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The fantasy of English freedom The average Brit would happily have a microchip in his arm if it meant he could go down the pub

The English don't love Robin Hood because he's free. They love him because he's fair. (Credit: IMDB).

The English don't love Robin Hood because he's free. They love him because he's fair. (Credit: IMDB).


February 19, 2021   6 mins

Guffawing and thigh-slapping his way through the 1938 version of Robin Hood, Errol Flynn stops at one point to tell the audience he is fighting as a “free-born Englishman” and fighting for a “free England”.

This obviously wasn’t really about attitudes in 12th century England and no one seriously believed it was; it was about Englishmen, or Britons, today, and it’s safe to say that on the eve of a Second World War the idea of a 20th century “free-born Englishman” was a potent one.

It was believed to be as much a part of the national character as the repression of Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter, or the stoicism in all those roles played by Kenneth Moore. An Englishman was freedom-loving and would never submit to tyrants big or small, whether French-speaking sheriffs or Hitler, or indeed petty busybodies closer to home.

But that was 80 years ago, and if it was ever true, the idea of the freeborn Englishman has been quietly put to bed by the pandemic, exposed as nothing more than an empty myth.

Last February, with events in China giving us a grizzly image of our future and the full horror starting to dawn, that myth was often trotted out. We were repeatedly told that the British were too much of a freedom-loving race to tolerate similarly authoritarian measures. The ghosts of John Bull, John Wilkes and Robin Hood would rise up within us to resist this tyranny.

Boris Johnson said as much, telling the House in Commons in September that “There is an important difference between our country and many other countries around the world: our country is a freedom-loving country…. It is very difficult to ask the British population uniformly to obey guidelines in the way that is necessary.”

The experts had even hesitated to act last February because they feared that British people would not be able to tolerate lockdown for long. There would be riots, some thought.

Yet like the military experts of the 1930s who predicted that aerial bombing would shatter morale, they were completely wrong. While Italy and the Netherlands have had serious anti-lockdown disturbances, the British public have accepted it with remarkably little in the way of complaint. They may not have liked it, and some rules may have been bent a little, but compliance has generally been strong — with an inevitable decline during the summer.

Not only that but lockdown is popular as a policy. Wildly popular, you might say. The Prime Minister has been miles behind British public opinion in every restriction he has reluctantly imposed, out of touch with a population who, as a whole, don’t seem to especially love freedom.

Although Right-wingers were the early doomongers about Covid, the issue soon realigned along culture war lines, with progressives far keener to lock down. Yet there was a big difference. While Nigel Farage flirted with the idea of lockdown scepticism, it didn’t last long because, Farage, whatever else people say about him, has a very good sense of what the British public think.

The UKIP position on immigration was hugely popular during the Blair, Brown and Cameron eras; likewise crime, another area where Right-wing populist positions regularly poll 60 or even 70%. But lockdown scepticism? It barely made it into double figures.

On almost every question relating to lockdown and Covid, the British public are far less liberty-loving than the Government.

They’re happy with closing borders, and they’re keen on putting people in quarantine. Some 70% support GPS trackers for people entering the country.

Are vaccine passports a hugely controversial infringement on our liberties? Not really — most people want them used for hospitality, offices, and even social gatherings. And the public favours compulsory jabs for nurses, regardless of how nurses themselves feel about this. 

Over three quarters of the population can cheerfully contemplate social distancing measures remaining in place until autumn. There is widespread, even overwhelming support for police enforcing lockdown measures. 

A majority of Britons even think a 10-year jail sentence for lying about your country of departure is fair, while 13% think it’s not harsh enough! I wonder what proportion of that 13% would support actually hanging them.

All the predictions that the British public would not tolerate harsh lockdown measures are completely contradicted by the polls, which show the Chinese government to be more in tune with the great British public than Boris Johnson is.

Contrary to all the predictions that we would never tolerate surveillance in return for the end of Covid, I reckon the average Englishman would happily have a microchip in his arm if it meant he could go down the pub.

Sure, this is the home of Magna Carta and we can make a reasonable claim to being the birthplace of liberalism, but John Locke’s ideas were much more influential in the United States than in his home country.

Like much of our politics, our political-psychological idea of ourselves comes from the Civil War era. It was around that time that the phrase “free-born Englishman” was coined by Leveller John Lilburne, and they put him in prison.

Had YouGov been around in the 17th century, a significant majority would probably have supported this, with another 13% wanting him burned to death, and the liberty-loving sect to which Lilburne belonged, the Quakers, were deeply unpopular for a long time. 

The Levellers believed that Englishmen had once been free, a natural liberty that had been crushed by the Norman Yoke; before that foreign occupation brought about the class system and privilege, free Saxons sat around in the forests of Olde England, presumably talking about cricket and the weather. It’s an appealing national myth and, of course, completely untrue; slavery was widespread in Anglo-Saxon England, before being abolished by the Normans.

Likewise, Lilburne thought that free-born Englishmen had their rights laid down by Magna Carta: “the ground of my freedom,” as he said, “I build upon the Grand charter of England”.

Magna Carta, although it had nothing to say about the ordinary peasant, did evolve to restrain royal authority — but even here it has been more influential in the United States, where its legacy can be read in the constitution (Clauses 39 and 40, for instance, influencing the 5th Amendment).

Although three clauses are still on the statute books in England, attempts to make Magna Carta a sort of sacred English text of freedom have always been quite a fringe affair.

Among the wilder shores of the lockdown sceptic movement, there are modern-day sects of sort who cite Magna Carta Clause 61 to oppose Covid measures, claiming it allows “for lawful dissent and rebellion” and that businesses don’t have to close under Covid-19 regulations.

That Clause 61, which gave the leading barons the right to overthrow the king, did not appear in the approved 1225 version of Magna Carta makes no difference to their enthusiasm for this idea. It’s a myth, based on an idea of the English as being inherently free. Yet these groups are minuscule, and for most people our supposedly sacred freedom is not thought about much; Oliver Cromwell was probably onto something, public opinion-wise, when he referred to the document as Magna Farta.

And whereas America has the First Amendment, the British have come to accept a huge number of hate speech laws down the years, with Blair’s government being particularly illiberal on this issue, to the extent that police are now investigating 120,000 “non-crime” hate incidents.

Indeed, so well-known are the Britons for being downtrodden by overzealous, interfering government authorities that there is a meme in other English-speaking countries called “have you got a licence for that, mate?” making fun of us.

We are now the most spied upon country outside of the People’s Republic of China, London being the only non-Chinese city in the top 10 of CCTV global hotspots. And despite this, CCTV is very popular among the British public.

Perhaps it’s because the British love spying on people, which certainly is a national characteristic dating back to Francis Walsingham. Or perhaps we like being spied on. We think the reduction in crime justifies the loss of liberty, just as the reduction in coronavirus deaths does.

In which case, which people are being referred to when we are told that “British people will never accept these sorts of restrictions”?

There is, it’s true, a strong liberal and Whig tradition in Britain, of which Boris Johnson is an inheritor, but they are certainly not the majority. On the political axis the median British voter sits somewhere in the top left quadrant, neither economically nor socially liberal, with culturally conservative and redistributive views.

The largest block after that are the progressives, who care most about equality and have barely-concealed authoritarian leanings. Then there are the genuine liberals, of which there are about 17 in Britain.

We tend to group like this because the major driving force in the British psyche is not liberty but fairness, and its step-brother spite. This is a country which hates benefit scroungers yet gets hugely sentimental about the issue of free school meals, because its people hate the idea of someone cheating the system. The one SW1 story that broke through with the public in recent years was the Dominic Cummings Barnard Castle saga — because it upset people’s sense of fairness.

The British are, in fact, quite conformist and placid. The French riot about literally anything, while after epic levels of political incompetence and 120,000 deaths, the worst that’s happened here is someone projecting “Boris is a wet wipe” on Parliament.

There’s a reason why an Englishman in the late 1930s might have seen himself as uniquely free-born and liberty-loving. Our political history and lucky geography has graced us with centuries of moderate politics, avoiding the ideological nightmares of our neighbours. But that doesn’t make us particularly freedom-living; indeed if it anything it makes us complacent about our good fortune.

Most of the British public still support Robin Hood against the Sheriff of Nottingham, but not because they care about freedom. It’s because they care about fairness. They don’t want a free England, they want a fair England.


Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable

edwest

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Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago

Where I live in a small shire town I see a people quietly ignoring aspects of the government rules whenever they conflict with their lives. If anything important has to be done then it is done. I get around and notice things. The young boys and girls are meeting up .I passed a jolly group of them last night just doing what the young always do. The police? Too slow and always too late to see what is going on and I think very reluctant to impose themselves. . I do not recognise this picture of a people bowed down and servile. The curtain twitchers are probably about but they always are. The reality I see is very English. Just getting on with things and ignoring the rules if it suits us. Ok when you meet up with the state in public buildings and the like it is a bit tricky. They do like to see us masked in them and the shops. But that is no big deal now. As for informers. There are probably a few but rare I think .

