Fingers on buzzers. Here is your starter for ten. What’s the significance these days, Friday, April 23?
No providing. I’m going to have to rush you. Anybody? Sorry, time’s up.
The response is: St George’s Day. You might be forgiven for not understanding. Surveys regularly show that fewer than half the English can call the date we’re supposed to commemorate our patron saint
Don’t worry if you’re one of them. I’m unsure I could have informed you, either, off the top of my head, not without phoning a good friend.
There’s absolutely nothing new in any of this. Twenty-five years ago the other day, I was a visitor at the Spring Lunch of The Lord’s Taverners: filled with ruddy faced gentlemen of a particular age taken in with desire for the guest speaker, that quintessential English increased Virginia Bottomley, then Secretary of State for Heritage.
St. George’s Day celebrations in London’s Trafalgar Square. You could be forgiven for not understanding when St. George’s Day is, composes RICHARD LITTLEJOHN. Surveys regularly show that fewer than half the English can name the date we’re expected to commemorate our tutelary saint.
Out of interest, I asked a few of the chaps round my table if they knew when St George’s Day was. None had the faintest idea.
How can I perhaps remember this so accurately, considered that half the time I can’t remember what happened recently? It is only thanks to my pal Mitch Murray, who was rummaging through some old papers the other day when he stumbled across a yellowing cutting from the Daily Mail, dated Tuesday, April 23, 1996.
The headline declares: ‘To be English in England today is nearly a criminal offence.’
Underneath a ludicrously big byline picture of a fresh-faced young man with masses of dark hair, the sub-deck (as we state in the trade) checks out: ‘On St George’s Day Richard Littlejohn asks why England is now a nation that attempt not speak its name.’
Goodness understands why Mitch kept it. Maybe it was earmarked for the cat’s litter box, or the dartboard, and he merely forgot it. I definitely had not read the piece considering that the day it was published, a quarter of a century back. However, I must admit, that with a few minor amendments, it might have been composed yesterday.
With characteristic understatement, the column contrasted the constant denigration of the English with the passionate event of all things Scottish, Welsh and Irish.
The woman who showed up at Windsor expecting to have lunch with Prince Andrew need to have believed he was going to take her to Pizza Express in Woking for an American Hot.
From Holyrood to Hollywood, the English have constantly been cast as the oppressor, by everyone from opportunist nationalist political leaders to negative movie producers behind such travesties as Braveheart and In The Name Of The Daddy
For our part, the English have actually taken it in our stride, and with good humour. We tolerated Wee Burney and her tiresome Toytown Tartanistas slagging us off and marketing fake historical grievances for political gain.
The Scot Nats are still banging on about Culloden, for paradise’s sake. But that doesn’t stop them taking our cash.
From Holyrood to Hollywood, the English have constantly been cast as the oppressor, by everybody from opportunist nationalist political leaders to negative film manufacturers behind such travesties as Braveheart (visualized) and In The Name Of The Father.
What truly sticks in the craw, though, is when homegrown Left-wing politicians like Labour’s Lady Nugee and others sneer at and misrepresent the rest people. Why are they so embarrassed of their own nation? Labour MPs were at it again in the Commons today.
RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: My good friend Mitch Murray, who was rummaging through some old documents the other day, came across a yellowing cutting from the Daily Mail, dated Tuesday, April 23, 1996 (pictured).
Enough, already. As I wrote back in 1996: ‘It’s time to redress the balance, to decline post-colonial guilt and worldwide stereotype.’ I argued that far from being the racist backwater of the Left’s creativity, England was a distinctively tolerant nation, even then. Because 1996 we have made extraordinary advances.
On this St George’s Day, we must commemorate them.
Over the past 25 years, we have actually taken in and welcomed millions of immigrants, not simply from the Commonwealth and Europe but from all 4 corners of the world, without severe social discontent.
If England is such a racist hell-hole, why are a lot of migrants prepared to pay people smugglers a fortune and danger life and limb to get here?
If England is such a racist hell-hole how did London, the world’s greatest capital city, end up with a Muslim mayor? How many European federal governments can boast as numerous ministers from ethnic minority backgrounds as there are sitting around Boris Johnson’s Cabinet table? Two of the excellent workplaces of state, Chancellor and Home Secretary, are occupied by individuals of Asian heritage.
RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: If England is such a racist hell-hole how did London, the world’s greatest capital city, wind up with a Muslim mayor? How many European federal governments can boast as many ministers from ethnic minority backgrounds as there are sitting around Boris Johnson’s Cabinet table? 2 of the terrific workplaces of state, Chancellor and House Secretary, are occupied by individuals of Asian heritage. Pictured: London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday.
Can the posturing, degenerated administrations in Edinburgh and Cardiff boast that type of variety? Or the Labour front bench, come to that?
Those people who chose Brexit– Chesterton’s ‘secret individuals’– were maliciously characterised as knuckle-scraping Little Englanders identified to bring up the drawbridge and turn our backs on the civilised world.
Yet England remains arguably the most open, outward-looking society on earth. When Covid struck, we hesitated initially to close our borders. That might describe why the infection took hold here so grievously.
Enjoyed the picture of Boris going after the dragon outside Downing Street to mark the Chinese New Year in January 2020. I believe we might have worked out where he caught the Wuhan Flu …
However never forget that it was scientists at Oxford who established the first viable mass vaccine, now being used to the world on a non-profit basis.
And in the middle of a pandemic, we have likewise needed to contend with a collective attack from neo-Marxist deconstructionists, who have actually made use of the wicked murder of a black man countless miles away to trash our history.
So it was heartening to see another Tory minister, Kemi Badenoch, a Londoner of Nigerian origin, install a robust defence today against rabble-rousing Labour MPs attempting disgracefully to utilize the George Floyd case to foment racial department here.
I’ve constantly been rather happy with the fact that we English use our patriotism gently, except on a couple of occasions such as the Last Night of the Proms, at Six Countries rugby matches and the European football championships.
RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: I’ve always been rather happy with the truth that we English wear our patriotism gently, except on a few events such as the Last Night of the Proms, at 6 Nations rugby (pictured on February 27) matches and the European football champions.
But on this St George’s Day, we need to advise ourselves we are not the racist bogeymen of statue-toppling Leftist mythology. Nor are we the unrepentant descendants of bloodthirsty oppressors, who ought to be ashamed of our nation’s story.
Here’s what I wrote in 1996. ‘Any objective reading of history would conclude the English ran the most good-hearted and benign empire … and have actually made a massive cultural and civilising contribution to the world. Whatever debts we might owe to those our predecessors colonised have actually long since been paid, with interest.’.
To hell with our critics, both without and, specifically, within. We shouldn’t forget that we are the tolerant residents of the most liberal country in the world.
Happy St George’s Day.
Labour Celebration leader Max Headroom should think himself lucky his ill-fated check out to Bath wasn’t throughout a General Election. He pompously told the annoyed, anti-lockdown landlord who threw him out of his club: ‘I actually don’t need lectures from you.’ This was right up there with Gordon Brown’s ‘bigoted female’ moment.