Self-delusion about Self-rule

I realised many years ago that those who are the most determined to be stridently ashamed of Britain’s colonial history / Britain’s part in the Boer War do not actually study or read about it at all, let alone objectively. Instead, they have simply adopted the simplistic outlook of ‘everything Britain has ever done is wrong’, and only then do they endeavour to defend this precarious position however they can: usually by making things up, and ignoring inconvenient facts.

Perhaps the best example of this is the way that certain self-loathing types (usually the sort who have purple hair and / or red-rimmed spectacles) will sagely pronounce that Britain ‘invented slavery’, and thus the long-suffering British tax-payer should hand over a few billions to… err… well… someone. Of course, this is utter nonsense and pure virtue signaling: slavery has existed since the dawn of time, and continues to exist today. Plus, the British Empire did more than anyone to stamp out both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean trade in slaves… but this doesn’t fit the trendy woke narrative, so is simply ignored.

I recently found myself in a similar online spat with a gentleman with the bizarre and improbable name of ‘Sim Hedges’ – a moniker which conjures up images of a second-rate Country and Western singer with a huge shiny belt buckle… rather than some bloke who lives in Gloucestershire (allegedly). What had upset ole ‘Sim Hedges’ was that I had stated that, despite the modern-day myths of it being some sort of insatiable, land-hungry behemoth, hoovering-up acreage just for fun, London actually tried to rid itself of cost / responsibility for territories, and was keen to grant self-rule as soon as possible.

I had supported this uncontroversial statement by citing the examples of Nova Scotia (which was granted responsible rule as early as 1848), New Zealand (self-government in 1852) and the Australian colonies, most of which were self-ruling by 1860 – while noting that Western Australia took a little longer, as it was more dependent on funding from London. I also pointed out that the Cape Colony and Natal had been granted self-rule[i].

So far, so uncontroversial, one would think… but ole ‘Sim Hedges’ clearly has an axe (ax?) to grind, no interest in historical reality, and a resolute determination to see the British Empire as he wants it to have been, rather than how it actually was. Thus fired up, and setting down his banjo for a moment, he swung into action to declare:

“The British Empire was always keen to divest itself of responsibility for territory, and the costs that came with it.” – this is incorrect. The British empire continued to fight for, and gain, territory for decades afterwards. If it had been keen to divest itself of responsibility, then it wouldn’t have fought the Boer War

Perhaps a little too much of that-there-moonshine has had an effect on ole ‘Sim Hedges’, so one can forgive him for muddling up what I actually said. I did not claim that Britain did not continue to gain territory – indeed, the ‘High-Water Mark’ of the British Empire was only attained in 1923[ii]. What I said is that London was always keen to rid itself of direct rule / responsibility / cost where possible.

It is, however, more difficult to forgive the bow-legged, guitar-picker for his ill-considered statement: If it had been keen to divest itself of responsibility, then it wouldn’t have fought the Boer War.

Clearly, ole ‘Sim Hedges’ has zero understanding of the Boer War, as I pointed out to him in my reply:

Britain fought the Boer War because the (self-governing) territories of Natal and the Cape Colony were attacked and invaded by the Boer republics, and thus it had little choice in the matter. Furthermore, the defeated Transvaal and the Orange Free State were both granted self-rule by 1908.
So your attempted “correction” is incorrect.

The Boer War was possibly the worst example he could have come up with, but one has to remember that the likes of ole ‘Sim Hedges’ don’t operate in the realm of Historical reality: to such people, the British Empire was vile and evil and something to be ashamed of, and, well, that’s that; they have no interest whatsoever in what actually happened. And so, with mind-numbing predictability, the line-dancing Leftie was soon back with yet more ahistorical nonsense, presenting a little list which he felt would prove his point that HM Government did not try to divest itself of responsibility and cost where possible. Amusingly, his oh-so-damning list included the following territories and dates of alleged annexations:

Cape Colony (1806), Natal (1842), Orange River Colony (1848), Lesotho (1868), Bechuanaland (1885), Zululand (1887), Rhodesia (1890), and – most bizarrely of all – Tunisia (1869).

So let’s examine ole ‘Sim Hedges’ little list. As I had already told him, Cape Colony and Natal were swiftly granted self-rule, while the Orange Free State was granted (slightly limited) independence in 1854. So, thus far, all he had done is support the point I was making. D’Oh!

What is more, tribal leaders from Lesotho / Basutoland[iii] and Bechuanaland[iv] had petitioned Britain for years, pleading for Protectorate status to save them from the expansionist and rapacious Boers. The fact that London resisted for so long further proves my point that the last thing HM Government wanted was more responsibility and cost. Indeed, even when a Protectorate was finally declared over Basutoland, London quickly tried to hand responsibility for the running of it to the Cape Colony[v].

