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Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
4 months ago

It is difficult to think of a more benign human institution than the Commonwealth – the Red Cross, perhaps? Certainly, the United Nations can be fairly vicious in comparison.

I’m not sure where the snide tone has come from in the article. I suppose it’s easier to mock and be cynical, rather than to praise and risk being mocked in turn.

Empires usually end in blood and fire. The very existence of the Commonwealth is the highest example of a decent, civilised order in the modern world – all too rare.

Oh, the Commonwealth may embarrass lefty teachers and the red-flag lot, but I’m proud of that association: that shared history; the flags, the tours, the funding, language, stamps and coins, having QE2 as Head of State. It’s good. As I say, there aren’t many things in the world that are AS good.

We really should learn to celebrate our extraordinary achievements sometimes, preferably before they are all in the past.

Peter LR
Peter LR
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

“I’m not sure where the snide tone has come from” – Dan, if Peter wrote an article about Peter Franklin it would probably have a snide tone!

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Although a magnificent achievement, the British Empire (now Commonwealth) must yield first place as the most “benign human institution” to the Ancient the Roman Empire and in particular to the period known as the Pax Romana.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago

I wouldn’t say it was benign, effective maybe, though. Remember Tacitus’ words in the Agricola put into the mouth of the British leader Calgacus – Ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant – where they make a solitude they call it peace.

Last edited 4 months ago by Linda Hutchinson
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago

Although there were exceptions I would maintain that for most of the time, the era of the Pax Romana was a benign one. Primarily because it meant peace and security. Something we seem to currently despise.

As you well know Tacitus’s cynical quip*, worthy of Diogenes himself, was written as part of an agenda, and somewhat contradicts his valedictory hagiography to his step-father Agricola.

(* Whilst the correct translation of solitudinem is I agree ‘solitude’, I prefer the alternative’ desert’.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago

Certainly for Roman citizens and for those plying trade it was, much better than seas full of pirates, and roads thronging with robbers. It was also better for elites of the empire, and, in general, for those who didn’t cause trouble. I do not dispute any of this, however “benign” is not a word I would use for the Roman Empire. Don’t get me wrong I’m a Romanophile, but not a blind one.

By the way Agricola was Tacitus’ father-in-law; and yes The Agricola was meant to be a panygeric for him, but even Tacitus saw the down side. Although Tacitus was an advocate of the “Noble Savage” trope, especially to contrast with what he saw as the degeneracy of his present-day Rome.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago

Thanks for that correction, a Freudian slip as they say.
Tacitus was correct about the degeneracy on the minute area covered by the Palatine Hill, and was obviously none too keen on the Emperor Domitian, but I think one needs to be cautious when evaluating this degeneracy.

Thanks to Hollywood and others this theme has been massively overhyped, and Rome is portrayed as one giant Bacchanalian orgy with a few blood sports thrown in for good measure.

I use the word benign because by comparative analysis with what went before and what followed afterwards it certainly was benign. In many ways it wasn’t equaled until the late 19th century, if not the 20th century.

Finally did even the wonderful British Empire ever produce such a stupendously egalitarian peace of legislation that could rival the ‘Compensation Law’ of Gaius Gracchus?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago

Absolutely. He was one of the elite and only mixed with the elite and he didn’t like what he saw. If he mixed with a few of the ordinary Romans he would probably have seen that they were going about their business as usual.

Your point about the Games is well put. The Games were not a frequent event, although they were horrible by most standards, including many Romans’ at the time. I do maintain that if such events were staged today in Wemby Stadium,say, they would be sell-out events. Notibly they were very popular in the Greek east as well as the Roman west. As for the orgy business it says more about Hollywood than it does about Rome; if anything the Romans were rather prudish, but if we get our information from Suetonius (the Roman News of the World) then we are bound to be come up with this tosh. Take the word “vomitoria” this has been said to be the place that Romans went to make themselves sick after overindulgining, but all it means is the entrance/exits in the amphitheatre. I think comentators have their own hang-ups and transfer them to the Romans.

