The pageant of British self-regard

veday
This week it’s the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2 in Europe. In a normal country, this would be commemorated as the end of a terrible tragedy in which millions of people were murdered in death camps, countless others lost their lives in bombing raids, or because of war induced famine or disease. Yet others suffered injuries and wounds that lasted the rest of their lives. Millions more saw their lives and livelihoods, their culture and way of life, lost forever. Millions were forced to migrate and never saw their old homes again. The destruction and disruption was truly horrific. 75 years ago this week, Europe lay in ruins, exhausted, battered, bloody.

I do not wish to diminish in any way the sacrifices of those who fought and died, but those who died with a gun in their hand and wearing a uniform were but a tiny fraction of the total who lost their lives. The great majority of the casualties of modern warfare are civilians, who don’t get honoured with military parades, RAF fly-bys, 10 gun naval salutes. In WW2 they were the victims of Nazi and Stalinist persecution, they were children asphyxiated in cellars during bombing raids, they were people ripped from the streets of European towns and cities and forced to act as slave labour in Germany.

War is never a simple matter of good guys versus bad guys, not even when the enemy is as unquestionably evil as the Nazis. That’s because war forces all who it is visited upon to make moral compromises. This is not to attempt to draw a moral equivalence between the UK and the evils of the Nazi regime, but simply to point out that no one comes out of a war with their hands entirely clean. War is not, and should never be, something to be celebrated.

And that’s precisely what is so distasteful about the VE Day celebrations which are being planned across the UK this week. They are celebrations. On VE Day itself, there was a spontaneous celebration all across Europe as people expressed their relief and joy that the suffering was ending, that death would no longer rain from the sky, that the death camps were closed, that the Nazis who had persecuted so many were now to face justice. There was celebration as peace returned, a peace which has held for 75 years.

What the UK is celebrating is not 75 years of European peace. It is not solemnly commemorating the memories of the millions of Jews, the Poles, the Belorussians, the Romanis, the Czechs, and all the rest who were the victims of Nazi persecution. Far less is it commemorating the Chechens, the Ingush, the Kalmyk, the Crimean Tatars, the Estonians, Lithuanians, and Latvians who were the victims of Stalin’s deportations. It’s not remembering the children killed in bombing raids, children who died in blitzes on Germany as well as in London. It is definitely not remembering the hundreds of thousands of displaced people and slave labourers who were turned over by the Allies at the end of the war to Stalin’s secret police to disappear into the gulag.

And it is most certainly not remembering that the war was not won by Britain standing bravely alone, but by the collective efforts of Polish refugees, Free French, resistance fighters and partizans, by Russia, France, China, the USA, and all those other countries occupied or unoccupied who fought against the Nazi evil. It is not remembering that if the Second World War taught us anything, it taught us that European nations must co-operate and collaborate, must create common structures and institutions and build alliances.

No, this is a celebration of a British military victory, standing alone on the White Cliffs of Dover declaiming Churchillian speeches in defiance of a continent. The millions of dead are just so many voiceless ghosts at the pageant of Britain’s mythology of self-regard. It’s only British service people who are to be honoured, yet even their deaths are being used to feed the monster of British exceptionalism. This week is not to be a reminder that we are all human beings who suffer and die just the same irrespective of race, nationality, religion, or ethnicity. It’s being used to bolster the myth that the UK is special, that it is different, that the UK is above those lesser nations.

The memory of death and the remembrance of destruction has mutated into a cry to have tea and cake on the lawn. Let’s listen to Winston and remind ourselves that we’re British and we’re better and we stand alone. Let’s wave the flag and shout hurrah. Amidst the bunting and the flags we lose all sense and meaning. We forget that we are supposed to remember wars in order to reinforce the message that war is a great evil. We forget that war is always cruel, that it always involves compromised moral choices, that it always entails pain. We forget that it’s not glorious to die in a sodden ditch as your intestines spill into the mud. Instead what was supposed to be a reminder that we must never tread that path again has become a perverted tool to justify the rule of those who’d take us into another war if they thought it was politically advantageous. And then they’d celebrate our needless deaths with cake and tea on the lawn, bunting and flags.

VE Day is not an occasion for celebration. Its perversion by the British state into a glorification of Britishness tells us that British nationalism has a deep dark vacuity at its very soul. It tells us that the UK has strayed a long long way from the dreams of those who lost their lives all those years ago.

Right now thousands of people are dying from a cruel disease as they struggle for breath and their families look on helplessly via Skype. Those they leave behind are added to the ever growing ranks of the bereaved. Those of us who have been bereaved before know that anniversaries are not times for celebration. They are sometimes to be dreaded. Sometimes a time of quiet reflection on a love that’s lost. Sometimes an occasion for tears. What they never are are opportunities for survivors to tell ourselves how great and special we are. What they never are are times to be used to build up our own hollow semblance of self-worth on the backs of the dead. Yet that’s precisely what the so-called celebrations of VE Day are doing. And for those of us who have not swallowed the red white and blue pill, all it does is to reinforce our sense of disconnection from this British state that every single day that passes only proves it is unfit for purpose, lost in a reverie of bunting and exceptionalism while it ignores the ghosts at the cake stand.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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93 comments on “The pageant of British self-regard

  1. Simon Taylor says:

    How can any country move forward when it lives in the past ?

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug The pageant of British self-regard This week it’s the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2 in Europe. In a normal […]

  3. I do not wish to detract from your point, which is as usual very well made, but I am not so sure that there has been 75 years of peace in Europe since the end of WWII. Apart from assorted internal difficulties in France (Corsica, the Basque Country), Spain (Basques again), Italy (Red Brigades), Germany (Bader-Meinhoff), the so called UK (the north of Ireland), there was a fairly substantial war in The Balkans during quite a lot of the nineties. The biggest difference between this benighted kingdom and the member states of the EU is that the latter are committed to not perpetuating a bellicose attitude towards their neighbours, while the Brits still believe that their identity is dependent on having won the war and beaten everybody at football. I shall be out on VE searching the street for anybody celebrating and having a good old laugh at them.