Moving on through his list, responsibility for running Zululand was passed to the (self-governing) Colony of Natal in 1897, which again supports my case. Rhodesia was not actually annexed by Britain in 1890 – part of it (Mashonaland) was occupied by a private company (Rhodes’ British South Africa Company), with the rest being taken over (by the private company) three years later. Either way, Rhodesia was granted self-government in 1923… again, supporting my point.

Which brings us to Tunisia… yes, you read that correctly: Tunisia.

In 1869, Tunisia declared itself bankrupt, and an international financial commission, with representatives from France, Great Britain, and Italy, took control of the economy. Italy was keen to gain Tunisia as a colony, citing geographic proximity, but Britain supported the French case instead. Still worried about Italian designs on the territory, the French army occupied Tunisia in the spring of 1881, claiming that Tunisian troops had crossed the border into the French colony of Algeria. While protests were made, Rome did not want to risk war with France, and, on 12 May 1881, Tunisia was officially made a French protectorate[vi].

So Christ alone knows why ole ‘Sim Hedges’ thought introducing Tunisia would in any way support his point. It is really rather pathetic to observe that he so desperately wanted the British to be the villain of the piece, that facts no longer mattered to him; he knew he didn’t have a leg to stand on, and it simply a case of him just making things up. But pretending Tunisia becoming a French protectorate in some way proves Imperial Britain didn’t grant self-rule where possible… well, that’s pretty out there, even by the hog-tying hillbilly’s shocking standards.

When I pointed all this out to him, and perhaps belatedly realising that his silly little list actually proved my case for me, ole ‘Sim Hedges’ quickly dreamt up another pie-in-the-sky version of the Boer War to entertain me with:

The UK first annexed those Boer colonies in 1887, and fought two wars to keep them. The “granted” self rule of 1907 was a condition of the Boer surrender, forced on the British.

Even as a final throw of the dice, it is a pretty pitiful effort at blaming everything on the big, bad British bully… as I pointed out to him:

Your knowledge of the Boer War is very limited. The Transvaal (not the OFS) was annexed in 1877 (not 1887) without a shot being fired after the Transvaal picked a fight with the Pedi and was losing badly. The British lost the small campaign that was the First Boer War and the ZAR returned to (almost) independence. The OFS was not involved.

In 1899, the two Boer republics declared war on Britain and invaded the Cape Colony and Natal. Control of the naval base at the Cape was vital and Britain thus defended its (self-governing) territories. Soon after the war (which Britain won) self-governing status was granted to the OFS and Transvaal. Britain was not ‘forced’ to do this: the Boers lost the conventional war within 9 months, and were quickly beaten in the guerrilla war, being rounded up at a rate of 1500 men a month.

Well, that bubble-bursting was too much even for poor ole ‘Sim Hedges’… defeated and proven incorrect at every single turn, but with a final act of self-delusion that only the truly ignorant are capable of, the ridiculous rodeo clown triumphantly declared that (despite all the evidence) he had shown ‘overwhelmingly your case that “the British Empire was always keen to divest itself of responsibility for territory” is palpably untrue. I’ve done more than enough to demonstrate that, so will now exit this conversation’.

Who knows: perhaps he thinks the bit he made-up about Tunisia was the clincher? Either way, this is what happens when one arbitrarily decides that Britain is some sort of pantomime villain… and then ties oneself in knots, desperately dreaming things up to support this preferred position.

What a complete and utter buffoon – he really should stick to singing songs about Emmie-Lou breaking his heart and his dog dying.


[i] I should also have mentioned that Malta was granted self-government in 1921

[ii] On Saturday 29 September 1923, the Palestine Mandate became law and the British Empire now covered a scarcely credible quarter of the world’s land mass, containing 460 million people. For more detail, read ‘One Fine Day’, by Matthew Parker

[iii] Thompson, A History of South Africa, p.106

[iv] Carter, A Narrative of the Boer War, p.23

[v] Such was the enthusiasm to be rid of her newly acquired burden that Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony in 1871, and direct responsibility was only reluctantly re-assumed in 1884, after the authorities of the Cape Colony had proved ill-suited to governing it. For more, read Thompson’s A History of South Africa, p.129

[vi] Brace, Morocco Algeria Tunisia, pp.36–37


  • Stephen Hunt Posted March 27, 2024 7:07 pm

    A tour d’force of a rebuttal! Let’s not forget that Canada was a self governing dominion from 1868.

    • Bulldog Posted March 27, 2024 7:56 pm

      But! But! But! … err… Tunisia!
      That is the level these idiots have been reduced to.

      • Stephen Hunt Posted March 29, 2024 1:54 pm

        Indeed, it was so egregious I couldn’t believe it, so I must have overlooked it in my reply. Perhaps he should have read Pakenham’s “Scramble for Africa”?

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *