Our Finest Hour

This is really going to piss Nigel Farage off.

By any measure, the Battle of Britain stands with the October revolution as among the most historically decisive few weeks of the 20th Century. Little wonder its spirit is evoked so often in our national mythology and popular culture. It really was, by any reasonable measure, “Our Finest Hour.”

As a playwright I try very hard to look at historical stories in the present tense, as if we didn’t know how it was going to come out. Because that’s what it must have been like at the time. And in the late summer of 1940, what had happened in the past year, from a British point of view, was not going to fill you with confidence.

True, the Chamberlain Government, which would have almost certainly have made a deal with Nazi Germany rather than fight on alone, had been replaced by Churchill leading an unlikely coalition (still forming) consisting mainly of the Labour Party and a few Tory rebels. The most dangerous potential Quislings had either been interned, like Mosely and the Tory MP for Peebles, Colonel Ramsey…while other less immediately dangerous but untrustworthy individuals, including the ex King, were being put out of harm’s way. True, the British Army and a good chunk of the French had escaped from capture and death at Dunkirk…but even a successful retreat is still a retreat.

To the shock of the world and the Germans…and the French…Churchill had recently ordered the destruction of the French fleet at Oran …with the loss of 1500 French lives…partly to keep the ships from being added to the German navy, but also to show the Germans…and the Americans, crucially, that he wasn’t going to mess about, that he could be as big a criminal as he had to be to win. At this point, the Germans were forced into serious preparation for invasion of Great Britain…the prerequisite of which was, of course, air superiority, without which an invasion across the Channel was unthinkable. (As it was in 1944.)

So the RAF had to be bombed and blown out of the war.

Had we lost the Battle of Britain, then, the Germans would almost certainly have invaded the South of England before the bad weather came in October 1940…Roosevelt would likely have lost the Presidential election in November. And the King…or his older brother… would have shaken hands with Hitler on the balcony of Buckingham palace. The Americans could never have supplied the Russians when the Nazis inevitably turned on them and the Americans would have had no forward base in Europe from which to launch the invasions of North Africa, Italy and France.

A close run thing. At the time, entirely unpredictable

So far, excepting with a few minor details of interpretation, I imagine I’d be in agreement with Boris Johnson and William Rees Mogg…at least in the summary of what was at stake when “we” took to the skies over the South East of England to take on the Luftwaffe in August and September 1940. Where we might differ is in recalling the details of who “we” were…who WERE the “few” to whom so much was and is still owed by so many?

Nearly three thousand pilots – fought in the Battle of Britain. Nearly 600 of them, 20%, were not born in Britain. Around 300 came from the Commonwealth…Canada, New Zealand, Australia…Jamaica, India… Nearly 300, however, came from future EU countries. France, Belgium, Ireland…and from Poland and Czechoslovakia. The most “kills” by any Squadron during the fighting was 201…by 303 Squadron. Who were ALL Polish…

They don’t just do kitchens, you know.

So the only REASONABLE conclusion from the Battle of Britain…and of the fact that 20% of the few weren’t British…and that 10% of them, including the single most effective group of them…were from Europe… is that it was a jolly good thing they were here. And that Britain was saved from Nazi Invasion in 1940 not by standing alone, but by welcoming immigrants…

Sometimes history doesn’t quite teach the lessons that everybody thinks it does.

Comments (47)

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  1. Kenny Smith says:

    Well done Pete. I’d like to see some more historical pieces on here. I admit I’m a history nerd but it’s great to hear another perspective on things. I look forward to a Tuesday’s national for the history pages and it would be great to see some Scottish history that has either been denied or rewritten on here

  2. Moscow says:

    Three thousand Polish pilots weren’t undercutting low paid British workers’ wages, overloading local services like local schools, hospitals and nurseries, nor were they here in such overwhelming numbers that local rents went through the roof and the availability of low-cost housing went through the floor.

    So NOTHING at all like The Battle of Britain unless you accept that the 17.5 million Leave voters were battling to wrest Britain back from the metropolitan elite and liberal , politically correct left wing Nazis that were sailing this nation down the Swannee ( Seine perhaps) towards a European SuperUnion that destroys the concept of nation states and replaces it with a Pan-European Dictatorship…

    EXACTLY WHAT THE POLISH PILOTS WERE FIGHTING AGAINST YOU UTTER NUMPTY!!!!!

    1. LOL the Poles responsible for high rents (!) What an embarrassment.

      Note to Trolls: must try harder.