Last edited 4 months ago by Linda Hutchinson
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago

Spanish football stadiums still use the word ‘Vomitoria’ for entry and exit, much to the delight of my observant grandchildren!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago

You’ve hit the nail on the head with the comparative argument of what went before and after. Thanks to both for the enlightening insights, but I’m with Sulpicia on this one.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ian Stewart
Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
4 months ago

Only for a citizen. If you were a slave, or worse a slave’s slave, life was not quite so good.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

Actually it was still better than other freed people – healthiest lives, longer lives. Everyone always forgets the one major aspect of slavery – owners tend to look after their goods.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
4 months ago

I don’t remember Rome ever freeing all the slaves, at great cost to itself.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

They didn’t, but we did because it was an obsolete financial model.
Far too expensive* ‘runnings costs’, particularly when the competition from European sugar beet was destroying the West Indian sugar cane market.

Off course the ‘owners’ had to receive just compensation for their loss, which fortuitously allowed them to invest in more profitable exercises, such as the nascent railways.

(* Food & Water: 24/7.)

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago

There are many adjectives I’d use to describe the Romans, but ‘benign’ is not one of them.
I’m not criticising them. Most of the history of the world is dominated by nations or empires which slaughtered, plundered, and pillaged, as did the Roman, but with rather less positive effects, and their influence (and that of the Greeks) is still very much with us.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Virgil* puts it well in the Aeneid when he says that the Romans believed they had been divinely selected to :”Humble the mighty and protect the weak “.

By comparative analysis with most, if not all other Empires, besides our own, I think you will find they were remarkably benign.

(* Publius Vergilius Maro, 683-734 AUC.)

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

The Romans tended to negotiate and seek alliances with tribes. Other empires just went straight to slaughtering the opposition – including those put on the wisdom pedestal – the Greeks.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Another remarkable feature was how tolerant the Romans were to other religions. They would be disgusted by contemporary intolerance.

As long as you didn’t ‘do’ human sacrifice* or demand to be paid, pretty much anything was allowed. For example Crocodile worship was rather popular in parts of Egypt, and even the Bible** shows us just how tolerant and even indulgent the Romans were towards Judaism.

(* Apparently the British Druids were rather keen on this.)
(** The Crucifixion of Christ is a good example of this scrupulous attention to religious detail.)

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

It’s value lies in the fact that it’s a purely voluntary organisation with limited influence. There is no coercion and pretence at usefulness.

I hope we in the UK gain something from it and that the fellow nations do too but I don’t mind if it’s just a friendly drinking and dining club.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
4 months ago

Not to be too dismissive, but it’s a fair bit more than just a drinking and dining club. There are Commonwealth education programmes and emergency funds for natural disasters, it promotes democracy and individual liberty as a general good – it’s worth looking up what the Commonwealth actually does, honestly. An institution that supports good governance, the rule of law, athletics, rugby, free trade and the English language is better than just ‘does no harm’. It’s an example of cohesion in a world tearing itself apart. There’s nothing else quite like it.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Yes it’s a real example of different cultures but with shared values and a sense of family and mutual respect. Everywhere I’ve been in the Commonwealth the Queen and Britain are largely looked upon favourably which is odd considering how viciously the woke lot try to run this country down and talk as if the Empire did nothing but slaughter everyone it saw like Genghis Khan or something.

Bob Rowlands
Bob Rowlands
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Great reply Dan saves me writing it

Peter LR
Peter LR
4 months ago

The Commonwealth is more than a historical anachronism. There is the importance of a common language (indeed the nearest to a global language). There are similarities in legal and Parliamentary procedures. Infrastructure too – how many countries which decide to break from the Commonwealth will also change which side of the road they drive on? The Commonwealth Games is treated seriously by athletes.
Regrettably, joining the EU forced us to cut trading ties with the Commonwealth and that was another thing which Leavers were concerned about. Unlike the Commonwealth which grants respect to all without enforcement, the EU behaves like an empire for the benefit of its wealthy technocracy.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Indeed, if the EU were more like the Commonwealth Brexit wouldn’t be a thing.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
4 months ago

Of the Leave voters I know, overwhelmingly reason number one was about lack of demos in the European Union. Empire/Commonwealth/HeadOfState was not even raised as a topic, much less discussed seriously. The only people who brought that stuff up were Remoaners, when projecting ‘reasons’ onto us for our lack of sanity, and the only response possible was looks of pitying condescension at their lack of sophistication in debate.

Last edited 4 months ago by Prashant Kotak
Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
4 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Thank you, Prashant. You have saved me the trouble of making exactly this point (here and on other comment forums) for the nth time.

Penny Rose
Penny Rose
4 months ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

I always felt the reason they so misjudged us was that Empire and ‘influence’ was really important, but to them, not us. Look at the ecstatic response to Verhofstadt’s speech at the LIb Dem conference. It was they who wanted to run the western world and tell everyone else what to do. So they assumed we were the same, only in a way they despised. The idea that we just wanted to make our own decisions about our own country just didn’t make sense to them – it wasn’t grand enough.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Penny Rose

Indeed! Much like the Dark Lord Sauron in Lord of the Rings, who is so power-hungry, that he never even for a moment considers that his enemies may just prefer to destroy the One Ring to rid the world of its evil, rather than wield it themselves to gain power and dominate others.
Sorry for the aside. I’ve been reading Lord of the Rings again (for the umpteenth time) and your comment reminded me of that 🙂

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Penny Rose

Frankly by comparative analysis with ours, most of ‘them’ have had the most appalling histories.

Need I go into details?

Frederick B
Frederick B
4 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I can only speak for myself, but for me Empire/Commonwealth was a prime motive for voting Leave. Why? Because I remember how the other British countries (as we then still thought of them) of Australia, Canada and New Zealand were so damaged when they were cast adrift by the mother country – their reaction has been described as “rage or resignation”. Yes, all that was long ago; yes, everything has changed in the last fifty years, but I could never reconcile myself to membership of an organisation which caused us to cut adrift the overseas British.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
4 months ago
Reply to  Frederick B

That’s an interesting perspective, thank you. You are correct that some of the commonwealth countries industries were affected when the UK joined the EEC, and again later on when the EU made import licenses progressively more difficult from the mid 2000s – eg NZ butter. It’s a moot point if that detachment by the UK eventually led ANZAC, some three decades on, into the predatory embrace of… China.

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
4 months ago

China is basically taking over the Commonwealth, from the Pacific, to Africa and the Caribbean. The new republic of Barbados for example has signed up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and was amongst the first English-speaking Caribbean countries to establish ties with China. Beijing is now making millions of dollar worth of donations to the country’s armed forces, which goes a long way in a country of 287,000. Britain once thought it was worth an investment of time and money to build an international network across the world, through a combination of military, cultural and commercial presence on the ground, and working through local elites. China thinks the same today, and will benefit accordingly. There is nothing “deeply odd” about that. The complacent surrender of the standing and influence Britain once had in Commonwealth countries has diminished Britain far more than it appreciates.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

‘We’ first went bankrupt in 1916, and it is because of US largesse that we have hung on for so long. Time to quit and retire gracefully from the World stage before we become an embarrassment.*

Let the Chinese “pick up the White Man’s burden”,** they’re welcome to it, for ‘we’ can do no more.

(* Some may feel that has already happened.)

(**Kipling?)

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
4 months ago

US largesse? Wasn’t it some time under Blair that we finally paid off the US war loans?

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
4 months ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

The largesse went to countries like Germany- we had massive debts we had to pay. This was the US chance to replace The British Empire and be dominant.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

Except really the US Empire is just an extension of the British.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

But nothing like as beneficial!

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

Wrong I’m afraid. ‘We’ received the latest single tranche of Marshall Aid, in addition to the previous enormous Stafford-Cripps ‘loan’.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Perhaps even under Thatcher, but the fact remains that we are a ‘Client State’ of the USA. Even our so called Nuclear deterrent is ultimately under their control.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
4 months ago

A country with a long and distinguished history like ours can never be small, insignificant or an embarrassment. Our cultural, legal and linguistic legacy alone see to that, not to mention the offspring of our culture which are still considered the best places in the world to be.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I used to think like you, but thanks to the antics of Eden, Denning, Hoffman, Saville* & Blair, to name but a few, have somewhat revised my opinion.

(* The Judge not the BBC sponsored pervert.)

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Repetition.

Last edited 4 months ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
4 months ago

I’m afraid you either don’t understand “largesse” or you are not aware how much the Americans benefitted from the loan terms the British had to accept.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

You know as well as I that they took full advantage of our ‘bankruptcy’ both in 1916, and again in 1940.
What on earth was the Washington Disarmament Treaty, the severing of the Anglo- Japanese Naval Treaty, and the the 1940 Neutrality Act all about?

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

Not just diminished Britain but the entire western world.

