PETER HITCHENS: We’re a small, debt-ridden country nobody cares about

PETER HITCHENS: Let’s face it… we’re a small, debt-ridden country nobody cares about

For far too long we in this country have thought we were richer, more powerful and, in general, better than we actually are. Now we find out the hard truth, exposed in all its gloomy detail by the EU talks. Will we learn the necessary lesson, or will we prefer our precious illusions?

I can just remember in the mists of childhood memory the 1956 Suez crisis, the feeling of panic and humiliation in the air.

In that year, too many of us continued to imagine we were more important than we were. The Americans wasted no time in letting us know that we no longer ruled the waves, harassing our ships at sea and threatening us with bankruptcy on the world markets.

Say what you like about Theresa May (pictured on Thursday), and I have. But in this matter she has borne herself with dignity and integrity, a quiet, unshowy, resolute and very English sort of dogged courage of the kind I was brought up to admire, writes Peter Hitchens

The sense of decline was especially strong in our house, since my father was a Naval officer, and the end of Britain as a world power also meant the rapid shrinking of the fleet and, as it happened, the end of his 30 years in Her Majesty’s service.

Then came the Profumo affair. A once-respected governing class was caught with its trousers down and, while I had no idea what a call-girl was, or what the War Minister was supposed to have done, I sensed ever afterwards that authority had just gone soft and would give way when pushed.

And so it proved. In the decades that followed, we abandoned all the things that had made us great. Thatcherism, much misunderstood and over-rated at the time, did little to reverse the underlying decline. Years later, when I finally went to live abroad, I learned how little other countries cared about us. The toughest lesson came in Washington DC, where I observed our powerlessness when Bill Clinton took the side of the Provisional IRA against Britain, his supposed closest democratic ally, and forced us to give in to terror.

How I laugh now when they go on, in the USA, about how they will never give in to Al Qaeda or Islamic State, or whoever it is. Oh, really? Those who now moan over Northern Ireland having a special status in the EU deal have left it a bit late. Since Britain’s forced surrender to Sinn Fein in 1998, arranged to placate Irish votes and political donors in the USA, the province has only been a conditional part of the UK.

A single referendum can (and will) hand it over forever to Dublin’s control at any time. We are a small, increasingly indebted and poorly defended country off the coast of North-West Europe, with an education system which is a global disgrace. We are not the great world power we would like to think we are.

What sort of deal did you think such a nation could get from our giant German-dominated neighbour? Personally, I’d hoped to shake loose from the frightful European Arrest Warrant but nobody even seems to have asked for that, thanks to our weird obsession with trade over all else.

Otherwise, this is what there is. Say what you like about Theresa May, and I have. But in this matter she has borne herself with dignity and integrity, a quiet, unshowy, resolute and very English sort of dogged courage of the kind I was brought up to admire.

She has peered over the abyss and knows what is there. Nobody else would have done any better.

Let us have it over and done with. The politicians may play their little games for a few days yet, making investments for their future careers.

But this is what we can get and if we do not take it, then it will be Suez all over again – a few brief weeks of heady fantasy, and many long hard years paying the bill for our illusions.

Donald Trump’s fanatic supporters are astonishing. Nothing their coarse, menacing, ignorant hero does is ever wrong. But how will they cope with his pitiful failure to pay his respects at an American war cemetery at Belleau Wood, in France, because it was raining?

How will Trump supporters (Trump is pictured here at the White House) cope with his pitiful failure to pay his respects at an American war cemetery at Belleau Wood, in France, because it was raining, writes Peter Hitchens 

As for his jeering at the French, that without the Americans they would now be speaking German, does the German-descended President even know that without France there would be no USA?

Does he know that it was French money, French guns and ammunition and, above all, the French navy that saved George Washington from defeat at the hands of Britain and its German mercenaries? I shouldn’t think so.

 Hopeless Beeb flunks another history test  

I never thought all that much of the BBC series The Night Manager, a silly and nonsensical adaptation of a lightweight book by John le Carré, once a truly great writer, but alas great no longer, thanks to too much adulation. But the attempt to cash in on its success by filming The Little Drummer Girl is much worse.

Charlie (played by Florence Pugh) in The Little Drummer Girl, who in the book was repeatedly beaten up by her aggressively nasty Marxist actor boyfriend

The story in the book was always hard to credit, though ingenious. But its sideswipes at European Left-wing fanatics of that age were very telling. In the book, the heroine, Charlie (played in the series by Florence Pugh), was repeatedly beaten up by her aggressively nasty Marxist actor boyfriend. You can see lots of reasons why nobody would dare to include that now, but leaving it out makes her decision to throw in her lot with the Israelis much harder to understand.

And, yet again, they make characters smoke, to show it is the past, while allowing them to use the modern phrase ‘train station’ which nobody said in those days. Try it the other way round, some time.

The zealots determined to destroy our faith    

The National Trust has – for once – retreated, after being caught out using the anti-Christian terms ‘Before Common Era’ (BCE) and ‘Common Era’ (CE) at one of its properties.

But for how long? Large parts of the BBC, including the increasingly unwatchable quiz show University Challenge, have done the same for years. Many schools do so, though parents will be the last to find out what is going on in these unaccountable, secretive dens of propaganda.

A timeline at Avebury Manor in Wiltshire (pictured) used BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) instead of Before Christ and Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord)

The excuse is always that referring to Anno Domini ‘In the year of our Lord’ and ‘Before Christ’ will in some way upset followers of other religions. The same pretext is always used for clumsy attempts to avoid mentioning Easter and Christmas, and the horrible neutered greeting card expressions ‘Season’s Greetings’ and, worse still, ‘Happy Holidays’.

But nobody can ever find anyone who is offended by these things. The people who want to stamp out any reference to the word ‘Christ’ in our culture are the anti-Christian fanatics who have fanned out across the country since the universities began to churn them out in large numbers in the 1960s. Their anthem is John Lennon’s ghastly song Imagine and their creed is the selfism of the drug abuser and the abortionist: ‘Nobody can tell me what to do with my body.’

You will notice one very interesting thing about them. They never try to stamp out public expressions of Islam. That is because they’re afraid of it. But who’s afraid of Justin Welby?

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