Friday, 6 June 2008

And whilst I'm in a mood...

...just what is it with the forelock tugging, knee bending, take my trousers down and insert-a-large-cucumber-up-my-backside Brits that they have such reverence for authority?

My father - God rest! - had a sensible respect for authority. He was born to relative affluence in between-the-wars Poland: had a nicely privileged upbringing; and saw at first hand what authority did to those who disagreed with it. When he was still young enough to do so, he went on marches. So he was able to witness how the Nationalist Police dealt with those who challenged governmental wisdom. Batons came into it somewhere.

Almost 50 years later, my cousin was active in Solidarnosc (Solidarity). When General Jaruzelski decided to "save the country" by imposing martial law, we spent a few days in real fear for what might have happened to her.

The story is much the same across the rest of Europe. In the last few decades, it has really mattered what you thought and said.

The wrong word in the wrong ear could see you picked up in the middle of the night and removed to some anonymous prison for interrogation. Or worse. France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Italy. Not one of them escaped the viciousness of authoritarian tyranny.

As for Eastern Europe! Whatever the West suffered, they endured ten times over.

Which may be why, across most of Europe, people are rather wary of trusting their Governments. Because they know what they can do.

Unlike the UK. We have never quite seen authority in all its awful splendour. So we have no sense of self preservation in the face of New Labour encroachments.

Elsewhere, I have railed against New Labour as the puritan, nannying bossy-boots tendency that it is. But that is only half the story. The other half is that no matter what inane and half-baked scheme they come up with to make us even "safer", a large proportion of the British public will go along with it every time.

Because (see last post): if you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to fear.


1 comment:

Mark Harrop said...

The 'other half of the story' is that there's no genuine opposition to New Labourism - from 'heir to Blearrgh' Cameron to maverick-libertarian, Boris. Thus the show goes on.

Gordon Brown's 'Change' was really all about saying he was NOT Blair. He had the nous to realise that the country was tired of Blair's cheesy showmanship but not to realise he was equally tainted. He'd puffed himself up with his scholarly book on heroes and had posed 'strongly' and statesmanlike - he was to have His Leadership.

But Gordon and Tony always were Labour's dream ticket and you couldn't have one without the other - sort of Brown being Hardy to Blair's Laurel. Brown's posturing wore thin in troubled times and what with his credibility being staked on an election sweat that only made Cameron squeak his pips he famously dithered and backed down.
Giving the game away perhaps was the triumphant snorting off Welsh ginner, and still a failure, Neil Kinnock, reckoning that they've got the Tories on the ropes. All downhill from there.

They're not giving up yet though - not without all manner of intrusive, elaborate and reciprocating schemes in place. Yet the more they intrude then the more people get fed up with it. This is seen and heard many times over - from forums of emigrating Brits to punters in pubs - they commonly blame immigrants and the nanny state.

The 'immigrants thing' is best taken up by stating that we always lash out on those who aspire to better themselves - and nearer to us - than those at the top who live well and determine policy. Mostly ignorant scapegoating for not sticking up for ourselves - and why, for instance, jingoism and remembrance days are empty or symbolic gestures.

The flipside being that we do stick up for ourselves at home rather than 'run away' or that we seek to emigrate to broaden horizons - and allow others the same.
Maybe then 'a large proportion of the British public' will put their time to better use.