  4. Andy in Germany says:

    I remember coming home from school in the English Midlands during the early 1990’s, passing a pub covered in Union Jack flags, and the beer garden absolutely rammed with people “honouring the war dead” or something by drinking and singing jingoistic songs. This jingoism was one of the reasons I left and came to Germany.
    Here, all the dead are remembered, from all countries. The commemorations are very clearly aimed at not repeating the catastrophes of the past.
    I don’t think that the UKgov ever really got this, but the whole point of the EU was to prevent a repeat of this, and it achieved the last 75 years of peace through reconciliation and working together: trade and economics were there to serve that goal, not the other way around.

    • Having seen into the darkest corners of their own national soul, I find the Germans the most mature people in the world with regards to remembrance of war.
      These days, they really do seem like the grown-ups by comparison with the vulgar, jingoistic, ingracious Brits.

  5. Bob Hastings says:

    Powerful piece, Paul. Well done.

  6. John d says:

    It’s what to expect from the Insel Affen amongst us.

  7. Danny Martin says:

    I view the upcoming celebrations with a sense of dismay. As you point out there is a darkness at the soul of the British Nationalists. They have, as I see it, an emptiness in their existence which no amount of affirmation can fill. They have done nothing significant and must get this from the deeds of others. These are seen through a red, white, and blue veil, obscuring the realities.
    VE Day was not the end of the story. The war dragged on for another six months. At the time the Far East campaign was sidelined. Britain has always had a thing for Europe. So has Scotland but in a much more positive way. This VE celebration will be a celebration of Brexit. I want nothing to do with it. Nothing at all

  8. James Mills says:

    My dad joined up in 1939 ( was not conscripted ) and served overseas throughout the war until he was demobbed in 1945 when , for the first time in 6 years, he set foot back on Scottish soil . He never celebrated his service , never bought a poppy , never wanted to be reminded of the war and was less than charitable in his thoughts about Churchill , Montgomery (under whom he served in Africa ) and the other ‘great’ British leaders .

    I have inherited his scepticism of all things British when it comes to the enthusiasm for War which so many of our ‘leaders’ embody – usually people who have never and would never serve in a position where there was the slightest danger to their well-being .
    Yet these are the ones who happily send others off to fight their political wars without a thought for the consequences , as the numbers of ex-service personnel who are homeless and suffering from numerous mental conditions linked to their service can testify .

    This preoccupation with the military infests this country in a way which is troubling , demeaning and inherently sick .

    Our ‘royals’ never miss an opportunity to dress-up in military regalia ( with assorted war decorations won by being born in the right bed – how insulting for those who have ‘earned’ those same baubles ), thus setting an example to all of us impressionable ‘subjects ‘ !

    As Edwin Starr sang ”War – what is it good for ? Absolutely nothing !”

    • Welsh Sion says:

      James Mills,

      You say, “Our ‘royals’ never miss an opportunity to dress-up in military regalia ( with assorted war decorations won by being born in the right bed ”

      I get the main thrust of your argument …

      But how convinced are you that the so-called Royals actually got born in the *right* bed – and they weren’t actually born on the other side of the blanket?

      We only have the mainstream media and the Nicholas Witchells’ of this world’s word for it …

      • Pete Roberts says:

        The queen has resolutely refused to have any DNA testing done on her offspring and their families. makes you wonder what she is afraid of.

    • Richard Bruce says:

      Agree entirely, my dad was 8th army, 1939, demobbed in 1946, seemed to be fighting everywhere, North Africa, Greece, Sicily, Italy ended war in Vienna. Seeing members of the Vienna Concert Orchestra playing for cigarettes, he was shocked and sickened by what he witnessed and vowed he would never participate in any celebration, ever, never wore a poppy, never joined in the jingoism that was the British Legion shows. He always told me “Never Again”.

  9. Welsh Sion says:

    Coming soon – a REAL cause for celebration: Tomorrow.

    Only one more sleep!

  10. Phil McGlass says:

    Dresden – February 1945? Wurtzburg – March 1945?

    What glory………………….

    • Donald McKillop says:

      I remember vividly my first visit to my wonderful German wife’s home town of Luebeck in 1977. Met and married her in Australia. Luebeck is the home of Thomas Mann and in the Holsten Tor is the letter sent from Wallace stating Scotland was ready to trade with the Hansa Stat once more. I was impressed with the generosity of spirit from my hosts. It was during our second week that Oma took us to a neat and well looked after cemetery that changed me there and then from being British to what I am now. The cemetery was for the dead of a number of British RAF attacks on the city. Reading the names of complete families including toddlers up to the elders. I realised then that it was not just the British being killed by bombing from the air, but innocent German civilians too. The city of seven church steeples were reduced to six from the bombing. Although from my first visit there is the original seven steeples there again. Just as an aside, the council sought the best carpenter in Germany to rebuild it and he was actually a resident of Luebeck. I am proud to say on behalf of my wife he was her grandfather. I go evevery couple of years to both Luebeck and Glasgow for more years than I remember, but I know that the real people of Glasgow (c’mon the Jags) and my other family in Luebeck remember the the sacrifices made, but not the jingoism. Last part I wanted to be in both Glasgow and Luebeck once more this year, alas coronavirus stopped it. I hope next year I will be able to, you never know when one will be going on 77 if it will be possible. Sorry for being long winded but I love the people of my three countries, Scotland, Germany and Australia.

      • J Galt says:

        Luebeck is indeed a lovely city and my favourite sweet is Luebecker Marzipan!

        From my visit (a long time ago) I seem to remember seeing the cracked church bell from one of the churches which burned on the night of the raid.