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

When is all this mass masking idiocy going to stop altogether, now that we know so-called “asymptomatic transmission” of this virus almost never happens? It’s transmitted in the same way flu and other coronaviruses (aka cold viruses) are transmitted, by people who are actually sick. People with symptoms of any kind of respiratory illness should be advised to stay home if they can, as they have always been advised, and most will. Mask wearing might make a tiny bit of difference in those cases, if sick people have to be in indoor spaces like buses and not able to physically distance from people. But it still should be voluntary (when it isn’t, I can just see people suffering from non-contagious conditions like hay fever or allergies, or just people trying to clear their throats, being treated like lepers if they aren’t wearing the face diaper). Most people who are actually contagious are courteous enough not to cough or sneeze into the air, or on other people. I love seeing people refusing to wear masks, and it seems like, in my city anyway, there are more and more who are finally saying “Enough” with the disgusting things.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I voted for your comment but it isn’t showing up in the ratings.

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You have to keep stabbing the thumb – eventually it gives them several more votes at once, but that doesn’t matter because now they’re anonymous. Come back Disqus, all is forgiven

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Careful what you wish for. They have not been universally approved of elsewhere – over at Guido Fawkes, for example.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ralph Windsor
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

I am sorry but I must disagree. For the past eleven months, Disqus has been fine. There was a one week hiatus in the autumn but it was soon solved.
This present system is dreadful in nearly every respect, perhaps deliberately so.
It must improve!

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

How about a conspiracy theory … maybe we are now involved in a classic behavioural experiment where the number of times we are prepared to press the same “lever” to get our reward demonstrates the apparent popularity of the functionality

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I just upvoted it and it came up twice. Think they’re having teething problems with the old ‘if it isn’t broke’ system. Doesn’t show you any more who else voted either for some reason.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago

I had to press the ‘thumbs up’ icon 21 times for it to work!

Well said. I always associate Masks with Executioners, or Bandits.

Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

It was understood that, in the Wild West at least, the baddies had masks over their faces (to rob banks and rustle cattle etc), and the goodies (like the cavilry) had masks tied behind their necks…. ‘cos they had nothing to hide.

Jack Walker
Jack Walker
3 years ago

One supposes all that money invested in facial recognition will be wasted. A mask and a pair of sunglasses will be the apparel of choice for all freedom loving individuals and those with nefarious intent. How can the police and government enforce de-masking the population if we ever get a degree of freedom back.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Walker

That is what the “chips” are for…

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

A joke going around our little town is: “now you go into a store with a mask on and come out with less money”.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago

Yes, all bar one, The Lone Ranger!

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Thumbs up…and yes, the thumbs up icon seems to be slow of function this day. Oh I miss Discus. Why did someone let the children mess with this good site?

David Owsley
David Owsley
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

In that case you have liked the comment 21 times. The ‘adding-up’ of likes isn’t always immediate,a s you may notice when it does change and jumps several numbers.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  David Owsley

I have several times liked a comment only once, but the number jumped up considerably…but now I always reply “Thumbs up” in addition.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  David Owsley

On the 22nd strike it finally registered 1 uptick,

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

I just ‘upticked you’ and I have something I always wanted. You were on 8 thumbs up. I clicked on the thumbs up and it jumped to 13.
Can I have 5 votes in the next election, or is that restricted to places like Tower Hamlets?

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Jean Fothers

Dominion software? .

Last edited 3 years ago by James Rowlands
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Thumbs up.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jean Fothers

Lol

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jean Fothers

Sadly only Tower Hamlets, so far.

Betty Fyffe
Betty Fyffe
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

or moose-limbs.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

I associate masks with people not infecting others, thereby saving lives.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

If we were issued with a standard NATO, NBC Masks, I would agree with you, but we haven’t, so somebody is ramping this whole dreadful saga!

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Thumbs up.

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago

Here in progressive Portland, we are in the process of vaccinating much of the population. Whenever I ask Now What? – Can those of us who are vaccinated gather for Happy Hour with our friends? Can we eat indoors? – Must we still wear masks and for how long? No on knows including it seems our Mayor or Governor.
When I dare ask then why are we all spending hours on the phone to get our appointments for vaccination, no one knows that either. – It is just what we are suppose to do.
One friend who hated Trump and watched every minute of the impeachment hearings hoping he would be hung, was in a total tizzy because when walking in the park, she came upon a group of young fathers and their young children all of whom were maskless.
When I mentioned to her, that the park was pretty big and she could walk on another trail, that wasn’t enough.. She has joined the mask police. a group that has replaced the regular defunded police.
Francis Foster on Triggernometry remarked that none of these restrictions were going to go away. LIke the Patriot Act and taking off shoes at the airport, once those in power realize how easy it is to get an entire freedom loving population to adhere to the “rules”, they will never end.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Slater

If one of those young Fathers started off with the infection, they’re liable to spread it to all the rest. And everyone’s children. The adults may suffer from long-Covid (you don’t need to be old to get that, apparently) and they will certainly be breathing it out and leaving it on door handles. Which will eventually infect someone who will come to serious harm as a result.

Weyland Smith
Weyland Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

What, to you, is an acceptable level of infections?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

How do you feel about the experimental vaccine that’s being pushed upon us?

Barbara Bone
Barbara Bone
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

I feel sorry for someone so brainwashed by the lies we’ve been fed. Covid19 has a roughly 97% survival rate. There will be/have always been people who will suffer more from any virus or illness. Locking up the rest of us in response to that is madness. You should worry more about catching Hepatitis on public transport

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Barbara Bone

Err, if that is right, it represents about 2 million people in the UK dying – which is 3 times the usual annual death rate. And all in a compressed period of time.

Actually I think it’s about 1% but that still potentially doubles the usual number of deaths per year. I think we can see why the government took action and changed its policy so radically.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Slater

…shut the gate, stay inside, do what mummy tells you. There’s something nasty in the woodshed….

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago

“People with symptoms of any kind of respiratory illness should be advised to stay home if they can, as they have always been advised, and most will. Mask wearing might make a tiny bit of difference in those cases, …..But it still should be voluntary ………Most people who are actually contagious are courteous enough not to cough or sneeze into the air, or on other people.
I love seeing people refusing to wear masks” 
Plenty of people who have the infection and are contagious, do not realise it. They only develop symptoms later. So your statements about people with symptoms being the only people who need to avoid spreading the disease to others are misinformed.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago

I am allergic to certain nuts and had a sneezing fit in Lidl ( had to take my mask off) earlier today. When it was over half the shop seemed to have emptied.
Paranoia is definitely the new normal.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

Asymptomatic or presymptomatic ? 2 different beasts and one of them very definitely transmits. Citations provided on request.
Shedders shed just by talking you don’t have to forcibly expel air to spread any sort of bug.
You have a touching faith in people if you think everyone with symptoms will self isolate tout suite. There are plenty of bods who can’t / won’t for many reasons including economic. If the majority of people with symptoms had self isolated all the way through this pandemic there would have been an average flu like winter in 2020 in the UK and no problem with a shortage of hospital beds in the spring.
There are at least 0.5 million front line workers just in the NHS who wear masks for a portion or all of their working days throughout their working lives. I wore one for 40 years and I am still alive to tell the tale.
Nothing disgusting about reducing the number of microbes and viruses you are spreading around. Tourists from Asia (I am currently based in Florence, Italy) do it routinely, all the time, just like the Italians, right now.

Last edited 3 years ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago

“There are plenty of bods who can’t / won’t for many reasons including economic.”

Precisely, for far too many “ pulling a sicky” is just not on, nor for that matter is mask wearing except under duress.

Sir John Hawkwood, the 14th century Essex super-thug whose image graces ‘your’ Duomo, and whose descendants are probably splattered all over southern England is a obvious progenitor of that ‘can do’ attitude, that ‘works’ regardless of the risks. Wrong perhaps, but some old habits die very very hard, as the today’s figures from Essex may illustrate.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
wolfe10000
wolfe10000
3 years ago

It will end if enough “normal” people stop following the rules. Many have been prepared to go along with the decrees while contagion was a risk to the vulnerable but very soon there will be no more people at risk. That I feel is the point where the government will have the choice of reacting to events (people ignoring an unfair/stupid law/decree) or governing with consent.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Last week I went for a run in our village. There was a police car sitting outside a fish & chip shop and the two ossifers were enjoying themselves having their meal. Around them there was a gang of kids on bikes just laughing at them. A group of four adults and three kids also passed and waved at them in the car. All smiles. Nice to know that life just goes on.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thats about right. Its part of “Policing-
by-Consent of which there is a lot less
this year than last.
You say A chippie – you mean you’ve
got more than one in your village?
There’s posh, lookyou

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thumbs up.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Thumbs up.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

I see the same in our rural area-life goes on, away from the urban hive of persons living in unnatural proximity, not constantly engaged with elitist and government news sources-connected with neighbors and day to day reality of human living, rather than electronic media.

Penny Gallagher
Penny Gallagher
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

That’s just how it seems to be in Somerset and Wiltshire as far as I can see.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago

I can second that. People kinda follow the rules and use their common sense. But most people are at the stage now, that they feel enough is enough. If the vulnerable are vaccinated and the rest of us are getting there or already have some immunity there is ZERO justification for continuing this crazy unnatural state of affairs. We live with deaths from flu, old age, heart attack, cancer and much more every year. Death and illness are, sadly, a part of life. but life, surely, must go on – otherwise what is the point of living at all?

Michael Inglefield
Michael Inglefield
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

A thought provoking article…and I’ve thought about it and it’s cr*p! The author should get out more, he’s totally misread the nature of the English (yes, some are, but most are not)

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
3 years ago

This article is so flawed it’s reminscent of a CNN editorial reporting on a Republican convention.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago

You’re spot on, but to ‘know’ England takes years of travel and conversation.
I’ve been at it for more than sixty years and still feel I’m only in the foothills.
But what fun!

Neil Mcalester
Neil Mcalester
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

The author seems to equate opinion polls with what people actually think. If the govt can ‘require’ radio stations to bombard us with propaganda it’s not much of a stretch to assume they are requiring polling organisations to deliver the results they want.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Mcalester

So that’s why the Tories were recently ahead in the polls.

David Fülöp
David Fülöp
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Same here. Nice little town in the Midlands and people ignore the rules mostly when it’s in their way. Cases are under the average according to the BBC.
The police? I haven’t seen a policeman once for the four years I have lived in this town.
I think there is a great divide between rural and urban, as always. Most of the rules were invented to keep people away from each other in crammed cities. They do not necessarily make sense in the countryside.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

Several thoughts from me on this:
1) This article from Unherd earlier in the year addressed exactly the same question and found that the more “English” you were, the more you were likely to favour authoritarian positions: https://unherd.com/2020/04/why-have-the-english-sacrificed-liberty-for-lockdown/
By referring to the “British” public, the article misses that interesting point. I completely agree with the point made about progressives taking a more authoritarian, pro lockdown view. This tallies completely with my own experience over the last 12 months. Strangely, the most pro-lockdown people I know are the ones who proudly call themselves “liberals” which suggests a severe level of cognitive dissonance.
2) Is it possible that the British are being pragmatic and have simply understood that this restriction on freedom is necessary – “the right thing to do” for society – and is therefore accepted because of the belief that of course freedom will be restored over the long term? Just because they haven’t rioted, it doesn’t mean that the love of freedom has been lost or was always a myth. Maybe there has simply been widespread recognition that delayed gratification is the way forward here. And surely it is a very British thing not to riot but to simply get a bit sniffy and quietly think “right on!” when reading Allison Pearson’s diatribes about restrictions on personal freedom in the DT? This is a country, after all, that expresses severe displeasure at someone jumping a queue by muttering under one’s breath or exhaling loudly through the nostrils. No one does passive aggression like the British.
3) The British may not have risen up against the lockdown measures but they sure did have a lively discussion about them, from the moment they were introduced onwards. It took a full 3 weeks of total lockdown in “deference-to-authority-is-me” Austria for anyone to even give half a whimper about whether the measures were proportionate or not. That fierce debate in Britain must be indicative of some level of commitment to one’s personal freedom.
4) About British complacency. It does often cross my mind whether the British truly understand what hard work freedom is. Post-Brexit, the country will be entering an entirely new situation whereby it has “regained its sovereignty” (whatever that means in practice) but it is no longer a great power. Being free is easy when you’re powerful because you can make and break the rules when you see fit. When you’re not a hegemon, it’s tough. Perhaps it will be worth it and having to work hard to flourish as an independent country will reestablish that traditional love of freedom. However, the reality of that freedom is going to be a shock.

Last edited 3 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

That was a great post Katharine and it took quite a lot of reading. What you say is true but I think it deals primarily with the kind of intellectuals you find on UnHerd. Only a very low percentage of the population could write a reasoned argument as you just did.
If you move to the people I talk to every day, who haven’t got time to listen to my arguments but they may follow with interest the movements of the Royal Family, discussion about freedom and resistance to lockdown just don’t exist. Maybe now there is a move to change but that might just be boredom, something else to talk about.
I think that most people were terrified when this virus came, for themselves or for their family, and they wanted someone to come along and tell them how to be safe. It helped that most of our neighbours in the First World had gone in and out of lockdown as well.
We are lucky because we tend to follow the rules, but not as slavishly as the Austrians or Germans, and we are happy with queuing. I lived in Italy for a while and I had to queue to get a driving licence. After a couple of hours I hadn’t moved in the queue and then a colleague found me, said to follow him and I got my licence about 10 minutes later. I would rather our way of doing things. The downside is that we don’t make waves and tend to listen to authority too much.
We suffer because when a new thing comes along, BAME or LGBQT+, we tend to watch quietly while it takes over our culture rather than get out into the streets and stop it. So we will lose badly with these new fashions as well as being the country which follows the environmentalists to the letter, without any argument or proper discussion.

Last edited 3 years ago by Chris Wheatley
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thumbs up.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

One thing one notices if one looks directly at the common people, especially in the big towns, is that they are not puritanical. They are inveterate gamblers, drink as much beer as their wages will permit, are devoted to bawdy jokes, and use probably the foulest language in the world. They have to satisfy these tastes in the face of astonishing, hypocritical laws (licensing laws, lottery acts, etc. etc.) which are designed to interfere with everybody but in practice allow everything to happen. – Orwell, Lion and Unicorn

We are lucky because we tend to follow the rules

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Your views of the ‘common people’ leave a lot to be desired. Actually I think there is an argument for shipping some of our educated/academics away as far as possible. I for one would contribute passage funds, when you see the damage they are doing to our society. As for the others mentioned in Mr Wheatley’s piece, they both have their agendas which we should all be very worried about. Regarding us, I agree that there is a misguided view that we all want to be liberals. In any event to be truly liberal you have to be really grown up to use liberalism correctly and I think very few fall into that category, evidence of which we see daily.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jayne Lago
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jayne Lago

I quoted Orwell

Barbara Bone
Barbara Bone
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I agree that we do tend to watch & mutter under our breath rather than confront people. I’ve always felt that this was, in part, out of manners more than anything else. There is also the feeling that you may have misread the situation. Personally I assume anyone unmasked has either a medical reason to do so or is making a stand. I don’t understand why other people get so aggressive about this to the point of rudeness. Our government shoving it down our throat on a daily basis that we are being selfish & uncaring (if I see that propaganda broadcast asking “can you look them in the eye…” once more I shall need a new television) doesn’t help. We are a nation of rule followers on the whole even when we don’t believe in those rules. The dissatisfaction with the EU started because our government implemented all the rules & diktats. Having travelled round Europe I am well aware that every other country merely paid lip service.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

The most interesting comment to that article you quote from was,I thought, from Andy Young Esq:
“I wonder how many older people (like me) have simply withdrawn from the modern version of England anyway? The perpetual virtue signalling, victim worship & pettifogging officialdom have hacked me off big time; I was pretty well self isolating before the virus.”

Has anything improved in the past ten months? If so how so?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

True…and thumbs up.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

I haven’t been able to do a ‘thumbs up’ this morning but when I just tried a moment ago, like London buses…………

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Andy Young like all the old people has a rosy view (selective) of Good Old England
George Orwell – the LIon and Unicorn
But in all societies the common people must live to some extent against the existing order. The genuinely popular culture of England is something that goes on beneath the surface, unofficially and more or less frowned on by the authorities. One thing one notices if one looks directly at the common people, especially in the big towns, is that they are not puritanical. They are inveterate gamblers, drink as much beer as their wages will permit, are devoted to bawdy jokes, and use probably the foulest language in the world. They have to satisfy these tastes in the face of astonishing, hypocritical laws (licensing laws, lottery acts, etc. etc.) which are designed to interfere with everybody but in practice allow everything to happen.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Funny, I have always thought of that as one the greatest eulogies to the English ever written,
(even the precis you have quoted).
It’s up there with “This Royal Throne of Kings………

andy young
andy young
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I’m completely confused. How does Orwell’s wonderful take on the England of his day conflict with my post? I read all George Orwell’s works when I was in my 20s & found them as accurate & inspirational then as I do today (my one quarrel is his contention that there is something innately superior & admirable about the working class; I’ve always found people’s characters to be independent of class or wealth). And I find P J Harvey’s Last Living Rose to be a wonderful reflection on Englishness. Hardly a rosy view!

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Summarises my feelings exactly.

Katy Randle
Katy Randle
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

A wonderful post. Thank you. I think on point 2 you are right – the acceptance that it seemed necessary was my default position during the first lockdown. And the delayed gratification is certainly a nice thought. It will indeed be interesting when those who have continued to accept the restrictions since then, without being personally affected to any degree by them, realise that we won’t just be handed our freedoms back with the vaccine rollout. Those of us whose lives and mental health have been slashed to bits by the restrictions have had to start thinking about how to regain freedom, and as you say, it’s not an easy path.
I would, however, like to state for the record that, having lived in Germany for many years, the Germans beat us hands down in their use of passive aggression! *sigh* We can’t even be world-beating in that regard . . . 😉

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Katy Randle

Thanks, KR. In terms of how we are going to come through this, this quote by G. Michael Hopf seems apt:
“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”
I think the whole of Western Europe finds itself at the end of one repetition of this, ready to begin again…the good times will return!

