Tuesday 12 March 2013

British By Birth, British By Choice

Congratulations to the British Falkland Islanders, including the large Saint Helenian community there.

But with the American lease up next year, when are the British Chagos Islanders going to get their referendum? When is the Labour Whip going to be withdrawn from Lord Healey unless and until he publicly apologises for his treatment of them? They remain proudly British, doubtless a contributing factor when the famous David Miliband lied to Parliament in order to create the world's largest marine reserve where they are properly entitled to live, thereby ensuring that they could never return while it remained in place. Over to his brother.

When is there going to be, while not a referendum, nevertheless at least a Commons vote right here in the United Kingdom on David Cameron's policy of giving Argentina a share of Falklands oil revenue even without any concession or negotiation on the sovereignty question, a policy announced in the last Parliament but studiously ignored by the Cameron-fawning Blairite media?

And when is there going to be some effort to win back the good will of those Commonwealth countries, even with the Queen as Head of State, which have nevertheless voted with Argentina in the OAS because we have so alienated them by our whoring after the (fiercely and inevitably pro-Argentine) American imperium in general and the EU in particular?

Or to make common cause against an Argentine regime, more democratic, but no less right-wing, than Galtieri's was, by appealing to the anti-consumerist, organic community-valuing Pepe Mujica of Uruguay, the country created by Britain specifically not to be Argentina? Those on the Falklands requiring serious medical attention are taken to Montevideo to this day. But for how much longer? Ongoing developments are strongly redolent of Peronist and kindred tendencies. Greater Argentina does not only mean the end of the British Falkland Islands. Greater Argentina also means the end of Uruguay. Bilateral ties around the world. And since it now includes African countries with no British imperial past, the Commonwealth.

But instead, we have favoured American hegemony and its pet projects, Mercosur as much as the EU and vice versa, over the Commonwealth, the BRICS countries (two of which are Commonwealth members, while a third is left-wing Brazil of Lula, with no good reason to love Kirchner), and, I say again, bilateral ties around the world. Our engagement with the Americas should be as an American country seven times over, since the Falkland Islands, Bermuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks & Caicos Islands are each and all British by choice, whatever the United States or anyone else might think.

When is there going to be some effort to make common cause with Evo Morales of Bolivia, the standard-bearer of indigeneity, expressed not least as the nationalisation of foreign gas interests in his country, against centuries of abuse and oppression by a white Latino minority which bears more than a passing resemblance to the ruling element in Argentina? The Falkland Islanders are, of course, the descendants of the first human inhabitants there. They did not dispossess anyone. Rather, white Latino chauvinism is seeking to dispossess them.

Rafael Correa's Ecuador would be a harder nut to crack. But it can, and therefore it must, be done. And then, there is Venezuela. Like all of the above, this engagement must be on the basis of what it is to be, as the Falkland Islanders have just reiterated so powerfully that they are, British.

The British Overseas Territories are British by choice, and those which remain even now always will be. The same is true of the Crown Dependencies. To be British is to be not just any, but at some level all, of English, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Manx, Channel Islander, Mediterranean, North American, Caribbean, Southern African Creole, Indian Ocean Creole, Polynesian, and South American in the sense of a product of the British "informal empire" that once dominated South America.

Sort out the problem of the British tax havens. But do so while charging the British people of the Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies only home fees to study at British universities. Do so while building the airport on Saint Helena, which is essential to the defence of the Falkland Islands, and while holding a proper inquiry into the healthcare situation on Saint Helena.

Do so while giving justice to the Ascension Islanders and to the Chagossians, in both cases regardless of what a foreign power might think. Do so while restoring the BBC English for the Caribbean Service. And do so, I say again, while recanting David Cameron's pre-Election pledge, barely reported by his media creators, to give a share of Falkland Islands oil revenue to Argentina without requiring the slightest movement on the sovereignty question.

To choose to be, including to remain, British is to choose the Welfare State, workers' rights, trade unionism, the co-operative movement and wider mutualism, consumer protection, strong communities, fair taxation, full employment, pragmatic public ownership, proper local government, a powerful Parliament, the organic Constitution, national and parliamentary sovereignty, civil liberties, law and order, the Union, the ties that bind these Islands, the Commonwealth, economic patriotism, energy independence, balanced migration, the countryside, traditional structures and methods of education, traditional moral and social values, a realist foreign policy which includes strong national defence, peace (including the total eradication of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons), an unhysterical approach to climate change, and the need for a base of real property for every household from which to resist both over-mighty commercial interests and an over-mighty State.

Insofar as they can, the devolved bodies in Wales, and to a considerable extent in Scotland and in Northern Ireland, are still maintaining recognisably British territories. But is anyone doing so in the Falkland Islands, among other places? Is anyone doing so in England? It is still the wish of the English to be British. Who is offering them that electoral choice?

Ed Miliband, whose mother is and whose father was British by choice, over to you.


  1. Oh, why aren't you in Parliament, David? Why aren't you in the Cabinet?

  2. I ma too busy as between putting up your post and writing this, on Lanchester Parish Council. Where we get far more done. Seriously.

  3. Astute observations a ever David.Britain must never abandon it's overseas dependencies. Looking beyond our obvious obligations and relationships, during Cameron's recent futile visit to India, Michael Ancram proposed something he called "Neo- Commonwealthianism". Good name, but how ridiculous using such a term for seeking to revive a relationship with a sub-continent that has long since moved on. Rather than Neo-Commonwealthianism, what he had in mind was in fact simply neo-liberalism for the banks. Why not have the courage to say goodbye to countries like India and even Australia/NZ that have forged different economic ties and instead encourage neighbours such as Ireland to rejoin. Perhaps moving the HQ of the Commonwealth to Gibraltar might help in that. Even more fundamentally, it could be used as a body to build a new economic relationship with Africa, that could still be a source of raw matrials for a revival of manufacturing in Britain, but this time on the basis of co operation, partnership and mutual advantage.

    - Bernard Daly