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NEWSLETTER NO 126

Monday 26 May 2014


 

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This week:


Highlighting news stories important to the Civic Republican view,
particularly those that are overlooked or little covered in the main media.

All these newsletters will be catalogued on the website


HISTORY

  • BBC SERIES'S MONARCHIST BIAS DISTORTS
    BRITISH HISTORY BEYOND RECOGNITION


Peter Kellow, DRP Leader, writes

The BBC has long displayed a shameless monarchist bias in its news reporting. But this bias is also evident in its presentation of British history. All its British history has to be framed in terms of the monarchy and practically all BBC history is about the monarch or the royal family.

BBC viewers know little from their national broadcaster about the underlying causes of the great political events of British history especially those that preceded the 20th century. The great figures, the great ideas, that sprang from British history are passed over in favour of an obsession with the monarchs and the minutiae of their lives.

Excellent though the David Starkey “Monarchy” programmes may be, they tell history with the monarch at the centre. If they were balanced by other programmes about political, social and economic changes that would be fine. But they are not.

Lucy Worsley with George I's crown in The First Georgians.
Lucy Worsley. Fringe no grips

It is one thing to concentrate on the history of the monarchs, it is quite another to totally distort history in the service of aggrandising the monarchy and magnifying its significance and role in events. The recent BBC three part history presented by Lucy Worsley “The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain” did just that.

The deception is well advertised in the title. The idea that George I and II “made Britain”, is an insult to name of the Britons who truly formed Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

In the last Newsletter I spoke of the ongoing influence that the monarchy still has in this country, even if their direct political power may have gone by the way, and here in this monarchist propaganda (there is no other word for it) this influence is blatant.

The fact that there has been no outcry and that this message from the BBC has been meekly accepted shows the extent to which we as a nation have lost touch with our roots and what British identity is really about. We have been fed a cleverly presented pack of lies and we have apparently swallowed it whole.

The Guardian, which claims to be a republican paper, began its review of the series thus “Lucy Worsley has lost a hairclip and gained a fringe since we last saw her and is now at first, second and indeed third glance indistinguishable from ....”. The rest was a lazy journalist’s reciting of the programme’s historical distortions without opinion or comment. I repeatedly offered an alternative view to the paper while the series was running but my messages went unanswered. So much for the republican voice of British media.

Let’s look at what the programme actually said. It starts off with this:

In 1814 the Georgian era began with the arrival of George I and the story of modern Britain begun.

Now even the most conventional account of the emergence of Britain as a modern nation would go back at least to the restoration of the monarchy following the First British Republic in 1660, for it was after that date that the forces that were to transform Britain and divest it of its medieval past truly started to coalesce. The factions of Whig and Tory represented opposing views as to how the nation should develop. Broadly the Whigs won out. Their agenda had three aspects of equal importance

  1. Reducing the power of the monarch and giving more to parliament
  2. Religious and political tolerance
  3. Economic innovations: creating a central bank, the Bank of England, enabling joint stock companies to form and creating a sound basis for government debt.

These are the key aspects and few historians of whatever political persuasion would contest that were the foundation stones of modern Britain. There are others, but these are the crucial ones and they were all in place by 1694, twenty years before George I came to the throne.

The German king could barely speak English and was more interested in the Hanoverian throne which he still occupied and yet we are told at this point “the story of modern Britain begun”.

Why are we fed such a lie? The only reason can be that the BBC has to find a way to say that British history depends only on what the monarch does. Great statesmen, philosophers, politicians, economists really have nothing to do with it.

We are told:

The George’s championed the idea of liberty and made Britain a more open society

They did nothing of the kind. Events were shaped by actors quite outside the monarchy. In fact, far from George I taking a decisive role he was imported just to serve the interests of the modernisers. To call him of puppet would be an exaggeration but not so much of one. Worsley tells us:

Britain became the most liberal and cosmopolitan society under the George’s. We owe so much to these German kings who made Britain

Britain may have become more liberal and cosmopolitan while George I and II were on the throne but the real changes in this respect occured in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 - way before Georgain times. To give the kings credit for this is an assessment that no serious historian would make. Modern Britain was not formed by its monarchs but in spite of them.

Prior to George I Queen Anne was on the throne. She was a wily political operator, but hardly a leader of events. Before her William III spent most of his time fighting (necessary) foreign wars against France, and in any case was imported (like George) to accept the direction the Whigs wanted not to direct affairs himself.

More cunningly, the series attempts to view political conflicts between different groupings during the George’s reigns as being part of conflicts within the royal family itself. Thus George I’s son, the Prince of Wales, revolted against his father and this produced the idea of an official opposition – political players apparently only having bit parts in this royal move.

And in the second episode, Prince Frederick’s adoption as a figurehead by a Whig opposition movement, headed by Lord Cobham, is presented as resulting from a dispute within the royal family rather than a political development. The royals are always the leaders and instigators with the rest having only walk on parts.

Cracks in the BBC monarchist narrative open up with the arrival of the exiled French philosopher, Voltaire, in England in 1726 who said he found a “land of liberty”. He added “the English are the only people on earth that have limited the power of kings”. Exactly. This is why the claim that the king was leading events is so absurd.

Then we are told that George I turned his attention to the British economy and formed the South Sea Company. This is madness. The South Sea Company was formed by disgruntled Tories jealous of the success of the Bank of England which was a Whig enterprise. The ensuing South Sea Bubble was hardly a distinguished occurrence to associate George with but at this point we get the feeling that Worsley is counting on a total ignorance of British history on behalf of her viewers.

All this time George I was still king of Hanover and that principality he ruled with an iron fist and did nothing introduce tolerance or to modernise its economy. So how come he was so benign and progressive in his rule of Britain?

Of course that question is never posed leave alone answered. Instead she concludes the first episode like this:

With George I came stability and freedom of speech. In the seventeenth century, England had been eating itself with civil wars and revolution. Thanks to his benign rule England was on the way to becoming truly great. Some say George was lucky to find himself on the throne of England calling him Lucky George. I’d say not so much Lucky George but Lucky England!

In episode three, Worsley comes somewhat nearer to some truths about the George’s. George II, a warrior at heart, spent some time taking British armies to Europe to fight wars that were wars Hanover was engaged in. In this he was accused of shedding British blood in wars that had little to do with British interests.

The Patriots, mentioned above, saw that British interests lay in being a global sea power and so opposed expensive wars on the continent. Prince Frederick supported the Patriots and so again royal family differences are read into events to explain them, distorting history to suggest nothing much happens that does not issue from the royal family.

In conclusion of the series we are told

Under the first two George’s Britain went from being a bit of a provincial backwater to a global superpower

To call Britain a “provincial backwater” in 1714 prior to the arrival of the George’s is deeply insulting to our nation and its prestige and achievements in every aspect of civilisation at that time: art, political economy, philosophy, military might, commercial power, rights and freedoms, literature, music and science -  not to mention its American colonies, expanding world trade and military victories.

It is deeply insulting to all the great British men and women that had made Britain the last place you would call a “provincial backwater”.

And this was well recognised at the time by other nations.

Britain was a front runner with the only serious rival in France and already at the time France was falling into second place. A “provincial backwater”?  That is what we were if you believe the BBC

Well, if it is so important to portray us as a nation whose fate was determined by an imported German monarch, I suppose any old slur on our nation, any belittlement of it, is fair game.

As for George III, the producers wisely decided not to go there for even the twisted narrative they contrive would have difficulty in turning him into a national hero and champion of liberty.

Our history is our identity. Truth is the protector of liberty. If we lose truth we lose not only liberty but identity. Identity and liberty are at stake here.

These are not trivial matters. They are of the most fundamental importance to our nation. Our current leaders have a slipshod attitude to nation. They will betray it at a moment's notice. None has commented on the BBC travesty of history

This underlines one of the faults intrinsic our monarchical system. It cannot deal with truth.

This sad fact was laid bare in this shameful exercise in royalist propaganda.

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