Believing in Britain
Speech by Lord Tebbit
There are three requirements or a state to exist. It must have a territory. It must have a government and it must have a people – a tribe or perhaps more tribes than one. But a people united by a shared culture and a shared view of the world.
A tribe can exist even without a territory, as the history of the Jewish people reminds us. A government can rule over a territory – but if it is without a people united by a common cause – it cannot survive – Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union are modern testimonies to that. The proposed European Union Republic will be another.
It is for historians to remind us of the struggles within these islands to create a single kingdom – and before that of the struggles to weld together the tribes of England, the tribes of Scotland, of Wales and of Ireland into their kingdoms and then eventually the creation of the United Kingdom whose 300th Anniversary we celebrate this evening.
It cost much blood and treasure – but each generation has been repaid by the prosperity and by security from invasion, revolution and insurrection. It made possible the creation of the greatest empire the world has ever seen and a linguistic and cultural domination bequeathed to the world’s remaining super power.
"It cost much blood and treasure – but each generation has been repaid by the prosperity and by security from invasion, revolution and insurrection" Neither Irish, Welsh, Scots – nor, I think, the English could have accomplished such a feat – nor have brought such benefits to either their own tribes nor to the world – on their own.
Truly this has been a case of the whole being greater by far than the sum of its parts.
Now it is under assault. There are many who doubt if it will long survive.
Well, by definition that which is not eternal is ephemeral – but why, after such success – and such continuing success – why should the cracks in the structure of the kingdom be widening and reaching down into its very foundations?
It was only 67 years ago that Churchill declared, “If the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for 1,000 years men will stay say – this was their finest hour.”
Less than 1,000 months later it looks as though he was right.
There is little doubt that we, the English and Welsh and the Scots (and indeed the men and women of Ulster – despite geography and a difficult history) do share enough in common to belong to a single unifying British tribe. Nor is there much doubt that as a single tribe we can be richer and safer than is we are divided.
So why is a Union which has, which does and which could continue to offer its members and the world such benefit, in danger of coming apart?
Well, of course, there are always fissiparous forces in any union. Always a slight to be returned, a grievance to be nursed, a vanity unfed or want fulfilled. Such wounds can always be inflamed.
And if there is complacency and ignorance and carelessness, then any union can be threatened. And we have seen enough of that. Who proclaims the Union? When do we celebrate it? Are our children taught of it at school? Or do we just take it for granted?
We English – the senior partners by virtue of our number – are careless of our identity. We were once so confident of ourselves and are now so complacent and so ignorant that we do not celebrate who we are, nor what we are. We forget our national day. In the Guardianesque and BBCish world simply no one would proclaim themselves as English.
Being British is bad enough.
We forget what being English is, what being British is, what being Scottish is, and what this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was or is.
"We forget what being English is, what being British is, what being Scottish is, and what this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was or is" We allow the ignorant or ill willed commentators to refer in Ulster to the “British Army” as though it were an occupying force, and the British Government in like manner.
Now they do it in Scotland.
Gradually there is nourished a perception that the parliament at Westminster which Scots as well as English elect, is a foreign parliament – part of a non-Scottish entity and a rival to the Scottish Parliament.
The separatists know – even if they distort in the telling – the history of the Union. There were for 200 years two parliaments in one kingdom – a kingdom established under a Scottish king at that.
It did not work. There was established a single parliament. It has worked for 300 years.
Nor should we be surprised. For just as no man can have two masters, just as no currency can have two (let alone twenty two) Chancellors – nor any Chancellor have two currencies – so no nation can have two governments.
Already the separatists have achieved not an assembly but a parliament whose nomenclature puts it into Scottish minds as a body of the same order as the Westminster Parliament.
So when it runs up against the limits of a body with power circumscribed by being devolved to it from Westminster, not granted to it by the Scottish people, resentments can be inflamed and blame for all misfortunes and misgovernments dumped 350 miles south.
Even so – this does not explain entirely the way and the how of the threat to the Union.
And here I put forward a view so contrary to the perceived wisdom of the day that you should grip your seats and clench your jaws.
Could it be – could it be – that Prime Minister Blair is not a miserable failure but a brilliant success? Could it e that future historians will recognise in him the man who finally delivered these islands into an undemocratic, corporate, continental state?