David McDowell
David McDowell
4 months ago

This reads like the work of a disgruntled crypto-Remoaner looking for something to salvage from the wreck of the Remain campaign. The commonwealth is about as benign as it’s possible to get international organization and compares incredibly well with the likes of the EU, Francophonie and the UN. We need more commonwealth, not less.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
4 months ago

What a very strange and poorly constructed piece. The author seems to make a statement and then, almost in the same breath, dismantle his own argument.
For the premise of this article to hold any water we would have to have seen huge pushback against Barbados choosing to leave the Commonwealth – yet there was none.
Compare and contrast the entirely amicable disengagement of Barbados from the Commonwealth with the catalogue of petty spite and intransigence surrounding the UK’s desire to quit the EU.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
4 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Has Barbados left the Commonwealth? I thought they just wanted, like most of the Commonwealth, to have their own Head of State. I’m sure that President Mason will be made very welcome by all the other “Heads” at the next Commonwealth Meeting.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

You’re quite right.
How very odd. It sounds a little self-serving but actually I’d thought that Barbados had voted to become a Republic but would remain a Commonwealth member, yet I did a quick internet search (“Barbados/Commonwealth/Republic”) prior to posting and the first article it returned was this: Barbados to quit British Commonwealth effective December 1 — MercoPress .
Just goes to show one shouldn’t trust everything one reads!

Last edited 4 months ago by Paddy Taylor
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
4 months ago

Small states find the Commonwealth extremely useful for the access to information it provides them with.

Getting rather tired of people not looking at the utilitarian uses of that organisation and instead ranting on about “empire, decline, republic, unlimited rice pudding, etc etc!”

Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
4 months ago

A great many countries have customs, traditions and constitutions which appear at first to be weird and anachronistic. The reason for this is that most successful countries weren’t ‘rationally’ wished into existence, but rather formed over centuries as a result of conflicts, resolutions to unique problems, and incremental changes. The blank slate country on which an state is built rationally usually ends in disaster.
This is the most basic and enduring principle of the conservative instinct. Sure, on the face of it it’s strange to have the Queen of the UK as the head of state of a Caribbean state. But they will surely be pondering why tamper with something that works for them, or at least doesn’t present them with any problems? Economic and political stability is historically rare and it seems eminently sensible not to start introducing potential avenues to crisis simply because it seems odd when the cold light of reason is applied.
Many traditions and customs appear pointless in that light, but we ought to consider whether their presence signifies something deeper. We should also remember that societies can be precariously balanced and it’s maybe unwise to make rash changes for shallow reasons.

David George
David George
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

Well said Chris. Reminds me of Chesterton’s Fence:
There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”
Comment:
Chesterton’s Fence is not an admonishment of anyone who tries to make improvements; it is a call to be aware of second-order thinking before intervening. It reminds us that we don’t always know better than those who made decisions before us, and we can’t see all the nuances to a situation until we’re intimate with it. Unless we know why someone made a decision, we can’t safely change it or conclude that they were wrong.
The first step before modifying an aspect of a system is to understand it. Observe it in full. Note how it interconnects with other aspects, including ones that might not be linked to you personally. Learn how it works, and then propose your change.
https://fs.blog/chestertons-fence/

Michael Kellett
Michael Kellett
4 months ago

Mr Franklin, if the Commonwealth is as useless and irrelevant as you suggest, why have several countries that were never part of the British Empire joined it in recent years? (Mozambique, Rwanda and that part of Cameroon that was a French colony).

Andrew Sainsbury
Andrew Sainsbury
4 months ago

I voted to leave the EU. That had no bearing on my opinion about the Commonwealth – which I guess should last as long as there are countries that want it. The monarchy should be gracefully concluded for many of the same reasons that we needed to leave the EU.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
4 months ago

Absolutely. The Commonwealth countries should do what they please. It’s a very simple idea.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
4 months ago

Spitting Image springs to mind – The Oz PM in front of the Queen’s desk. Queen “Was there anything else? Oz PM “Well, um, – there was the matter of independence.” Queen “Oh good. I thought you’d never ask”

Matt M
Matt M
4 months ago

We should push on with CANZUK – free trade, free movement, military and diplomatic Co-operation between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

We are partly there already with the FTAs with Oz and NZ. The Australian deal has relaxed travel visas for both populations. We are revising the Canadian FTA at the moment and it (and the NZ one) might gain some visa loosening too.

I can easily imagine full free trade between the four countries as well as a five-year CANZUK travel visa. We already have great interoperability in defence including 5Eyes and I can see the AUKUS defence technology pact being extended to Canada and NZ in the future. I can imagine shared embassies, joint capital projects, even a CANZUK space programme.

