Published by the Bloomsbury Forum April 1999
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FOREWORD By Professor Antony Flew
PREFACE By Michael Newland
INTRODUCTION By Eddy Butler
The Apostle of Heroism
By Eddy Butler
The Man behind the Mushroom Cloud
By Michael Newland
Scottish High Tory and Patriotic Imperialist
By William King
One Nation: the Triumph of Style
By Eddy Butler
Irish Whig: Metaphysical Conservative?
By Ralph Harrison
The Political Soldier
By Adrian Davies
The Pioneer English Socialist
By David Reynolds
The All Too Unknown Prime Minister
By Adrian Davies
By Jeremiah Wilkes
Ulster’s Loyal Defender
By Ralph Harrison
Pathologist of Contemporary Liberalism
By Jeremiah Wilkes
The Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had
By Adrian Davies
And Britain’s Neglected Cultural Heroes
By Peter Gibbs
Tribune of the People, Prophet Unfulfilled
By Sam Swerling
Visionary for a Better World
By Tom Garforth
“A Robust Genius”
By Derek Turner
National Liberal and Statesman of Empire
By Steve Smith
National Economist and Radical Reformer
By Michael Newland
Prophet of Patriotic Isolationism
By Steve Smith
An ‘Angry Young Man’
By Jonathan Bowden
Original artwork by Sted Steadman
by Professor Antony Flew [top]
Standardbearers: British Roots of the New Right is a collection of twenty
essays by fifteen different authors. It is the work of a new group, the
Bloomsbury Forum, having no more than a purely geographical association
with its pre-First World War aesthete predecessors.
If only Hal Colebatch’s Blair’s Britain: British Culture, War and New
Labour(1) had been available when the authors were commissioned to write
these essays, then they could have been told that their mission was to
defend British political and cultural traditions against the most radical
Prime Minister that the United Kingdom has ever had.
Blair has a formula for expressing his dislike of his opponents. He
does not address their arguments. He simply sweeps them into the dustbin
of history by describing them as “the past”. The past is for him a never
explored dark continent, and all those whose beliefs and attitudes are
in any way influenced by the past are seen as unmodernised bigots. Hence,
for instance, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Edinburgh
in 1997 everything traditionally Scottish was out. No Scottish regiment
marched up the Royal Mile with its band playing. Instead the visiting ministers
were shown a video announcing: “There is a new British identity”, and displaying
pop stars and fashion designers.
Colebatch is therefore surely right to suggest that Blair’s “government
is trying to reshape the national identity and consciousness not in spite
of the coming European union, but because of it. A Britain whose historic
culture has been destroyed may not find the loss of sovereignty such a
great matter (2).”
To appreciate the political essays in Standardbearers it is necessary
to have at least an outline knowledge of British political history in the
last two and a half centuries. Many to-day have been deprived of this knowledge
by politically correct teachers who fear that pupils who learn the tremendous
story of how the language of the people of a small group of off-shore islands
has become the medium of international communication might grow up without
what seems to their teachers a proper shame about being British. Such historically
illiterate unfortunates need to remedy that deficiency forthwith, perhaps
by reading Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples.
But anyone possessed of that necessary background knowledge will learn
much from the chapters on Bonar Law, Chamberlain, Burke, Carson, Wilson,
Disraeli, Salisbury, Powell and Palmerston.
The essays on Bonar Law, Wilson and Carson are remarkably illuminating
and remarkably topical in their revelation of the extremes of force which
Asquith’s ‘Liberal’ administration was apparently prepared to employ in
order to subordinate the British of Ulster to the alien rule of the southern
Irish. That on Palmerston should be compulsory reading for every British
For instance, in 1830, when the French were expecting some reward at
the expense of Belgium for their assistance in securing Belgian independence
from Holland, Palmerston insisted: “Not a vineyard shall they have, no,
not a cabbage patch.” Would that Heath as Prime Minister had shown similar
firmness in negotiating terms for our accession to the Treaty of Rome with
President Pompidou. The French civil servant who drafted the President’s
initial negotiating position has since revealed that Heath eventually conceded
more than Pompidou originally even intended to ask. Steve Smith might also
have mentioned one of Palmerston’s truly moral foreign policies: “in 1849,
the British navy struck at Brazil’s slave ships in Brazilian waters (3).”
Among the political essays, that on Powell is especially to be commended,
for it argues, and surely rightly, that Powell’s ineffectiveness with regard
to the two greatest issues of his and our time was due to his refusal to
attempt to launch popular as opposed to parliamentary campaigns. This refusal
greatly increased the likelihood that the open and crypto-federalists of
all parties will succeed in winning an Euro-referendum, the result and
intention of which will be the subjection of whatever remains of the United
Kingdom to a foreign power.
