COVID and the window of opportunity that it has opened for those working to turn our once green and pleasant land into a violent multicultural police state show that there is little that is new under the sun. Lies and treachery have been the hallmark of politicians and their apparatchiks down all the days and this has reminded me of an example that affects us to this day.
In a chapter entitled ‘Rangoon Road’ from his 1993 memoir Quartered Safe Out Here, George MacDonald Fraser (he of Flashman fame) gives an account of his role in the Burma Campaign during the Second World War and comments upon the results of the 1945 general election which brought the Labour Party to power. The following is an abridged version of that chapter:
‘They voted with high hopes, for a better, fairer Britain, and to some extent they got it. Mostly it was a vote to get “them” out – “them” being not just the Conservatives, but all that was believed they stood for: wealth and privilege and authority as personified by civilian employers and army officers . . . It was a strange election for me – old enough to lead a section in war but not old enough to vote . . . no, it was their election, not mine. They had earned it . . . they were Labour to a man but not necessarily socialist as the term is understood now.
‘Their socialism was of a simple kind: they had known the Thirties and they didn’t want it again: the dole queue, the street corner, the true poverty of that time. They wanted jobs and security, and a better future for their children than they had had – and they got that and they were thankful for it. It was what they had fought for, over and beyond the pressing need of ensuring that Britain did not become a Nazi slave state.
‘Still, the Britain they see in their old age is hardly “the land fit for heroes” that they envisaged – if that land existed in their imaginations, it was probably a place where the pre-war values co-existed with decent wages and housing. And then it changed, in the name of progress and improvement and enlightenment, which meant the destruction of much that they had fought for and held dear, and the betrayal of familiar things that they had loved . . .
‘They did not fight for a Britain that would be dishonestly railroaded into Europe against the people’s will; they did not fight for a Britain where successive governments would, by their weakness and folly, encourage crime and violence on an unprecedented scale; they did not fight for a Britain where thugs and psychopaths could murder and maim and torture and never have a finger laid on them for it; they did not fight for a Britain whose leaders would be too cowardly to declare war on terrorism; they did not fight for a Britain whose Parliament would, time and time again, betray its trust by legislating against the wishes of the country . . . they did not fight for a Britain whose churches and schools would be undermined by fashionable reformers; they did not fight for a Britain where free choice could be anathematised as “discrimination”; they did not fight for a Britain where to hold by truths and values which have been thought good for a thousand years would be to run the risk of being called “fascist” – that, really, is the greatest and most pitiful irony of all.’
Is it possible that we and others yet to awake, could give the dream back to their memory? Do we have the courage and the backbone?