  11. Thepnr says:

    I understand the mindset behind this constant reference to war and why the image of plucky Brits coming to the rescue of the entire world in the defeat of Hitler and the evil Nazis.

    It Wos Us Wot Won It!

    It is simply another method of control is how I see it, bread and circuses come to mind but what kind of warped mind came up with the idea to commemorate/celebrate the start of the First World War in 2014?

    Don’t tell me, I think I might know.

  12. Strong as ever, Paul.

    The trouble that the BritNats have is that they have never ever come to terms with the fact that 1945 was the last time that their decrepit, corrupt state had any relevance to the world (let alone significance). 70-odd years of being fed all those lousy war films in which dear Dickie Attenborough and darling Johnny Mills (with a little bit of help from dour Scottish engineers and chatty Welsh privates who got killed off in the first reel) won the Wo-Wah between them on the back lot at Shepperton have inculcated in them a feeling of superiority and exception which reality does not warrant.

    And so we have the fetishising of a victory which, as has been remarked, was only tangentially down to Great British Spunk(TM), but one which was won by all those nationalities BritNats look down their noses at. It is an emetic spectacle at the best of times, but in the current context has the effect of having eaten a dodgy prawn cocktail.

    Will we have the same for the actual end of the war in a few months’ time? I doubt it, despite the fact that for two of my uncles the war didn’t end until after Japan’s surrender (and, in the case of one of those uncles, the effects were such that it could be said that his war never ended). This ‘celebration’ on Friday is more to do with Greater England trying to big itself up over all those European Johnnies.

    And I say to hell with it.

  13. Wee Chid says:

    Time they stopped all this shite and concentrated on keeping people safe from this bloody virus. Of course it’s easier to pretend to have sympathy with the dead than to actually do anything practical for the living. F**k their celebrations. I’ll spend the day at home, alone and if I as much as hear a celebration I’ll be blasting out the Red Flag to counteract it.

  14. bringiton says:

    The RSI VE ceremony this year is to celebrate victory over Europe and taking back control.
    What has been completely exposed by Brexit is that the British state does not do sharing
    but instead does taking.
    Unionists can no longer claim that we are Better Together with a country which has made it clear that only so long as they are in charge.
    None of this pooling and sharing malarkey.(Broon take note) or federalism even.
    They have just turned their back on any sort of federation,confederation or association which doesn’t leave them in charge.
    Watched ” A Bridge too Far” yesterday and it brought my anger against the Tories Brexit to the fore again.
    All those deaths,just so as the Tories can live in a Lala land which hasn’t changed much since the Crusades.
    Europe is a place where they bash Johnny Foreigner now and again (with other people’s armies recently of course) so that they can continue to feel superior and pretend to be a global force to be reckoned with.
    £2 trillion national debt and a global recession is going to finish off any ideas of unleashing anything except more poverty for the plebs.
    Still,they seem to like that in England.

  15. benmadigan says:

    great post Paul. Put into words exactly what I was thinking, expressing my distaste for England’s war myths

  16. During the war. Galashiels had three empty factories which were turned into barracks. Huts were also built in the public park. Throughout the war, they were occupied at different times by British, Polish Tank Corp, Checkloslovackian Armoured car Corp and a Canadian Battalion. The Canadians were all volunteers, some of whom were prisoners on long sentences who were freed if they took part. These men were trained very hard and a few were killed and buried in the local cemetery. A day before they left they were told to sell all their possessions to the locals. Then came the news of the Dieppe raid where most of the force were Canadians. After the War, the Canadian Government dug up the bodies and took them back to Canada. So much for Britain standing alone. I was 8 years old at the start of the war.

    • ruthiegxx says:

      I didn’t know that William. I do remember the fantastic Polish club in Gala though.

    • J Galt says:

      Yes Dieppe – an experiment, a “practise run” for D-Day, expendables sent on a suicide mission.

      Result? “Oh let’s wait a year or two old chap – until that bounder Stalin and his hordes have ground the Boche into the dirt.”

  17. davidg says:

    So Russia, having around 27 million of their people killed, is considered a ‘collective effort’!

  18. davidg says:

    I should have stated..Soviet Union, not Russia; but you are missing my point.

  19. A powerful piece of writing, Paul, which echos my feelings to a T: war is war, whether just or not, and is to be mourned, not celebrated, an occasion for sorrow, not rejoicing.

    And it wasn’t just the EU which grew out of the ashes of WWII; it was preceded by the United Nations. Here’s the preamble to the United Nations Charter, signed on 26 June 1945 in San Francisco:

    WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

    To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

    To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

    To establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

    To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

    AND FOR THESE ENDS

    To practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and

    To unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and

    To ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and

    To employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,

    HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS [.]

    • marconatrix says:

      Why didn’t we all learn about this in school … rather than all those Great British Victories over past centuries?

  20. Dr Jim says:

    I remember as a child, i’m 71 now so not old enough to have had direct experience except for my fathers commentary and memories of that time, but reading newspapers then listening to the radio then once we got television watching the commemoration services it was a more solemn affair, those images and words of that time diminished in importance in England a long time ago and have been replaced by something different
    Today those services of rememberance have been overshadowed by the smugness of old Empire superiority and a deserved superiority of a being over others, a celebration of victory if you will for the wrong reasons

    Scotland has mainly I think turned off to this affair because it appears more and more like an Orange Lodge drum banging shove down your throats wee arra peepel show of bravado and happiness at causing the deaths of others, and no matter how much they try to sell it with Vera Lynne songs and street parties and peoples greatful thanks for it to be over, the sense of English nationalism for nationalisms sake appears the driving force now

    We they and others killed people and were killed because the leaders of our countries ordered us to, those people were the same as us whoever they were, just people who would probably rather have not participated in any of it and in the end nobody won a damn thing, everybody suffered and now the painting is being repainted and the words are being rewritten as in all history by the *victors*

    How many of us in Scotland were taught *history* in school only to find out later that *history* was incorrectly described and another history had been deleted, it usually takes a very long time for this process but England is doing it before our very eyes and in almost the same timeframe as a new generation is drawn in to these celebrations of England stood aloneness, to assist in the ever growing narrative of the wrong kind of Nationalism, the one that people were ordered to fight against

    We all live in the islands of Britain and we used to be called Britons and who knows maybe we wouldn’t mind being Brit-ish if being Brit-ish wasn’t deliberately misinterpreted as meaning English by the people who invented the newer word *British*

    I also will not be *victoriously commemorating*

    How do you justify those two words in the same sentence

  21. Most of you know my views on this VE obscenity. A piece of fiction designed to glorify England the Liberator.
    Try telling that to the citizens still colonised as part of George VI’s Empire in 1945.
    India/ Pakistan Palestine, Cyprus the North of Ireland..I could go on. In the past 75 years England and its Home Colonies have waged war incessantly on easy targets and abandoned millions across what was left of their Empire, and are still at it in the Middle East to this very day.
    Like many on here, my father, uncles, and their work mates and neighbours ‘served’ (not Sub Lieutenant Andrew Bowie’s or Hon Col Ruth Davidson’s version of ‘served’) and on return to Scotland, never talked about it, ever again.

    It is an outrage that this Glory Bash is taking place at all. Not in this house, not in this street, not in this corner of Glasgow.

    Johnson will announce a ‘special dispensation’ relaxing the lockdown rules so that neighbours and relatives can gather at a metre’s length and have a street party and sing all the old hits.
    ‘Any Old Iron’, My old Man’, and of course ‘The white Cliffs of Brexit Dover.’

    I anticipate insurgents heading to Scotland for the May Bank Holiday, defiant and imperial sons of the European Conquerors, ready to repel Jock Bobbies and the local peasants..
    Enuff.

    • carolclark1 says:

      I feel much the same as you Jack. My late father served as a royal marine during the war and was in the D-Day landings. What he endured that day, and through the whole of the war, haunted him to the day he died. I remember him having some terrible nightmares, yet, he never ever spoke about it.

      He also said never again at the end of the war. Refused to pick up his campaign medals, and was always scunnered at these ceremonies with all these guys parading with their medals pinned to their chests. He seemed to think that there should be a special circle of hell for the “feckin parasites” that are the chelsea pensioners. I have no idea why.

      Boris Johnstone changed the mayday holiday to next weekend for VE day celebrations to encourage our feeling of britishness and cement the precious union, all in it together and all that.

      It seems crass and thoroughly bad taste at any time, never mind in the middle of a pandemic that has taken so many lives.

      • Indeed, Carol.
        I do not exaggerate. None of my male relatives spoke about it, nor our neighbours.
        It was clearly a hellish experience.

        It seemed to have been blocked out of their memory.
        I lack the technical nous, but if Paul, or any of the other sites can post Eric Bogle’s ‘and the Band played Waltzing Matilda’ this Friday, I would consider this a genuine commemoration, of my dad’s, and tens of millions of ‘common old working chaps’ (and chapesses) sacrifice and loss during this bloody act of madness.
        No more cannon fodder so that the Rich and Elite get to keep their vast wealth.

        • Malky McBlain says:

          See here Jack

          And here for the waltzing Matilda

          • I have cried tonight, Malky. I thought of my father, uncles and neighbours in my childhood, now long gone. Thank you, thank you.
            We do indeed stand on the shoulders of giants. Those who survived this war, and who came home, raised us, and many died premature deaths, we salute them, silently, constantly, in our hearts.
            Friday will be a sad farce, to promote Empire 2.
            On his first leave home, my father, just 21, and finished his apprenticeship as a coppersmith before being called up, married my mother, then 19, in December 1939, then went away to war.
            It is hard to imagine this today. They were children really.

            • Malky McBlain says:

              My Dad was in the Navy in WW 2 sent off to the Pacific on an aircraft carrier to fight with the yanks and the Aussies against the Japanese. He never collected his medals and rarely spoke of the war.

              My Grandpa was on the western front in WW1 as an infantryman. he was gassed and survived to be retrained as a Morse signaller. He quite obviously suffered from PTSD known back then as shell shock. I remember him breaking down when watching the news from Vietnam in the 1970s he never talked about the wars. He taught me the alphabet backwards when I was a boy….a party piece I retain to this day. I often wonder about the nightmares they both suffered even though they were both ‘lucky’ to have survived and return to a promise of a nation fit for heroes as they were promised back then.

              • I have mentioned this before, Malky, so apologies.

                I have photograph of my maternal grandfather, posing in uniform and clutching his beloved bagpipes in barracks during WWI. He apparently lied about his age. He was one of the kilties armed with only his pipes, was poisoned by mustard gas, and spent 18 months in a sanatorium.
                This was the only detail we had of his war, from my grandmother.
                He never fully recovered and died early.
                He had to busk at cinema queues in Glasgow during the Depression to feed his family.
                He was a musical prodigy, and played the pipes, piano, accordion, banjo, and guitar.

                I first heard ‘Rock Around The Clockat my grandparents flat in Scotstoun. He had a small upright piano, and a piano stool stuffed with sheet music.
                He played a boogie woogie version of Bill Haley’s toe tapper one Christmas when the burgeoning clan gathered.
                A quiet unassuming gentle man.
                If there is a heaven, he’s up there.

  22. Hamish100 says:

    My old man was in Burma. Detested all the 50th celebrations etcetera as he complained that VJ Day was ignored at the time. The forgotten army as it was called. Never went to the British Legion as 1/2 the guys volunteered rather than conscripted so it was their own fault -they accepted the Queens silver. Then wanted praise. A bit harsh maybe but since he witnessed horrors of the Imperial Japanese Army who are we to complain. Hirohito , war criminal but the US needed Japan post war to side against the “Commies”. These days everybody is a hero , clap , hit pots and pans along with Johnson and co. I am sure he would resist the temptation. We know who the heroes are but should we clap along with those who pursued austerity, supported Iraq, paid of the bankers and vote Tory and Lib Dem’s each time there is an election. Hypocrites he would say- (actually no), he would say something more descriptive!