Besides the more purely political and purely cultural essays, there
are two which fail to fit neatly into either category. One of these two
is on Keynes. The other is on Penney. Penney, the son of a sergeant-major
in the Ordnance Corps, was the scientist upon whom the Labour administration
called in 1946 to develop first Britain’s atomic and then our hydrogen
bomb. He did so, before returning to Imperial College as Rector. He died,
as Mike Oldsea has it, “in 1991, an Englishman from a generation who enjoyed
for most of their lives freedom from being assailed by the mentality which
dictates that to be British is always to be wrong.”
Those who can remember the General Election from which that Labour administration
resulted may also recall that no party leader felt any need to profess
his patriotism, since there was then no reason to suspect that even one
of them was resolved to subject our country to a foreign power. The remaining
nine essays treat of subjects whose claims to inclusion are mainly if not
exclusively cultural. Two which obviously had to be included in such a
volume are on Morris and Johnson. For both William Morris and Samuel Johnson
were of course quintessentially English figures.
Another two, a very natural pair, are Belloc and Chesterton. Few to-day
will have read anything by either of the two partners in what was at one
time identified as the Chesterbelloc phenomenon other than some of the
Father Brown detective stories and some or all of the Ruthless Rhymes for
Heartless Homes. But studies of their authors’ long unread political, social
and religious writings make interesting essays in the history of ideas.
The political, the social and the religious were of course inseparable
in the Roman Catholicism of the two writers.
A second natural pair is that of Henty and Buchan. Both Henty and Buchan
are now know, if they are still known at all, only as writers of what in
my childhood used to be called “rattling good adventure yarns”, yarns read
primarily but certainly not exclusively by schoolboys. But both authors
did many things besides writing their books. Henty spent ten years as a
war correspondent, at a time when war correspondents if not wars were much
rarer than they have been in the present century. Buchan had a very varied
and distinguished career in the public service, dying as Governor-General
of Canada. The authors of these two essays have no difficulty in drawing
out urgent contemporary morals.
The remaining three essays are about subjects who are scarcely susceptible
to such twinning. The first of these is on Bax. This neglect is clearly
required as pop stars are recruited to form the “new British identity.”
The second of these essays is on Hopkins. This is included because Bill
Hopkins’s The Divine and the Decay “stands revealed as a Bildungsroman
of the anti-left.” Jonathan Bowden’s essay is almost entirely devoted to
the report of an interview with Hopkins.
Finally we come to Blatchford. As its author, David Reynolds, says:
“A pioneer of English Socialism, a founder of the Independent Labour Party
and a man credited by the Manchester Guardian with having had more influence
on the Socialist movement in this country than Karl Marx may seem a rather
odd standard-bearer of the British Right.” But the titles of two of Blatchford’s
books, Merrie England(4) and Britain for the British(5) provide the clues.
Over two million copies of these two books were sold before the beginning
of the First World War. Blatchford’s socialism was that of William Morris
rather than that of the Fabian Society and his patriotism was at least
as strong as his commitment to his kind of socialism. Indeed Blatchford’s
almost hagiographic biographer, AN Lyons, argued that Blatchford was “in
essential matters of the spirit, an ardent and irrevocable Tory, that which
is called a ‘Tory of the old school’.”
Readers will, I am sure, find this book both instructive and diverting.
1 London: Claridge Press, 1999.
2 Op. cit. Page 59
3 Thomas Sowell’s Conquests and Cultures: An International History (New
York: Basic, 1998), page 93. The entire chapter on ‘The British’ in this,
the third volume of a monumental study by a Chicago trained black American
economist, provides an exhilarating read for those who wish to give due
credit to our fore-fathers when credit is, as it so often is, deserved;
and not, with Blair, to remember only deficiencies for which apology may
be due and by him eagerly given.
by Michael Newland [top]
A visitor from Mars, who had learnt English during the long trip, might
well gain the impression from Britain’s popular culture that this country
had never enjoyed many home-grown figures of any stature. Not a generation
ago, the reverse was the case. A somewhat exaggerated view prevailed that
almost anything good intellectually either originated in Great Britain,
or that our countrymen, at the least, had played a major role in its creation.
Second-hand bookshops seem to be the only places in which the products
of an once flourishing branch of publishing may now be found: collections
of essays on important Britons.
The air of apology for all things British, which has descended like
smog over our heritage, is very much overdue for dispersal. Forgotten is
the sheer past vitality of British intellectual life, which attracted so
many writers and thinkers to come to Britain. Until recently, we enjoyed
that welcoming tradition of debate, which made this country a preferred
destination. Now we are slipping towards becoming a nation of the gagged.
One of the tactics employed to assault the great British figures of
the past is to judge them by modern and often ‘politically correct’ attitudes.
Almost no-one of bygone years, from any culture, would pass such a test,
but it is seldom applied where the demands for figureheads from other cultures
demand their elevation. Ad hominem argument is selectively applied! Meanwhile,
the great perennials of existence, for example, economic upheaval and the
realities of power, are still everyday matters to be addressed, as they
were addressed by the political and intellectual leaders of the past. The
style may differ, but the perennial nature of the problems means that it
is foolish to ignore sources from which much may be learnt and from which
much useful inspiration may be drawn.
This short book is necessarily highly selective in its subjects. The
fact that it was felt important to produce it only underlines the lamentable
condition of British morale and its consequences in a semi- vacuum of such
anthologies. Standardbearers offers a reminder of what Britain and its
people can and have achieved for those who have forgotten, and an introduction
for those who never knew.
by Eddy Butler [top]
It is crushingly unfashionable in ‘polite society’ to venerate the heroes
of Britain’s past. If they are not totally forgotten, like an embarrassing
elderly relative confined to a distant retirement home, it is de rigueur
to mock or to dredge up some unflattering secret failing. In the absence
of evidence for these ‘failings’, it is not uncommon for the wildest of
claims to be made. These are ‘proven’ by extrapolating from the tiniest
of scraps in order to generate the impression that the foremost men and
women in Britain’s past were a psychotic bunch, brimming with repressed
deviancies. How grateful we should be that the nation’s destiny is no longer
in the hands of such terrible people!
Liberals are psychologically unable to contemplate the possibility that
great individuals have been responsible for the world’s great advances.
Nor can they face the possibility that Britain was once a great country
because she produced a significant number of remarkable figures. Such a
proposition reflects badly upon the recent incumbents, who are after all
exemplars of liberalism.
The decayed liberal ascendancy despises the very notion of individual
achievement. It is a levelling, egalitarian doctrine. It has created a
world of collective responsibility, where no-one takes responsibility for
anything. A world of faceless, unelected committees and councils. For a
doctrine that claims to be rooted in democracy, little or no attention
is paid to representing the popular will. Liberalism has imposed a velvet
tyranny on the people. With no figureheads and no sources of inspiration,
the people are impotent and are unable to see that there is any alternative
to the prevailing regime.
The radical patriotic right has historically been negligent in promoting
the great figures in our past. It has taken too much for granted. It has
also been intellectually lazy. For a political tendency that makes much
play on the importance of indigenous traditions and culture, it has taken
remarkably little interest in rooting itself within the British political
tradition. It is not as if there were an absence of such a tradition. Indeed
there is a very noble lineage upon which to draw.
Standardbearers has been inspired by a desire to challenge the arrogant
assumptions of the liberal ‘New World Order’. This book will have achieved
much of its purpose if it helps to correct the radical patriotic right’s
unforgivable omissions from its mythos.
Standardbearers is intentionally a compendium. Mixed in length and detail.
Some chapters are impressionistic or look only at one small aspect of an
individual’s career. Others are of greater length. Some of the subjects
are politicians; Prime Ministers, political theorists, Ministers of the
Crown. Others are writers, men of the arts and so forth. Not all have been
thought of stereotypically as ‘of the Right’. Those individuals chosen
are not necessarily the ‘best of British’, although amongst those covered
are some of the most distinguished figures ever produced by this country.
They are presented as a cross- section of worthy people. They are a starting
point, not the conclusion. This explains why this book has not been organised
chronologically. The articles are arranged almost at random, to provide
a contrast between the different personalities involved and the different
written styles of the authors of each piece.
No doubt you have your own personal heroes. While these should be cherished,
use this book as an opportunity to discover or rediscover new sources of
inspiration from our illustrious forebears. In closing, we hope that you
enjoy this book and that it inspires a new appreciation for the glorious
traditions that have sprung from these islands.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the contributors
and all the other people who have helped with this project. Their efforts
are gratefully appreciated.
Cattle die and kinsmen die,
Thyself also soon will die;
But one thing will never fade:
The fame we leave behind us.
From Havamal, The Sayings of Har, The Elder or Poetic Edda