A Crossroads in History – Right to Decide
by Anthony Bright-Paul
Let us make no mistake, we are at a crossroads in History and the action and the inaction, is unfolding before our very eyes. It is unfolding not only in the United Kingdom but also at the same time in the United States of America with amazing synchronicity.
If we look at the course of History over a long period of time we can now get a perspective of how the human race on this blessed Planet is progressing and sometimes regressing, sometimes making decisions which at the time seems fortuitous and fortunate, at others hurling themselves down a side alley from which it takes years, even centuries to recover. Everything revolves around our ‘right to decide’ and on whom we confer the right to make final decisions.
Across the pond our American cousins are wracked in this great discussion, which began just a few years ago, on December 16th 1773, with the Boston Tea Party. This was a great moment in history. At that moment the British people made an incredible decision, that is to say the Britons who lived in the Americas as colonials – for strictly speaking at that time there were no Americans – there were only Indians, that is to say indigenous peoples, and British and French colonials. (Further south of course there were Spanish and Portuguese colonials). That is why there were Indians also in Canada, there are still Indians in India and Peru and Australia and New Zealand, although there they might be called by other names such as aborigines or Maoris – they were the indigenous people.
So what happened at the famous Boston Tea Party? Externally a group of British colonials decided that they would no longer pay an exorbitant tax on tea that originated from the United Kingdom, where they, the colonials, had no representation – that is they had no right to decide. It was formulated in the words ‘no taxation without representation’. So they threw overboard a whole lot of tea. From this one action there followed an even more momentous ‘Declaration of Independence’ and the formation of an American constitution.
On both sides of the pond the British and the American peoples are engaged in an enormous struggle to defend the ‘right to decide’. In the United Kingdom the fight to achieve this right took a few centuries. The right to decide was first of all vested in our Kings and that was the norm throughout the world. Whether they are called Kings, or Caesars, or Czars or Emperors is irrelevant – whether in Rome or in Russia, whether in England or France the ultimate power, the ultimate right to decide resided in these people, whom nowadays we might call Mr President or First Minister. It is to them that we surrender our personal right to decide.
In the USA only quite recently the then President Bush decided on behalf of the American people that it would be right to invade Iraq. In England the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, also persuaded the House of Commons that British troops should also join in this same invasion. I am not about to comment on the rights or wrongs of those decisions, except to observe that the American and the British peoples had invested in their chiefs the right to decide on behalf of all their people.
That is why I say that we are at this very moment at a crossroads in History, and although I have the utmost confidence that everything will eventually be well in this best of all possible worlds, nevertheless it may take four centuries before it all comes right again if a wrong decision is taken now.
The British people are about to decide whether they will be ruled effectively by Herr Juncker at Brussels or whether they will abide by the laws made at Westminster. Incredibly, our own Prime Minister is suggesting that it is in the best interests of the British people that they should surrender to Brussels and have a charade of power at Westminster. Effectively Herr Juncker is presently the Czar or Monarch of the EU. He is called The President of the Commission.
It is a question now whether the British people will have their own Boston Tea Party and throw the tea bags down the drain. The principle is ‘No taxation without representation’. At present the British people are taxed by the EU in excess of £50 million a day. Do they have representation? None at all. Oh yes there is a Parliament at Strasbourg, but that is just smoke and mirrors. It is just a talking shop with no executive powers. The power to make directives rests entirely with the Commission, of which Herr Juncker is the King or President. How is the Commission elected? Answer: God alone knows.
As a result and by default the Commission decides not only on taxation called a contribution, but also on the maritime policies, the common agricultural policies and so on and so forth, relying on the supine nature of the vassal states to allow them to get away with it. They have also abolished borders, without the British people realising the consequences.
In the USA the front-runner for the Republican nomination is Mr Trump. Although he is regarded in some quarters as a rather rude and bizarre character, his views have struck a chord with the American people. Whether he would in reality build a wall or just a psychological wall between the States and Mexico is not really the question. What is at stake is whether the mighty States should have the right to decide who should enter their borders. Nigel Farage has formed an army in the UK called UKIP, which is concerned with just that question. In principle nobody would question the rights of free people to travel and reside wherever they want to in this world. That undoubtedly should be the norm, but unfortunately not everyone is prepared to play the game. There are terrorists and drug dealers and for that reason alone there are those who cry out that we must control our borders.
This is the cry of both Donald Trump and Nigel Farage and is a clarion call that resonates with both American and British peoples. Curiously it is amongst the Europeans in the EU that the shutters have gone up, in the form of barbed wire fences and a restriction on movement of displaced persons.
It all comes back to the ‘right to decide’. If that right is abused by the person on whom this right has been endowed, woe betides that person. Alas much havoc can be caused before that person dies or is overthrown – viz Mugabe.
What does history teach us? Answer: that it sometimes takes a long, long time. Even worse than that! Charles 1st of England was not a bad King, but Cromwell and his Parliamentarians were affronted and rose up against the King and won with his disciplined troops, the Ironsides. Charles 1st was summarily beheaded.
So the rule was established that Parliament was thenceforth superior to the King. But what happened? In the event Cromwell was so keen that only his right to decide should succeed that he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force of arms and ruled as an absolute dictator until his death. He called himself Protector, but he was de facto King.
This same pattern has been followed throughout the world. The people of France rose up against the profligacy of the French aristocracy at the time of the French Revolution and with a ghoulish horror executed hundreds by the guillotine. So the people were now free – or were they? Very soon a new dictator arose in the form of Napoleon Bonaparte. In fact in many ways he was an admirable person, courageous and well organised. But he caused immense suffering throughout the continent of Europe, whether in Spain, Italy, Russia, and Austria by bloody wars.
What happened in Russia? The aristocracy enjoyed a high old life having a mass of peasants as serfs. When the peasants rose up the Czar and his family were executed and the Communists came to power. What then? One repressive regime immediately followed another. Josef Stalin had arguably more power to decide than any former Czar and used this power to murder or exterminate his supposed rivals. Of course, Hitler in Germany had done much the same thing. Even now the world is still recovering from the excesses and the horrors of the last Great War.
The Free World which is in effect largely the English speaking world, is almost the one area where they have seen fit to apply checks and balances, so that those who come to power cannot hold on to that power forever and a day. Furthermore in the English-speaking world there is a free Press, whether in the States, in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and to some degree in India, Sri Lanka and possibly South Africa.
Certainly here in the UK it is possible to see derisive criticism of the PM everyday in the Newspapers, where he is often referred to as ‘our Dave’. In fact it appears that power has gone to his head much as it did with Tony Blair. He treats his own Party with contempt so confident is he in his own powers, and it is true that he stands head and shoulders above most of them.
Incredibly he proposes to give away his own powers and the power of the Mother of Parliaments to a non-elected Commission in Brussels of which the British people know next to nothing. While the American people are choosing their next President in the following few months, the British will be and are now engaged in a referendum which will decide if they as a Nation will continue to exist. Since Germany is the absolute dominant partner in the EU, if Britain decides to forfeit its right to decide, then effectively Germany will have made null and void the results of two World Wars. Such is the momentous decision facing the British people, which is presently being obscured from their eyes.
PS1 The Right to Decide
When you wake up in the morning and you live in a reasonably civilised society like Great Britain, you have the right to decide over some very limited areas. Will you have coffee or tea? Just toast and marmalade or two boiled eggs like Prince Charles? Or will you have a full English breakfast with bacon and eggs, hashed browns, mushrooms and baked beans?
So everyone does have a set of limited choices. However the bins at Rushmoor are collected on a Thursday morning. The decision to collect the bins on certain dates has been decided by the local Council. It is a pretty boring sort of decision so most people simply give up the ghost and let those who are willing to concern themselves with such details of living to simply get on with it. But if a Council decides to only collect your waste once a month instead of once a week then rebellion commences.
So we have a sort of fail-safe mechanism, which is called elections. We elect other people to take decisions on our behalf while we can go on watching the rugby, the football, the tennis or whatever takes our fancy.
Outside my home the smooth roadway has been distorted by a whole lot of bumps. I believe the final decisions on this was taken not by Rushmoor Council but at Winchester by the Hampshire County Council, so though I huffed and puffed and wrote letters to the Star newspaper, our local rag, this distortion of a road surface was decided upon miles away by faceless wonders who had nothing much better to do.
In the olden days of our history the decisions were taken by the King. If the King was a real bad egg the barons would rise up in arms against him, as they did against King John. King John was an arbitrary and selfish monarch and palpably unjust, but the barons made him sign the Great Charter or Magna Carta in Latin, which is the foundation of English jurisprudence until this day.
Unfortunately most, if not all, decisions are taken for very base reasons, as Henry VIII made some rather arbitrary decisions because of his intense desire to copulate with Ann Boleyn, and once he had made one mistake against his own better judgment – remember that he had himself written Defensor Fidei in defence of the Catholic Church – he went on to justify his actions by ransacking the monasteries in order to fill his coffers – and copulate with a few other wenches some of whom he similarly beheaded . He was a pretty bloody awful sort of man, as he was actually out hunting in Richmond Park while the wretched Ann Boleyn had her pretty head chopped off.
Although Charles 1st was a relatively good and mild monarch, Oliver Cromwell managed to overthrow him and make himself a sort of King, although he only called himself Protector. This was supposed to create rule by the Commons, but Cromwell dissolved the Rump Parliament by force of arms and for a time became a complete dictator. So Oliver instituted the idea that Parliament should have the right to decide and so be more powerful than the Sovereign and to reinforce the point had Charles’ head chopped off also. It was then the done thing and a powerful way to win an argument. The lopped head just could not answer back. As Cromwell became a dictator it showed he was as hypocritical as the politicians of today.
Later on the fashion for winning changed and a lot of quite famous people, Bishops and Archbishops even, were burnt at the stake to bring them into line, if they were not actually tortured mercilessly beforehand.
Nowadays our God-given right to decide has been somewhat formalised. We elect Members to Parliament on the basis that such members will be honourable and will take decisions on our behalf. This business of electing men or women to take decisions on our behalf is a pretty chancy business, mostly decided by a gut feeling about the person since there is not much else to go on.
Some people are masters at presenting themselves, such as Tony Blair. He was an absolute wizard in opposition in Parliament as he was very nimble in debate, having some sort of legal background. Once he became Prime Minister the ability to decide things evidently went to his head and was a sort of aphrodisiac. His arguments were so spell binding that the truth or justification for them is still being debated today – namely was he telling the truth about weapons of mass destruction when he took us to war in Iraq? While he was officially a member of the Labour Party and represented the masses of blue-collar workers, he subsequently showed – and his wife also – an enormous desire to accumulate riches, in the form of properties etcetera, so it is only now that the real motivating force for his opinions has become clearer.
Our David, that is David Cameron, our Prime Minister, has claimed to be heir to Blair with some justification. A few days ago I watched and the nation watched a truly bravura performance by Cameron at PMs question time, which he used to persuade the whole House to support his would-be decision that the Nation as a whole should stay in the clearly corrupt and dysfunctional EU. Not only did he give a bravura performance in the House he has since been touring the country, getting oodles of Television coverage in order to support his wish to remain in this outfit, the EU.
So this is really puzzling. Why on earth would our David wish to relinquish his right to decide, which we the citizens of the British Isles have devolved upon him, why would he wish to relinquish this ‘power’ to Herr Juncker and his unseen and mysterious cabal?
Now when a large community such as a nation of several million people have ceded their right to make personal decisions to a First or Prime Minister, we say that such a person has power. For example the President of the United States is often referred to as the most powerful person in the world, since he may take decisions on behalf of millions of people – even though he may, like the late President Kennedy, have an insatiable urge to copulate with the most glamorous film stars of the day. So we can see that this business of passing over our right to decide can be a very hazardous venture and lead a whole people into periods of disaster such as war or financial collapse.
That is why the English have taken precedents from history in order to provide checks and balances, so that a power-hungry minister has to be re-elected at least once in five years, and four years for a President of the United States. So the power to decide of the Prime Minister is kept in check by others vying for a similar power. Nowadays in England it is not the done thing to torture the opposition or burn them at the stake. So the power hungry person has to persuade a fair number of others to support him, which he does with largesse. In the case of Parliamentarians this usually means a Ministry or a lower position within a ministry with an increased salary and perks like a chauffeur driven car. The fact that a Minister may know nothing of Finance or Economics makes him ideal to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, since we are safe in the knowledge that there is or will be behind him a civil service who knows all the inns and outs. Likewise, with such a Ministry as the Department of Energy and Climate Change – one can safely put there such a dunderhead as what’s his name, Chris Huhne, who was unable to distinguish between carbon, the element, and Carbon Dioxide, a clear, colourless, odourless gas, – as long as he supported the Premiers right to decide.
That is why the Prime Minister’s decision to persuade the country to give away the ‘right to decide’ on laws that affect every part of life of the citizens of the British Isles, be they Bankers in the City, be they fishermen, be they farmers, be they Doctors or Dentists or Prison Officers or Police, is quite incredible – as every part of British life is affected by decisions made by a cabal in Brussels, presently headed by Herr Juncker.
