Tuesday 3 September 2019

The Day War Broke Out

A visitor from another planet might be forgiven for concluding that this country stands on the brink of a catastrophe unprecedented in our island history and that a murderous fascist (yes, there's an 's' in it) regime has staged a coup in order to seize the reins of power and drive us all into the abyss. With a little investigation, our extraterrestrial friend might discover the cause of all this jumping up and down is simply that we're pulling out of a moribund would-be superstate, and that a new Prime Minister has, perfectly constitutionally, prorogued Parliament. And he might deduce something rather unflattering about the emotional resilience (and intellectual powers) of us Earthlings.
  Those who are hyperventilating over these supposed catastrophes would do well to think back to this day 80 years ago, when Neville Chamberlain was obliged to broadcast to the nation, informing us that we were, unavoidably, at war with Germany (a country with a five-star, fully accredited, world-class murderous fascist regime). Already the Nazis were sweeping across mainland Europe, and soon France would fall and we would stand alone against the world. That is a catastrophe, that is an existential threat.
 Within minutes of Chamberlain's broadcast, sirens began to sound across Britain – sirens that were then taken as warnings of impending toxic gas attack from the air.  'This was an opportunity for the people of Britain to demonstrate their traditional calm in the face of danger,' a Movietone newsreel reported. 'There was no sign of panic – men and women in the streets made their way to the nearest shelter and queued up in orderly processions at the entrances.'
  I hope that kind of spirit still lives on today – I believe it probably does, if only in pockets – but the evidence to the contrary is all too stridently present, especially in London. 

 Below, as a reminder of bygone times, is Robb Wilton's famous monologue, 'The Day War Broke Out'. The Home Guard (descendants of Shakespeare's Dogberry constabulary) proved such an inexhaustible mine of comedy gold that Dad's Army is never off the air, 42 years after the last new episode aired, and 74 years after the war ended (and there were excellent new productions of three 'lost' episodes just recently)...


  1. Something analogous happened over here about a decade ago when a Conservative PM many progressives saw as a Hitler clone prorogued Parliament to prevent a parliamentary coup by an Opposition that had just lost an election. It was great fun watching the left rediscover the royal prerogative and their colonial heritage and frantically implore Her Majesty to save them. It was as if all those hardened modern socialists and radicals were suddenly trying to resurrect the Divine Right of Kings.

  2. Thanks Peter – where is 'over here'? Australia?
    There was a great piece in the Telegraph by Robert Tombs along similar lines – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/31/establishments-legalistic-rage-brexit-harks-back-britains-pre/

  3. No, Nige, not Australia. The Great White North.

  4. Ah yes, my son-in-law's homeland (which he left to live in Wellington, NZ).

  5. Ah, the Great White North. Where my son and grandchildren live. And I, brazilian, against all odds, refuse to give up my sunny country.

  6. Can't say I blame you, Ricardo...

  7. ricardo:

    Our Constitution guarantee us freedom of speech, religion, the press and an annual winter getaway to a warm and sunny clime.

    1. Wonder why I say no thanks to my family in Manitoba...

  8. Your points may have some truth, Sir Ness, although your rather exaggerate, but you are still shooting yourselves in the dick. And I've seen someone accidentally shoot themselves in the dick, when we were down in the Glades a whiles back. It ain't pretty and you lose something pretty important.

  9. It is good to know that at least one side in the debate is keeping its head. A story in Wednesday's New York Times includes the paragraph

    '"At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand, said John Rawlins, a former Conservative member who backed an effort to expel Mr. Gauke, one of the rebels, from his seat. "As far as I'm concerned, anyone who actively works against the queen's government, it's treason."'

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