Is it really so terrible to keep a link with Britain?

To borrow a phrase Antipodeans love to use to put down the British. On our small rain-swept island in the north Atlantic ( Ireland this time), where we obsess over political symbolism, I was intrigued to learn what the Australians and New Zealanders made of Prince William’s debut visit. British observer the Guardian (centre -left leaning, remember), judges that a brilliantly staged managed royal charm offensive pulled off a minor triumph. The Aussies and Kiwis are generous about giving the royals a platform, even though the drift towards republics continues (see selection) The problem for the republicans is the unspoken assumption of waiting until the Queen dies. Then it’s somehow unsporting to whip the Crown away from old Charles at the very moment he’s lost his mum. Then what about William… and so on. Lack of an Irish sense of grievance could yet save the monarchy. The Canadians join the debate too. Contrast the relaxed approach Down Under today which could yet see the monarchy defy rationalism and survive indefinitely, with Dev and co’s meticulous campaign of attrition against the monarchy in harsher times . Mary Kenny is the latest chronicler of a more complex relationship than you might think. And note the Oz schizophrenia in this threnody to the relationship with the UK.

But should a proud, independent nation such as Australia invest political capital in a “foreign” family? Britain is not just any foreign nation. Australia is enriched by people and ideas from everywhere but our history, language, law, media, government, sport and culture carry the echo of our origins. You can’t love Australia without loving the rock from which we were hewn.
On practically every measure, Australia is a better nation than Britain in 2010. Our community is more cohesive, our economy stronger, our people happier, our athletes faster, our environment cleaner, our future brighter – but we stand on giant shoulders. Those claiming to be ashamed of our British legacy are saying more about themselves than our past.

  • To continually deny the relationship between Ireland and GB or UK, is to deny most of our history.

    Irish history did not start in 1916, or even the famine, as bad as both were, and as culpable as the British were.

    To deny the shared history is something we lose more from than we gain.

    Irish were amongst the first settlers in Australia, New Zealand and of course America. Like many Brits some were sent as punishment but they prospered and grew.

    The Irish were great warriors and sailors, they fought alongside British soldiers and sailors all over the world and even in World War two, many were with the Brits as they fought the Nazis.

    It is true when they were not fighting the enemy they were often fighting each other, but that does not alter the fact the shared history is rich and colourful and full of appropriate language!

  • Kensei

    Is it really so terrible to keep a link with Britain?

    I’m not sure anyone objects to “links”. Like embassies and good relations and student exchange programmes and the like. We’re linked through the EU. It’s you know, the whole sovereignty thing that people object too. This is pure twaddle.

    Those claiming to be ashamed of our British legacy are saying more about themselves than our past.

    I don’t believe Australia had the Famine or Cromwell or Penal laws, or its parliament removed or two Bloody Sundays or a mirade of other things that Briatin did here. Britain left some good legacies here. It also left an awful lot of poision. The comparison is trite.

    But should a proud, independent nation such as Australia invest political capital in a “foreign” family? Britain is not just any foreign nation.

    Oh, and look closely. See the switch there? Blink and you’ll miss it.

  • alf

    ah the colonies

  • Danny Boy

    I wonder what Aboriginal Australians make of William.

  • The British do not want sovereignty here.

    No one is suggesting ‘adopt the royals’ or, god forbid, Westminster. Australia, Canada and New Zealand will almost certainly vote for a republic soon. The wonder is they have not done it yet.

    All these countries including our own share a history with Britain, to deny it is to deny our roots. To be forever concentrating on the bad side of history damages history.

  • alf

    where is the good in England’s empire building history ?

  • Danny Boy

    Whoops, to answer my own question, according to the Guardian:

    “God bless you William,” the Aborigines cried as they queued up to have their photographs taken with him. (“Course you can, my loves,” he told them and, lapsing into the demotic, “No worries.”)

    Urgh.

  • Oh how some love a grievance, they nurture it, protect it from the blast of time and cover it with ever flowing rhetoric. What would they be and what would they do without it.

    Build a statue, thats a good one. All over Ireland there are statues no one notices. The next one it is said will be a statue dedicated to the children abused by the Catholic church. So that makes it all alright then.

    Some would do well to reflect that many of the worst atrocities were committed by the Irish on the Irish.

    As for the Guardian, does anyone actually buy that rag.

  • JohnM

    alf wrote:

    where is the good in England’s empire building history ?

    Well they did bring us tea, which apparently we drink more of than them 😉

  • alf

    Some would do well to reflect that many of the worst atrocities were committed by the Irish on the Irish. ?