    Rule Britannia, my arse.

    • Still Positive says:

      My father was also in Burma and India. I remember asking him if he had ever seen any Japanese soldiers and his reply was: “Only dead ones.”

  23. Isobel Macrae-Wilson says:

    from Seigfried Sassoon
    Base Details
    If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
    I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
    And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
    You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
    Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
    Reading the Roll of Honour. “Poor young chap,”
    I’d say—”I used to know his father well;
    Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.”
    And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
    I’d toddle safely home and die—in bed.[2]

  24. Bob Lamont says:

    It is not a celebration but an obscenity.
    It has long been the habits of establishment to rewrite history, the English variety has shrunk from years to months, now barely a week passes before it is re-scripted.
    Yet this odd obsession over a war 75 years previous is the strangest English obsession of all, those who were barely a gleam in the milkman’s eye can be relied upon to recount in the first person the greatness of the time, all at the merest prompt from a cockney Francois or an edwardian Mogg.
    It is what put the Grate back in Britain….

  25. Ken2 says:

    Illegal wars bombing the world to bits. Brexit trying to come out of the EU. The EU founded to stop War and starvation in Europe after WW2.

    The Russians saved the West 26Million killed.

    1/2Million British
    1/2Million French
    1/2Million Americans. 1941-45

    The rest are sick of it.

    The Tory nostalgia is misplaced. A diversion from poor decisions. The tax evading Tories. The UK one of the most unequal, class divisive places in the world. The Royals at the helm.

  26. jfngw says:

    It’s why the British Nationalist will revel in the virus deaths, we took on the chin, we survived the onslaught, our leader nearly died. It will go down in history as another Dunkirk, a shambles perceived and celebrated as a victory. Their psyche demands the delusion.

  27. Alba woman says:

    It is just so awful to listen to and watch the insane blatant propaganda. Why does the psyche of English people need to believe in any of this…..

    It’s so sad and anger fuelling to watch these people being infantilised. Maybe somewhere in their minds is awareness but the drive to clear the country of Johnny Foreigner takes precedence.

    The Tories are the great divide and rule propagandists….they have been at it a very long time.

    • Welsh Sion says:

      Alba woman,

      The Tories are the great divide and rule propagandists….they have been at it a very long time.

      – But not just the Tories (of *any* political colour) – it’s in-grained in the Anglo-Saxon psyche, ever since they came to these (‘our’) islands.

  28. Welsh Sion says:

    They ‘celebrate’ the blood lust that was a world war – which was much of their making as the enemies.

    And they prepare for the next one by keeping that obscenity on the Clyde.

    You know your duty, Scotland, on your independence.

    • Still Positive says:

      I can see those weapons going over the Erskine Bridge from my back windows. I remember years ago my 2 eldest sons being away at a summer camp in mid-June 1982 organised by their father and I took the opportunity to decorate the elder boys bedroom. I remember going into close the bedroom windows and then while closing the living room windows I saw the convoy going along Great Western Road (known as the Boulevard here). I was alone in the house with my 2 under 5s. I can honestly tell you I was scared.

  29. Tom Busza says:

    Excellent article.

    Allow me to give my take on the abomination that is “75Years VE Day Celebration”. And apologies for the length.
    I will not “celebrate” it, nor have ever done so and I will never do so.

    The vast majority of those who will be “celebrating” VE Day weren’t alive in 1945. They will never know what it is like to be invaded and be under an aggressor’s rule.
    Why?
    I am the product of a Polish father and Italian mother.
    Father (eldest of 4 brothers) was from Poznań and, in 1939, was working on contract in Lwów, a city in the Kresy region of Poland when the Soviets invaded (some 14 days after Germany had invaded from the west- 3 Sep. 1939), “reclaiming” the region.
    All “natural” Poles were despatched to the Gulags. He was released following the Sikorski–Mayski agreement and joined up with Gen. Władysław Anders and the Anders’ army. Traipsing through Iran, Iraq and Palestine (as was at the time). Anders formed and led the Polish 2nd Corps. Father was now a Sergeant signaller with the 3rd Carpathian Division which fought its way through Tobruk and into the Italian campaign, finally taking Monte Cassino and raising the Polish flag over the ruins of a magnicent monastery.
    Mother, youngest of 4 sisters and 1 brother, had lived with Fascism and Nazi occupation most of her life at the time. She had lost her fiancé when the Italian battleship “Conte di Cavour” was sunk in the Bay of Taranto by a RN attack.
    My uncle Pepe (her brother) was an ardent anti-Fascist and a partisan, a member of the CLN (Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale). His son (my cousin Gianpaolo), in later years, was engaged to a girl from a village a few miles up the Adriatic coast. Uncle Pepe’s proclamation was “You will not marry Italia (that was her name) whilst I’m alive.” Her grandfather was a blackshirt. They were married after Uncle Pepe died (RIP) in 1965.

    WWII ended in Europe. Polish forces had the option to go home to a Soviet controlled Poland or elsewhere. Father, by now married & anti- anything to do with communism, was shipped acidentally to Norfolk (he’d originally requested Ecuador?). Moved to Wolverhampton. Mother and I (6 months old) joined him a few months later. (Mother always related the story of her meeting a Scot on the train to Calais, speaking perfect Italian, telling her to beware the English “They are arrogant and think they own the world and the world owes them.”).

    What happened? Cities and countries had been destroyed. Populations had been obliterated. Survivors just looked to survive.

    And survive they did. They rebuilt their towns, cities, and countries.

    In 1957, 12 years after the end of the war in Europe, 6 countries came together and signed the Treaty of Rome. The EEC was born, which gave birth to the EU as we know it today.

    This period (1945-2020) must be the longest period of peace in Europe in history. Let us celebrate that fact, not the wanton destruction of peoples, towns, cities and nations.

  30. Arthur Thomson says:

    Another weekend of social distancing from the Brits and their sinister delusions. You would think I would be used to it by now but it always gives me the boake.

    On the radio a Scottish voice recruiting for the army. A block head encouraging desperate kids to join the Brit killing machine. To destroy for queen and Britland.

    I know that increasing numbers of Scots will treat this event with the utter contempt that it deserves.

  31. Alba woman says:

    Welsh Sion totally agree about the obscenity lurking on the Clyde ….that does not feature in their current strategy.

    The nuclear weapons positioned forty miles from my home, family and friends is very rarely discussed in our cutting edge MSM.

    Silence is definitely golden on that one!

    • Dr Jim says:

      Yeah but we wanted Brexit and we wanted Trident because they told us we’re British
      We want the Tories, we wanted the bedroom tax, we wanted the rape clause because we’re British, we can’t have Independence because we’re British and the British people in England have voted and decided and talked and have come to the conclusion that Scots are not British enough to decide things for themselves, so the real English British people must take on that responsibility for us, until we learn to be more British

      It’s an education and communication problem we Scots suffer from as well as an inability to learn the words of the patriotic songs, once we get the hang of these things then we’ll be golden I’m sure

  32. velofello says:

    This will read a bit disjointed, but anyway – a few of the present bunch of Tory ministers brings to my mind, when I was a kid, of the English guys who used to sell off the back of trucks at the Glesga Barras – the likes of Brandon Thingamy, and the Minster for commerce(?) he’s Asian, bald wears glasses. Johnson naturally, come to mind.We knew not to believe a word they said.

    And the english accents of Pathe News, of B&W films of country cottages, rose gardens,father with tank top, pipe and brylcream. All gone? Why?

    When a people, a country has to declare that it has the biggest, has the best,that it’s institutions are not pre-fixed by it’s national identity English, viz. The Football Association, The Rugby Union, you know you have a problem with that nation.

    And one must keep up standards dear boy. In my assignments in the Middle East, some of my English staff wearing ties in the searing heat did amuse the locals.

  33. CageyBee says:

    Although it is WW1 that we (McCrae’s Battalion trust) go out to France on the 1st of July (not this year obviously) we have a service at our cairn for the 15th and 16th Royal Scots followed by one for the French and for the last 6 years we have been joined by our German friends. We remember those from all countries (service people and civilians. after the services we have lunch at the Salle de Fete with the villagers and vow “no more war”. A few years back we were at a grave of Willie McBride and “the green fields of France” was played and not dry eye was there. My friend has written a song about McCrae’s that you can see here

    //www.youtube.com/watch?v=cil_g6p_jPY

  34. Mbiyd says:

    Always seems to me that you shouldn’t celebrate war for what’s its worth but what it teaches you. Germany today as we can all see is a progressive, liberal, modern society whereas we are a regressive, backward, illiberal society stuck in the 19th century.

    What’s more embarrassing is that on most levels the Germans during world war 2 both outthought and outfought us and half the world… what’s to celebrate: Russian tenacity?

  35. James Cheyne says:

    Visual imprint installed Paul, by your eloquent words, for all to see, what is so wrong in Britain today,
    My father never spoke of the war after he was demobbed, he was a medic during the WW2, the only time he did say anything was when we pressed him to so we could do homework,
    He did not give the glory of war rendition, that is celebrated down south.

  36. Still Positive says:

    Mine neither, He never wanted to speak about it but would do when I pressed him – brought about by reading true stories in the 60s of those who escaped PoW camps.

  37. Bob Lamont says:

    I saw IndyrefTwo posted a clip on ‘Our Finest Hours’ being broadcast on BBC Scotland yesterday, May 4th 2020, horrified to see this blatant bunkum being fed to Scots so Johnson can do his Churchill impersonation…
    German and Scots parentage gave my childhood a quite unique perspective, neither of my grandfathers would recognise the mythologised and distorted version of the war they lived through, nor understood the modern nostalgia for an England which never existed.
    I doubt either would be amused by the rise of the Weimar Republic being re-enacted though…

  38. marconatrix says:

    TBH I’ve never seen, heard or read the anti-war, anti-jingoist sentiment better expressed. Truly heartfelt and perhaps as needed now as ever.

    Those of us who are just a little too young to have any first-hand experience of a world-war, nevertheless grew up with an endless stream of dramas and documentaries more or less on the theme of “We Won the War!” which influenced our childhood games, and still lurks maliciously somewhere deep within our subconscious, however much our rational minds might denigrate and deny it. This is what I fear all the “British and Best” nonsense feeds upon. And with Germany now unified, happy, relatively rich and successful at the heart of Europe, could this not also be the root of much of the Brexiteers’ the anti-EU motivation?

  39. Deeply moving family memories there folks, to which I have none to add. On this vile weekend I’ll raise a dram or two to all.

  40. Jane Cassidy says:

    Thanks for this Paul. Ruth Wishart’s piece in The National also spoke well for me. My father was a POW for two and a half years. He was a medical orderly who must have seen terrible things but, like others, never spoke about the war. I grew up with his subsequent mental health problems, never understanding what was wrong with my family.
    Researching his wartime experiences has led me on to many other paths – the plight of the Poles, the Greeks, Italians, even Germans eg during and after the Siege of Breslau. When I watched a video about the Long March, the only time one POW became emotional (despite his own terrible experiences) was when he recalled seeing fires that he later learned were from the bombing of Dresden.
    I refuse to give up marking Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, for my father and others, when there is so much pressure on left-leaning people to shun all that. This is different. VE Day to me is a time for intene sadness, never celebration, for all those who suffered, lost their lives or had them changed forever.

  41. Albis says:

    If anyone hasn’t seen the excellent film “Oh what a lovely war”, I would urge you to do so. It certainly opened my eyes as a 20 year-old back in 1969.

  42. Ken2 says:

    The Westminster Tories are still at it. Investing in nuclear again. Discredited in the 1950’s. Wasting £Billions. Plutonium produced in Britain used for redundant nuclear weaponry in the US.

    50% more nuclear waste discharged at Faslane in the Clyde. The military prevented from any disclosure under the Official Secrets Act.

    The Tories are not concerned if any one dies as long as it is not them. Vote Tory to die younger. The death toll rising in the rest of the UK. Twice as much. Life expectancy falling. Austerity, 120,000 more people have died. Before the virus outbreak. The Tories did not start worrying until they started to get affected. Then it was panic stations.

    The US/UK and France military operations worldwide since WW2. Everyone is sick of it.

    Iraq, Dunblane and Lockerbie kept secret for 100 years.

    Churchill was taking Iran’s (Persia) Oil in the 1950’s. The continued conflict in the Middle East. The Balfour Declaration 1917. Supplying Saudi illegal weaponry since the 1960’s. Still on going. Continual conflict costing lives and wasting monies. Endless wars and conflicted supported by Westminster.

    Vote for Independence to make the world a better place. Vote for Independence to help the human race.

  43. Mark Russell says:

    Wonder what Willie Gallagher would make of this? Och well, a Scotland without Labour, Conservative or Communist parties doesn’t seem a bad option…

    https://www.cpbml.org.uk/news/devolution-obstacle-tackling-coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR151Tv9W6VUaR3DnrutjAB8ViQzxb3zHOpqx2QzwlcOw2Khr-oJff0s9vw

    • What a load of codswallop that article is… if it proves anything at all, it proves that devolved assemblies where the governing parties are ruled by their Westminster mother ships gives you the worst of all possible worlds.

      The parties represented in the Scottish Parliament should not take instruction from outwith Scotland. MPs now… the Scottish BritNat MPs are living proof, really, that you can’t serve two masters, and you really shouldn’t try.

  44. Hamish100 says:

    The English NHS Isle of Wight trial with the new COVID-App .

    If you wear a mask or gloves or other PPE you are asked to switch off the app!!

    The nhs assume you have protection from covid.!

    Weird as you could be wearing a bandana as opposed to a surgical mask or better equipment.

    I could be wearing disposable gloves or driving gloves ( I know very middle class) or assume hand gel is ok. Who decides could get it wrong. Pointless.

    • Dr Jim says:

      I just think of the Isle of Wight or anywhere else that isn’t Scotland as foreign countries with their own rules and leaders and we’ll get told what applies to us by the people in charge in Scotland where I live, I stopped watching the UK Corona virus clown show and its foreign media distributers and it definitely eased my mind
      The FMs briefing always contains the same information in the journalists questions as they scramble desperately to incite political differences using quotes from Tory politicians that are meaningless because health is a devolved issue in Scotland and neither the journalists or Unionist politicians like that, even though Nicola Sturgeon says she won’t play their stupid political games because she’s trying to save lives here it never stops them trying, although today I did notice she’s on the verge of becoming testy with them, she’s irritated by their stupidity , then again maybe that’s what they want in their game of news creation

      The great British media indulges itself in “mistakes* “misquotes” and “misunderstandings” and I noticed on one occasion even the Welsh FMs accent was apparently to blame for their misunderstanding and misquoting of something he said

      That’s always been one of our Celtic problems, none of us ever speaks English correctly for journalists, even though folk the length and breadth of the world understand us just fine, or we learn to speak their language which we also manage fine as well

      Aye, we’re definitely the ones wae the problem alright

      • It occurs to me ,Dr Jim, that the Union is now dead, and that it’s only a matter of separating the CD’s and deciding who gets the pet dog, Ian Murray.
        No more Mr and Mrs Nice Guy.

        • Dr Jim says:

          They’re having difficulty containing themselves at head office UK as some of the local underlings in Scotland have been engaging their own mouths without switching on what passes for their brains from the worry of what they see coming, nobody would wish this pandemic on their worst enemy but the Scottish team led by the FM have in the circumstances being open honest transparent and competent in contrast to the UKs secretiveness and the disguising of their mortality rate, not to mention the leaking of the emails informing the UK central suppliers of PPE not to supply to Scotland and Wales then being found out and altering the *mistake*

          Had it not been for SNP MSP Ivan McKee being on the ball from the word go and sourcing PPE derectly Scotland would have struggled in the way England has, then we have polls showing the Scottish government and Nicola Sturgeon particularly as the most trusted source of dependable information

          None of this bodes well for the UK government no matter how many blusters and stunts Boris Johnson pulls now because even though they control the press at the moment, they don’t own it, and if the decision is taken by the owners to turn on Johnson then all the correct figures and failures will be revealed every hour on the hour by SKY and ITN and in those circumstances I don’t believe even the BBC will be able to shield him from Scotlands wrath let alone his own country’s ire

          My guess is it will all begin to kick off around the end of next month and build as the UK government won’t be able to help themselves due to the pressure of their big money political donors, then we only have a short time to go till the very probable no deal ideological tumble out of the EU

          The scweams will be heard loud and clear and Scotland should be scweaming the loudest I hope

      • marconatrix says:

        Our host has at least acquired one Welsh follower. After moaning about all the BritNat WWII ‘nostalgia’ in the media, he concludes his blog with this final para :
        “It’s entirely appropriate to mark this three-quarter centinary, but how to do so without serving the crazy and totally hypocritical ideology of the BritNats? Today the Wee Ginger Dug has handled the question far better than I ever could. Not for the first time, it’s to Scottish blogs that we need to turn to get the penetrating (?) analysis that’s never found in the feeble British Left.”

        https://glynadda.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/torrir-distawrwydd/

        • Welsh Sion says:

          Marconatrix,

          I thought *I* was *the* Welsh follower! (Swaggers shoulders a la Captain Mainwaring … pron. Main wearing).

