Lincoln Drill Hall

Lincoln Drill Hall
Lincoln Drill Hall

Friday, 22 December 2017

Blue Passports - has it come to that?

An old friend, who has lived in Australia for many years, posted a passionate piece about taking back control, about not allowing ourselves to be ruled by unelected men in Brussels. This friend is probably one of the brightest people I know. He read History at Cambridge and can talk knowledgeably about anything.

What he doesn't know is that we have changed.

When I was a little boy growing up in the shadow of the war with my former soldier father, I made my own blue passport. I copied meticulously the words of Her Britannic Majesty.

Now, many years later in the small provincial city where I live, my fellow countrymen and women are from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but also Spain, France, Germany, Latvia, Poland. My friend who only visits occasionally wouldn't know that. He couldn't; it is ordinary life. I admit not for everyone, but I do believe for many and how much more so in larger cosmopolitan cities.

To want your blue passport back is like wanting empire back, wanting black and white television, wanting failing sports teams. They have all gone.

What we now have is something so much better, enriched by different cultures.

I am now first and foremost a European. I will always proudly be both British and English. None are mutually exclusive.

I don't want to go back.

I still have my old blue passport. It is in my drawer with my toy soldiers and the school reports my mum kept, and that is where it should remain.


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

It began with Iron and Steel

I had never realise why the EU began with The Iron and Steel Community.

I should have done. I've been writing about it for four years now, with War on Wheels on WW2 and Ordnance on Equipping the Army for the Great War. Iron, Steel and Coal are the sinews of war. By putting the industries of the former waring nations together, the risk of war was massively reduced. So too the capacity for building a lasting and prosperous peace.

I am indebted to Bill Hayes on Facebook for drawing my attention to a short video, by historian David Reynolds, that explains it all.

My researches took me to the mid nineteenth century when Britain, France and Germany had each developed massive arms industries which only grew more powerful through the demands made on them by two World Wars.

It also reminded me of a piece I wrote eighteen months ago and which I had forgotten had been published in the Lincolnshire Echo.

May our leaders watch and learn.
Devastation in France - 1918



Saturday, 16 December 2017

Guardian - thank you

The Guardian has done a remarkable job this year in two particular ways. It has kept the plight of refugees in view and it has not faltered on its opposition to Brexit.

Alongside this editor in chief, Katherine Viner, wrote a thought provoking essay on what journalism is in the digital era. In this she made no attempt to paper over those places where we might think the Guardian slipped up or indeed worse. It showed the Guardian warts and all but with e true vision that can sustain this nation.

Refugees are I am sure a pain not least to the Greeks on the Island of Lesvos or to the French in Calais and Paris. Pain they may be, but human they are also. I remain ashamed that it took a spell working with them on Lesvos for me to realise that there but for the grace of God, or chance, go all of us. They are each our brother and sister. They may seem unimportant in the blaring sound of Trump, the lunacy of Brexit or indeed our own daily cares. The Guardian stands up and reminds us that they are there and matter.

It was the writer of the new testament letter to James who reminded, presumably James, that faith without works is nothing. We could paraphrase and say words without works.

Today, as I write, Guardian journalists are waiting to take calls and donations for the Christmas Appeal which is for those without homes and those who had fled their homes.

Thank you.