"Could it be – could it be – that Prime Minister Blair is not a miserable failure but a brilliant success?" Could he be the man to accomplish what Phillip of Spain, Napoleon of France, the Hoenzollens, the Hapsburgs, Hitler of Gerany and Stalin of Russia, all tried and failed to do? The man who destroyed the British tribe.
Is New Labour (unlike Old Labour, a misguided but undoubtedly patriotic party) a largely unconscious and unwitting fifth column of the sort which Ted Heath sought, not without some success, to make of Conservative Party.
Indeed, is Blair not just a “useful idiot” in the plans of the Brussels elite of Euro-imperialists, but one of the most successful of them?
Look at what has happened on his watch. The isolated cadres of “multiculturalists” have been so strengthened and reinforced that the British tribe now scarcely exists in the sense of being a people united by a shared culture and a shared view of the world.
That is, one of the three requirements for a state to exist can scarcely be met.
In Blair’s decade people not of the British tribe have settled into these islands. Some, not least the recent arrivals from Central Europe, will return home. Others – like their countrymen who came here in 1940 to fight Hitler’s empire – will stay, marry and integrate into a tribe with which they share almost all values.
Many from the Old Empire will integrate – more slowly perhaps but because of their shared values outweighing cultural differences they will, just as our Jewish population has done.
Most notably many people from the former British “Raj” have come here to take leading positions in business, media and in service.
But some will neither integrate nor go away. They will stay here – separate – resentful – longing to turn the country into one more like the one they have left, living separate lives in cultural and linguistic ghettos.
It is only recently that I have begun to be able to say these things without being condemned as a racist bigot even by my own party. Then – first that brave man, Trevor Phillips, spoke of his concerns about a society sleepwalking into separation. Now leading churchmen are speaking out, and even – extraordinarily – the Minister for Immigration muses in public whilst abroad that immigration is “unsettling society”. Even Jack Straw is trying to clamber abroad the bandwagon.
It is doing more than that. It is rupturing the cohesion, the solidarity, the cohesiveness and homogeneity of the British tribe.
But that is not Mr Blair’s only achievement. He has planted demolition charges – some delayed – into just about every British institution.
Our schools are increasingly dysfunctional. Children of less then six are now being excluded by reason of being uncontrollable.
You cannot put the blame for that on the N.U.T. his attacks on the institution of marriage, his subsidisation of childbirth out of marriage, the rise of the single parent family, his programme for the increase of welfare dependency, have created an economic and social underclass, denied social mobility, locked into violence, drugs and crime, generation upon generation.
Try educating these feral children even without the damage he has done to the very concept of education.
Cabinet government, the senior civil service, the House of Commons, the Lords, even the armed forces, have been so damaged and soiled as to be brought into ridicule and contempt.
The gap between the reasonable aspirations of large numbers of ordinary, respectable members of the tribe and the super rich, super class, created by New Labour, is tearing the British tribe apart.
These are now people for whom almost no-one except men like Crudas, Duncan Smith, Meacher, and the BNP seem to speak. Their children being sucked into Blair’s underclass.
We now have a growing political class more at ease with each other than the voters they should represent.
Of course such things could be changed. Policies could be reversed. Or could they?
Parliament has put its sovereignty and that of our British tribe into the hands of the European Union.
"Parliament has put its sovereignty and that of our British tribe into the hands of the European Union. It has voluntarily emasculated itself." It has voluntarily emasculated itself.
And in a strange way the British people, who might have trouble expressing themselves to the pollsters and focus group managers, have perceived what is happening.
They have in the vernacular, sussed it out. That is why they do not vote.
Their tribe is being broken up. Its history untaught, its values brought into contempt, its institutions defiled, its solidarity dissolved by the corrosive mixture of Continental Law, political correctness and the avarice, greed, corruption and celebrity culture of its political and social elite.
Devolution in Scotland has inflated the SNP.
Devolution (and surrender to terrorism) has inflated IRA/Sinn Fein.
Both Scotland and Northern Ireland are on the path to separation.
And England is left too weary even to be angry.
What warships, guns, planes and missiles could not do has been done by the corruption of money and power. The Kinnocks of this world have been bought. The British tribe has been sold.
