We are used to the idea of the re-writing of history and the brushing out of persona no longer regarded as politically acceptable, but the rewriting, or rather non-writing, of contemporary events receives less attention.
The expiration of the 30 year embargo on the release of UK Cabinet documents has produced lots of re-runs of Margaret Thatcher's tub-thumping speeches, along with Michael Foot's surprising acquiesce, flaunting determination to defend British Sovereign Territory, the Falklands, and their inhabitants so touchingly loyal to the British Crown, from invasion by Argentina
At around the same time, some 30 years ago, arrangements were being made to hand over Hong Kong to Communist China. This, were were told, was an entirely different matter, as Hong Kong must legally be handed back since it was held only on a 99 year lease, and Chris Patten, complete with a colonial governor's feathers in his hat (much to the amusement of his then adolescent children) was sent there to negotiate the details and to preside over the hand-over ceremonies.
This, however, was only part of the truth, The complete story, that it was the so called New Territories, Kowloon, which were held on a 99 year lease, and Hong Kong Island itself was British Sovereign Territory, just as much as any other part of the globe which used to be painted red. Indeed, it is probable that the legal claim to Hong Kong Island was stronger than the disputed claim to the Falklands.
I do not, of course, blame Mrs thatcher for taking the pragmatic decision not to declare war on China in order to defend Hong Kong and its loyal citizens from subjugation to the Communist yoke, but the full facts do put a different slant on the gung-ho decision to go to war with Argentina.
Similarly the recent death of the US General Norman Schwartzkopf has generated paeans of praise for his successful leadership of western troops in the 1st Gulf War. Little mention has been made of the fact that, a few years earlier, he had also stormed with his US troops into the Caribbean island of Grenada. maybe not still British Sovereign Territory, but still a member of the Commonwealth and one which retains the Queen as Head of State. Apparently, not only were Her Majesty's Ministers in the UK not consulted about this invasion, our "cousins" didn't even bother to inform them.
Again I do not criticise the British government for not declaring war on the U.S for this affront to Her Majesty 's subjects, but again the incident throws light on the inconsistency of our indignation, as well as the character of the "special relationship" with the US.
Now that the current Argentine president, this time democratically elected, has once again raised the issue of Argentine's claim to what they regard as their "Malvinas" our doughty prime minister has promised 100% backing to the islanders so long as they wish to remain British, an issue on which they are to hold a referendum shortly.
One inconsistency that is being reported (see the Guardian leader, 4th January) is that no such backing is being given to the Chagos Islanders, turfed out of their Sovereign British Territory some forty years ago to make way for a US military base, and who would, if offered a referendum, undoubtedly vote overwhelmingly to go back to their homes. I hope some MP, keen on more honest politics, will pick up on this and prepare a parliamentary question to explore how Cameron will deal with this piece of hypocrisy.