#Brexit: Can we be Proud of Britain’s History?

British MP Liam Fox said last week in a speech discussing why Britain should leave the EU that Britain had a proud history that it didn’t have to hide from…

Now of course this led many to raise their hands and say, “Wait a minute, what about…” Of course they are quite right British History is very much like a Teenager’s face, pot-marked with blemishes…

One example of those questioning Liam Fox’s view is internet Journalist Mic Wright

I’m not one to claim I’m ‘proud’ of being British. The idea of national pride makes me queasy, being a hop, skip and a jump away from the more virulent idea of nationalism. If you come from the position that we are one humanity, the notion of throwing blanket support over one nation is difficult.

That said, my great-grandfathers fought in the First and Second World Wars, my grandfather was in the Royal Navy (national service) and my parents are both Royal Navy veterans. My dad in particular served in the Falklands War, a conflict I believe was entirely necessary. Some hippy notion of a borderless world is also impossible for me to countenance.

The problem with banging the drum for Britain’s historical role during the 20th Century is that it’s only a sustainable position if you’re white and prone to selective hearing and vision.

Britain was a colonial power well into the middle of the 20th century, it pioneered the use of concentration camps during the Boer War, had the RAF firebomb Dresden, withdrew from Palestine knowing war was inevitable between the Jews and Palestinians, saw its soldiers shoot civilians during Bloody Sunday and had its fingerprints on any number of dark deeds during covert wars. And that’s far from a complete list.

For me, as a graduate of History, this is an interesting topic and an interesting question. Can or should we be proud of British History or Britain itself?

This I believe is a matter of perspective. It depends, I contend, on how you judge statism. If you believe in the idea of statism, that is you believe there must be a state and that the state can be a force for good then you may judge the British state rather harshly. If you have a specific standard by which all states should behave, then Britain probably fails. I’m not sure what Mic Wright believes on this point — I won’t pretend to guess.

However as a Libertarian, of the minarchist variety, I don’t believe in the idea of the ‘Good State’. Statism is a fundamentally flawed outlook and as a result all states are bad. The only question that really matters is, how bad? All states centralise power and resources to some degree therefore there will always be a level of corruption and violence associated with every state.

The state is though a historical fact. There is no real example of a non-state society and it’s difficult to think what a non-state society might look like. This may change, but it hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t look like it’s going to. If you take this position, like many Libertarians do, you may assume that the aim of freedom lovers is to minimise state power and violence rather than eradicate it. The latter being impossible.

Many throughout history have come to similar conclusions. This explains why ideas like Democracy and the Judiciary have developed, they are tools to minimise the impact of the state, not to make it perfect. Attempts to limit state power were made by both the Founding Fathers and the Roman Republic. Neither the US nor the Roman Republic are or were perfect societies, they both attempted though to minimise state power and violence. For a period of time they were relatively successful and the US system continues to be to some degree. As Obama said…

“Our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes.”

Therefore I don’t believe, unlike Mic, that ‘President’ Trump poses a great threat to the American system. I would contend that the Founding Fathers designed their system specifically to cope with demagogues and populists like Trump.

If you tackle British History from an anti-state/anti-statism perspective then Britain doesn’t look so bad. It could be much worse and over the last 500 years under the British variant of statism a lot has been achieved.

Relatively speaking Britain and its Empire aren’t associated with some of the truly awful crimes of History. Yes, The Opium Wars with China, the 1857 Mutiny in India, the Boer War, Bloody Sunday, Iraq and various other incidents were terrible. They certainly are not to be endorsed, repeated nor celebrated.

However fundamentally Britain for several hundred years now has been a relatively decent state. It has in its own hodge-podge way tried to minimise state power and violence. This is reflected best by the fact that we can discuss the quality of our state, question its current policies, its ideological outlook and its history. There are many states, like Saudi Arabia, where this can’t be done right now.

Also like the spotty teenager mentioned above Britain’s history isn’t all bad — it’s not all spots and surly strops…

The British Empire defeated Napoleon, a nasty power hungry little demagogue. It was British Parliamentary Democracy that between 1808 and 1843 ended Slavery within the Empire entirely. It was the British system that allowed both the Suffragettes and later the Gay Rights campaigners to succeed.

The British played a significant part in defeating Nazism and Communism — both truly abhorrent strains of the statist disease. Britain is not associated with any truly horrific acts. It doesn’t have the Nazi death camps or the Communist Gulags. There was no Great Leap Forward.

Unlike the Spanish Empire it didn’t plunder so much silver and gold that it brought its own economy to its knees. It didn’t carry out the Gallic Wars, which Caesar himself believes killed 1 million people.

