I read an article from Ed Husain on New Years Eve, a rallying cry for optimism and positiveness. It stirred me into thinking about the divisiveness that has spread across our country since the EU Referendum of 2016, and how politicians (though not all of them) call for a healing process as we finally leave the EU at the end of this month and begin trade negotiations. The problem however is that healing cannot take place while there is name calling, triumphalism, backbiting and …. heaven forbid not again ….. deliberate undermining. Surely the time has come for all to unite behind our country irrespective of whether you voted for the party of government or like/dislike the prime minister. Are you pessimistic or optimistic about our future, or even hoping it all goes wrong so you can say “I told you so”? Ed Husain calls for optimism and pride in our country, and quite right too, so here are a few excerpts from his article:
“For too long, Islington intellectuals, heirs of Karl Marx, have poisoned every cup of knowledge with their culture wars. For them, to be British is to be ashamed and meek, head hanging low with guilt. Imperialism, colonialism, and racism became the heritage and hallmarks of Britishness. Students at university are taught by Leftist professors that Britain is to be blamed for every conflict, past, present and future.
No, I say. Britain is the cause of much that is right about the world. And that is why the British people in their millions delivered a landslide victory for the Conservative agenda earlier this month. Across the world, investors and institutions are optimistic about Britain again. The value of sterling has risen already to pre-2016 levels in the currency markets. British stocks and shares are on the rise, too. Billions of pounds more of private and public capital in the United States, Europe, China and the Middle East is queuing to invest in our infrastructure, real estate, retail, arts, sports and tech opportunities. There is no other nation in the world that can go from paralysis to potential prosperity so immediately. This is not fortune or accident, but the legacy of our forefathers and a heritage that we must protect.
The English language, our gift to the world, is the global tool of commerce, technology, education, government and invention. And let us never forget that this country is the home of the rule of law. Magna Carta is not a historical relic, but the underpinning of the global rules-based order. Our independent judiciary, property rights, labour laws, and legal reasoning are the envy of the world. This we must cherish as the bedrock of our dealings at home and abroad.
Our traits of fairness, openness, law, liberty, and language mark us out as a special people. This is not elitism, but self-awareness. Injecting this confidence in our children will give them strength to navigate a world of hardened, blood-and-soil nationalists in places such as China and elsewhere. As Sir Roger Scruton reminds us, ours is a patriotism of love for our institutions, laws, heritage, ideas, a freedom that gives us belonging. We shy away from this identity at our peril.
For a nation of under 70 million people, we outrank many larger nations in scientific and medical innovation, achievement in sports, entertainment, the financial sector, tourism and art. As long as we maintain our confident patriotic spirit, our output in this new era will only increase. Only by conserving the best of our past and present can we unleash a new Britain.
It is time to stop apologising for Britishness. We gave the world capitalism, but we must never forget that its innovator, Adam Smith, also taught us the importance of being compassionate and moral, giving to the needy. From the abolition of slavery driven by Wilberforce to Florence Nightingale’s development of nursing and hospital care, our legacy of ethics, kindness, and charity show Britishness at its best.Today, as we move forward into a bright new year, we owe the (extra)ordinary people of this country a debt of gratitude. The working classes died in their millions in two world wars. Their children rallied around Margaret Thatcher after the country was forced to its knees by Leftist strikes and socialist union power in the 1970s. And now, again, after years of paralysis, the working classes have liberated Britain. Let us never forget, and build a country worthy of their greatness. Onwards!”
My glass is more than half full, how about yours?
Note: Ed Husain is the author of ‘The House of Islam: A Global History’ (2018) and a senior fellow at Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society. Follow him on Twitter @ed_husain; read more at telegraph.co.uk/opinion