Last edited 3 years ago by Katharine Eyre
E E
E E
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“In terms of how we are going to come through this, this quote by G. Michael Hopf seems apt:
“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”
I think the whole of Western Europe finds itself at the end of one repetition of this, ready to begin again…the good times will return!”

Reflecting the quote on the 20th century’s first half, it becomes quite frightening. As for your eagerness for such strong men to return, have you really thought that through?

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  E E

“Strong men” clearly isn’t meant in that way, otherwise it would read: “strong men create hard times”!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  E E

All the men who served in combat especially where the death rate was high and risked torture and death. One example would be the sailors and Commandos on the St Nazaire Raid, where more VCs were won more quickly by few er people than any other action in WW2. Commandos on the raid included scholars and poets

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Katy Randle

If I may ask how did you get that smiling icon to appear.

When I try on my mini I-pad it never posts!?

Katy Randle
Katy Randle
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Sheer luck, probably! I typed it as a semicolon followed by a closing bracket, rather than as an emoji, if that helps.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Katy Randle
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Katy Randle

Many thanks, it must be some tech glitz that I don’t undestand

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

An interesting post.

The leading point for me was the reference to pragmatism: a general (but not universal or absolute) acceptance after consideration that a temporary restriction on freedom may be sensible. It’s a question of being reasonable in difficult circumstances.

The English do love freedom, but – if I can put it this way – not slavishly.

Last edited 3 years ago by Wilfred Davis
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Yes, William – exactly! In recent days I asked an Austrian friend of mine whether there was an equivalent in German for the English saying “if you can’t beat them, join them.” He said he thought the notion of giving up just because things weren’t going well wasn’t really something that was part of his culture and therefore there was no specific phrase that equated to it.
I was really surprised to see the phrase being interpreted in that way. I never saw this saying or any of the situations in which I might use it as “giving up”! It’s more an expression of that characteristic you mention – being pragmatic and reasonable in difficult circumstances. “If you can’t beat them, join them” shows an Englishman (or a British person…who knows these days?) realising that, this time, there’s good reason to depart from cherished principles.

Barbara Bone
Barbara Bone
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“If you can’t beat them, join them” has nothing to do with giving up. I was taught by my father that you can

Barbara Bone
Barbara Bone
3 years ago
Reply to  Barbara Bone

Sorry – this new system is almost unworkable – the post comment box gets in the way.
As I was saying – my father taught me that you can change things from within & I feel that this is what is left unspoken at the end of “if you can’t beat them…” Far from giving up then more like a Trojan horse!

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Excellent observations all, I must say. There is one thing I’d add to this, and it’s that the article itself sort of fails to follow up on an obvious question that is begged in the final paragraph.
“Most of the British public still support Robin Hood against the Sheriff of Nottingham, but not because they care about freedom. It’s because they care about fairness. They don’t want a free England, they want a fair England.”
The whole point of freedom, not just in the UK but anywhere, is that it is ultimately essential to the principle of fairness. It is also essentially connected with democracy (though you can have a chicken/egg debate about that one, of course).
Turning the argument back to England specifically, if people want a fair England but think it can be achieved without personal liberty, they will quickly discover that fairness only extends as far as the majoritarian will permits. If you happen not to be served by what is considered “fair” by the majority, get ready to be shafted.
And in fact of course, the observation of the crucial importance of this is upheld in what we define as democracy to be a system of government that operates on popular consent, but avoids the pitfalls of the tyranny of the majority. This is precisely why minorities, whether racial, cultural, religious, sexual orientation etc, find that they are safest in democracies as opposed to other systems.
And let’s not forget the obvious example of a minority – the wealthy among us. If you ask people if it’s “fair” that there is such a disparity of wealth in the UK, most will say not, and will support things like more progressive taxation as a response to the issue in narrow, on-the-spot terms. This has been true more of less forever in the UK in terms of social attitudes. Yet here we are, with lots of wealth inequality anyway. The reason for it is simple: as soon as people come to understand the likely effects of taking a shot at someone they perceive as better-off than themselves, they realise that it may well come back to bite them in the arse one day. This is what underpins liberty: the understanding that we are not atomised players in the game of life, but mutually interdependent and incapable of either harming or being harmed without the harm affecting others in myriad ways.
The final point I’ll make about why I think this article’s conclusion is wrong is simply this: we’re not out of this experiment yet. We still have millions on furlough, and the rest of us still in work are operating on an odd sort of doublethink that is powered by the idea that all this extra debt will sort of get paid by other people somehow. Taking a view on social attitudes towards a massive economic catastrophe that hasn’t fired anyone yet and hasn’t hit us in the wallet yet is no sort of view at all: the number aren’t in, and the reactions of people to the cold hard facts don’t yet exist.
When that happens, freedom is going to reassert by default, in the form of “I’d never have put up with 2020 if I’d known that’d happen…” etc.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Riordan
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Good post and difficult to respond to in its entirety.
Personal liberty and freedom of thought is often mentioned on UnHerd but I’m not sure that it is seen in the same way across the whole population. In general elections roughly two-thirds vote, in council elections about one-third. These proportions allow a concerted takeover of local councils. The same people who did not vote will complain that things are going to the dogs but they won’t realise that they are responsible for it. In a funny sort of way (note the use of ‘funny’) we don’t have freedom because people are too cosy to use it.
In schools today, children are taught that the British were evil warmongers in the past and that white people have to feel ashamed. Where is the freedom of speech which stops this? Universities are playing all sorts of games with who they let in and what they teach. Where is the freedom of speech which stops this?
There is an excellent book by Tsvetlana Alexievich where she interviews about 120 Russian people about 13 years after Gorbachev. About half describe how they used to worry what they said in their own homes because they feared that the KGB was listening to their conversations – they now felt better because they could talk as they liked. The other half wanted to go back to the ways things were because then they had a guaranteed job, guaranteed (boring) food, guaranteed education for their children – they said they had got used to being careful what they said. They mentioned that they could in the past go out for a walk in the park at midnight without meeting drug addicts or armed gangs.
When I worked in a factory in a rundown area of a city, people bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t take their families for a meal into the city centre at weekend because it was too dangerous. So, they had the freedom to complain but not a great deal of freedom of action. Some lived in council estates and would not leave the house at night. I think some of those people would exchange their freedom of speech for other freedoms in life.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I too consider ‘fairness’ a key characteristic of the British mentality and that freedom and fairness are intrinsically connected.

Karl Schuldes
Karl Schuldes
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Fairness is neither justice nor equality. It is a subjective value that appeals to children more than anyone. The perfect example of fairness by government was provided by Obama when asked, “why raise capital gains tax when history shows that it actually decreases the amount the government collects?” He replied “It’s a question of fairness.”

Eloise Burke
Eloise Burke
3 years ago
Reply to  Karl Schuldes

I see what you mean. It is subjective (in adults) and children are very sensitive to it. Obama’s view of the capital gains tax is a perfect example. He thinks a sizable capital gain is unfair to everybody who doesn’t have one.

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

What is certain would have been to surrender freedom in the EU. Freedom means voting to choose your leaders.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

Yes, I can understand that point of view and tend towards it myself. Because I think of self-determination as being an indispensable ingredient of freedom. However, you can spin it the other way: giving up some national sovereignty to be a member of the EU meant you got other freedoms in return. The most important having been the freedom to live and work in any other member state.

Last edited 3 years ago by Katharine Eyre
John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

That transaction between freedoms in the EU that you mention is a false choice and a bad deal as far as I’m concerned. The reason I say so is that surrendering national sovereignty is an irreversible act, but the freedoms gained in terms of what Brussels permits are things that can be changed at will by Brussels without further reference to the wishes of the nation-State voters. It therefore possesses an asymmetry which makes it impossible to commoditise the various freedoms in question.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Riordan
David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

The ONLY reason, in the end, I voted remain, and now, living in France I’m a convinced Brexiteer – thank god we got out when we did

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I agree with that. And it comes down to some who find it an acceptable trade-off and some who don’t. For me, there should never have been a ‘right or wrong’ answer to the question of whether to leave the EU or not. It really hacked off a lot of people that it was positioned that there really was only one ‘acceptable’ choice on the ballot. If you have only one choice on a ballot you don’t live in a democracy and you are not free.

Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I would argue against your second point. I suspect an awful lot of people are complying because they truly believe that Covid is a deadly disease that will kill the average person. What other explanation is there for people leaping two yards if you get too close or the slim healthy looking 40 something masked up to the eyeballs inside their own car! (40 years old? it’s in the eyes ;-)).

One thing is clear the country is splitting into those who favour more lockdowns and are happy to fester in front of their TV’s forever and the others who are getting very very tired of this and are wondering what the hell is really going on? Moving goalposts are exceedingly suspicious and are indicative of a.n.other reason that they don’t want to talk about.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Ripley

 I suspect an awful lot of people are complying because they truly believe that Covid is a deadly disease that will kill the average person. “
Yes, around 120,000 people in the UK (plus their families) believe Covid kills you.
I’m aware of an under-40 and an under-60 who have died of it, among my wider circle of acquaintances.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Geepers Chris, people dying. How awful. There definately should be a law against that.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

And the average of UK C-19 death is a truly staggering 82.4, whilst life expectancy is 81.1 This is truly the end of civilisation as we knew it.

pjohnatherton
pjohnatherton
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Ripley

I think it’s sad there are many who “fester in front of their TVs” Several I know, despite many weeks of lockdown last year, found absolutely nothing to do outside existing TV / Netflix (etc), 2 wouldn’t even do permitted exercise time. Education, on-line info, easier ways to become involved in different interests than ever before all seem to count for nothing. Of course govt and capitalism probably prefer it – nothing like bread and circuses and parochial prograganda to keep populace distracted from expanding horizons & the critical questioning of power that that might bring.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I agree with much of what you say. It just strikes me as odd that the British also utterly rebelled and rejected the hegemon of the elites and the EU to vote Brexit and even after years of slander and fearmongering still voted to Get Brexit Done, shocking the hell out of the opposition.