    This is a vast overstatement, it is also unrelated to the issue

  • OscarTheGrouch

    How about we join both Ireland and Britain, but don’t tell the other one. A sort of ‘doing the double’, our nationalists can become TDs, our unionists MPs and we’ll cheer them both when they come home with lots of free cash. A bit like the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

    It’s not like Northern Ireland could ever get up on its own feet and earn its own living…..

  • alf

    Oh how some love a grievance, they nurture it, protect it from the blast of time and cover it with ever flowing rhetoric. What would they be and what would they do without it. ?

    Posted by pippakin on Jan 22, 2010 @ 01:06 PM

    I would call them facts of history, also its good to keep an eye on the past, lest we forget and allow it to happen again

  • manichaeism

    “On practically every measure, Australia is a better nation than Britain in 2010. Our community is more cohesive, our economy stronger, our people happier, our athletes faster, our environment cleaner, our future brighter – but we stand on giant shoulders. Those claiming to be ashamed of our British legacy are saying more about themselves than our past”.

    Those Australians don’t think much of themselves do they? And so modest!!

  • FitzjamesHorse

    I think it was Charles Haughey who spoke of the totality of relations between Britain and Ireland. It is a rather obvious piece of history that inconveniences us all.
    Indeed Queens University have a slightly contrived History module which actally is jointly run by the History and Irish language schools, the point of which is to convince 18 year olds that Ireland is not a “real” country.
    Likewise Australia can never truly shake off its imperial past. But the demographic is changing and has changed. Its not just folks from these islands..”£10 poms” and “Botany Bay Irish” who make up Australia now. A lot of southern Europeans and south Asians…..unlike the day when that old imperialist Menzies (the racist who did not have black migration) was running the show.
    Hard to find anyone as sychophantic in the 21st century.
    So its a charm offensive is it? William is apparently more personable than his daddy and more photogenic than his stepmother and says the right things in speeches prepared for him. Thats nice.
    And in a few years the Queen dies and……well Charles becomes king. Unless of course he doesnt and the throne passes to William….thus saving the hereditary principle by subverting it.
    Well the last referendum was a bit of sleight of hand. Prolly the next one wont be so much of a con…
    Personally I enjoyed the exchange between Eamonn Holmes and Skys “Royal” Reporter in Oz.
    “What was the programme today?” said Eamonn.
    “Well the Prime Minister of Australia met Prince William and took him to a Centre for disturbed young people”..
    In a few years Australia will be a Republic within the Commonwealth thus celebrating its modernity and its past.
    Advance Australia Fair!

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    I hesitate to bring up that catholic thing and the Monarchy but we know its there.

    I would have no problem joining the Common Wealth (A rotating head thingy would be nice in this day and age).

    Modern Tories taking sides is not helpful either.

    Has Martin mcGuinness no daughtert/son/nephew/niece that could marry into the Monarchy. Thats how reconcilation used to happen in the er’ good old days.

    We might even be able to keep Britain out of trouble down the pub (wars, propensity you know where I am coming from)

  • DisgustedinDERRY

    #11 OscarTheGrouch

    I like that post, good one keep them coming.

  • Framer

    If Australia is ashamed of its British links and wants to become a republic which it has voted not to do then it can return all the lands to the aboriginals taken by its immigrant population.

  • CongalClaen

    The very term Irish comes from the British tribe the Errain. They came form SW Britain and settled in and around Cork which is also named after them.

    So, HTF can you claim to be irish and not be british? Without claiming ignorance.

    I see Kensei is still whingeing about Cromwell yet supports joining a Republic. Ah, the irony.

  • manichaeism

    And for that matter we all come from Africa originally CongalClaen. Do you call yourself an African? Do you think you should be ruled from there?

  • Scaramoosh

    I love the way that Republicans are so stuck in history that they speak of England and the English as though they have not evolved over the past 700 years. Perhaps this comes from spending too much time spent in bricked out bars, lamenting the tragic plight of Mother Ireland. Perhaps they should all be taken to spend some time in a multi-cultural oasis like Leicester; and perhaps they could take their Unionists pals along for company.

    For sure; they could all do with getting out a bit more………

  • Brian MacAodh

    I wonder how many of those people in Australia realize that many of their ancestors were forced from their homelands by English rule and shipped to Australia for offenses as little as stealing an apple during the Great Famine.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Brian MacAodh said

    “21.I wonder how many of those people in Australia realize that many of their ancestors were forced from their homelands by English rule and shipped to Australia for offenses as little as stealing an apple during the Great Famine.”