There is no leadership in the struggle to assert even the existence of either the English or the British tribes.
In the decade of Blair and New Labour the English have in increasing numbers gone overseas – not as empire builders or administrators – but as émigrés seeking sunshine, cheap housing and cheap alcohol, to forget who they once were.
As for Scotland, what is offered by the SNP but undemocratic rule from Brussels rather than shared power in Westminster. What a cruel joke to sell the ed of the Union as a triumph in which Scotland can be an equal of Latvia or Luxembourg; a province without influence in a foreign state.
Is it then all over?
Will we celebrate in 2057 not the 350th anniversary of the Union but the 100th anniversary of the European Republic – and the 50th of regions such as trans manche?
Or will we – can we – come back again from the brink – or beyond?
As surely as the British tribe has been sorely damaged and betrayed, so the European Republic may have a territory and a government, but not that third essential for statehood – a tribe of its own. It will fail.
"We Scottish, English and British observe our perilous state and look for the leader …" So tonight we celebrate our history. We Scottish, English and British observe our perilous state and look for the leader who can do for our tribe today what a man like Alfred, a woman like Elizabeth, or men such as Nelson, Wellington and Churchill did in earlier days.
We can escape. We can rebuild.
Lord Tebbit’s speech was reported in The Guardian
Speech by Andrew Roberts
The demise of our union with Scotland would be a disaster
Could Thursday's elections signal the break between Scotland and England?
What a bitter irony. Today is the 300th anniversary of the Act of the Union of England and Scotland, which created one of the most successful states the world has seen - Great Britain.
Yet, tomorrow, elections in Scotland could lead to the very same union's destruction. Polls have repeatedly shown that the Scottish National Party - which has promised a referendum on independence - is likely to beat Labour in Scotland. They have also shown that a majority of Scots and a clear majority of the English favour an independent Scotland.
"Today is the 300th anniversary of the Act of the Union of England and Scotland, which created one of the most successful states the world has seen - Great Britain" British ministers are clearly deeply worried about the threat to the United Kingdom - none more so than Gordon Brown, who was telling a Scottish TV station only this week: 'I will fight against a policy that will break up Britain.'
Mr Brown is, of course, absolutely right. It is vital - as I shall explain - that we fight to preserve the Union.
Yet the sad reality is that Mr Brown and his fellow ministers have come round to the importance of the Union far too late in the day.
For it is his own New Labour party - governed by an obsession with multiculturalism, constitutional tinkering, short-term political expediency and an utter disregard for history - that has in a few short years created precisely the conditions for the dissolution of this union.
Any basic understanding of history will show you that the Treaty of Union turned out to be the most successful offensive and defensive alliance in modern history.
It was as a united state after 1707 that England, Scotland and Wales succeeded in building the greatest territorial empire ever - one that fought successfully against the totalitarian threats of Prussian militarism, Hitler's fascism and Soviet communism in turn.
The Great British union has shown that separate nations can work together for three centuries for their mutual advantage and - ultimately - for that of mankind.
The Act of Union in May 1707 ensured that England and Wales, and now Scotland, were to be united with a common monarchy, flag, coinage and Great Seal.
And, for the first time, the united populations were able to achieve things together that individually were way beyond either of their reaches.
With total disregard for the success of this unity over the centuries, New Labour dissolved it with the creation of the Scottish and Welsh assemblies in 1999.
Winifred Ewing, in the opening speech of the Scottish parliament, said: 'The Scottish Parliament which adjourned on March 25 in the year 1707 is hereby reconvened.'
With devastating prescience, SNP leader Alex Salmond answered: 'The Scottish Parliament is our passport to independence.'
Why did New Labour so miserably fail to predict that the creation of a Scottish parliament would one day recreate the divisions that its abolition in 1707 had ended?
Worse still, why did New Labour allow Scottish MPs the right to vote on legislation in England - on matters such as education, housing, transport and health - which has no effect on their constituents, while disallowing English MPs the same rights in Scotland?
Only such an arrogant - and ignorant - government could have believed that this 'West Lothian question' would be accepted by English voters with equanimity.