John Waldsax
John Waldsax
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

A well put together set of ideas! Surprisingly I have not read anywhere of the experience I had in my working life in the oil and chemical industry. The staff of such businesses learn to live with both very strict Health and Safety rules, and the freedom, obligation even, to be creative and open minded about solving complex problems. I have witnessed two fires and one explosion in my working life and they were terrifying; thank God no one was killed. But not even the most forgetful tried to take matches onto a refinery site or boiled ether in an open laboratory. In fact the HSE investigation actually suggested the bigger of the two fires was started by a poorly thought out safety regulation! Katherines point 2 is very well made, When protective laws are passed which everyone can see the sense of (i.e. actually work) then compliance will be high. On the other hand anyone watching a French or Italian roundabout (rare things) can witness that common sense is not effective everywhere. Was the Place d’Etoile sponsored by a car repair company?

Samuel Tomlinson
Samuel Tomlinson
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You betray your own complacency. This country hasn’t been a great power since 1940. We’ve been a debtor, dependent nation ever since. Most people who could be forgiven for thinking otherwise realised this in 1956. It’s a particular self-absorbed delusion to think we were a great power up until 23/06/2016.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago

Ed West you have ignored the following;
Slavery was not common in AS Society compared to the Continent and St Wilfrid preached against it in Bristol in l about 1008 AD and there were few recorded in The Doomesday Book.
1100 Charter of Liberties reinstates the Laws Of Edward The Confessor which trace their lineage to Aethelbert of Kent in about 650 AD and removes many Norman Forestry Laws.
Magna carta and the various laws are largely about defining Liberties which combined with representation evolved over the 13th century culminating the Parliament of 1295. Magna Carta used tio be read out yearly in large towns.
The stories of a Robin Hood become common in the 13th to 14 th centuries and have been likened to a common man’s Arthur and his round table.
The archers of the Hundreds Year War were well aware they had a freedom unknown by French serfs. French serfs were not armed and trained. An archer could draw a 200lb bow 24 times in two minutes and fight the for a whole day; proof, Sluys, Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt plus others. This feat of arms would require a meat rich diet over a decade to build this strength . The French serfs would not have had the meat even if they were armed and allowed to train .Outlaw archers were pardoned if they fought for the king. One became a member of his bodyguard and was knighted( a Welsman Davy ?) before he died of his wounds. This meant his family became gentry.
AS tradition was based upon election of kings, discussion with the Witan and rule through consulation and consent. Edward 1 said ” That which affects all must be consulted by all” and from 1295, Parliament was consulted on taxation. English monarchs did not have absolute power.
English law is based upon one can do whatever one wants unless there is a law which forbids it. Roman law says one can only do what it allows. The English tradition is liberty under the Law or as Wilkes put it ” Beef and Liberty “. The ability to eat butchers meat everyday became an essential part of English Liberty. In Paris in 1789 the poor were starving for want of bread. The British navigators who dug the canals breakfasted on steak and beer.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Thumbs up.

Paul Booth
Paul Booth
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Slavery was certainly not uncommon in Anglo-Saxon society. Roughly ten percent of the people of England in Domesday Book (1086) were slaves (servi).

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Booth

Compared to the continent it was small and AS Society was geared to the freeman and the responsibilities it carried.
William wanted England because it was successful and wealthy. That wealth was because it was peaceful, well run and people were able to aquire and keep their wealth. If it had been poor, William would not have bothered.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

William would not have bothered. Italy was richer – why didn’t he invade Italy

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

He had a connection to Edward the Confessor by marriage and he would have had to march through France and across the Alps; Hannibal he was not.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

So geography and blood made it practicle to invade England.
Let’s say England was only half as rich – would William have invaded England?

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Why not, Harold Hardrada of Norway also thought it worth stealing.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Because other Norman thugs got there first. The Hauteville family led by the redoubtable Tancred for one.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Did it not also have a first rate tax raising system, thanks to earlier practice with ‘Danegeld’?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Kent was the first kingdom to develop Laws. The uniting of the AS Kingdoms starts with Alfred. ” Ddanegeld” I think is due to Ethelred the Unready.
Harold would have probably won Hastings if he had not been betrayed by his brother and had to fight the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
The dcomentary by Prof R Bartlett is very good.

The Battle of Hastings 1066 – The Normans – BBC Two – YouTube

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Thanks. I seem to recall Bartlett, also did something on the “Normans in Ireland” or some-such which was very good.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

A comment full of absurd cliches
Those barons and King John were (brace yourself) more French than English.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

More Norman than French, really.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

but not english
It could be that their concept of freedom came from their Viking ancestors?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Your right in part. Serfdom comes into AS Society as the state solidifies post Alfred. Serfdom did not exist under Danelaw and also in Kent.
Henry1 fights his brother Duke of Normandy at Tinchbrai in 1104 where he congratulates the AS on their fighting skills.What is interesting is how quickly the AS Norman divide breaks down. The BBC documentary on The Normans explains this very well. Being an island, The Normans marry AS women
I think the Anarchy from 1135 to 1155 breaks down divides, basically if one is good at fighting one is employed.
One can see a continuous increase in liberty and the use of AS Law/Customs from 1100 and the Charter of Liberties. Magna Carta was described at the times as an updated C of L.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

By the time of Hastings the Normans/Norse had been living in the Lower Seine area for 5/6 generations.
Guzzling French wine, stuffing their faces with French cheese, worshipping a French God, copulating with French women on an industrial scale. They were essentially French. Their only remaining Norse characteristic was their homicidal violence.

We English invariably use to the term Norman because we find it absolutely impossible to admit that in the autumn of 1066, a bunch of French thugs thrashed us at Hastings and subsequently went on to conquer the rest of the place.

How they succeeded is another interesting story.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

But we didn’t thrash the ‘Normans’ at Waterloo.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The Prussians…

Marcus Millgate
Marcus Millgate
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

It was a joint effort. A few days earlier Napoleon attempted to prevent the allies joining up by fighting on two fronts. On hearing the Prussians had been defeated at the Battle of Ligny with the lost of 20,000, Wellington’s troops who had held off Ney’s Army at Quatre Bras, fell back to Waterloo. Despite their lost, von Bulcher informed Wellington that they’ll be at Waterloo.
At 10.30 the Battle of Waterloo commenced (without the Prussians) with a bombardment from Napoleon’s larger army (who didn’t know the Prussians were still around). With a relatively inexperienced army, Wellington decided to fight defensively, until reinforcements arrived. They beat off a succession of French attacks until Prussians reinforcements finally arrive at 15.30.

Last edited 3 years ago by Marcus Millgate
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Jeremy is spot on, without the Prussians, we would have lost.
In fact most of ‘our’ Army at Waterloo was the B team.

The A team was in the US having a great time sacking the Congress Building, torching the White House etc.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Sadly only 1 vote.
English also turned treason into the Glorious Revolution.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Yes indeed the last successful invasion of this country by a foreign potentate.

All the more embarrassing because he was a notorious ‘botty bandit’!

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

I think you somewhat undermine your point about the the Frenchness of the Normans.

If, as you put it, ‘their only remaining Norse characteristic was homicidal violence’, then the very thing they must have found most useful at Hastings was their Norseness.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Actually I think I was being too generous, everyone at Hastings seems to have been homicidally violent, some were just more ‘professional’.
The triumph of professionalism over passion so to speak.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

You obviously feel passionately about this so could you please tell us/me what was so ‘Norman’ about the Normans in 1066 compared to the rest of the Franks/French?
To use today’s language, they had been completely assimilated into French/Frankish culture had they not?

Bring back,DISQUS.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

The Normans arranged for the Norse to invade which led to Harold fighting The Battle of Stamford in N England which showed how close were connections.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Really? I don’t think Tostig and Hardrada needed much “arranging”
If the weather/wind had been different it would have been William who landed first. Which would have been interesting.

This ‘system’ of typing on a ‘postage stamp’ is awful!