    2. John S Warren says:

      Daniel Johnson, the historian and journalist wrote a trenchant review of Norman Davies’ book “Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw”, which I illustrate here because this opinion is delivered wholly from a candid British perspective, in the ‘Telegraph’ of all newspapers (10th November, 2003). In one striking paragraph, Johnson wrote this following the extraordinary bravery of the vastly outnumbered Poles in the battle within Warsaw against the Wehrmacht, while the Russian army (our allies) silently waited on the other side of the Vistula for the Germans to destroy the Poles. The Russians would butcher what was left of Poland’s future when the Germans retreated:

      “No less disgraceful was the betrayal of Poland by Roosevelt and Churchill. It is true that they were warned of the Rising only shortly before it began. It is also true that Anglo-American assistance by air was bound to be limited and was heavily dependent on Soviet co-operation, which was not forthcoming. Even so, the long record of broken promises, excuses and evasions before, during and after the Rising is hard to stomach.”

      The Poles came to our aid in our ‘darkest hour’; and we left them to their fate in their darkest hour. I might find some mitigating factors for us in the uncomfortable facts, stresses and impossible choices of the time; but in the 21st century, when the Poles, at last free to join the EU, choose in numbers to come to Britain to work, we should respond with warmth and generosity to their arrival; and yes, perhaps offer just a little added grace and courtesy, if only in memory of Poland’s great sacrifice and heroism that protected our freedoms.

      I consider that such an appalling remark as this:

      “Three thousand Polish pilots weren’t undercutting low paid British workers’ wages, overloading local services like local schools, hospitals and nurseries, nor were they here in such overwhelming numbers that local rents went through the roof and the availability of low-cost housing went through the floor”;

      to be an utter disgrace; a shabby jibe that is perhaps fittingly delivered while hidden behind the appropriately crass pseudonym “Moscow”, that fits well the tawdry, grubby level of the remarks.

      1. Moscow says:

        @ J S Warren.

        If we owe the Polish a degree of grace and favour thanks to the service of 3000 Poles in the RAF then what level of grace and favour does the EU owe Britain for the sacrifice of over 600, 000 British citizens to free them from Nazi tyranny?
        FYI I’m not the author of the article that is trying to suggest that Leave voters are anti- Polish. Leave voters are as proud and endebted to the Polish pilots as anyone but the author’s ridiculous and ignorant assertion that Leave voters know so little of British history that they are unaware of this is plain stupid.
        The issue of mass, unfettered, unplanned immigration and its consequences is a completely different story.BTW the reason I use a pseudonym is because of nasty, vitriolic, violent ScotNats ..thought that was obvious.
        Anyhow you might be happy with this site’s ignorance, false news and prejudice but I prefer truth and honesty.

        1. Me Bungo Pony says:

          Poland alone lost 240,000 military dead and almost 6,000,000 civilian dead compared to the UK’s 451,000 total (not 600,000) during WW2!

          I’m no fan of “my death toll is bigger than your death toll” arguments to justify opinions but …. good grief …. how about a sense of perspective here? Better still, how about a sense of decency?

          1. Moscow says:

            Tbh pal,
            It was the author that wanted to use the war to discredit Brexit.
            That’s opening up a can of worms.
            Your moral indignation is pretentious btw. I don’t buy it.
            The contribution of 300 Polish pilots is irrelevant to todays current political situation and the author knows it…..pathetic tbh.

          2. moscow says:

            With respect . Me Bungo Pony, I said ‘ the sacrifice of over 600,000 British citizens’……not the death of and in fact with wounded it was over 850,000 so I underestimated, but as you say, it’s not about ‘my casualty toll was bigger than your casualty toll’ It’s about the crass attempt by the author to discredit the perfectly valid decision of the British electorate to leave the European Empire by tainting it with the unjustified smear of anti-Polish prejudice.
            Anti-mass, unfettered, unplanned for and unsustainable immigration that penalises the low paid and those with low academic attainment due to employers freedom to import cheap labour rather than upskill and incentivise British workers is the main reason for Brexit NOT anti-Polish/Lithuanian/Latvian etc prejudice.
            The short termism and political correct agenda is what has changed the UK for the worse and the politicians and media that promote this are the culprits.

        2. John S Warren says:

          A pathetic response, in every way. I leave the reader to observe, and judge the wretched standard of debate that you offer, for themselves. It really isn’t difficult, because your comments persitently scrape the barrel.