"The situation is now so desperate that in January we had the extraordinary sight of a cynical David Cameron - leader of what is still officially known as the Conservative and Unionist party - accusing the Chancellor of trying to ' intimidate' Scotland into staying in the Union and proclaiming that it was only realistic to recognise that many Scots are ' disenchanted' with that union." The fact that the Edinburgh parliament spends £30billion a year that it does not raise, but merely receives in a block grant from Westminster, naturally increases resentment south of the border.
With the average Scot receiving £1,500 more per head than his southern counterpart, the short-term savings to England of independence from Scotland would be obvious - whatever the international courts might say about the ownership of dwindling North Sea oil reserves.
The situation is now so desperate that in January we had the extraordinary sight of a cynical David Cameron - leader of what is still officially known as the Conservative and Unionist party - accusing the Chancellor of trying to ' intimidate' Scotland into staying in the Union and proclaiming that it was only realistic to recognise that many Scots are ' disenchanted' with that union.
But, even though the Conservatives would gain power in Westminster if Scotland seceded and Labour lost its Scottish MPs, Mr Cameron must surely understand that the long-term effect of destroying our ancient unity would be disastrous.
A combined population of 60 million gives the United Kingdom a voice in the world that two separate nations of England and Wales's 53 million and Scotland's six million would never provide.
"Even though the Conservatives would gain power in Westminster if Scotland seceded and Labour lost its Scottish MPs, Mr Cameron must surely understand that the long-term effect of destroying our ancient unity would be disastrous" Our 1.3 per cent of the world's population is small enough as it is, yet we have the world's fifthlargest economy, a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations, an independent currency (the creation of the 1707 Union), the best Armed Forces in the world (one-third of which is Scottish), an independent nuclear deterrent (largely based north of the border), and respected voices in Nato and the EU. Sever our union and all of these would be put at immediate risk.
Union was the root cause of British greatness; dissolution means the end of Britishness itself, with all the disastrous consequences that would flow from that for the two countries and the rest of the world.
Across Europe, in France, Italy, Germany and especially Spain, generous acts of federal statesmanship have kept regional differences from turning into calls for full- scale break-up.
"Union was the root cause of British greatness; dissolution means the end of Britishness itself, with all the disastrous consequences that would flow from that for the two countries and the rest of the world" In Britain, however, New Labour has so mismanaged the devolution process that it has provoked more, rather than fewer, demands for independence from both north and south of the border.
Yet the destruction of the Union would be an unmitigated tragedy in the history of the British Isles. The greatest threat to our independence - English, Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish - derives not from each other but from the lumbering bureaucracy of Brussels and our ability to counter that would be fatally undermined were we to split into two.
I haven't a drop of Scottish blood in me, but I am continually amazed by the fabulous contribution the Scots have made, both to the power and influence of Great Britain relative to their numbers, and to civilisation in general.
"The greatest threat to our independence - English, Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish - derives not from each other but from the lumbering bureaucracy of Brussels and our ability to counter that would be fatally undermined were we to split into two" Try to imagine a world without-the Industrial Revolution fuelled by the steam engines of James Watt, without the economics of Adam Smith, physics pioneered by Lord Kelvin, or Joseph Lister's antiseptics, John Logie Baird's television, or the telephone, discovered by Alexander Graham Bell.
Scotland has provided no fewer than eight of our 50 prime ministers and Tony Blair was educated there. Of course our next prime minister, Gordon Brown, is also a Scot. John Reid was born in Lanarkshire.
All the more disgraceful, therefore, that these three should have devised the devolution plan that suited New Labour well pro tem, but endangers the United Kingdom in its long-term effects.
If Scottish nationalism were to destroy the United Kingdom, and the concept of Britishness were to vanish, we would all be poorer.
The Union flag which came into existence in 1707 has flown on every ocean in the White Ensign on Royal Navy vessels; it was the first flag unfurled on the summit of Mount Everest, and flew victorious over battlefields from the Heights of Abraham in Canada to El Alamein in North Africa, to the back of a radio operator's aerial on the march to Port Stanley.
The Union Jack was the flag most feared by the slave traders after we abolished their trade two centuries ago this year, and by tyrants as varied as Napoleon and the Kaiser. We cannot - after 300 years - throw away this long and proud inheritance.
Andrew Roberts’ speech formed the basis of an article in The Daily Mail