Bring back DISQUS.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

And would remain so in terms of culture, language, behaviour (eg chivalric), for at least another two centuries.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Magna Carta was described by the Archbishop of Canterbury, I think as an updated Charter of Liberties which re-introduced the Laws of Edward The Confessor. Watch Bartlet. Normans started describing themselves as English within a generation or two. The Anarchy broke down divisions.
Normans still look different to resy of France, they are fairer and have blue eyes. Normandy become a part of France in the mid 13th century.
I think a reason why merging took place is that Vikings, AS and Normans intermarried look very similar; consequently within three generations everyone looked the same. Many of the monks, those involved in minting coins and the City of London were AS.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Yes, there is a sense of liberty/proto-democracy that comes out of Germanic/Norse culture. We see that in Scandinavia, Holland, German city state etc. English branch is part of that tree.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

A 200lb bow?! You’d need considerable strength and a lot of meat to fire that once let alone a dozen times a minute.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

On The Mary Rose there were longbows with pull weights of 212 lb. By the age of 14 years one was expected to draw a 95 lb bow.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Sadly the long bow wasn’t much use at Formigny and Castillon when the French finally chucked us out, thus decisively winning the so called 100 years War.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

We won. Building on the Model Parliament of 1295 where some some 270 plus MPs are elected , The hundred Years War forges a nations which lacks the class divided of feudal Europe. Yeoman such as Knollys become Knights banneret. Yeoman land owning archers become the middle class and back bone of the country. Serfdom ends. The national identity is forged as opposed to collection of land owning aristocrats which is France.
The lack of contempt and hatred between classes means the Peasants Revolt does not include the savage blood lust and cruelty of the Jaquerie Revolt in France.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Come off it !We were thrown out on our ear and lost everything we had in France bar Calais.
We may not have had the blood fest of the Jaquerie, but we made up for it with the so called Wars of the Roses, which whilst it spared the peasants, managed to kill off most of our feudal nobility. Hardly a win I would have said?

Bring back DISQUS.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

We aquired vast amounts of loot, especailly from ransom.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

So what?
We still LOST. You must be the only chap in England who denies this.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

We lost the land and created degree of unification between classes not seen on the Continent. The absence of using mercenary armies, for infantry prevented much blood shed. The War of the Roses created a desire to remove the military power of the feudal aristocracy and their privileges whichj lasted in much of Europe up to Napoleon.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Sadly, your reply has come out as less than one word per line!

This system is hopeless!!!

However, at last you have acknowledged that we LOST the ‘100 years War’ hook, line, and sinker.

The rest of your reply, whist not without interest is irrelevant. Thank you.

ps: So I see has mine!

Vale UnHerd.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Don’t be ludicrous.
Your comment reminds of an English comedian joke about Agincourt anniversary in 2015.
English bang on about Agincourt but they seem to forget that we lost the 100 year war. Sure we lost half of France – but it is OK. We got Wales.
In 2021 France is as rich as UK, with better weather food and wine. They got Provence and Bordeaux and you got Wales…Need I say more?

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

.What an astonishing reply by Mr Hedges!
He must have been reading too much Arthur Bryant.
Then to veer off piste to bring up the Jaquerie, etc, what nonsense.

Anyway well done for chastising him.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I will take Wales; the long bow, The Tudors, anthracite, singing, the speaking of the English Language ( R Burton )and the Rugby playing Chapel attending, scholarship respecting people who made sure left wing politics did not include cruel class war.
What has made British Tradition different is that we have able to develop with less cruelty and slaughter than other countries, hence I compared the Jaqueries Revolt and the Peasants Revolt-read Jean Froissart. . Knollys was able to ask for mercy. Also look at the Peasants Revolt in Germany of the 1520s. The conflict between the Left and Right in France in the 1930s prevented a united front against the Nazis being created.It used to be said that The Labour Party owed more to Methodism than Marx.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Do you think it was the meagre diet of the French peasant that prompted them to start eating Frogs and Snails?
No doubt the same could be asked of the Chinese peasantry and the consumption of Bats,Dogs, Bumble Bees and last but not least, delicious Pangolin.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Britain has an ideal climate for growing grass which means we produce a lot of meat. The meat and wheat we produce may have been a reason why Caesar invaded; we became the food supply for the Northern part of the Roman Empire.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

May I ask what are your sources for saying that we “became the food supply for the Northern part of the Roman Empire”
And we talking grain or meat or both?
Strabo was certainly not of that opinion when advising Octavian.

Bring back DISQUS.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Northern France – similar weather.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Which is why Normandy produced the grass which could feed a horse to support an armoured knight. A major advantage the Vikings/Norman has was that they were larger and stronger than any other race. The Byzantines used Vikings as guards and they were amazed at the size of Norman knights.In a fight a god big un will beat a good little un which is why there are weight categories in boxing/martial, arts.The Romans overcame the fact they were smaller than the Celts by exceptional training and discipline.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

I don’t think so. You can compare the food sophistication of Southern Italy with Greece (same geography).
Or Japan with Korea. Plenty of fish in UK but no one thought of doing sashimi.
The French have been more influenced by Italians and the med culture when it comes to food. Escargot is a Provencal specialty.
Norse/German (English are part of the tribe) people are brilliant – but their food is just terrible.
Ivanhoe/Scott has a passage (the dinner where Normans offend the Saxons at the tournament) how Normans always were able to control themselves around food/drink while Saxon could not.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Thanks it was only ‘tongue in cheek’, that also allowed me to take another swipe at the Chinese!
As for ‘the demon drink’, you are perfectly correct, and off course, it still is a bit of problem judging by what used to go on when the Brits hit southern Spain, Cyprus etc.

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

We love freedom. We have to have the right to talk about things for a couple of hours, each with a different opinion. Then we go down the pub (pre and post Covid) and talk for a while longer. We are happy as long as a government doesn’t actually come to a decision and then they are telling us what to do, thereby removing our freedom.
Governments are supposed to listen. First they should listen to me because I’m right but don’t listen to anyone else because they’re wrong. I was right about the 3rd runway at Heathrow. But now I’ve changed my mind so I’m right again.
In this country we will never do anything again, whoever is in power as a government – because every decision takes years of listening to every minority view.
No industry. The first to cripple ourselves by going to electric cars. Back to freezing cold in the winter because we’ve shut off the gas. The 23-year old Trans mayor of the city of Bangor, representing the city across the world. Children taught that they are evil because they are white. The vote at 16 and then, probably, 14. Old people disenfranchised because they don’t believe in the latest fashion. Everyone unionised and well-paid or else not unionised and on benefits.
I’m going to create a new union: Union of People Out of Key Employment – U POKE.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thumbs up.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

My father(RIP), a WWII combat veteran, was the charter member of POOM-Pissed Off Old Men.

James Bigglesworth
James Bigglesworth
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

….I’m coming round to Wolfie Smith’s way of thinking…… “Power to the PeoPLE!!!”

James Bigglesworth
James Bigglesworth
3 years ago

The ‘arguments’ in this whole article are based on government sponsored ‘surveys’ which gives the result they wish to promote..
“The average Brit would happily have a microchip in his arm if it meant he could go down the pub” ? Utter, utter bullshit.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Thumbs up.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

the idea of the freeborn Englishman has been quietly put to bed by the pandemic

You would hardly call the social compliance and control exercise currently running, enforced by a willing and compliant media and various so called “experts” being rolled out on a daily basis for the last 12-months, being “quietly put to bed”.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

A significant factor is that thus far everyone has been very quiet about how this is going to land. Many people happy to go along with the first lockdown; staying at home on 80% salary when the weather is nice. When a large percentage of those furloughed (but not just them) find themselves unemployed as the furlough scheme end, buyer’s remorse will be order of the day

Last edited 3 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Steve Wesley
Steve Wesley
3 years ago

The vast majority of people observe the current measures for a number of reasons, the most telling of which is that far from being a nation of selfish individuals, people will accept the restrictions as the necessary means by which this virus is eventually be overcome. We’ve seen that Covid is deadly, and we’ll will observe the restrictions placed on our lives because we don’t actually believe the government wants to either enslave or kill us. We will most certainly curse, b***h, moan and revile them because that’s what we do and long may it continue. We’re not ready just yet to man the barricades and riot on the streets.
I disagree with the notion that this will continue indefinitely however. With the arrival of the vaccine comes the prospect of ending lockdown and everyone including the government knows this. To suggest that somehow the English (British) have surrendered their freedoms without a fight is to miss the point entirely. We’ve shown a continuity that reflects our concern for our fellow citizens, and the reported breaches are the exception rather than the everyday experience.
Throughout the Brexit saga the great and the good continually berated the populace that such a course of action was the road to perdition. When the time came, the same populace ignored the advice of their betters and voted accordingly. At present we’re compliant because we believe it’s essential, however as soon as it’s not, we won’t comply.
The English (British) have shown a spirit of communal responsibility which had long been supposed to be extinct. The doomsayers are wrong, our spirit is strong still, and we shan’t give it up for a pint, even though we’d love one. We’re doing it so we can have that pint (and some pork scratchings) another day.

crawfordwright
crawfordwright
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Wesley

Once you have given up rights willingly for a cause you have accepted the principle that it can be done. So two questions. Is there a line you wouldn’t cross to address covid? What other causes are acceptable to give up all legal social and economic rights?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  crawfordwright

Thumbs up.

