Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Lord Black and the Anglosphere

By Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

Like many a newspaper magnate, Lord Black was more interested in prestige and politics than in business. But he was no dilettante. In fact, before the fall, he was a thoughtful promoter of conservative ideas.

He was particularly fired by the notion of an “Anglosphere”. A fierce Eurosceptic, Lord Black believed in an alliance of English-speaking nations. John Hulsman, who worked at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think-tank, argues that, in his heyday, Lord Black was “pivotal” to the Anglosphere. His encouragement and money helped pull together a crew of conservative intellectuals, on both sides of the Atlantic, who believe that the English-speaking world is a coherent bloc – and the only reliable guardian of political and economic freedoms.

The most vigorous promoters of the Anglosphere include historians such as Robert Conquest and Andrew Roberts. Politicians, past and present, such as Lady Thatcher and Alexander Downer, the Australian foreign minister, are known sympathisers. President George W. Bush has boasted of reading Mr Roberts’ A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, which sets out the Anglospheric world view. There is even an Anglosphere Institute, although it is not an encouraging sign that its contact address is a PO Box in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The believers in the Anglosphere differ on the details. Some limit the true members of the club to just five countries: the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Others cast the net much wider to include India, Ireland, the Caribbean and English-speaking Africa.

Some want to see the Anglosphere develop formal institutions. Others argue that the essence of the club is that it relies on informal ties of history, culture and kinship.

The cultural ties linking the Anglosphere are, indeed, deep. But they are also changing as America becomes more Hispanic and Britain becomes more European. According to Britain’s Institute for Public Policy Research, there are 1.3m Britons living in Australia and 678,000 living in the US. But there are also 761,000 living in Spain and 200,000 in France.

Politically, the Anglosphere is also coming under strain. The outbreak of the Iraq war initially served as a boost. After France and Germany opposed the war – but Britain and Australia rallied to the cause – US conservatives began to take seriously long-ignored warnings from their British counterparts about the evils of the European Union. But, as the war has grown more unpopular, so it has eroded ties of sympathy within the Anglosphere. An opinion survey conducted by Globespan in January found that 57 per cent of Britons and 60 per cent of Australians now believe that America’s global role is “mainly negative”. Even the Chinese (52 per cent) took a more positive view. A previous Globespan survey in 2005 found that more than 60 per cent of Britons, Australians and Canadians now want Europe to be “more influential” than the US.

But while the Iraq war points in one direction, the fighting in Afghanistan points in the other. In a recent debate in Britain’s House of Commons, politicians from all sides lamented that most of the European members of Nato are effectively opting out of the fighting. Only Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands were deemed willing to fight and die.

The presence of the Dutch might jar for those who would see the Afghanistan campaign as the Anglosphere in operation. But that would be a mistake. For the Dutch seem to have effectively joined the Anglos. They usually speak better English than the English, they voted decisively against the EU constitution and – this is the clincher – they are the only country that is not a former British colony to take part in this month’s cricket World Cup.

In his pomp, Lord Black might have seized upon the Afghanistan campaign as evidence that, in spite of current tensions, there is an underlying unity of English-speaking peoples. These days he has more pressing matters on his mind. Indeed, it is tempting to see the Black trial as a symbol of the decline of the political project that he is most associated with. But the Anglosphere idea is a resilient one with deep historical roots, which may yet rebound. His Lordship may not be so lucky.


Neil Welton said...

Always be suspicious of people who claim to speak for, represent and thus own the Anglosphere - only the Queen can do that.

Theodore Harvey said...

I agree with Mr. Welton. As an Anglophilic American monarchist of English descent, I might be expected to endorse the "Anglospheric world view," but in fact I do not. I cannot approve of any concept of English-speaking unity which de-emphasizes the central importance of the Crown, which Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand share, but from which my own country tragically separated itself, forfeiting its right to that unity. And as a paleoconservative opponent of the Iraq war, I fully share many Britons' justified resentment of the Bush administration and Blair's collaboration with it. As long as US policy is shaped by the likes of Bush, Britain would do well to keep her distance. In forging international ties, Britain ought to look neither to the US nor the EU but rather to the Commonwealth Realms, and to the fellow constitutional monarchies of continental Europe.

fontaine said...

The Anglosphere is too wide and diverse a place for any one person to speak for it. I mean you look at Canada and the UK, two places that share a queen who differed entirely on what to do with Iraq. No one person can speak for two nations, and no one person can speak for hundreds of millions of individuals.

Theodore Harvey said...

Regardless of the policies of HM's various governments, the Queen comes far closer to speaking for me than the democratically elected (sort of) George W. Bush or any other politician.

fontaine said...

You must not say a lot then because neither does she.

Neil Welton said...

Yet that is the secret of true Britishness. It doesn't shout or scream. It is unspoken.

fontaine said...

The war and Iraq certainly involved a lot of screaming.

Scott said...

Er. Wow. The subtlety.

It certainly involved the screaming of hundreds of thousands of terrorists, jihadis, insurgents, etc, something I doubt any of his lament.

Get some perspective.

fontaine said...

Oh no I am a full supporter of the war, I'm just saying. "Her Majesty" was apparently quite divided on the war herself. Multiple personality disorder perhaps? ;)

Neil Welton said...

No, the divisions were among the plebs (politicians) - including presidents.

fontaine said...

So she represents the two countries except in matters of war? How is that consistent?

Neil Welton said...

The Queen represents the nation. She is the living embodiment of it. She does not represent political parties, political leaders or their political policies.

For Her Majesty is the means to new Government laws. She legitimises them and ensures that they are obeyed. Yet she does not represent the Government's policies.

Here is an example. Political party brings in new law to cut drink driving. Her Majesty is the means to bring about this law. However, Her Majesty does not then physically represent the Government policy on drink driving. We'd agree she is something more than that.

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

When Lord Black started the National Post, it was like a breath of fresh air. A conservative paper with a pro-monarchy editorial board, not to mention excellent writers such as Mark Steyn, and Anglophile and a monarchist.

Since Lord Black relinquished the National Post, it has sagged in quality, but it is still the best newspaper in the Dominion.

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

Sorry, that should read "Mark Steyn, an Anglophile and a monarchist."