    The lucky bastards (my frigging ancestors were to honest for my own good, or good at getting away with it but alas not so good at passing the ill gotten gains to me. Profligate bastards)

  • Henry94

    Ireland and Britain will always be linked through our common membership of the European Union. There are two kinds of obsessives on this subject. Those who want no connection with Britain and those who want some version of the old connection. Neither makes any sense.

  • Britain, the UK (call it what you will they wont care) is Irelands biggest trading partner, that reason alone is good enough for anyone with an average IQ to want to maintain good relations. The last thing the Irish government wants is a trade block with Britain. And I do know this is verging on ‘whataboutery’.

    Too many people go to England, live there for years, come back and immediately complain how bad it was, the nasty English did this or that. The nasty English apparently never did enough to prevent them going and staying there though.

    In a grown up world we would acknowledge that there is more to our history than the bad. All Australians know of their ‘convict’ history and are proud of it!

  • CongalClaen

    Hi manichaeism,

    When our ancestors left Africa, they would not have called themselves African. When the Errain left Britain they would have thought of themselves as British. At the time “Ireland” and “Britain” were known as the Brittanias collectively.

    Irish Nationalists have collective amnesia over their heritage which only seems to start 800 years ago.

  • manichaeism

    Funny how selective the British were about thinking of their fellow UK subjects as British. Most of the time they regarded us as subhuman,inferior bogmen! Now that it suits some of them we are just as British as they are.

  • CongalClaen

    Hi manichaeism,

    Yeah, that was a one street of course!

    When you talk of “the British” you’re talking about yourself.

  • manichaeism

    Yea, yea! And the English are really Germans! And a lot of Americans are really English! Tell them that. They think they are Americans. Weird!

  • CongalClaen

    Hi manichaeism,

    English comes from “Angles”. Thanks for underlining my point!

    These Islands were British before they arrived.

  • Why do we care? Its absolutely ludicrous and even schizophrenic, the way we care!

    History is history and we should embrace all of it it made us what we are, warts and all.

  • Paddy

    “Eng;and is at war and, as aconsequence, so too is Australia”. That was Mnezies’ logic for bringing them into World War 11, where they were shipped off to Australia, just in time to surrender.

    When they invaded Turkey in World war 1, the Anzac terrorists suffered less casualties than the Irsh/Brits or French but htye still go on about it.

    If you read Greaves’ autobiography, it turns out the Anzac were great at shooting unarmed prisoners.

    A great legacy all right.

  • paul kielty

    In the recent RTE ‘Blood of the Irish’, hosted by Dairmuid Galvin, it pointed to DNA analysis which shows that the Irish originated in the Basque country!

  • manichaeism

    That is true Diarmuid. But analysis of the British shows that a lot of them originated in the Basque country also!

  • Danny Boy

    Funny how reliant we are on origin myths – who cares what our ancestors would have called themselves tens of thousands of years ago? They couldn’t possibly imagine us, and had no view on our constitutional question!

  • paul kielty

    manichaeism,

    Quite right. The people living in Ireland share the same % DNA as the people on the west coasts of Scotland and Wales.

    Danny boy,

    Spot on. As advances in science move forward, we will have a far better insight into whom we actually are. The answers will not be constrained by contemporary borders or percieved nationalities. The sooner the better!

  • Chuck Loyola

    Pippakin.

    “Some would do well to reflect that many of the worst atrocities were committed by the Irish on the Irish.”

    Which atrocities are they then? Cromwell and Robert Peel were Irish were they?

    CongalClaen

    Where in the world have you swallowed the utter tripe that the Errain were a British tribe? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Érainn

  • Chcuk Loyola

    Ive run out of cigarettes, so Im feeling tetchy. In addition I am growing tired of this old, old, game of blame the Brits.

    So. You have never been there, never bought anything from there, are never going to have anything to do with any company or farm that sells to the UK.

    No. I thought not. In that case grow up and get a life. I mean fucking Cromwell! How far back do you want to go? If I remember my history St Patrick was a Brit!

  • manichaeism

    Yea, and look what he did to us!! Ha!

  • Brian MacAodh

    My great great great etc grandfather who died 500 years ago after living a short, nasty, and brutish life, lived his life with 2 thoughts on his homeland: “Up the Republic” and “Brits out”

    Anyone who suggests otherwise is a revisionist crank.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Oh I forgot to add that the reason he couldn’t read, lived by silly superstitions, and had such a low quality of life was the fault of the Brits.