Steve Wesley
Steve Wesley
3 years ago
Reply to  crawfordwright

The difference is that we have suspended our rights as opposed to giving them up entirely. You are right when you say that having accepted the principle of surrendering you have let ‘them’ get away with it. You’re also correct ( if I perceive your opening sentence correctly) to be justifiably wary of such surrender.
Your two questions are admittedly more difficult to answer. Regarding a line I wouldn’t cross to address covid, it would be a willingness to sacrifice others, especially the elderly, to facilitate a return to pre covid society.
As for other causes which would require the suspension of all I hold dear? That is almost impossible to answer as it would be wholly dependent on what those causes were. Had you asked me that same question 18 months ago, I’d have doubtless shouted NO! as such a situation as that in which we find ourselves today was unknown and I confess almost unthinkable to me. But to answer the question, it would have to be circumstances in which, where a temporary suspension not enacted, there would be a permanent removal of all those rights.
I suspect we don’t differ that much on this issue. It is imperative that the rights we enjoy, and which were so hard won by our forebears, are not squandered for a ‘mess of pottage’ and we must be diligent to ensure that they are not. I know that comparisons made with the 2nd world war are somewhat hackneyed, and talk of a spirit of the blitz overdone, but the fact was that as a nation we did endure a suspension of many of our rights in order to defeat a far more pressing issue and definitive enemy. This time were fighting a virus, not an ideology, however the analogy stands up.
That’s not to say that I don’t have concerns, the exact opposite is the case. That so much of the covid legislation was passed into law without scrutiny and proper parliamentary assent is an anathema to me. That breaches are dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice is worse, as it removes the possibility of having your case heard and judged in a court. Instead all you have is an appeals procedure.

Weyland Smith
Weyland Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Wesley

“… a line I wouldn’t cross to address covid, it would be a willingness to sacrifice others, especially the elderly, to facilitate a return to pre covid society.” In another article on unherd today is “…the worst years for flu deaths were 1976 and 1999, when more than 60,000 people in England and Wales died from influenza or pneumonia. The best year in the last century was 1948, with under 20,000 deaths. That leaves a range of 20,000-60,000 deaths per year”. Is the ‘sacrifice’ an absolute (the end-point is zero-covid), or relative? If absolute, how can that ever be achieved? If relative, what level of infections would you accept?

Steve Wesley
Steve Wesley
3 years ago
Reply to  Weyland Smith

I fear we’ve rather gone off at a tangent as the article concerned the notion that the English have given up their freedom, but such is the nature of these discussions. In a nutshell, we as a nation should do as much as possible to keep people alive. When we start to determine what number is acceptable, we lose sight of the fact that those dying are our friends, family, neighbours etc. To simply view people as numbers is the outlook of those gilded globalists who actually run things, the people who see only a balance sheet.
However to try and answer your questions, your asking me to give a specific level of infection would I accept? The answer is, I don’t know. Thankfully I am not in the position whereby I have to make that decision. So let me ask you the same question, what are your acceptable losses?
I’m not being flippant, I truly don’t know how we make a decision on lives or where we draw the line.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Wesley

You do not suspend a right. Once a right has been suspended it is only ever enjoyed again as a privilege.

Andrew McCoull
Andrew McCoull
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Wesley

Covid isn’t very deadly, bad flu season, not much more. Not worth destroying the economy, ruining our children’s lives, abandoning thousands of cancer patients and others with treatable conditions and potentially many years of happy lives ahead of them, to TRY to avoid the effects of, but ultimately fail. Add to that the complete loss of freedom and the rise of global totalitarian control, and the dangers of Covid are minimal in comparison.

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew McCoull
Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew McCoull

Covid isn’t very deadly, bad flu season, not much more. “
Yeah, that’s why both Boris and Trump were in hospital and it was touch and go with Boris. It’s just flu. Really? And despite lockdowns, 120,000 have died within 28 days of a positive test result. That means that without the extra restrictions, the hospitals’ oxygen systems would have collapsed as they were besieged with people suffocating to death (so where would cancer patients be then?) and we could have had 250,000-500,000 dead.
the complete loss of freedom and the rise of global totalitarian control”
Drivel. Council elections in May. General election in 2024. Newspapers printing a range of views including the harmfully ignorant, as usual. Unherd offering free comment. Buy stuff online because the shops are shut. Totalitarian? As big a fantasy as “Covid isn’t very deadly”.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

120,000 departed souls have had Covid ascribed as their cause of death. There is no way this could have been 100% the case, from the extreme joke about being run over by a bus and the death recorded as due to Covid to the more serious reality that death could have been due to cancer or other serious medical conditions.

Quite why in the UK we are using Covid as the default cause of death is beyond me; whatever the reason, it makes Britain look worse than it is – hence all the derision and opprobrium from other countries, almost all of which use different methodologies to record deaths. Comparisons are odious, as Dr Johnson once said; put another way, comparing death counts is utterly meaningless.

As for testing positive based on an unreliable PCR test (whose inventor stated its use for viral detection was not what it was intended for), run at levels of CT above what even the WHO recommends (and which PHE won’t admit / publicise) which will therefore detect virtually everything?

We have a testing system that generates an inaccurately high number of cases and a death recording methodology based on this test which assumes Covid.

Beyond comprehension.

Last edited 3 years ago by Duncan Hunter
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
3 years ago

Oh, what was you first clue? Was it fining people for saying things others find offensive, the millions of CCTV cameras throughout London, or the pocket knife surrender bins? Face it. You have been living in the new kindler, gentler, more incompetent police state for a while now.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Thumbs up.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago

An interesting article, some of which I tend to agree with, some not.

But to address just one aspect, I do not think it consistently compares like with like.

The English are very resistant to bullying. That is, the deliberate attempt of a person or institution or foreign country to get its way by threats, force, oppression, or misuse of power. Think of the English reaction to the burning of religious dissenters or to the despotism of Charles I. Think Armada, Bonaparte, Kaiser, Hitler (hey, maybe even EU).

But Covid-19 is not a reasoning entity that will reconsider its plans in the face of defiance, or back off when it realises that a population loves freedom. It’s a virus.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

We are not being bullied by the virus, we are being bullied by the Government, using the virus as an pretext.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

I do understand that point.

But can you help me to understand this, please: a pretext for what?

In other words, what hidden purpose is the government trying to achieve?

Last edited 3 years ago by Wilfred Davis
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Yes I always get frustrated by the ‘they are doing x to fulfil x evil agenda against us’ – I often think why? What is the benefit of doing that? I wonder what politician would make these decisions knowing they might well be HATED by the voting public. With that in mind I have watched the positiv, ebullient Brexit-focussed Tories get blindsided by coronavirus and done their best to navigate a treacherous, no-win, high stakes path with some mistakes and some successes along the way. Last summer I really thought Matty Hancock was heading for a nervous breakdown. One thing for sure I would NOT have wanted to be in their shoes for a second so I personally am very supportive of the government and not too quick to jump to torches and pitchforks.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

To ‘protect’ us from ourselves, or as we used to say:
“Nanny knows best”.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Danegeld?

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I’m afraid I don’t understand your comment.

Danegeld is what the fearful pay to bullies in the hope that the bullies will go away.

If we are ‘being bullied by the Government’ (per Nick Faulks’s comment) how does that work in terms of ‘Danegeld’ – are we paying the Government to go away?

Last edited 3 years ago by Wilfred Davis
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

You wrote that English are resistant to bullying and that you went on (pointless) historical references (armada, Napoleon, Kaiser, Hitler, and of course EU) …yet somehow you missed the Danegeld.
If Armada would have landed half (most) of England (the catholics) would have sided with the Spaniards.
And Normans – a minority – were quite capable of bullying the English (book of doom?)

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

What actually gained support for William was that he agreed to rule under the Laws of Edward the Confessor. I think it was the coronation.
Some of the Catholics. What united many people was the fear of The Inquisition.
Who knows England who only knows England? One needs to compare with other countries.

Jennifer Blue
Jennifer Blue
3 years ago

The reason so many people are still so terrified and so compliant is because they were purposely terrified in the beginning, in order to gain that compliance more easily…add in the busybody aspect…(I’m doing this and so you should as well) and you have the high number of those in support of this nonsense….and so many who grudgingly comply in order to avoid confrontations and rows in public….

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer Blue

Thumbs up.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

I was about to suggest the use of smiling face icons as alternative to your excellent system of ‘thumbs up’, only to find that for some reason icons are unacceptable!

May I therefore use your system with the slight variation of putting it in a phonetic code,eg: Tango Uniform?

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer Blue

We really needed your analysis last March, not now with the gift of hindsight. You should have told us then not to be afraid.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Chris, one of the great things about Disqus is that was/is a permanent record of all that has been written.

Thus ten months ago you will find there were plenty of Lockdown Sceptics or Heretics on UnHerd.

Fraser Bailey Esq was quick off the mark,as I recall with the perfectly wonderful word “Scamdemic”.

Additionally it was also about the same time that Lord Jonathan Sumption annunciated the view that the whole thing ( please excuse my French) was utter boll**ks.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

I was and am a lockdown sceptic. I said last March to everybody who spoke to me that those people who felt in danger should be protected by society and the rest should get on with life. My daughter was the first to tell me to shut up – she is a teacher and “felt particularly vulnerable”. My wife almost refused to talk to me so I kept on saying it, over and over again.
All around me people started making faces. How could I say that? I suppose there were plenty like me at the time but a much greater number have come out of the woodwork more recently.
You are of course right and I take the point.