          I do not intend to debate with this anonymous commenter again; but who knows what form of disguise this kind of method allows anyone to return in? This is “truth and honesty”? You have not only now astonished me with this absurd audacity, but lost me – permanently, I am glad to say.

          1. Moscow says:

            Oh well, I’m sure I can live with that.
            Debating obviously isn’t your forte.

    3. John S Warren says:

      Oh, I can’t resist it! It is just so easy ….. ….

      Here is a stock example of your feeble excuses: “FYI I’m not the author of the article that is trying to suggest that Leave voters are anti- Polish. ” Or, to put it plainly “it wisnae me!”

      ‘Nasty vitriol’ (to apply your own words) is your stock-in-trade. Let me make this very clear; so even you can understand it: “Truth and honesty” do not skulk behind a pseudonym. You can dish it out, but you can’t take it – “pal”.

      Your presence is a vulgar distraction from civilised debate, but I respect the Editor’s liberal tolerance of the intolerant by allowing your guff to persist. You perfectly summed up your methods: “ignorance, false news and prejudice”. You should try commenting on the kind of site in which this kind of rubbish passes for ‘debate’ (a word you clearly do not understand); but if I may paraphrase very loosely Groucho Marx; any Blog that debated at your level would probably ban you.

      The readers can draw their own conclusions from all this.

      1. Moscow says:

        The only thing ‘easy’ is the way you patronise your detractors .
        I wasn’t referring to you when I used the word ‘author’. I was referring to the person that wrote the original article.
        Anyway, I haven’t been nasty or vitriolic but I do think the article is flawed by correlating an extreme event during WW2 with the 17.5 million Brexiteers.
        I do enjoy the way you struggle to cope with alternate points of view to your own.. ….

        1. John S Warren says:

          No, you just don’t cut it. You still don’t understand the criticisms. Your limp attempt to point the finger at somebody else was nothing to do with the ‘author’; it was your inability to take any responsibility for the argument you used. Pathetic.

          Your coarse attacks against people you disagree with, including the author of the article: “numpty”, “Nazi”, “smear” – were all gratuitously used against comments, whether accurate or not, that deserve a reasoned response and genuine debate. No grounds for the excessive personal insults were given by you – because they were just insults pulled out of the air to serve your miserable purpose. You are typical of the craven skulkers; willing to pour poison, provided that you can do it, safe in anonymity. I have no time for it; or you.

          Incidentally, the 26 million Russian dead that you claim “nobody ignores” is inaccurate, and may be set aside. Nobody knows the number of the Soviet dead; they were not, and could not be counted or even accurately estimated. The best estimate is achieved through calculations based on two fixed points before 1941, and after 1945; to establish Soviet population loss, which of course necessarily includes those unborn (the loss was so large, the unborn were statistically significant). The loss of population was far, far beyond 26 million. Along with your other failings, you are – frankly – not very good with facts.

          I invite you to keep going, however because your accumulated comments and gratuitous insults gradually build up a picture of a hopeless blunderer, out of his depth, but intent – I can only assume from its sheer pointlessness – only in mindless disruption.

          Please keep digging that splendid hole you are in; perhaps I could help you with the offer of a larger shovel?

  3. w.b.robertson says:

    a ridiculous assessment. they did not flee from the continent to the UK as asylum seekers, but to escape persecution and death in their own countries. they had every reason to want to fight back, whether on air, land or sea. and they did – for revenge.

    1. Alban Fry says:

      “they did not flee from the continent to the UK as asylum seekers, but to escape persecution and death in their own countries”

      Erm…is that not kind of the definition of an asylum Seeker? Just because the Tories and their acolytes have managed to conflate the words with economic migrancy doesn’t change what they actually mean.

      But then, it’s Christmas. when we celebrate the birth of a middle eastern bastard to awandering child mother who then illegally cross the border into Egypt fleeing persecution, where they live for years as refugees before sneaking back, again illegally to settle.

      I suppose they drove rents up in Nazareth too, and deprived local carpenters of work…

  4. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Of course, the statistic that the Bulldog Breed always ignore is the 26 million Soviet Union dead. The war was substantially won at Stalingrad and Kursk.

    I do not undervalue the heroic efforts of the other allied forces – my father was at El Alamein – but let us acknowledge the multinational nature of these forces and the social class from which most of them came.

    1. moscow says:

      No one EVER ignores the 26 million Russian dead. Where did you dredge that up from ?……And what’s this ‘Bulldog Breed’?