We should extend the offer of membership to the remaining Commonwealth Realm members (those countries who have the Queen as head of state, not the full Commonwealth). With the exception of PNG they are small Caribbean islands who already have large diaspora in the richer CANZUK countries and would stand to benefit greatly. We could even hold the annual CANZUK intergovernmental meeting in Kingston.

Last edited 4 months ago by Matt M
Philip L
Philip L
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

What a shame that the CANZ part is bananas.

Matt M
Matt M
4 months ago
Reply to  Philip L

🙂 Yes that is a shame, though nothing a few elections can’t sort out.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

If UK had not scoured the world for unskilled and unethical migrants then your plan would be great.

But the quality of the modern Brit is not up to the standards of Canada, NZ and Aus anymore.

You opened your border – in fact under Blair’s creature, Mandleson, actively recruited, millions of unsuitable migrants – and now are stuck with them.

Ian Moore
Ian Moore
4 months ago

Here was me thinking that some of the remaining members of the Commonwealth are proud to be associated with the Royal Family. Another extremely poor article.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
4 months ago

I think any organisation that brings people together from different parts of the world, and without any compulsion, is to be encouraged. I expect this will noticed more in the rear-view mirror than appreciated today.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago

Pointless article, pretending that Brexiteers oppose countries deciding not to retain the Queen as head of state, or removing the Union flag from flags and emblems if it exists.
Brexit is irrelevant. I’m sure we don’t object to such changes. We are happy where such links continue, and if removed, that we will continue to have other links if mutually wished for. It seems to me quite wise that many countries have not been overly hasty in changing head of state.
Indeed, there is a contrast between the British way and the way of the EU – not European, since there are a number of historical cases in which European countries have divided amicably. We have encouraged countries to go their own way, and never insisted on use of the pound sterling.
And the Queen or King is not necessarily head of the Commonwealth, even if Charles has been agreed upon, and maybe it’s overdue to emphasise that, maybe by rotation.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago

Does anyone know what the Commonwealth costs England?
Presumably far less than those greedy parasites Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales do?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
4 months ago

Don’t you include N.England as parasites? You are also giving your hard-earned taxes to them as well.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Off course not!

They should be massively rewarded for seeing off that grotesque slug, John Prescott and his devolution proposal some years ago. Are they not also part of the fabled ‘Red Wall’?

Money spent in ‘Northumbria’ the cradle of England, is money well spent.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
4 months ago

It’s reparations for the yolk of dastardly English oppression foisted on the wise and gentle celtic people.

Well, the Welsh deserve it, I’m not so sure about the Scots, after all the do play the bagpipes.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago

They also make first class Whiskey and we’d miss that, not to mention some very fine Infantry Battalions that may be useful in the years ahead.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
4 months ago

Re:- Your subtitle. The Commonwealth is already allowed to split. Any country that wants out can toddle off, no objections.

Hugh Eveleigh
Hugh Eveleigh
4 months ago

As long as we can offer a choice for those countries which have a shared head of state in Elizabeth II, to remain as part of the Commonwealth Realms or to leave, then all is well. It will be their decision – perhaps. Barbados appears to have succumbed to the charms of China although the people themselves were not consulted and thus the decision was political. Fiji also left but with problems of a different nature. For as long as our monarch can provide a degree of stability to nations which choose to have her as their Sovereign – all well and good. Some countries (e.g. Australia) have a robust people-centred written Constitution which ensures that it is the people who decide not, as in the case of Barbados, politicians. Such an arrangement is of inestimable value to those who prefer to remain in benign constitutional monarchies which after all staistically far outshine republics on democracy indexes.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
4 months ago

I entirely agree. However I think it testament to the good relationships we had, and still have, with our ex colonies, that the Commonwealth even exists and the Queen is highly respected in most, if not all of them. The fact it has endured for so long is a miracle in itself so no, I wouldn’t take it personally unless the ex colony got nasty about it and insulted us when there’s no need except to fan the ego of some woke wannabe President riding the coat tails of BLM rhetoric for their own agenda. And even in that case, better to rise above it and let them get on with it.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
4 months ago

‘allowed to split’? any state that wishes to leave the commonwealth is free to do so. does anyone care?