Last edited 3 years ago by Chris Wheatley
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yes I to noticed that interesting phenomena at the start of the ‘Great Panic’ back in March.
It was the young, females of the species who were the most vociferous
cries of “Covid Denier” ricocheted around Quislington. A friend of who has three red haired grand daughters found that almost overnight they were transformed into Corona Valkyries.

All very depressing as you say.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I tried I really did.

Nick Wright
Nick Wright
3 years ago

Members of the ‘British public’ recognise that without the threat of imprisonment, the affluent jet-setters flying (back) into the country won’t take a blind bit of notice to the rules when they only need to bribe the state (pay fines) to do so. This doesn’t mean they don’t want a free England; they just don’t want it to be free only for the rich.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

“…they just don’t want it to be free only for the rich”. Free for the rich and constellation of “victim” classes…

Betty Fyffe
Betty Fyffe
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Strange how many of the victim classes can afford to do so many things that other people can’t (e.g. travelling “home” periodically to see relatives in the countries they were supposedly fleeing from). I have no problem with them doing those things, but I object to the fact that they get away with everything that others can’t, and that the taxpayer usually foots their bills.

paul.corney27
paul.corney27
3 years ago

If people’s salaries weren’t being paid via furlough or zoom from home, then you would see a riot. The government are deceitful and silent on what this will cost us all in the end.

Most people only react when they feel it in their pocket.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  paul.corney27

Would you have preferred poverty and riots?

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

A really good, if rather depressing essay.

It wasn’t a million years ago that a good many here in the UK and particularly France were up in arms about the wearing of burkas etc and the various, often conflicting, human and civil rights and potential safety issues these face coverings threw up both in terms of the wearer and its perception by society at large.

Roll on coronavirus and ain’t it funny how some people’s minds and apparently unshakeable principles can turn on a sixpence?

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Yes, the level of compliance and snitching is quite chilling. As I said a couple of weeks ago, the Nazis would have had no problems had they invaded and occupied the country.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Morning, Fraser. Would you say the snitching on neighbours is chilling, or perhaps just an expression of people’s need for fairness? After all, isn’t it infuriating if you’re being good, complying with rules and gritting your teeth through the loss of freedom – but your neighbour is carrying on regardless?

Katy Randle
Katy Randle
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You have a good point there. I think it swings both ways; there are indeed those sticking to the rules whose neighbours organise raves, and as such are fully justified in feeling the unfairness and informing on them.
There is however a large contingent of people whose snitching is not grounded in a need for fairness, but in a complete lack of empathy for others, and a petty desire to feel superior; the rules don’t tend to bother them personally, and they haven’t thought through whether such restrictions as have been imposed might be disproportionate or counter-productive – they are the people who reported that TV personality for visiting her distressed parents.
This is why I like UnHerd; you get to think through both sides, and nuance is recognised.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Katy Randle

Yes-“curtain twitchers” as some one previously has said.
Thumbs up.

crawfordwright
crawfordwright
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Snitches in my opinion are rarely spotless followers of all rules and dissemble their own peccadillos as necessary. Also There is nothing good about being “fair” ie complying with the rules. If the rules are bad, say racist, then complying with those or dobbing others in is also bad. In this case you agree with the restrictions so you think it’s ok. We need to think beyond that and ask if the principles are right.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  crawfordwright

Put it better than I did

James Bigglesworth
James Bigglesworth
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Katharine, it’s a similar thing to what happened over Dominic Cummings’s Northumberland journey (the Barnard Castle dit was ill-advised as that just got peoples backs-up and he should have kept his mouth shut about that and not given the Press & his detractors any ammunition).

Cummings CORRECTLY interpreted the official guidance (note: ‘guidance’, not Law). What annoyed people was their own realisation that they could also have done what Cummings did, if they’d needed to, but didn’t, because the Government doom-mongering had them ****-scared of their own shadows.

In reality, they were annoyed with themselves for having been cajoled (perhaps ‘duped’ is a better word?) into complying with an unreasonable request that had no basis in law. They were blame-shifting their self-disappointment onto Cummings to make themselves feel better! That’s what the curtain-twitchers are doing now.

(Any slight faltering in Cummings’s voice during his forced <Bozo will have had a word with him….> press statement was – I’m sure – borne out of the fact that he desperately wanted to tell the press pack to go forth and multiply, but wasn’t allowed).

I’ve experienced this same thing to a lesser degree in Supermarkets and shops – disapproving [sometimes angry] looks and words whispered to either themselves or their partner – “that chap’s not wearing a mask <gasp!> !!”.

Why? Because they haven’t actually been to the Government website and seen for themselves first hand that the ‘legislation’ is – effectively – merely advice… a suggestion. Anybody can claim an exemption without any requirement to justify or prove the claim (something that blows a big logic-hole through the reasoning behind the ‘requirement’ to wear a face covering). Most of my social circle (barring [..or perhaps I should say baaaa’ing..] the compliant sheep) do this as a means of protest at the huge restrictions on our civil liberties. It is one of the few things this authoratative, manipulative, dictatorial ‘government’ allow me to do now, so I am bl00dy well going to take advantage of that!

In addition to the pages on exemptions (which incidentally, they provide downloadable templates for people to print if they wish to display some kind of sign or indicator that they are exempt, …and even those are merely advisory) there is a Cabinet Office document aimed at shops and businesses, which states that it is sufficient for a person to merely say the words “I am exempt” or “I am unable”. Shop staff are advised that they MUST accept the person’s word and that they must NOT ask for any proof. But most people don’t know that.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Bigglesworth
Rob Mcneill-wilson
Rob Mcneill-wilson
3 years ago

A lot of remainders kicked up a fuss about it because they wanted revenge for us getting away from the corrupt, anti-democratic, imperialist eu and thought he was the main person responsible for the Leave vote (when, in fact it was more down to N Farage). They hoped that by clamouring for him to go they could get a BRINO.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

That is exactly what it was. The knives were out for Cummings long before Covid. They just took their opportunity. Also I read that Cummings played a significant role in the procurement of the vaccine.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

LOL
Cummings was smart enough to know exactly what he was doing – but…OK..let’s go with your “reasoning”

James Bigglesworth
James Bigglesworth
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Yes, I agree, he was smart enough to know what he was doing. And that’s what has annoyed the masses who just did TF as they were told without either questioning it or researching the sense and logic behind the diktats.

Because If he’d incorrectly interpreted, and had committed an offence then he would have been made an example-of.

Was he arrested? No.
Was he charged? No.
Was he fined? No.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Bigglesworth
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

That is one psychological interpretation.
The other one would be that Mr Cummings was perceived to be part of the government propaganda mchine and therefore had an obligation to both talk the talk and walk the walk.
Optics. Optics. Because people with 2 eyes tend to judge things by what they see, not by what they hear or read (requires more cognitive effort).

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

What about the opposite point of view. Suppose I am dismayed by my neighbours passively going along with the covid restrictions. Suppose I see there conduct as collaboration, as a threat to my liberty. What action should I take?

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I have to disagree. In 1940 we were a very different people.
Eighty years of pernicious, Marxist inspired,State Education have destroyed this country as we knew it.

All that remains is the hollowed out husk of our once “green and pleasant land”.

I am looking forward eagerly to my long overdue appointment with the Reaper.

Consummatum est!

Last edited 3 years ago by George Lake
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Hi George. Obviously you want to go straight to Reaper, do not pass Go, do not collect £200, do not go through n***y stage.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

My apologies. Last night I was conducting an experiment with a new Mediterranean Gin, a left over from the ‘Christmas that never happened’. (My Chief of Operations was otherwise engaged).

I should have known better, but it was certainly an elixir I was not expecting. The result was that on rising at dawn, I have never felt so depressed since we were kicked out of Suez.

Fortunately, a short time later I heard Nick Robinson on Radio 4 make a wonderful Freudian slip when he said the “Chinese are exporting the VIRUS”; Oh what nectar! He quickly backtracked, but the damage was done, and my spirits restored.

As the Ancients would say: “Usque ad mortem bibendum”. (We must drink until death). I must be more careful.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

No reason to apologise but I had noticed that you were not yourself this morning. Personally, I don’t drink gin but my CO does and it makes the following mornings very peaceful.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thanks! I shall your advice and return to the ‘Red Infuriator’.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Thumbs up with pleasure

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

No. no … you should just keep drinking George, or at the very least sample more types (a better class) of gin and report back to us. Life is too short to hold back on important research like this.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago

I agree there is no time to waste, but when I saw ‘Mediterranean’on the bottle I immediately thought of the great Gin Distillery the Royal Navy had so generously left behind in Port Mahon.
It was a stupid mistake, but, at your prompting,
‘Research’ will continue, rest assured.
,

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

It should soon be possible to emigrate.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

POOM indeed-hang on fellow.

James Bigglesworth
James Bigglesworth
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Non illegitimi carborundum mate.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Yes-thumbs up.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Fraser, I almost invariably find your posts apt and interesting.

But, on this one … the subject-matter of compliance and snitching (public health) and above all the consequences (a visit from the police, perhaps a fine) …

I mean to say, is the mention of the Nazis really apposite?

Last edited 3 years ago by Wilfred Davis
George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago