Thursday 22 July 2010

1940 . Horrid histories

A load of nonsense being spouted about David Cameron's gaffe . the one about UK being junior party to the Americans. The Miliband's calling it a slur. I guess they are getting revenge for 'Obama beach'

"Cameron has insulted every allied soldier who fought in WW2" { texts on R2.}
"What he said is unforgivable. He is not up to the job"
"The American's never wanted to help us..only Pearl harbour made them."
"David Cameron betrays the memory.."

Cameron was saying that in the current war we are in a partnership, we have our say, but it is not equal and would be silly to pretend it is. We contribute some 15% to Afghanistan, so he is right.

Clearly it was an error, not a slur. Mr Cameron may not know his history dates, and to suggest in 1940 that Britain was junior to anyone would be absurd.
But what Cameron meant was in the 1940's the Empire was a junior partner, which would be correct. At the war's end the Commonwealth had some 885 military vessels. That was near enough the equivalent of the rest of the world's navies put together, excluding the USA which had some 6,500.
Junior Partner is a suitable, if unflattering description.

I never know if people genuinely misunderstand, are just willing to take offence, or are maliciously misrepresenting views for their own advantage.
But whatever...

To suggest that a Prime minister of any political party would willingly talk down his nation's population, military and history is ridiculous.


Budgie said...

When does an "error" become a "slur"? Come on, Bill, your defence of Cameron's ignorance puts loyalty above sense.

It was not until December 11th 1941 that Germany declared war on the USA. The cousins need reminding of that fact, rather than being the subject of Cameron's oleaginous false modesty.

lilith said...

Sorry Bill, but it was utterly crass and idiotic thing to say. It is so astonishing as to make me wonder whether he really IS up to the job. The kind of education he had is supposed to prevent that kind of "gaffe" being possible, isn't it?

Bill Quango MP said...

Not loyalty Budgie. I was in the Idle camp. Brown out was the aim, Dave's on his own.
But I can see I don't get it. Lilith and yourself are both reasonable and educated people yet you think he's done one on the doorstep.
I think he's mis-remembered his brief.

There was a Historian hinting at Dave cuddling up to Obama and he spoke of the "Americanisation of WW2" and citing Private Ryan.
But that film is pretty accurate as to forces. There were no Empire troops on American beaches and vice versa. A country commands its own nations soldiers.
No one complains about "a walk in the sun" and there are no Brits in that pic either.
The Historian/journalist probably meant to say U-571 which is accurate in so far as
A} there were U boats
b} there were coding machines
c} ..erm..there is no c. The film is an action romp and nothing more.

roym said...

terrific though it is,
Saving private ryan does grate a little in that the only mention of a Brit or Canadian is a little dig at Montgomery. A bit cheap, and only served to perpetuate the myth that he somehow dropped the ball.

My only problem with Dave's error is how it played out on news headlines, making it look like he was being more than a little bit of a sycophant.

Bill Quango MP said...

Sometimes I think we should do a history blog.
After all my studies I'm still not sure about Monty.
He got the job done where others hadn't been able too is my somewhat faint praise.

Bill Quango MP said...

EK: That's a classic!

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, what a load of rubbish. Cameron should be able to distinguish between 1940 and 1949.

BTW, according to BBC (, he got A levels in History, History of Art and Economics with Politics. Perhaps WW2 wasn't his period.

Anonymous said...

Britain was certainly the paying partner. Wan't it just a few year back that we finished paying back the Yanks for their WWII 'loans'.

BTW, will the Condems refresh of Trident include spending ££Billions on missiles which are useless are the Yanks won't hand over the launch codes?

Bill Quango MP said...

Anon A. Maybe he should have known better.. But it was still an error, not a 'deliberate slap in the face to every member of the Uk's armed forces then and now,' as someone suggested.

Anon B. Churchill wrote in his diary in the summer of 1941 "we have not had anything from the USA that we have not paid for, and what we have had, has not played an essential part in our resistance"

He knew the USA would take all our cash upfront before going to 'long loan' terms.

However, infuriating as it was for Churchill, the UK had defaulted on its WW1 loans in 1934. The remainder of that loan was never paid back. So from a US congress point of view a country {along with every other debtor European nation except Hungry} that had stopped paying off its old loans just 6 years before now wanted another unsecured, generous credit, unlimited amount loan , when it was potentially about to be defeated, by a country who's foreign policy was not to become involved in any wars at all.
The USA of 1940 was not the USA of today.

In 1941 Britain got 1% of its munitions on Lend-Lease. 7% came from direct cash purchase from the USA. The rest was made in Commonwealth factories.
It was food that was important. And the UK had Lend Lease loans with Canada, that were paid off in 2006, the same time as the Usa ones.

Anonymous said...

Cameron has an unfortunate habit of opening his mouth and deliberately upsetting some people.I fear his leadership is bad news for for life long conservative voters such as myself and the country. History of Art?