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Oh, beware my Country

Build on the flanks of Etna where the sullen smoke-puffs float —
Or bathe in tropic waters where the lean fin dogs the boat —
Cock the gun that is not loaded, cook the frozen dynamite —
But oh, beware my Country, when my Country grows polite!

Thus ends Kipling’s poem on our national habit of becoming very polite when we are about to lose our temper.

Yesterday’s ‘March of Enraged Brexitters’ was polite. ‘Cheerfully furious’, was how someone described the chairman of one Tory constituency association who was there. Reports agree the rage was very real – and self-controlled.

Over in the US a few years ago, Tea Party marches made a similar contrast to left-wing protests (‘left areas tidier than when they arrived’ versus ‘vandalism and arson’) – which did not in the least stop politicians and the media inventing lies against the Tea Party and shrugging it off when caught. When it was clear the PC would report polite dissenters as if they were were rioting racist thugs, they did not (fortunately) get rioting racist thugs (because their understanding of their opponents was zero) but they did get something a little less restrained: Trump and his supporters were not so polite to them.

On our side of the pond, Parliament (Labour and Tory alike) promised us something very specific, as formally and solemnly as possible, in speech, proclamation and manifesto, before the referendum (if we voted for it) and before the election (unconditionally). Promising something and then taking it away is a great way to get people angry.

So, I admire the restraint of “cheerful fury”, but, between the lessons of our national character and the lessons of the Tea Party evolving into the Trump coalition, I think Parliament unwise to go on provoking it. But I also think that if Parliament were wise, we were not be where we are now.

25 comments to Oh, beware my Country

  • DP

    Dear Mr Kilmartin

    I think the “cheerful fury” is likely to be turned all the way up to 11 sometime soon.

    DP

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Good to see Mr. Kilmartin finally come round to the realization which has been obvious to outsiders for a long time — that the UK’s real problems were internal, not with the EU per se.

    There should be no surprise that most countries’ issues are primarily internal due to their own Political Classes, whether it is Venezuela’s dictatorship or the US’s Democrat Establishment. But if the Brexit imbroglio manages the nearly impossible feat in that seriously Disunited Kingdom of getting the 37% of registered voters who voted for separation and the 35% who voted for the status quo and the 28% who kept their heads down & did not vote, and unites a real majority of them in active disgust with the denizens of the Palace of Westminster — then the separation process will have been worthwhile.

    Recognizing the real problem is the first step to dealing with it — but only the first step. There is a long road ahead, if the Brits ever want to rebuild a country which old Rudyard Kipling would have recognized.

  • that the UK’s real problems were internal, not with the EU per se.

    Meh, hardly a revelation. Indeed, one of my wiser friends who opposes Brexit does so on the grounds the EU actually kept the UK’s own dark side partially in check.

    Personally I take the opposite view (article 13 anyone?): the EU actually helps entrench the very powers my friend rightly fears (which is one of the many reason so much of the establishment are frantic to overturn the referendum), so getting the EU out of the way makes attacking said people a more straightforward proposition (but please note, straightforward does not mean easy, it means less convoluted, more direct).

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Perry -Fully agree! It is hardly a revelation that most countries’ problems begin at home, no matter how hard some people always try to pin the blame elsewhere. However, looking in at the UK from the outside, it is surprising how many of the doughty Brexiteers seem to imagine that separation will lead immediately to the sunlit uplands of freedom. Separation may open the gate to that happy destination — but it will take a lot of hard sledding to get there from where the UK will stand in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.

    The larger question is how to get true reform in any political system — short of revolutionary violence (which almost never seems to lead to a good outcome) or societal collapse (which is never pleasant). The guys in charge have no incentive to change anything except the outward forms, leaving themselves still in control. Ask yourself — post-separation, is it likely that UK government bigwigs will stop going to Davos?

    Taking the long view, Brexit is unimportant since the EU is clearly going to collapse eventually under the weight of its own internal contradictions. But if the act of separation triggers genuine (and peaceful) reform of the UK’s dysfunctional political system, then the aftermath of Brexit could be an example for the world.

  • that the UK’s real problems were internal, not with the EU per se.

    We do know that Gavin. My free speech rights were stolen from me in 2002 by Labour. By the time the Tories were back in power in 2010, their establishment was so on board with the idea.

    Brexit has two virtues.

    – Article 13 is merely one of many proofs that the EU will forbid liberty 99.9% of the time. Back in the 70s, the EU ruled that workers had a right to join a union but no right not to join a union. (Guess they still think that about being in a union v. not being in one.) It’s hard to try and improve the UK political scene when the EU is the endless excuse (mostly correctly used, though I suspect Sir Humphrey is happy to have it to hand) for why it can’t be done.

    – Brexit is a lever exposing the establishment in spades – and stressing it. IIRC, Dominic Grieve has the largest Tory majority in the country. He was never going to be voted out, but his disgusted constituency association might now be actually aware of the desirability of selecting someone more interested in the wishes of the voters than those of SW1.