      Dehumanising your opponents is classic fascism…….Nice One Alistair Macdonald.

      True colours shining through!!

  5. Crubag says:

    Wasn’t the lesson that a successful Europe is one of free peoples rather than slaves?

    But it was a British triumph. A very well organised, flexible, and self-healing system delivered with understatement, versus a brittle, totalitarian system where the truth wasn’t allowed to be spoken, and everyone wanted to be the next Red Baron.

    Though there is a question over how serious Hitler was. Having divided up Poland between them, his mind had already turned to betraying his Communist allies, and he may have just been giving his mate Goering a chance to show what he could do.

  6. Willie says:

    Ah well if the Battle of Britain in 1940 was Britain’s finest hour, I don’t now how one would describe recent events in the EU fiasco.

    Moreover with the American military holed up in RAF Mildenhall letting go today with their guns at a car that tried to crash the entry gate, one wonders who is actually calling the shots in Blighty.

    Now I don’t know about the Home Secretary, but when a foreign power can loose of its guns in one of the Home Counties, which I think Suffolk is, then it tells you what a vassal state the UK actually is.

    Moreover, can’t help but think that the Guentanamo Bay complex in Scotland that is RNAD Faslane, is exactly the same. A holed up nuclear missile weapons system provided by, and effectively controlled by, the Americans who will decide if, when and who it is to be fired at.

  7. SleepingDog says:

    So the British finest hour (shall we say, of the 20th century) was defending itself from attack? That’s a bit self-interested, isn’t it? Not to say obvious.

    The British did not defend their far-flung and exploited colonies with such zeal. Places like Malta were crying out for protection which was prioritised elsewhere. Indeed, plenty of other places and people took a beating so that the Imperial homeland would be protected.

    Surely the finest hour of the 20th century British could be found in some more gracious, altruistic contribution or sacrifice? Or at least the drafting of human rights legislation that at last recognised universal and equal humanity?
    https://rightsinfo.org/wrote-european-convention-human-rights/

  8. Moscow says:

    @Sleeping dog. ..
    The British weren’t attacking Poland, Malta or our far flung colonial outposts ….. It was Angela Merkel’s ancestors and the Japanese in the East.
    Go have a conversation with them…..tho’ no doubt you’ll end up siding with them against Britain as usual.
    A finest hour always comes in adversity btw, not when writing a list of rules for despots to ignore.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Moscow, I’m not sure you’ve understood my point, which is that the UK government drew in resources from its Empire to protect the homeland, while failing to competently its colonies (like Singapore).

      You unilaterally declare that “a finest hour always comes in adversity”. That’s one view, and in this case has a militaristic flavour (of course, then you’d have to say that the Soviet Union’s finest hour in Stalingrad was orders of magnitude finer than the British one, and a tad more inclusive). Even better would be Cuba’s support for the African nations defending themselves against Apartheid South African and state terrorist USA aggression, since they were helping other people.

      You will find alternative “finest hours” if you consider viewpoints legalist, educationalist, public health, scientific, ethical, human rights, environmental, cultural and so forth, so I really disagree with Peter Arnott’s jingoistic and elitist framing in his first paragraph, which is reminiscent of a schoolboy crush on Thermopylae, although I expect he may have not meant it seriously.

  9. florian albert says:

    The Polish airmen – and soldiers and sailors – who came here at the start of World War II, did not come here as immigrants. They came to continue the fight against the country which had invaded their homeland and was massacring thousands of Poles in a conscious policy designed to reduce the Polish nation to total servility.
    Similarly, using the phrase ‘criminal’ to describe Churchill’s decision to sink the French fleet at Oran is offensive.
    I have no idea whether Peter Arnott is a good dramatist. His grasp of history is poor.

  10. J Galt says:

    “Sealion” was never more than a Ruse de Guerre.

    Stalin had tricked Hitler in August 1939 into starting WW2 and intended to enter the war in 1942 by invading a Europe weakened as he hoped by a two years repeat of WW1 with France and Germany locked in a death struggle – the NKVD would deal with fascists and democrats alike with a bullet in the back of the head, which is indeed how they dealt with our gallant Polish allies at Katyn.

    The spectacular and unexpected fall of France upset the timetable and the Soviet Economy went onto a war footing with the invasion of Europe retimed for July/August 1941.