  • manichaeism

    At least you cant blame St Pat for all the botty bangers in the Catholic Church. Although now you come to think about it….

    Brian MacAodh

    Of course he was, there is no possiblity whatsoever that he was part of a crew of pirates invading some far off shore, and of course he and his Brit colleagues would not dream of having it off with the local maidens….

  • The Raven

    Pippakin, you so nailed it there. Let’s get a bunch of under-20s just out of school with no work to go to and ask them what is more important – Oliver Cromwell, the Famine or a job offer.

    Alf muttered: “I would call them facts of history, also its good to keep an eye on the past, lest we forget and allow it to happen again”

    And you think they haven’t already, in their own subtle little ways? With 30% of our kids born into families below the breadline? With employment policy actively disregarding the long term unemployed? With 20,000 old people dying each year through fuel poverty? With 64% of those between 16 and 74 in this region having little or no educational qualifications at all?

    So it’s not the same as squaddies opening fire on the innocents; and it’s not the same as X-000’s being killed in Drogheda. But by today’s – that’s 2010, folks, not 1641 or 1649 or 1913 or 1972 – terms, on these islands, it’s equally unforgiveable. In fact, while I happen to be witness to it in my lifetime, it’s even more so.

    Oscar grumbled from his trashcan: “It’s not like Northern Ireland could ever get up on its own feet and earn its own living….. ”

    Well maybe – just maybe – it could. If a fair whack of the over 40’s diverted their energy from Cromwell (I mean, fer GAWD’S sakes), P&J, the Famine, Bloody Sunday, parading up and down roads, “them-uns”, etc, into something a little more productive…

  • Chuck Loyola

    Pippakin

    “You have never been there, never bought anything from there, are never going to have anything to do with any company or farm that sells to the UK.”

    Erm, I lived happily in Birmingham for 11 years, my father was born there and my Granda spent nearly 50 years there. I buy UK products (most of them superior to local Navan fare) every day. Your point is?

    You also failed to enumerate any large scale atrocities inflicted by the Irish upon themselves which was my original question.

    Now go and enjoy your cancer sticks, there’s a good girl.

  • Chuck Loyola

    I didnt mention them because I am tired of it. If there is one thing this country doesnt need its yet another trip down ‘memory’ lane.

    If you lived there, happily, you should know better than to be constantly banging on about what a rotten lot they were/are/going to be.

    As for my cigarettes. Its a two mile walk to town, they are going to have to wait for daylight.

    I will have glass a of wine and forget about you instead.

  • Chuck Loyola

    Pippakin

    “If you lived there, happily, you should know better than to be constantly banging on about what a rotten lot they were/are/going to be.”

    Where exactly did I bang on about them being a rotten lot? I merely mentioned two names of British politicians without further elaboration.

    As well as your exaggeration (me “constantly” banging on!!) your comments about not wanting to go down “memory lane” are seriously misguided. You would be wise to remember the words of Santana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

    It seems, my dear Pippakin, that your arguments are as moribund as your failing lungs.

  • tuatha

    Oz was settled by 55% Brtish but 35% Irish so a strong distaste remains. Old (but still pertinent joke)
    Q. “How can you tell that there are Poms on the plane when it lands in Oz?”
    A. “After they shut down the engines, the whining goes on”

  • Chuck Loyola

    Yes you did, funny, with so many Brit politicians to choose from, you chose the same old two….

    Since your past has largely been either British or in Britain you might indeed do well to remember it.

    I find all this ‘hate the Brits’ contemptible. We copy them in almost everything, we live there for years, then come home and bang on about Cromwell!

    I am not and have never tried to say they did nothing wrong, merely that we did things too. It is not possible to live a healthy, confident life, in a healthy confident country, if we are constantly looking back at bad times and evil people.

    This is Ireland, it stands by itself, it does not lack confidence and it does not need people droning on about hundreds of years ago as though it were yesterday.

    Now be a good boy, it is clearly past your bed time.

  • tuatha

    Pippakin – at least irish immigration to the UK raises the average IQ of both countries.

  • tuatha

    Of course it does!

    And if there is ever a British football team we will demand our place and that it be called the British and Irish football team!

  • CongalClaen

    Hi Chuck,

    “Where in the world have you swallowed the utter tripe that the Errain were a British tribe?”

    Only too Delighted…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O'Rahilly's_historical_model

    Large portion of tripe Chuck?