Wednesday 19 September 2018

Is Britain preparing for a long-overdue revolution of its own?

Recent party conferences have shown that neither Tory nor Labour are the parties they once were, writes Anne Applebaum

Theresa May. Photo: PA
Theresa May. Photo: PA

Anne Applebaum

'They have a horror of abstract thought, they feel no need for any philosophy or systematic 'world-view'. " That was George Orwell, speaking of his countrymen in a famous 1941 essay, England Your England. Writing during the Blitz, as "highly civilised human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me," Orwell listed the qualities that made the English English: their love of privacy, their almost religious respect for the law, their dislike of uniformed men barking orders.

"All the boasting and flag-wagging, the 'Rule Britannia' stuff, is done by small minorities," he wrote: "The most stirring battle poem in English is about a brigade of cavalry which charged in the wrong direction."

I thought of that essay listening to the rhetoric coming out of the British party conferences, Labour and Conservative, much of which didn't sound very English - in Orwell's definition - at all.

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