Britain for centuries has been a relatively peaceful, stable and free country. As a result it is a country that has allowed many new political and philosophical ideas to develop and flourish. Many great thinkers such as Smith, Mill, Hayek, Keynes, Woolf, Orwell and even Karl Marx have lived and worked in Britain. Great debates have flowed between the likes of Paine and Burke, Hayek and Keynes.

In science we gave the world both Newton and Darwin — both highly controversial figures in their day. In medicine John Snow discovered the cause of Cholera and Alexander Fleming gave us penicillin. Britain not only played a crucial role in developing many positive things but also helped spread these things around the globe.

In Britain today we don’t beat Women because they’re caught spending time alone with men. A result of a relatively free country, that over time has done away with a lot of the religious superstition that holds much of the world back. And importantly for a long time we’ve had a diverse and powerful feminist movement.

States are not pretty, cute institutions with clean hands — they’re not like Battersea Dogs Home… They are dirty, often poorly led, incompetent, and history shows they generally commit acts of horrendous terror. Britain though is and has been one of the better states — we’re not Switzerland or Luxembourg — but we’re somewhere near the top and we’ve given a lot to the world — certainly more than Switzerland and Luxembourg…

I’m not sure I’m proud to be British or proud of all its history. I certainly can’t lay claim to any of the achievements nor am I responsible for any of the crimes or failings.

I am though very glad to be British. I’m glad I was lucky to be born in a relatively free, wealthy, stable and pleasant country. This is a result of our history — as Newton sort of said, “We stand on the shoulders of giants…” And overall there is no doubt in my mind if the world were a bit more like Britain it would be a better place.

Beware of the watermelons!

hi‘Imagine a world of efficient and welcoming public services, coordinated action on climate change, equality, workers’ rights, an economy that works for people and planet at a human scale, restorative justice, and real care for the future […] Imagine a political party that prioritises the protection of the land, the seas and their inhabitants.’

The slogan of the Green Party manifesto is “for the common good”, the typically presumptuous mantra of the collectivist. Above all others, the Greens are truly the party of utopianism; their manifesto is a vision of the kingdom on Earth. The party is an odd hybrid of a hard left socialist/60’s counter-culture political movement and a sort-of religious cult. This is a form of middle-class communism designed by a coalition of sad middle aged women, washed up commies and wet hippies.

When properly scrutinised the Green Party crumbles because their aspirations are built on a weak foundation of fantasy and blinkered dogma. Natalie Bennett is a weak performer, but she is caught out under pressure because her plan for Britain is not in the realms of reality economically or socially; it is just a risible leftist fantasy that has been discredited so many times its astonishing that the Greens are taken seriously at all.

Ludicrously, their populism and good intentioned extreme leftism coated in environmentalism is marketed as “fresh”, as if it offers something new that has not been tried before. Similar attempts to create this political paradise have failed all over the world, causing misery and poverty, not to mention tyranny.

There is nothing new on offer, just old school socialism and the high minded self righteousness of the ideologue.  The Greens believe in their own benevolence and want to expand the power of the state to dictate and impose their beliefs on the rest of us, while at the same time completely destroying the economy with their delusional policies.

The harshest criticism of the media is reserved for Ukip, the Green Party have escaped the ridicule they deserve because of the perceived virtue of being left-wing. It is deeply lamentable that a party that aspires to be influential in a coalition, has a greater membership than Ukip and the Lib Dems, and at its peak polled 11%, is not examined more closely and attacked more vehemently across the media spectrum on a sustained basis.

A party with a proclivity for announcing economically dubious policies without being able to offer details on how they would be funded should immediately set alarm bells ringing. The manifesto attempts to put its readers at ease, apparently everything is “fully costed”, there is even a section at the end of the document hilariously entitled “it does all add up”, just in case you still had doubts.

Let me examine that for a moment because it is abundantly clear that a Green Party government (*shudder*) would be the most haplessly profligate the country has ever known. Ending austerity is the standard cry of left wing populism, ignoring the reality of a £90 billion deficit and the relative modesty of the cuts in spending we have undergone in the previous five years. If you really want to end “austerity” then look no further, vote Green.

One of the few indisputable achievements of the Coalition has been to reduce spending by shrinking the size of the bloated public sector and simultaneously facilitating the creation of private sector jobs. This has, contrary to the warnings from the left, led to the creation of millions of jobs that have more than replaced those lost. No matter, the private sector is inherently immoral and the public sector automatically desirable and beneficial whatever the cost.

The Green Party would create “over one million good jobs that pay at least the living wage” (my bold). At least, because they would also whack up the minimum wage to £10 an hour by 2020, so actually the plan is for the government to create a million job that pay £10 an hour. Fantastic, it’s just so easy this governing lark. In-fact, why not create two million and pay them £20 an hour? That solves the unemployment and low pay problem at a stroke!

The private sector will see its wage bill sky rocket. This must sound fantastic to students and air headed leftists, but will that encourage small businesses to hire more staff? You do not need to know much about business to understand how the young and unskilled would be shunned by employers who deem them not worth this new high minimum.

It’s classic false economy, protecting the already employed but hampering job creation and leaving those with no or few skills unemployed, how very progressive. Luckily the poor who have been priced out of work will be receiving more benefits under the Greens, so that’s that sorted.

Needless to say the Green Party will take some pretty drastic action on climate change, but no other party has a pledge quite as grandiose as their plan to “hold the increase in global temperature to below 2 degrees”. The environmental lobby will be happy with a Green government, but the poor certainly will not be.

Inflated energy bills caused by mad, reactionary “green” policies are already directly harming the poor; the Green Party want to take this to a whole new level. Since 2005 there has been a 50% increase in electricity prices, and heating a home in the UK has become 63% more expensive, all the while real wages have been in decline during the recession and the slow recovery. This is impoverishing to those who cannot afford to pay and leads the poor to consume less energy and suffer the consequences.

Green policies also restrict industry, hamper growth and disadvantage the UK against its international competitors, so the party pledge to “ban fracking, phase out coal power stations and say no to new nuclear” seems like a fast track to an exodus of industry and energy reliant business and the total depletion of the UK’s industrial base. Luckily they have this covered by the plan to “invest £85 billion to create a public programme of renewable electricity generation, flood defences and building insulation”, £45 billion of which is reserved for free loft insulation for us lucky citizens. Phew, for a minute there I was really worried.

The policies I have already discussed are eye wateringly expensive, so I think you are getting the gist. So I can brush past the plans for the massive expansion of the welfare state- including doubling child benefits and increasing the state pension to £180 a week – and investing £12 billion in the NHS while providing free universal care for the elderly and cancelling all private sector contracts; the nationalisation of the railways and the cutting of fares by 10%; cancelling all owed student debt and abolishing tuition fees. All in all, their economic plan would increase public expenditure by approximately £177 billion a year by 2020.

It does all add up” though remember, because they plan to raise £198 billion a year in taxes to pay for all this and be running a budget surplus after five years. Yep, cuckoo, cuckoo. La la la, la la la, la la la la la…

Now this is what you call a tax bomb shell: Corporation tax (the reduction in which has led to mass job creation) will be raised to 30% and bring in £12 billion. A new wealth tax “on the top 1%” of earners will bring in £25 billion. A levy on financial transactions dubbed the “Robin Hood tax” will boost the coffers to the tune of £20 billion. Abolishing capital gains tax allowance for another £3 billion. Duty on alcohol and tobacco will be increased by £1.4 billion annually and bring in £5.7 billion over the course of the parliament. A £16 billion green tariff on air travel will kill two birds with one stone, boosting income and the environment. The top rate of tax will be raised to 60% for an extra £2.3 billion of revenue. Most genius of all is the move to clamp down on tax avoidance for a whopping £30 billion a year. So there you have it, “it does all add up”, and you doubted them, you cynic you!

It is a suicide note for the economy, clearly. You do have to wonder whether the people who think this up, and those who believe in it, are mad, idiotic or just in the grip of a kind of political faith that defies rationality. Only being hopelessly captured by blind dogma explains this total lack of reason. It is typical of the utopianist to believe they can alter human nature and of the statist to believe they can force this change and impose their will.

Raising the top rate of tax to 50% did not bring in more revenue, in-fact it is likely to have had a net negative effect. This is because, humans being humans, they change the way they behave in response to circumstance, in this case punitive government policy.

So raise the top rate of tax and tax the assets of the rich, the most mobile section of the population, by 2% and watch the exodus. The exits will be pretty crowded though, as the investment banks rush out to avoid the “Robin Hood tax” and businesses the heavy corporation tax. The Green Party would certainly bring a vast boost to exports; Britain would be the biggest exporter of wealth, talent and jobs in the world.

It’s the left wing intellectuals, artists, film stars and comedians I feel for. Think of the strained excuses they’d have to dream up to explain why they’ve moved to the US or Monaco, or created a new company located in the Cayman Islands. Poor fools.

Natalie Bennett has a “brain fade” moment when she was utterly unable to explain how any of her ridiculous proposals would be funded. Caroline Lucas explained the Green Party position very well on her recent appearance on Any Questions? She said that anyone who was rich and not willing to pay the new taxes wasn’t someone they wanted in the country anyway, if they leave, then “good riddance”.

I’m sure they believe their economic policies are for the best. Nonetheless it is the stated position of the party for the “current dependence on economic growth to cease, and allow zero or negative growth to be feasible”. In other words, they actively seek a permanent economic depression for the good of the environment. There would be mass poverty, starvation and social unrest, but we’d meet out emissions targets. It defies belief.

The Green Party are clearly not going to win the election, so why the need to tear into them like this? Because even though there vote share has dropped, 5% is still just too much. Nor is it reasonable or understandable why they have had a relatively easy ride from the media.

They are not a credible political party, not even as a minor part of a coalition let alone as a government. Their policies range from the ruinous to the ludicrous, their so-called “long term aspirations” are often just plain barmy and their plan for the country is economically illiterate. This is an extremist political force with a manifesto that is patently absurd and worthy of aggressive ridicule, mockery and critical analysis until the day they collapse.

A harmless, good intentioned movement they are not. The Greens are actually malevolent and regressive as well as laughable.

Do not stop being angry: Ashya King and the Parental State

The sinister interference of the British state into family life grows ever more contemptible. Such notions as an Englishman’s home being his castle, the right to privacy and , yes, the right of a family to freely choose what is best for their child are privileges made of dust that crumble on closer inspection. This should come as no surprise to anyone. This after all is a country that actually had a “minister for children”, surely a candidate for the creepiest title of government official ever devised and certainly a clue to just how much of a domineering nosy parker the British government has become. The dogma of statism has won and advocates of liberty have lost. It will take an unlikely counter revolution to turn back the cultural tide.

Britain adopted the pernicious leftist instinct to weaken the family in order to strengthen the state long ago. The independent family unit is the fortress of private life; it fosters individuality and protects the inheritance of culture and tradition. This will not do. A powerful state prefers conformism, malleable minds and a dependent citizenry.

A strong family is self-reliant and protective and so is a rival to state power, hence why leftist revolutionaries always strive to break it; because they prefer the all wise, all knowing and all powerful parental state. It is an ideological impulse that leaked through the iron curtain and has infected our society ever since. It is incidents like the maltreatment of Ashya King’s parents that bring this reality into the public consciousness, but there is little excuse for being surprised by this latest development.

The evidence is there for anyone who wishes to see it. The state has long been telling us how to raise our children, from discipline to education, great battalions of advisers are employed at our expense to dispense advice on how to protect us from ourselves, and protect children from their parents. No matter that their advice is often lousy, or discredited, and that the hypocritical governing elites themselves employ nannies and servants to do their parenting for them. If we are deemed to have gone astray the state reserves the right to take away our children and assign them new parents if necessary.

In my time volunteering for a health and social care charity I met many distraught and spiritually dead parents who had been told that they would never see their children again. Such decisions rest on the unchallenged wisdom of the social services and the unaccountable divisions of child snatchers that work in secrecy out of public view. They are subject to no sceptical, independent, evidence based review of their effectiveness and their word is taken as gospel. Hearsay and accusations without evidence can be enough for a family to be broken up forever.

Parents are not given the privilege of the presumption of innocence but are treated like criminals regardless. Parliamentary figures show that the number of application for care orders average over 8,000 a year and of those only around 0.2% are refused. Are some of these justified in the interest of child safety? Of course, but a great many are not, and this responsibility is given to a service that is constantly proving itself to be dangerously incompetent, inefficient and even malevolent. The only time they are subject to pubic scrutiny is when they make yet another mistake that leads to child abuse or death.

The state is also our educator, and its role as teacher is so deeply engrained in our society now that even the recent minimal introduction of autonomy and parental choice has been met with resistance and difficulty. The liberal left especially hates such ideas, its not enough to have a national curriculum imposed and a national inspectorate, they want the peering eye of the local authority in every classroom too. You cannot even escape by educating your child at home as they will soon be knocking on your door and demanding to cross the threshold with refusal leading to legal action. It is illegal to open new grammar schools (that stream by ability) despite their popularity with parents, because the parental state has made this choice for us and has insisted that its ideological devotion to egalitarianism cannot be violated. Not that this devotion stretches to the lives of the political elite, because MPs and ministers send their children to private and elitist faith schools.

The tax system, as we know, has become a social engineering tool. Rather than families being allowed to make their life choices independently they are shaped by the guiding hand of government. There is no longer any need for young women to take any personal responsibility when taking the risk of becoming pregnant and it doesn’t matter if the dad is a total dead beat either. There are a great many financial incentives for becoming a dependent and accepting the state as the breadwinner. We now know all too well the disastrous influence this has had. As Adele, the talented singer laced with an instinctive conservatism, once said: ‘The ambition at my state school was to get pregnant and sponge off the government […] that ain’t cool.’ All taxpayers are forced to subsidise this policy which makes personal responsibility and self-reliance unnecessary while strengthening the parental state.

Meanwhile a unified family unit is punished economically if it decides to forgo a double income in order to raise the child at home. The government wants your baby to be raised in a nursery and encourages this vigorously, and oh so generously, by offering *ahem* “free” childcare (that we all pay for through taxation, duh). This is nothing more than a bribe with our own money to make it push us into the life style choice that it prefers, which is the baby in a state approved nursery being raised outside of the family and the parents both back to work as soon as possible to add to GDP.

We should, of course, all be free to make our own decisions on whether to raise a child at home, or return to work, that is up to the individual. But is it right for the state to use a punitive tax system to effectively make this decision for us? Anyone visiting this website will surely answer in the negative.

I am trying to highlight just how many tentacles the state has, and how they have penetrated further and further into every area of our lives, every aspect of our existence, and how its attempts to usurp the family can be easily traced in a recognisable pattern. So, let me return to the plight of Ashya King and his beleaguered parents. It exposes to us all the suspicion with which the family is viewed by state officials.

Two loving parents were suddenly turned into criminals in the eyes of the law because they dared to defy the great monolith, the National Health Service. They were treated like unhinged kidnappers. The officials involved ensured they were portrayed as if off their rocker. It was implied they possible religious nuts, or just plain neglectful. The media frenzy and the international alert and subsequent manhunt would ordinarily be reserved for dangerous killers, it was absolute hysteria. Luckily the media turned when the received more information and helped disarm the zealous police and NHS. What if none of this had been reported? I dread to think where they would be now.

After finally being released from the Spanish prison where he had been held without charge, for no good reason at all, Brett King was unapologetic and unequivocal: ‘They were going to kill him in England or turn him into a vegetable.’ Basically, they were not happy with the treatment being received under the NHS or the arrogance of the doctors unwilling to listen to their questions. They were fearful of the horrible side effects of the treatment he was receiving which they had been told could leave him brain damaged or deaf, if it even worked. And so these desperate parents researched an alternative treatment called “proton beam radiotherapy” which is used in much of Europe and the USA. It is thought to give better long term outcomes but is not available on the NHS.

When the Kings dared to question NHS orthodoxy the doctors refused outright to refer their son for alternative treatment, or to transfer his paper work, and threatened to issue a control order and remove Ashya from their custody. The parents made the decision to sell their Spanish holiday home and pay for the treatment privately in Prague (where doctors have since been very positive about the potential for the successful treatment of Ashya). The Kings still insist that they informed doctors of their intentions. It made no difference, the full force of the authoritarian parental state kicked in, and only a huge public backlash forced the very belated involvement of politicians and the eventual release of Brett and Naghmeh King from prison, without charge.

It was shocking, terrifying and enraging but it is simply part of the statist culture; the assertion that parents cannot be trusted to raise their own children and state officials have unquestionable right to overrule them. We have since learned how wrong they were, and how inaccurate the unpleasant propaganda campaign against them was. They were not acting wildly and irresponsibly, they were making a free choice that they thought best for their son.

Unfortunately, because the choice was to turn their back on the “envy of the world” NHS, that has Cancer survival rates that linger well behind most western European countries, they were depicted as neglectful parents and kidnappers. Remember all the alarming talk of how Ashya could die at any time because they did not have the necessary equipment? Well, they did have that equipment after all. We being covered in a slurry of lies.

What crime did these parents commit except assuming they had authority as parents? Are they not free to travel where they please and to seek out alternative medical treatment? When the dust settles people will forget all about this. They will stop musing over the fact that state officialdom has revealed to us all quite explicitly that they believe it is their right to expunge our liberty at will. That they have the power to arbitrarily overrule the parents rights over their own children.

Anyone who cared to notice already knew this, but the wider public should not allow their outrage to subside because although this case has been resolved, the authoritarian culture that created it has not been. This is a culture in which the parental state mistrusts the family and encourages us all to be suspicious of parents through propagandistic, fear mongering campaigns. They are designed to convince us to presume guilt, to believe that the family is always potentially a corrupting influence and parents a threat to their children. In such a culture of fear where are we encouraged to turn? Why, to the big, strong embrace of the wise and benevolent parental state, of course.