          Anyhow. didderbyn-wyneb = outspoken.

          (Glynadda was one of the editors of Geiriadur yr Academi and a good family friend.)

          • marconatrix says:

            Diolch yn fawr, doeddwn i ddim yn deall ‘not accepting surface’ 😉
            Bum fel arfer darllen _Blogiadur_, ble mae hynny wedi mynd (a _tir nam blog_ yr un adeg) ???

            • Welsh Sion says:

              I think Blogiadur is dead (viva Blogiadur!) and the Twitter account inactive.

              But I am co-operating with him and someone else on the re-publication of a Welsh novel concerning a plot to kill Charles Windsor during the Arwisgiad in 1969.

              Watch this space!

              • marconatrix says:

                Surely there must be someone out there who knows how to recreate such a ‘specialist’ blog-of-blogs. A one stop shop for followers of a particular subject, in these cases Celtic languages?
                (And I just manage to somehow type ‘languishes’ — druan o beth!)

  45. glensketch says:

    In the days after the “penny dropped” in early March, I was singing that song from “Oh what a lovely war….” it was “the bell’s of hell go ting a ling a ling for you but not for me” as for WW2 and the English way of remembering history…well, its unique and slightly self serving. When you loose as the Germans did, the victor can force you to do less revision of history. But there is nobody to force objectivity on the winner. All this another way to say people never learn and the cyclic murder of innocents continues and grows in scale.

  46. Jane says:

    Thank you for expressing so eloquently the disgust I feel at these ‘celebrations’. 30 years ago I read these words in Alan Litherland’s book ‘War under Judgement’:
    ‘Part of the insidious wickedness of war is that it exploits and corrupts some of the noblest human virtues. It channels the devotion of good people away from creative aims – the cause of freedom, and justice and peace – into the filthiest deeds that man can do to man. It drags down courage and the desire to serve into a cess-pit of cruelty, brutality and lies. It uses brave men to shoot others in the back and to burn little children alive. It defiles the strong with the blood of the innocent. It makes human resourcefulness and courage commit the ultimate crime against humanity.’
    I have never forgotten them.

  47. Chris says:

    Paul once again you say what I feel so well, thank you … And this why on VE Day I won’t be waving flags or cheering. I will be taking some moments silence and contemplation, remembering the horrors of what so many, including my mother and father went through, and the immense loss of life in all the countries of the world to feed the abomination that is war. The abdication of our post war responsibility to those we had ostensibly gone to war to protect. The husbands, wives children, sisters, brothers, parents grandparents, the fellow human beings, many in countries we are still today bombing or assisting to bomb in the guise of freedom and whose destroyed and bereaved survivors we ban from the protection of our shores because they are ‘foreign’. I will think ashamedly of my country that abandoned so wilfully and selfishly the European ideal of countries that could work and build together as friends and neighbours as I have made so many such friends of so many nations in my life time and I will determine to use whatever time I have left to see my beloved Scotland become and remain part of that better society that so many millions suffered and died in agony for. So take your bunting, your flags, your jingoistic unthinking exceptionalism , that is not VE Day..

  48. David Agnew says:

    they’re the same when it comes to poppy day. The same glorification of death. Its like they fetishised it. Its no longer commemoration or remembrance, its a celebration of death
    And Britishness – that non nationalist identity with its fleg and its wee queen, who must be obeyed, celebrate and reducing sacrifice and the horror of war to a Commando comic. An Airfix history of spitfires and hurricanes. Of standing alone. The Few. Bulldog spirit. Brexiteers talking as if they too had stormed the beaches of Normandy, although none of them had been around at the time. Now its Wear your wee badge. Clap for the NHS. Take it on the chin Thats Britishness in a nutshell. A spitfire. A commemorative tea towel and some chintz china with the wee queens fizzog on it.

  49. susan says:

    I’m late to this post Paul, but I just had to say: What a fantastic post! My feelings exactly. Also very thoughtful replies btl too.

  50. romiveda says:

    Paul, in a fit of rationalising out-goings from accounts & PayPal just 10 mins ago, I had cancelled my monthly support to you. However within minutes of reading this I shall now go back and restore it. Stunning piece. Dave.

  51. hoplite39 says:

    I like to regard VE Day as Vanquishment of the Empire Day. It is the day that the greatest Empire the world has ever seen went into terminal decline. The UK did not fight WW2, the British Empire did. And the obvious fact was that the British Empire lost the war.

    At the beginning of WW2, the empire was firmly in control of its colonies. Within three decades of the wars end, the British Empire lost nearly all its colonies around the world as a direct result of the war. It must have list at least 80% of it territory (as a prudent estimate). Yet having lost 80% of its territory, your average Britnat still thinks we wind. It’s the same logic which encourages Scottish tories to claim they won an election while coming second, losing seats and only getting 20% or less of the vote.

    To win a war, you surely must come our if it better than you went in. The British Empire went into the war as the most powerful entity in the world. It came out of it in debt, as a satellite state of the USA and on the brink of losing mist of it colonies. That doesn’t feel like a win to me.

    It you mention this rather obvious fact to a Britnat, they will arrogantly shout you down and try to gaslight you, saying that we win because the Nazis were defeated and we didn’t get invaded or occupied.

    On that basis, Finland won the war too. It fought on the wrong side and lost a lot of its territory. But because it was not occupied, I can only assume it won the war too, which is a ridiculous notion.

    In reality, WW2 was a tactical victory, but a massive strategic defeat for the British Empire. So when we celebrate VE Day, we are celebrating defeat and humiliation. Although, the bright side is that a very oppressive Empire was vanquished that day, and I’m not talking about Nazi Germany..

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