Occasionally, someone – too often someone frothing at the mouth – will speak or write of New Labour’s attempt to eradicate traditional British institutions in the name of progress. There’s sometimes talk of “cultural Marxism”, which most of us know as “political correctness”, and “political correctness gone mad” became a totem for the most absurd consequences of New Labour’s deliberate policy.
Perhaps these things are the ramblings of grumbling paleo-Conservatives but a reading of Churchill’s speech on St George’s Day 1933 suggests that the BBC has long fulfilled a more complex and subtle purpose than is generally understood. Churchill began his speech by admiring the Scots, Welsh and Irish before saying,
We must be careful, however. You see these microphones? They have been placed on our tables by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
And so on, explaining that the BBC were running a risk that he might say some irreverent thing about Ghandi, the Bolsheviks or the Prime Minister. It seems the BBC has long stood for a set of values which are some way from what might be considered “British”. Churchill explored the story of St George in the modern world before extolling England (“a forgotten, almost a forbidden word”). He said,
… The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength.
Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement, into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians. But what do they offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible Utopias?
Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told. England would sink to the level of a fifth-rate power, and nothing would remain of all her glories except a population much larger than this island can support.
Anyone who reads the Guardian not as scripture but with an open mind or who occasionally listens to the ever more depressing Will Self (for example) should identify with Churchill’s words. People may write or tweet about “bread and circuses as our credit rating was downgraded” (it was only Egan-Jones, and it’s not news for those of us who actually bother with the numbers and the theory) but last night, something wonderful was displayed.
Last night, the Great British people celebrated being British, demonstrating that our character is more robust than our socialist intellectuals presume. Despite every effort by the new Left, the British people remain proud of a heritage which has made this little island not just the greatest country in the world, but the progenitor of the world’s greatest nations through our gift of the philosophy and practice of liberty under the rule of law.
No nation’s past is unblemished but I am proud that, when I finished a speech for the first time last night with “God save the Queen”, there was a rousing spontaneous cheer for Queen and Country. The British people can and should shrug off the ideological nonsense under which they have been placed by an inward-looking, neurotic, cynical, pessimistic and despairing pseudo-intellectual elite and instead sing proudly,
Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.