertainty and chaos for ourselves but would be a return to the ultimatum style of diplomacy favoured by Hitler and Mussolini which so blighted the last century – not very British really! It would certainly rebound to the great loss of our industries and our country”s reputation.
We do not have the excuse of a Versailles treaty imposed upon us. The EU has taken nothing which has not been freely given by the parliaments which we elected under no discernible duress, albeit with a great deal of deceit by our political class.
One analogy to the thinking of the “Repeal the European Communities Act and tell ’em to sod off brigade” is with the sly manipulation of the terrible toddler in a tantrum, throwing all his toys out of the pram and expecting the kind grown ups to soothe him and bring them back. “They sell more to us than we do to them, so they’d have to, wouldn’t they?” is the thinking. I doubt that the grown-ups would oblige!
I can understand and indeed share the anger which fuels this attitude but to take such a risk of disruption with the economy of a whole nation, trusting that all would simply be “all right on the night” is not sober calculation but reckless, cavalier folly – and there is absolutely no need for it either.
Whilst enthusiasm will undoubtedly be called for in massive quantities, it has to be channelled to winning moderate, presently uncommitted opinion to the cause of independence. The object of fighting a referendum campaign is to win it – not to create an emotionally satisfying campaign experience, leading to glorious defeat like the charge of the Light Brigade. As a French general remarked on that occasion “C’est magnifique mais ce n’est pas la guerre”. What raises a cheer at a CIB or UKIP meeting will be less inspiring to a couple with a mortgage whose income comes from jobs supplying the EU market, depending on unbroken continuity of trade to keep up the payments on their family home.
Whilst the reasons for leaving the EU are deeply constitutional and political, the arguments being advanced are overwhelmingly economic – just as they were for our entry. In the Sunday Telegraph of 28 July 2013 a Mr John Lidstone wrote –
From 1961 to 1972, as part of a team of key businessmen I spoke at meetings throughout Britain arguing the case for the United Kingdom to join for trade purposes what was then known as the European Common Market. The case for enjoying favourable access to a market place of millions of people was overwhelming. Had Ted Heath, the chief negotiator, told the British people what the long term consequences of joining the EU would be, I and my team would never have supported such a policy”.
Well, that “common market” with the EU and other countries does now exist separately from the political structure of the EU. It is called the EEA – the European Economic Area and independent countries belong to it and to EFTA, the European Free Trade Association.
Whenever you hear some prominent businessman insisting that we must stay in the EU, it is the access to the EEA, the European Economic Area, to which he is referring – not the odious political superstate structure of the EU. The independent countries in the EEA are right outside those political structures and not subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice, that politicised pseudo court of the EU. They are able to take their place on the world bodies which regulate global trade and increasingly tell the EU what to do. They can also make their own trade agreement and treaties with all the countries of the world on their own terms . Britain cannot do either of these things but always has to go along with the “common position”, decided for us by the EU. Goods and services from the EEA countries enjoy access to the European Single Market on terms scarcely different from those we have as a member state of the EU.
When we leave the EU, it will not be a matter of pulling up the gang plank and sailing away. The EU countries will still be our neighbours. We have no quarrel with them and every reason and possibility of being on good, neighbourly terms.
Here is a short but very concentrated video, explaining the different possibilities for trade relations with the EU countries after independence and how the EEA/EFTA option completely pulls the rug from under our opponents’ scaremongering about loss of jobs and markets – because our trade can go on exactly as it does at present. Behind the video stands much detailed work by Dr. Richard North of the eureferendum blog and by Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group, tabulated in great detail in a plan which they have called not BREXIT but FLEXCIT because it is flexible, adaptable and capable of continuous updating. It’s not perfect but it takes account of the world as it is and, because it is an “off the peg” solution, could be negotiated within a year or two of the referendum decision without the need for a single day’s uncertainty or disruption of trade – which could be so disastrous for that couple with a big mortgage whom I mentioned, or indeed for their employer. There would be no need to make a drama out of a crisis – because there need not be either.