There was rather restrained “more in sorrow than in anger” piece about Britain’s woes from German journalist Peter Tiede in The Times yesterday. Tiede concentrates on the present but for me underlying the differences between our two nations is how Germany has atoned for her hideous 20th Century past whereas we ignore our deadly mistakes and wave flags in a sentimental frenzy about ours. The Germans have moved on. We haven’t.
Because our present and recent past is so singularly awful we cling on to the myths of a once noble land of hope and glory. What a pompous, boastful nation we are. In my baby boomer lifetime British soldiers and native civilians perished in large numbers in a last ditch defence of imperialism, in Kenya, Malaya, Cyprus and other places over which collectively the sun never set.
We allowed the deadly partition of India. We walked away from Hong Kong not leaving a vestige of protection from the murderous Beijing regime. We so failed diplomatically to protect a few barren rocks in the South Atlantic that we had to fight a last, and deadly, imperial war to get them back.
When economic need dictated that we needed labour to run the buses we windrushed them in. Then we insulted and discriminated against these immigrants for years, for decades, and still do. And when their descendants told us that black lives matter and took the knee all too many of us booed from the sidelines,
We were told to find a post imperial role and eventually dragged ourselves reluctant and wingeing into Europe only a few decades later to walk away with our pram going around in circles and our toys all over the ground.
Our “troubles” are manifest and all of our own making. We will get no sympathy from Germany, nor deserve any. Brexit was the final straw. Membership of the European Union helped hold Germany and Britain together – that common purpose is now gone.