Above are two seemingly unrelated photographs. On the left we have the supernova, the Crab Nebula and on the right, the actress Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary Crawley in the ITV drama Downton Abbey.
OK, then, yes, they are both stars….. But the link is more than terminological.
Downton Abbey is a very popular prime time Sunday evening costume drama. It is an art form we British seem particularly adept at producing. Yes, there are the odd deficiencies in detail – the odd phrase which is out of period & C. These deficiencies do not however detract from its popularity. ITV is delighted with the viewing figures. They are also mighty pleased that they have ITV+1 where those viewers looking at BBC1’s “Spooks” then switch over for the “second screening” of the evening.
One of the reasons of Downton Abbey’s popularity is because it describes a time that could be regarded as being, “before the fall” and so far as the this second series is concerned, “in the fall.” The fall being of course, the catastrophic decline in this country’s fortunes following that fateful decision by the Asquith government of August 1914 to go to war in support of Belgium.
This article is not going to debate the whys and wherefores of that decision or of the “What If” ramifications had they decided to remain neutral. Rather, it is to put the whole conflict into a broader historical context – a context that is still extant today.
Following the declaration of war, the feeling in Britain in August 1914 was one of optimism and satisfaction. “The war was going to be over by Christmas…..” was a prediction issued by more than one commentator at the time. Whilst subsequent events showed this to be ludicrously wide of the mark, the British Gazette feels the comment to be still a reliable prediction, if one adjusts the century. The Christmas in question originally was Christmas 1914. We would suggest that if the Christmas in question was 2014, the prediction would have been accurate. This is because what started on the 2nd August 1914 when German troops crossed the Belgian frontier is still in a way going on.
It is now commonly agreed amongst historians that the Second World War of 1939 to 1945 can be seen as a continuation of the conflict of 1914 to 1918. The late and extremely unlamented Adolf Hitler certainly was of that opinion!
The British Gazette however would put forward the notion that in a way the war has continued since 1945. Not in the sense of German militarism of Nazism’s philosophy. Both of these are dead thank goodness.
What we saw in World War One was an attempt by Germany to be Primus inter Pares in Europe. World War Two saw the same ambition but with the Nazis this ambition was wider in its geographical scope and included a murderous philosophy which was going to result in widespread genocide of Europe’s population that was not “Ayran.”
Following the immense destruction that the last war brought forth on the European continent, European politicians conceived of a new idea. That of forming a supra national confederation. Key to this was a core axis between two traditional enemies, France and Germany. It is this core relationship which is at the heart of the European Union today. The Europhiles often speak of the years of peace that have followed the creation of the EU as the EU’s greatest achievement – peace. This of course is to blatantly misinterpret history. The decades of peace in Europe that have followed 1945 have been due to the Cold War and the simple fact that advanced democracies do not generally now declare war on each other.
Yet, the Europhiles platitudes describe the original intention of what became the EU. In the 1950s France and Germany decided that they would bury their differences and would pursue the development of a powerful single European state as a co-operative venture.
The tragedy that is now unfolding across the English Channel – and yes, we have chosen the word tragedy deliberately – that is the collapse of the European project is that it could have been a success. That it was not was due entirely by those fateful decisions taken by Charles de Gaul and Edward Heath to allow the European Community as it then was to expand to take in new members (Eire, Denmark and the UK – the “six” becoming “nine”). De Gaul was originally opposed – his famous “Non” to UK membership.
Tragically this French patriot was persuaded against his better judgement to change his mind.
When the history is written of the collapse of the EU we think it will be this point that the historians will identify as the beginning of the end. British Gazette readers will recall over the decades of British membership that Britons have been described as “the reluctant Europeans.” This description of Britons is indeed accurate. Throughout the UK’s membership of the EC/EEC/EU British politicians have consistently talked about Europe in strictly economic terms – how Europe [membership of] brings jobs and prosperity and the corollary that being outside Europe [leaving the EC/ECC/EU] will bring about a loss of jobs and prosperity. British politicians have (apart from the occasional Lib-Dem talking to Lib-Dem activists at Lib-Dem party conferences) never talked about “Europe” in the way continental politicians have. And for a very good reason: the British people do not want to know.
Here again, it is worthwhile to sit back as take stock of the history of Britain’s membership. In a multi party democracy there are certain things that are deemed self evident. That politicians who are seeking the votes of their electorate will make statements designed to encourage these votes. Thus they will tend to say what the people want to hear. When set against this logic one may to question Edward Heath’s sanity as well as his patriotism for surely the easiest thing – politically – would have been for him to have nothing to do with EC membership. One then has to ask the question why? Well, Heath was a bitter homosexual who had lots of “issues” but British membership of the EC started before Heath arrived on the scene.
The real driver behind British membership of the European project has been the USA. It was and always has been. That is why generations of Tory and Labour politicians have consistently argued for Britain to join and remain a member of the EC/EEC/EU.
It started with two leaders: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the USA and Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister of the UK. “JFK” made it perfectly clear to “SuperMac” that the USA’s continued sponsorship of the UK’s position as “a great power” was conditional on the UK seeking membership of the EC/EEC/EU and remaining in that supra-national confederacy. Here of course was a problem as membership of the EC/EEC/WEU was unlawful as it went against the Declaration and Bill of Rights and also the Coronation Oath Act of June 1953. It would also mean that Privy Counsellors such as Macmillan would be guilty of perjury as they would be put in breach of their Privy Councillor oaths.
Why then did Macmillan go along with this?