  • Gene

    Gavin wrote: Taking the long view, Brexit is unimportant since the EU is clearly going to collapse eventually under the weight of its own internal contradictions.

    The same could have been said about the USSR in 1920. Even so, it took 70 years for the internal contradictions to do their work. To paraphrase Smith, “there is a lot of ruin in a shambolic totalitarian nation.”

    It’s entirely possible that everyone participating in these comments today will be dead before the EU’s internal contradictions rot out the pilings. Your comment does not offer as useful a treatment to the readers’ wounds as you probably intend.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The larger question is how to get true reform in any political system — short of revolutionary violence (which almost never seems to lead to a good outcome) or societal collapse (which is never pleasant).”

    All reform of government starts with the people.

    No Prince may govern without the consent of the governed, and every nation gets the government it deserves, good and hard.

  • Roué le Jour

    Gene,
    You’re comparing apples to oranges. The European Union [of Socialist States] is a supra-national bureaucracy not the government of a nation state that can collapse or go bust. The EU’s future is increasing resistance, failing economies and eventual irrelevance. I’m in my late sixties and barring accidents I expect to see at least the beginning of its end.

  • Itellyounothing

    If the EU manages to last as long as the USSR, it gone in 2026…..

    But the heart of the EU is Germany. So it will last till the German people have had enough.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Regarding the OP, the worst I’ve heard about the Leave March was that it was “too white”.

    My concern right now is that the decent protesters have had their say, the real problem are the ones who are willing to get nasty, it was a forgone conclusion that delays in Brexit would bring about a measure of disgust that might impel certain factions to revolt, the people in Westminster may have their “Macron moment” after they so casually dismissed concerns over this.

    Personally I do not condone violent behavior, but then again I don’t think you should provoke it either, these anti-democracy parliamentarians should know they are playing with fire.

  • Morsjon

    The time is now. Let’s not have this talk of ‘oh well, next time then’.

  • John B

    ‘If the EU manages to last as long as the USSR, it gone in 2026…..

    But the heart of the EU is Germany. So it will last till the German people have had enough.’

    Or everyone else has had enough of the Germans… which is in fact what happened with the USSR and East Europe. Everyone had had enough of the Russians… even a lot of the Russians.

  • Stonyground

    Doesn’t the UK independence vote qualify as the beginning of the end of the EU?

  • Gary Wintle

    The anti-Brexit March was over a million, which you conveniently overlook.

    You also fail to mention the anger in Northern Ireland and Scotland at the English.

    The UK, as an entity, is finished.

  • Gary Wintle

    Also, 95% of EU laws were backed by UK government’s.

  • Bod

    “The UK as an entity, is finished.”

    No arguments there, but then the UK had been an entity with its own internal contradictions for many years before becoming part of the EU. The ambitions and desires of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to pursue their own destinies have been known for hundreds of years, and to the extent that Brexit helps them get what they desire, I’m all for it – in principle.

    How would Wales as an independent entity fund itself? This exciting challenge would sit with the Welsh people themselves, and it wouldn’t involve picking the pockets of the Scots, Northern Irish and English.

    The reason Brexit is the right thing to do is that it puts its constituencies back where they should be – in deciding the course of their own destiny, and one step nearer to ensuring that the people who they elect to represent them have no excuses for NOT delivering on their promises.

    So, if the Northern Irish and Scots are angry (enough) at the English, bravo. Agitate peacefully for separation. If enough of them are angry and motivated enough, they’ll eventually vote themselves their hearts’ desire.

    On the matter of a million anti-Brexiteers?

    Fuck ’em. They had their day, and they lost. I keep being told that’s what democracy looks like.

    95% of British politicians like EU laws? Probably right. Maybe the English need to get motivated to find people to represent them that are a little more interested in serving their constituents. Maybe it’s an indication that we rely too much on politicians to solve our problems.

    In general, the polity get the kind of politicians they deserve. If the English feel they deserve better, they need to do something about it.

  • Mr Ecks

    Gary Wintle–PdeH rules be damned–you are either a fool or a deceiver. Their million march was as bogus as their 3/4 million one in Octber. 25O THOU tops the first and 300 thou tops the second. With pathetic numbers from outside London =remain HQ. Most of the marching pukes jumped on a bus/tube to get there and dragged their politicised brats with them to boost numbers by a third or more.

    Nor are the Scots as hostile as you claim. SNP liars told them a leave vote would mean another Ind vote as well–and few wanted that. They might still have voted remain but very slightly. As for Irish Republicans–when were they ever our friends?

  • Paul Marks

    The European Union has not kept statism “in check” – and nor did the European Economic Community (EEC).

    The European Union is an additional level of government- ON TOP OF (not instead of) the other layers of government.

