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Giorgia Meloni invokes Tolkien and Scruton in defence of Ukraine

April 28, 2023 - 1:39pm

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has highlighted British writers J.R.R. Tolkien and Sir Roger Scruton as inspirations for supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia. Speaking at a private event at Policy Exchange think tank in Westminster on Friday, while accepting the Hugo Grotius award from the think tank director Lord Godson, she referred to a warm conversation with “my friend Rishi Sunak” the previous day.

UnHerd had exclusive access to the event, and reports the key extracts below. In the highly rhetorical speech, Meloni attempted to position robust support for Ukraine in line with conservative values, and in so doing see off domestic critics of her foreign policy stance.

Today, more than ever, freedom, peace, independence, sovereignty are principles worth reaffirming and, more importantly, fighting for literally. Today, more than ever, we are called to defend these principles — the very foundations of international law, without which we would be in a chaotic situation.

The Ukrainian people have proven that there is something stronger than missiles and tanks, and it is the love for freedom, an unbreakable force”
 As Winston Churchill once said, “all the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope. This is the true lesson that Ukrainian patriots have reminded each of us.

On February 24th 2022 the Russian Federation shocked the world by invading Ukraine. Putin’s goal was to make Ukraine a vassal state, denying its national identity. But that plan failed. Against the courage of those who love their nation and are not willing to lose their identity, their sovereignty, their freedom. It shattered against the reaction of the free world, which did not hesitate for a moment to take sides. The reaction — united, strong, determined — showed how much we are willing to fight to reaffirm our founding values and defend our achievements. Values and achievements that should never be taken for granted.

The Russian aggression is not simply an act of war. It is an assault against the fundamental principles of civilisation, and we cannot allow the law of the strongest to overcome the strength of law. This is not exclusively in the interests of Europe: it is the basis for the peaceful coexistence of all nations.

I know that there are many who feel that Europe has in the past failed to acknowledge that the world’s problems are also ours. Until the past few years our vision and actions have been dramatically short-sighted. This should no longer be the case. We have to boldly tackle together the challenges of the 21st century — and the time is now.

Will the nations we call the global south follow us? Most of the abstentions on UN resolutions come from African nations. We cannot give the impression that we do not dedicate the right attention to other key strategic areas of the world. The rest of the world is watching us: we have to counter the risk of polarisation between the North and South – between the West and the rest.


This is a time of uncertainty and crisis. A time in which all of us as individuals, populations and nations have the opportunity to prove ourselves. A crisis can be the engine of a choice, an action or a change. From a crisis we can emerge stronger and freer — and we can track the direction of a new path, a path in which we must have the ability to preserve what is precious and irreplaceable. Our identity, our history, our values, the civilisation we built.

We don’t stand with Ukraine because we like the war. We stand with Ukraine because what we want to defend is stronger than the fear of war. Sir John Ronald [Reuel] Tolkien wrote: “I do not love the bright sword for its sharp edge, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for its glory. I only love that which I defend.”

The way is not to erase our home, it is not to give up our freedom or our values: the way is to love our home and to make it even more solid and strong in bad weather. Roger Scruton said it best: “the real reason people are conservative is that they are attached to the things they love.”

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Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago

“the real reason people are conservative is that they are attached to the things they love.” – well said.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago

“the real reason people are conservative is that they are attached to the things they love.” – well said.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

“It is an assault against the fundamental principles of civilisation, and we cannot allow the law of the strongest to overcome the strength of law.”
No truer words were ever spoken, but when we abandon the concept of truth, as we have done in the West, the only ones who will win are the strongest.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It is not that we abandoned truth in the west it is that the truth of our insincerity and hypocrisy has been revealed finally.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It is not that we abandoned truth in the west it is that the truth of our insincerity and hypocrisy has been revealed finally.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

“It is an assault against the fundamental principles of civilisation, and we cannot allow the law of the strongest to overcome the strength of law.”
No truer words were ever spoken, but when we abandon the concept of truth, as we have done in the West, the only ones who will win are the strongest.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Darling of the European Right – well said, really well said.
That’s an interesting one for Orban or even Le Pen perhaps to follow.

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Orban never will. It seems that Meloni has principles, something Orban has none outside hunger for money and power. Putin has a firm hold on him anyway. No one knows what the real reason behind his pro-Russia stance is. Probably some personal business interest, possibly money-laundering.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

You just peddle tropes about orban and putin. Nothing.you said was worth a comment

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

You just peddle tropes about orban and putin. Nothing.you said was worth a comment

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Orban never will. It seems that Meloni has principles, something Orban has none outside hunger for money and power. Putin has a firm hold on him anyway. No one knows what the real reason behind his pro-Russia stance is. Probably some personal business interest, possibly money-laundering.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Darling of the European Right – well said, really well said.
That’s an interesting one for Orban or even Le Pen perhaps to follow.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

Meloni is an excellent speaker. I saw a video of a campaign speech, with English sub-titles, in which she extolled the value of family versus neo-liberalism, somewhere-ism versus anywhere-ism. Very moving.
I wonder: was this one delivered in English? It’s an excellent speech, with wonderful quotes. She might be the beginning of something good,I just hope she doesn’t succumb to Davos-syndrome.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

The memo was no doubt written in English in Washington

Last edited 1 year ago by UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

The memo was no doubt written in English in Washington

Last edited 1 year ago by UnHerd Reader
laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

Meloni is an excellent speaker. I saw a video of a campaign speech, with English sub-titles, in which she extolled the value of family versus neo-liberalism, somewhere-ism versus anywhere-ism. Very moving.
I wonder: was this one delivered in English? It’s an excellent speech, with wonderful quotes. She might be the beginning of something good,I just hope she doesn’t succumb to Davos-syndrome.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Meloni is actually agreeing with Gorbachev’s idea of a “common European home.”
That’s really what’s being defended in Ukraine.
And a great shame, then, that an arsonist took over after him.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Jeffrey sachs noted that the west had no interest in bringing Russia into the western orbit as an independent player. It refused Russia then strategic help it poured willigly into Poland. Its goal was the destruction of Russia to keep the spoils and privilege of its imperialist past. Prevent emergence of rivals.This is freely noted in US annual documents that detail threats to its power. Read them. You dare call Putin an arsonist when the west has set fire to so much of the world over the centuries. Putin is just he that opposes the west. He is a true Conservative and nationalst unlike the likes of Meloni quoting Tolkien and no doubt Harry Potter. That is his crime for not being a Meloni a Sunak. A Johnson a Merkel a Hollande a South Korean leader singing American Pie like a trained monkey. That he is not.

Last edited 1 year ago by UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Jeffrey sachs noted that the west had no interest in bringing Russia into the western orbit as an independent player. It refused Russia then strategic help it poured willigly into Poland. Its goal was the destruction of Russia to keep the spoils and privilege of its imperialist past. Prevent emergence of rivals.This is freely noted in US annual documents that detail threats to its power. Read them. You dare call Putin an arsonist when the west has set fire to so much of the world over the centuries. Putin is just he that opposes the west. He is a true Conservative and nationalst unlike the likes of Meloni quoting Tolkien and no doubt Harry Potter. That is his crime for not being a Meloni a Sunak. A Johnson a Merkel a Hollande a South Korean leader singing American Pie like a trained monkey. That he is not.

Last edited 1 year ago by UnHerd Reader
martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Meloni is actually agreeing with Gorbachev’s idea of a “common European home.”
That’s really what’s being defended in Ukraine.
And a great shame, then, that an arsonist took over after him.

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
1 year ago

Very good. It’s only a shame she removed Sir Roger Scruton’s knighthood and awarded it instead to JRR Tolkien. How, umm, cavalier of her!

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
1 year ago

Very good. It’s only a shame she removed Sir Roger Scruton’s knighthood and awarded it instead to JRR Tolkien. How, umm, cavalier of her!

Ian364737474
Ian364737474
1 year ago

The original quote was “…nor the warrior for HIS glory…” (my emphasis)

Ian364737474
Ian364737474
1 year ago

The original quote was “…nor the warrior for HIS glory…” (my emphasis)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

“God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”*

(*V.)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

“God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”*

(*V.)

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

What nonsense. When did the West ever stand for real freedom? This is just empty rhetoric parroting the memo propaganda issued to all European and other vassals. The west was built on war conquest and slavery. It maintains it even so. The fact is Ukraine is not free or Liberal or democratic as it bans parties arrests politicians and it is kleptocratic as the pentagon papers show. She is no Conservative but feigns it while pushing globalist policies like the gay parenting bill..quotes of Churchill another guy who manifold crimes are ignored and Tolkien who was a good fiction writer and meloni knows a thing or two about selling fiction on behalf of her controllers. Just not with his panache.

Last edited 1 year ago by UnHerd Reader
Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Absolutely the West has stood for real freedom – not least when we stood against the tyrannies of fascism and Marxist-Leninism. Look at Eastern Europe now compared with forty years ago. Look at South Korea compared with its neighbour to the north. Look at Japan rather than China. That is certainly standing for something.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Absolutely the West has stood for real freedom – not least when we stood against the tyrannies of fascism and Marxist-Leninism. Look at Eastern Europe now compared with forty years ago. Look at South Korea compared with its neighbour to the north. Look at Japan rather than China. That is certainly standing for something.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

What nonsense. When did the West ever stand for real freedom? This is just empty rhetoric parroting the memo propaganda issued to all European and other vassals. The west was built on war conquest and slavery. It maintains it even so. The fact is Ukraine is not free or Liberal or democratic as it bans parties arrests politicians and it is kleptocratic as the pentagon papers show. She is no Conservative but feigns it while pushing globalist policies like the gay parenting bill..quotes of Churchill another guy who manifold crimes are ignored and Tolkien who was a good fiction writer and meloni knows a thing or two about selling fiction on behalf of her controllers. Just not with his panache.

Last edited 1 year ago by UnHerd Reader