Sniggering at suet puddings

England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box.
– George Orwell, England your England

Even without having a navy to speak of, the Ukrainians continue to decimate the Russian Black Sea Fleet, with the missile boat Ivanovets their most recent victim. Remarkably, it would seem that the Ukrainians have sunk 15 Russian naval craft to date, the most famous of which being the Soviet-era missile cruiser, Moskva, back in April 2022[i]. It is interesting to note that despite this carnage, and despite the fact the Britain is actively supporting the Ukraine with both weaponry and training, no one on the British Left has been inspired to condemn the sinkings of these vessels, and the resultant loss of life.

It is instructive to compare this deafening silence to the squeals of anguish and shrieks of horror that some of those on the Left of British politics continue to make about the sinking of the Belgrano[ii] during the Falklands War, back in 1982[iii]. This horrified indignation was not just from the Trots on the lunatic fringe of the Labour Party, but was / is also shared by many of the so-called ‘intellectuals’ described by Orwell in his quote above. Basically, any British middle-class, red-rimmed-glasses-wearing leftie worth his (or her) salt ‘knows’ – without a shadow of doubt – that the sinking of the Belgrano was categorically wrong / mass-murder / a war crime / irrefutable proof that Thatcher was the devil incarnate.

Quite why such people don’t have an issue when any other nation sinks an enemy warship during a war is beyond me, but it is crystal clear that their instinctive, knee-jerk reaction is to automatically take the side of absolutely anyone who picks a fight with Britain. And so it is that, when a Russian despot sends his forces to attack Ukrainian territory, there are no concerns voiced from these people about the Ukrainians sinking Russian naval vessels… but when an Argentinian despot sends his forces to attack British territory, and the Royal Navy sink one of their ships, well, that’s completely, like, you know, different, because, err… well… Britain shouldn’t even be there… and, like, how dare we commit ‘mass murder’ by sinking an enemy warship, and … err… the Tories… and, well, like… you know, oil and … err… colonialism and slavery. Or something.

Christ, a couple of years before he died in 2009, even the Belgrano’s Captain, the splendidly-named Hector Bonzo[iv], chivalrously admitted the sinking was perfectly legitimate: “It was absolutely not a war crime. It was an act of war, lamentably legal.” The Argentine Government had already conceded the same, back in 1994.[v]

But not so those unpatriotic chattering fools on the British Left. In their default absolute determination that Britain simply must be the villains of the piece (and, indeed, of every event ever, throughout all recorded history), these entertainingly pathetic characters have to shamelessly and frantically tie themselves in knots, hammering inconvenient facts into the right shapes to fit their preferred fantasies, and desperately trying to dream up reasons why the sinking of the Belgrano was something we should be deeply ashamed of (and perhaps, better yet, have to pay ‘compensation’ to someone for).

‘but we weren’t technically at war!’
So what? Argentina started the war by attacking us and, technically, Ukraine and Russia are not at war either.

‘but it was outside the Exclusion Zone!’
So what? The Exclusion Zone was a warning to merchant shipping to avoid a warzone; it was NOT some sort of ‘playing field’ which the enemy could jump in and out of as they liked, claiming sanctuary if they were a mile outside it.

‘but it was an old ship and the crew were conscripts!’
So what? It was an enemy ship, on a mission to sink British ships. Would these deluded, hand-wringing pinkos really rather that it had been left in peace, so it could go on and sink a Royal Navy ship?
To be fair, their answer to that is probably ‘yes’.

OK, but what has any of this got to do with the Boer War?

Well, when you accept (I was going to say ‘understand’, but I don’t think any rational person will ever really understand them) that this is the mentality of the outrageously unpatriotic and self-loathing British Left, then their default position when it comes to the Boer War starts to make more sense.

To such people, it simply doesn’t matter that Kruger was a corrupt racist, who was vehemently prejudiced against absolutely anyone except his self-appointed ‘Chosen People’. It doesn’t matter to them that the regime in power in Kruger’s Transvaal was in every way viler, more repugnant and even more discriminatory than the later Apartheid regime. It doesn’t matter to them that the Boers were recently-arrived settlers just as much as the British were, and that they had been violently expanding the republic’s borders for decades. And it certainly doesn’t matter to these types that (rather inconveniently for all the various Brit-haters out there) it was the Boers who started the war by attacking and invading British territory.

What matters to the vegan-muesli-chomping lefties – indeed, the only thing that matters to them – is that the Boers were at war with Britain, and therefore can only possibly have been the goodies. It really is as simple as that.

As soon as that has been established, then they will start to twist and turn, and come up with every excuse – no matter how far-fetched and ridiculous – to try and justify their default, self-loathing position: ‘so like… err… you know, Cecil Rhodes… Britain shouldn’t even have been there! … and… err… gold’n’diamonds, and… err.. capitalists[vi]… and, like… concentration camps, and – you know – Colonialism, man’.

Still, at least we can take amusement from the fact that, in their resolute desperation to ignore reality and squawk that the British Empire was entirely to blame for everything ever, these ‘right-on’, Guardian-reading Lefties are unthinkingly aligning themselves with the extremists of Far Right Afrikanerdom.

What strange bedfellows indeed.


[i] Others include the four amphibious assault ships Saratov, Minsk, Novocherkassk and Olenegorskiy Gornyak, the submarine Rostov-on-Don, and the newly launched corvette, Askold

[ii] The 12,000 tonne ARA General Belgrano was the ex-USS Phoenix, a light cruiser which had survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Habor. She was sunk by the submarine, HMS Conqueror on 2nd May 1982, with 323 men lost when she went down. The Argentine Navy was so spooked by the sinking, that their surface ships fled the theatre and didn’t challenge the Royal Navy again

[iii] I have yet to hear one of these people ever say anything about the Royal Navy ships which were sunk by the Argentines: evidently, they care far more about the servicemen of a Fascist Dictatorship which attacked British territory, than they do about their own countrymen, lost on the Sheffield, Coventry, Ardent, Antelope or Sir Galahad, or on the civilian ship, Atlantic Conveyor.

[iv] Captain Hector Bonzo (1932 – 2009) joined the Argentinian Navy in 1947, and worked his way up through the ranks, serving on various vessels including cruisers, a frigate and an ice breaker


[vi] Back in the day, unpatriotic British Lefties of the time liked to blame ‘Jewish capitalists’ for the war – this antisemitism fortunately fell out of favour for several decades (in public, at least), though would appear to be raising its ugly head once more

1 Comment

  • Niall Beazley Posted February 5, 2024 4:42 pm

    As usual an erudite and precise statement of fact from Chris. I now know why he enjoys the odd week or two in self isolation on an oil rig or oil exploratory vessels. it brought a smile to my face and a wee tear in the eye for those brave soldiers and sailors lost in 1982.

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