For the following reasons:
1. He was being blackmailed. Harold Macmillan was bisexual. Today in September 2011 many would say that this is no big deal. Such was most definitely not the case half a century ago in September 1961. Homosexual acts were illegal and had Macmillan’s past (for his activities were in 1961 very much in the past) had been exposed Macmillan would have been finished. Kennedy knew about Macmillan’s proclivities through his late sister Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy who had been married to the Marquess of Hartington. The Marquess and Marchioness of Hartington attended various parties (in the 1930s) at Cliveden in Berkshire. Parties attended by such as HRH, Prince George, 1st Duke of Kent. George, Duke of Kent had many so-called “male lovers.” One of these was a young man called Harold Macmillan.
2. “JFK’s” threat to withdraw US sponsorship from the UK was real. The USA can be said to “sponsor” the UK in numerous ways. The UK’s position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is entirely dependent on the US being prepared to countenance this. The UK’s possession of thermonuclear weapons is not only conditional on US sponsorship – the possession of these weapons is also a requirement by the US of the UK. In other words, not only does the USA support and is prepared to supply nuclear weapons to the UK – it demands that the UK acquires and continues to acquire – by updating its weapons – a thermonuclear arsenal. This is why British Europhile politicians will continue to allocate vast sums of the continually shrinking UK defence budget to a weapon system that can be of no practical use.
Why? Because it is envisaged that were ever a set of events to come about where the use of these weapons took place, the USA and the UK have a secret agreement that if the USA uses thermonuclear weapons, Britain shall too. This is because every US President has realised that the American people would not tolerate a situation where the USA is the only one to have suffered a retaliatory strike. At least one ally must be shown to suffer too. That ally is the UK. This is the Special Relationship.
The reason why British Europhile politicians have been so prepared to commit Perjury and Treason is that they are vain and desire the enhanced prestige that comes with being “on the world stage” of, “punching above their weight.” Were a British government ever to 1. withdraw from the EU and res-establish lawful government and 2. scrap its nuclear weapons, then as night follows day, the UK would find itself the subject of a motion in the Security Council to reform the membership of that body – to the UK’s disadvantage.
So, why did Kennedy (and every US administration since) feel it so necessary to have the UK within the EC/EEC/EU?
To stop it becoming what the professional diplomats in the State Department knew it could become. The UK, Eire, Denmark and any other country (which is why until recently the USA has been encouraging the ever widening membership of the EU) were the boron rods that US policy makers sought to push into the reactor core that was formed by the original members of the EC/EEC/EU to slow down the nuclear reaction that was going on within the European continent. These policy makers knew that UK membership in particular would slow down the development of the supra national confederacy. This is why generations of British taxpayers have seen their taxes go to a corrupt superstate whose accounts cannot bear independent audit.
Well, it seems that the US economy is about to reap the whirlwind of their policy makers actions. The forthcoming collapse of the Eurozone will be a catastrophic event that will blight economic prospects across the world for some time. The USA will be badly effected. US politicians will very shortly be denouncing in intemperate terms European politicians for bringing about the problems.
Well, these US politicians will only have themselves to blame. Why? Because if they had refrained from meddling in the affairs of the EC/EEC/EU and had not blackmailed a British Prime Minister they would not be in the mess that they are soon going to be in.
Had the UK (and Eire and Denmark) not have joined the EC and had remained members of EFTA the EC would indeed have developed into the EU. There would indeed have been a Euro and a Eurozone. It would have taken place sooner. Indeed, there would have been problems – Italy. However these problems could have been successfully dealt with – probably by splitting Italy in two having what historically was the Kingdom of the Two Scillies made into a “special economic zone” with its own currency that was attached to the EU as an associate (not full) member.
Such a supranational confederation would have been stable and would have worked. Following the break up of the USSR and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, Austria might well have sought membership. This would not have been a problem. Six would have become seven.
Such however was not to be. US policy makers – in particular Henry Kissinger – knew how the EC/EEC/EU would develop. They knew that such a state – whose borders roughly corresponded to the Empire of Charlemagne – would challenge US leadership in NATO. This potential loss of influence was deemed unacceptable in the USA and they therefore took action to change this. What we see today are the results of those actions.
One is reminded of the term, Bonfire of the Vanities.
The term, “Bonfire of the Vanities” (Italian: Falò delle vanità) refers to the burning of objects that are deemed to be occasions of sin. The most infamous one took place on 7 February 1497, when supporters of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of objects like cosmetics, art, and books in Florence, Italy, on the Mardi Gras festival. Such bonfires were not invented by Savonarola, however. They were a common accompaniment to the outdoor sermons of Saint Bernard of Siena (San Bernardino di Siena) in the first half of the fifteenth century.
The focus of this destruction was nominally on objects that might tempt one to sin, including vanity items such as mirrors, cosmetics, fine dresses, paintings, playing cards, and even musical instruments. Other targets included books that were deemed to be “immoral,” such as works by Boccaccio, and manuscripts of secular songs, as well as artworks, including paintings and sculpture.
The novel, “Bonfire of the Vanities” was published in 1987 by Tom Wolfe. The story is a drama about ambition, racism, social class, politics, and greed in 1980s New York City and centres on four main characters: WASP bond trader Sherman McCoy, Jewish assistant district attorney Larry Kramer, British expatriate journalist Peter Fallow and black activist the Reverend Reginald Bacon.
It may well be the case that if the breakup of the EU causes political instability in the Balkans resulting in military conflict and this terminates before 2014 future historians will refer to the period of 1914 – 2014 as “the Second Hundred Year’s War.”
The Hundred Years’ War was not one long war but a series of wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by France (the House of Valois) and England (the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou), for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings. The House of Valois claimed the title of King of France, while the Plantagenets claimed the thrones of both France and England.
The actually conflict lasted 116 years but was punctuated by several periods of peace, before it finally ended in the loss of the French territories (except the Pale of Calais) by the Kings of England. Victory was largely pyrrhic for the Valois kings however as France suffered greatly from the war whilst the wars had given a boost to the English economy.