    “Libertarians” who support the European Union remind me of the people who support the “Universal Basic Income” – “the country can afford it” (they gush) “because the Welfare State will be abolished” – I see so “free” health care and education (and all the rest of it) will be abolished because everyone will have a hundred Pounds a week (or whatever) pull-the-other-one-it-has-got-bells-on – the “Universal Basic Income” would be ON TOP OF (not instead of) “free” health care, education and so on. That was obvious as long ago as the early 1970s – when President Richard Nixon proposed his Orwellian named “family assistance plan” (Orwellian named because such government schemes have, since the 1960s, destroyed the family – by making working husbands and fathers an optional extra). As Wisconsin and other welfare reform shows – what government must NOT do is pay healthy people of working age money. To do so is fatal – many (most?) jobs are a mixture of pain and humiliation (I am still getting over last night – “you were just washing up”, you try “washing up” where I was), who would work if people got paid even if they did NOT work. Work is not called “Adam’s Curse” for nothing – and it must be clear to people that if they do not work (and are capable of work – and do not have a private income or other means of support) the rule of Saint Paul applies – both for them and for their wives and children (if there are to be wives and children in the dying West).

    The “free” bread-and-games of the Roman Empire (paid for by TYRANNY) is not the way of the Just Man – either Jewish or Christian. The Just Man earns his bread (both for himself – and for his wife and children), by the sweat–of-his-face. The Just Man, who is physically and mentally capable of working, earns the income of his family by work – he does not accept money or goods taken by the violence of the Legions of Rome. Any more than the Just Man goes to watch human beings forced to fight to the death against each other, or thrown to wild beasts for the “entertainment” of scum. Nor does the Just Man throw babies on rubbish heaps to be eaten (alive) by rats, the Pagan Governor of New York State comes ever closer to this.

    Both Jewish and Christian law is clear – one has nothing to do with people who engage in such activity. If one does not have the power to PUNISH them, then one must at least SHUN them – they are NOT “friends”.

    As for the European Union – we must be out by European Union by April 12th 2019.

    As for people who wish to keep my country under the rule of the European Union AFTER this date – I have no comment on such people at this time.

  • Paul Marks

    I note that the Prime Minister went to Church today – a vicar’s daughter I believe.

    It is astonishing to me that someone can go through rituals, their whole lives, and show no sign of interest in the PRINCIPLES those rituals are supposed to represent.

    Better, a thousand times better, an honest and principled ATHEIST – than a “Christian” who has no interest in principles.

  • Neonsnake

    Meh, hardly a revelation. Indeed, one of my wiser friends who opposes Brexit does so on the grounds the EU actually kept the UK’s own dark side partially in check

    From the Conservative 2015 manifesto:

    “This Manifesto sets out our plan to do just that. It is a plan for a better future – for you, for your family. It is a plan for every stage of your life.”

    Brrrrrr….

    I’ve a huge amount of sympathy for your mate, there.

  • morsjon

    So Scotland leaves and a) we can finally put to bed this ridiculous notion of us being a first rate power that needs to get involved in global conflicts, sell the carriers and dismantle the nuclear subs, b) not subsidise Scotland (and Northern Ireland – it is only British via Scotland really, c) get rid of fascist/socialist Scottish MPs and make it much harder for the left to win an election in residual UK, and d) finally stop having to listen to the moaning from North of the border.

    All that being said, I’d prefer for the Union to remain in tact, but not at the cost of staying in the EU, and not with ungrateful bedfellows. I rather hope that is how the EU may see us, or at least the English and Welsh!

    P.s.

    If Scotland did leave I think there are some serious national security considerations, and an immigration, borders and national security pact of some kind would be a good idea.

    p.p.s

    absolutely livid!

  • Mr Ed

    d) finally stop having to listen to the moaning from North of the border.

    Why would it stop? What about reparations for North Sea Oil, Culloden, Gazza’s goal, 1966… you name it. Where there’s blame, there’s a claim. 🙂

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul at 5:20 pm,

    Particularly good comment. :>))

    “BIG” has nothing, zero, nada, zilch to do with either justice or compassion. There’s nothing either just or compassionate about taking other people’s stuff on the theory that you have a “better,” “nobler” use for it.

    Besides, it couldn’t work for the same reason the Minimum Wage doesn’t work: All it could accomplish economically is to devalue the currency (diminish the purchasing power of each unit of the currency — in this case, the dollar).

  • Caesar understood the dynamics of the mob. He understood that a mob rebellious, cantankerous and baying for justice was not a mob to be feared. The one to be feared is when the turn comes, when outrage turns to silence. We’re not there yet. But I suspect we are getting very close.

    I think Nicolae Ceaușescu understood this, but only at the end, after it was too late for mollification.

    Ceaușescu’s final speech

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWIbCtz_Xwk

  • Roué le Jour

    Stonyground

    Doesn’t the UK independence vote qualify as the beginning of the end of the EU?

    Yes it does. Brexit is a lose/lose for the EU. Either Britain leaves and the inevitability of “ever closer union” is shown to be nonsense, or Britain is forced to remain against the will of its people which will legitimize resistance to what looks increasingly like an occupying power.

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