Tuesday, 25 February 2020
Land of misplaced glory
There have been two announcements over the weekend to boost our fading self-confidence.
The "new" British passport is to be issued from the end of next month. Its cover will revert to the former blue (though I had a good look at my old one and, even in the daylight, it seems to me to be black) and will not mention the EU. It was, however, designed in France and will be manufactured in Poland. (The French sounding but British company Thomas de la Rue failed to get the contract.) Further and better particulars are available here. I find it acutely embarrassing that we attach such symbolic importance to such a pathetic gesture.
It has also been announced that on the 8th May, the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, there are to be commemorative parades, services of thanksgiving (national congratulation?) in Westminster Abbey and probably elsewhere, and recordings of a speech by Winston Churchill blasted out in various public places. This year 8th May falls on a Friday, but it will be a public holiday, not an extra one (the Tories aren't that generous) but to replace the normal early May Bank Holiday.
In my view, whilst not wishing to minimise the heroism and noble intentions of the many who fought in the War, the best way of remembering the conflict would be to show newsreels of the thousands of refugees and displaced persons, the maimed and injured, and reminders of the 24, 000,000 military and civilian deaths suffered in the conflict by the Soviet Union, 20,000,000 Chinese, 6,000 000+ Germans, 5,600 000 Poles, (will their contribution to the success of the Battle of Britain even get a mention?) 2,000,000+ Japanese, 1,500,000 Indians, along with approximately half a million each in France, the UK, Italy and the USA. Further and better particulars are available here to put things in perspective.
What is needed is not a nostalgic view of an imagined glorious past, but a reminder of why the UN, EU, Bretton Woods institutions, and various Declarations of Human Rights with supporting courts were created: civilised nations working together to to build a fairer and more peaceful world.