Tom Scott
Tom Scott
4 months ago

I’m not at all sure what this article set out to convey, or whether the author achieved it.
Pretty dismal stuff.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

“Indeed, Brexiteers, more than anyone, should support the right of a country to assert its independence in whatever way it deems appropriate. ”

In this and a few other areas, this article misses an important point, namely that Brexiters (or at least myself, and I know Daniel Hannan too, to judge by his opinions) did not reject the principle of belonging to supranational institutions but merely the practice as demonstrated by the hopelessly overbearing bunch of clowns in Brussels. (The past few weeks they’ve been hoping that being a “regulatory superpower” is somehow relevant when dealing with an economic minnow of a nation which nonetheless has parked 130,000 heavily armed troops on the eastern border of Ukraine, ffs).

Indeed, Brexit has strengthened, not weakened, the prospect of forging new types of global alliance for Britain, and since the Commonwealth already exists, the UK now has the option of offering new value to that grouping, which was not possible while an EU member.

The point, of course, is that whatever we do, we will not be attempting to do the same thing to these nations as the EU tried to do to us, so the implicit argument above that escaping the Commonwealth amounts to Brexit equivalence for a Commonwealth nation is simply not accurate.

I remain persuaded that Dan Hannan’s idea of a revitalised Anglosphere grouping is a good thing to try. The world is turning into a more hostile place these days, and that means that individual nations will find it harder to maintain neutrality. Part of the EU’s story is that European nations needed to recognise this years ago and the EU is the answer to the problem, though of course Brussels has made a pig’s ear out of actually solving that problem. There are better ways, and the UK has the chance to prove it, by helping to show how global free trade and mutual strategic cooperation can be achieved without destruction of sovereignty.

It may of course be the case that the Commonwealth, a remnant of Empire, is the wrong way to go about proving this, but if so it would be a pity, because under Elizabeth II it has spent 75 years proving that a nation can be a member of it without ever once facing the threats to democracy that have dogged the EU in its much shorter lifespan. To be fair of course, the Commonwealth has always had smaller ambitions than Brussels, but like I say, we can improve those ambitions, and hence what membership offers to its constituents, in ways that make it more attractive, not less.

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper
4 months ago

Isn’t the Commonwealth frankly redundant whatever virtue it had as a transition from Empire? Doesn’t it try and retain a political and cultural unreality both for Britain and members of the Commonwealth which prevents the adoption of more mature identities? History moves on.

Ian Howard
Ian Howard
4 months ago

I would say it may have a lot to do with offshore banking and trust funds seeing as they are a huge source of the city of londons revenue

James Chater
James Chater
4 months ago

It is the contemporary Left — not the Right — that can’t let the past go.’ Let’s try and remove a few images of Empire notables shall we and see which side squeals first.
It makes sense for the British Comonwealth to wither away gracefully.
As it would make sense for the British nobility system to wither away. But of course it won’t
So much of the English rightwing Brexiteer rhetoric portrayed England as a victim, ‘vassal state’ etc. but underneath there was not a shred of genuine egalitarian sentiment.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

Nor should there be. Egalitarian is just another word for that most pernicious of all evils……………socialism.

James Chater
James Chater
4 months ago

🙂

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

Neil Faulkner, FSA, R.I.P.

James Chater
James Chater
4 months ago

Too pure for me, sadly. Yes, R.I.P

Dylan Regan
Dylan Regan
4 months ago

Can we just get rid of the Commonwealth? Completely pointless

John Hicks
John Hicks
4 months ago
Reply to  Dylan Regan

“Can WE (who exactly?) just get rid of..?” reads a bit like a “taking out the garbage” statement,- that the Commonwealth certainly is NOT. What it IS seems to have been avoided by the Author. I give it a go. Following 1215 and Magna Carta the English developed a UNIQUE Rule of Law now adopted by 84 countries. Most are members of the Commonwealth, other than the US. These are the COMMON bonds of WEALTH among them. This Common Law remains UNIQUE. It includes regard for justice and equity and has produced an equally unique national personality that is not found among the 180 or so Nations which have adopted Roman, civil legal codes where Judges investigate, prosecute and meet out stuff called “Justice.” Common Law promotes Judges more as supervisors of a process, permitting a jury of citizens to make judgements. When the EU applaud the Rule of Law it means the Roman civil code, not the Rule of Law that has founded the Commonwealth. The distinctive Brexit personality, suffocated in the EU, can be found throughout the Commonwealth.
The decline of Republican ambitions, Barbados not withstanding, among more mature members of the Commonwealth merely affirms that a “Head of State without power BUT denying other people power” is another UNIQUE advantage of association with the British Crown. Getting rid of that for some home grown appointed ideologue remains an increasingly unattractive option for democratic electors in this instantly connective world.