.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The empire strikes back

There is no better sign of how a backswood Tory MP thinks than this tweet:

Clearly riled by equally irrelevant tweets showing how countries within the European Community had topped the Olympics medal table, the MP for South Derbyshire hit back, and in doing so sought to resurrect the British Empire. At least the EU is a current institution.

Heather Wheeler has taken a lot of stick on social media for this tweet, some of it worth repeating. As the Independent reports, one pointed out that “Given that Empire day became Commonwealth Day in 1958 your use of Empire in this context is erroneous. And offensive.” Others pointed out that the Empire was nothing to boast about:

Chris Tacy said: “You have no empire anymore. And soon you won’t even have Great Britain. Well done.”

Aakash Jayaprakash wrote: “This is very offensive to invoke this alleged ‘empire’. Maybe look at all the facets including the killing and theft of millions.”

And Jan Smith said: “What an offensive, insensitive and ignorant comment. There's no empire; when there was we behaved appallingly. Shame on you!”

Another tweeter asked her to do a similar chart so as to feature the Roman Empire and the Spanish Empire. I suspect both of those would have trailed behind the EU.

If I were to be pedantic about this, I would also point out that Brexit has not happened yet and that the EU currently includes the UK. Thus the medal total for that particular institution should be 325, not 258.

This not just a failure to be self-aware on the part of the Tory MP, but also a misunderstanding of history and an affront to Britain's many friends throughout the world. Alas, it is all too typical in a world where the unthinking right wing are in the ascendant.
This tweet does not really surprise me given the nature of the political debate we have had in these islands over the last decade or so. In fact the extreme right, the Kippers, Leavers, Eurosceptics and Brexiteers have had this imperial dream right at the heart of their campaign for some time.

The mouthpieces of this movement - the Mail, Express and the Sun, have all been waging an overtly racist campaign against immigrants, Muslims, Europeans, foreigners and asylum seekers for some time. They talked incessantly about 'wanting our country back', and what this really meant of course was a return to the 'golden age' - that era before 1948 - before the Windrush arrived from Jamaica. These are the very people who believe that Enoch Powell had been right all along.

They despise all that the European Union had to offer, and now, they seem hell-bent on recreating a British Empire Mark II.

I'm afraid that our 'progressive' political representatives (from most of our parties) have been silent for far too long. It is now high time they faced up to the challenge of the far-right.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?