This campaign is made even more suspicious in that a vociferous number have come out in his support and what appears clear is that these same supporters have benefited in one way or another from the largesse from the EU – which is the normal way that the powerful have to keep people on their side, namely bribes. In this way the already rich make themselves even richer, which also makes the position of the Leader of the Opposition curious too. It is so clear that the majority of what Labour politicians so condescendingly call ‘ordinary people’ are thoroughly fed up with the insufferable interferences from Brussels, that the position of Mr Jeremy Corbyn is under question. How can he support the ‘super wealthy’ against the ‘ordinary poor’?
As for our David the word ‘treason’ comes to mind. I had to look it up in Google. It is defined as ‘The crime of betraying one’s country’. Of course Cameron will argue that it is best for Britain, that it is safer for Britain that we should have a voice at the top table and so on and so forth, but the fact remains that the ‘Right to Decide’ on our borders, on our taxation, on our fisheries on our agriculture will be ceded to a Commission in Brussels for ever, in perpetuity, should those for Brexit fail.
Is that a betrayal of our country? Is that treason, fellow citizens? I ask you.
PS2 One Mankind
by Rachman Mitchell
My father held my hand when I was nine years old because he had something important to say to me.
He was on leave from the navy where the ship he commanded was escorting convoys carrying munitions to the Soviet armies. These were called the Arctic convoys, so named because they went around Bear Island to Murmansk.
He knew he could die at any moment from a sudden torpedo attack, a mine or a bomb. The extremes of this life are well descried in Alistair McLean’s book HMS Ulysses.
He said to me.
“I am a lucky man, I have served the two greatest Institutions which have graced this planet. The Royal Navy and the British Empire. When he was twenty years old he was a midshipman on board the Warspite at the battle of Jutland in the First World War. As the shells poured into that mighty battleship its steering mechanism was knocked out and it went in circles, an easy target for the German gunners.
He was quite clear about whom he didn’t like.
The Germans who he was fighting against, and the Americans, who dragged their feet before coming in on the “right side” in both wars.
I not only loved him but also admired his warrior qualities of courage, steadfastness and immense cheerfulness in the face of all this hardship. I absorbed them to a certain extent and judged the world a little from that point of view. Oh yes if you happened to be a Scot you were even luckier!. A race toughened by hardship and yet who took care of one another..
I still do admire him.
However my priorities and loyalties are not his.
My father survived the war but died two years later working for the empire that was in process of dissolving.
It took me a long time to get over it, as it does with most who lose one or other parent at that age either by death or separation of their parents.
Ten years later I found my spiritual father.
He was someone whose loyalties were not just to his own country but also to the whole world. In fact All of Mankind. It seemed to me that he had cognisance of the perfect human world and maybe to worlds even higher than that.
Slowly, experience after experience my feelings about being British and therefore superior by whatever quality I cared to name were gradually changing.
I came to realise that each nation had a natural human quality but lacked a whole lot of others that a person needed to admire in order to develop that in himself,
Bapak (our spiritual father) trained us a little by getting us to “ test” what were these qualities by finding out from the inside how they walked, laughed sang etc.
It was the beginning of my loyalty to a yet unformed organisation, the whole of Mankind.
THE UN was so far an unsuccessful attempt at this.
There have been some with high ideals and expertise they have been others who have used it as their own gravy train.
Another institution, which arose as the result of wars and bloodshed over the centuries, was the European Union.
It also has had its idealists who have tried to cooperate in the field of trade, development, health education and culture. There have been failures but some great successes.
One of its political leaders Angela Merkel draws my admiration. She is the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. She never talks much about her Christian background but everything she does shows how much she puts into practice real Christianity.
When five million Syrians who simply asked their government whether they could have a little more say in how they were governed, they were met by secret police at night, barrel bombs armed militia who slit their throats. Yes they probably did some awful things as well.
But now they will risk everything, death by drowning to get out of this living hell.
Angela Merkel having lived in authoritarian culture herself in her youth knows what it is like.
She is the one who is showing compassion and courage by saying welcome to her country. Not all Germans feel as she does and she may lose her job. But lots of them have responded to her calls to welcome these refugees.
I still have a British/European passport.
At this point in my life I am more proud of the European side of it than I am of the British side of it.