    Hitler realised his mistake and “Barbarossa” in June 1941 was a desperate gamble for which the Wehrmacht was ill prepared. German forces started moving east from France as early as June 1940, the barges lined up in French ports were just window dressing for the RAF to photograph. The German High command who held Hitler in contempt went along with the pre-emptive invasion of the USSR because they knew it was their only chance and a slim one at that.

    Hitler was “defeated” in August 1939 by Stalin when he agreed to the Ribbentrop/Molotov pact, which was nothing less than the death warrant of the Third Reich before Britain even was at war, Stalin proved to be a craftier player than Hitler.

    Remember Britain was only up against the enemy “Main Force” for 3 weeks in May/June 1940, after June 1941 the only thing that mattered was the Eastern Front, everything else was a sideshow.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @J Galt, yes I have heard credible accounts that the invasion of Britain was a faked threat at that time. Also that the Germans wanted the RAF to focus on unproductive operations on continental Europe, rather than on building new long-range anti-naval aircraft which would have jeopardised the longer term strategy of submarine strangulation of supply convoys to the UK.

      Which surely downgrades the RAF’s defence from an existential fight (not that these defenders would have known). Mind you, I think the sailors on the Arctic convoys had comparatively a much tougher time with very little recognition (a belated medal 70 years too late, for example) yet a profound contribution to the war effort on the Eastern Front.
      https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2013/february/26/130226-arctic-convoy-heroes-can-begin-applying-for-their-ww2-campaign-medal-now

      Perhaps it is just unfair to others to promote any “finest hour” as if it was some throwaway clickbait top-10.

  11. Derek says:

    To conclude it was a jolly good thing the British had an empire to pool resources from!!a big hoorah to all involved !!! But alas those pesky Huns have clawed their way back in by the guise of eu…a Germanic totalitarian regime ..,good ole blightys pulled the plug on that aswell hoorah again!!! A third and final hoorah for trident!!keeping Europe largely at peace for 2 generations!!

  12. Clanjamphry says:

    Here’s some truth and honesty about Churchill for those seeking it. Churchill was a courageous and inspirational leader in a vast Empire which for generations had brought misery and terror to billions…. and immense riches to Great Britain. It spanned his entire life. He was very much a war criminal, sometimes a successful one, in several wars.

    In war the most effective use of violence, terror and destruction is what guarantees success, whether in the war room or in hand to hand combat. Even against undefended targets, civilians, or an inferior/unarmed opposition. If it furthers a tactical or strategic goal a commander will sacrifice allies or even their own people when necessary. Churchill recognised that, and did not flinch. Oran, Dresden and Bengal, all proved it beyond any reasonable doubt. There are many other examples. None more awful than Bengal.

    I’m glad he stood against Hitler, and persuaded the British establishment to do the same, but let’s not gloss over the reality of what war is, or how the British became so accomplished at it. Indeed let’s not overlook the complexity of people or politics either.

    He advocated for a war which in fact broke the Empire, and ensured it would not have “a thousand years”, nor barely a single generation longer, to find any finer hour. Knowingly or not, he called it right. Churchill also recognised that the point of civilisation and indeed politics, was to avoid conflagrations which require such wilful and merciless slaughter. Or indeed rewarded those who were best at it. In conflict he was brutally ruthless. In peace he became very much the statesman, and that is where this connects again to the the need for an EU, which he also judged correctly.

    In 1946 Churchill delivered a speech at the University of Zurich, in which he advocated a ‘United States of Europe’. His continued advocacy and involvement propelling further integration, and pan-european institutions, which led to the Treaty of Rome ten years later. It was also Churchill who would first moot the idea of a ‘European army’. As I said, A courageous and inspirational leader, who for all his brutality, racism, and many other flaws, ultimately stood for peace, and for European integration in an emerging new world. A world where the emerging Superpowers would dwarf the military, industrial or economic capacity of an isolated Britain.

    We undoubtedly find much more disregard for pan-national institutions, and greater support for criminalising or vilifying immigrants or immigration, as distraction from our own inadequacies, if we look not to Churchill, but to the likes of Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell, or Donald Trump, for inspiration. Any comfort found by anyone in that trio’s ideals or aims is to all our great peril, but none more so than to those who harbour or share them.

  13. Calum McIntosh says:

    Europe has learned through the EU that co-operation is the way forward. It raises the standards of all, provides frameworks that ensure quality and removes many of the tensions that exist between countries.

    Sadly the uk or more specifcally England, is blind to the obvious and is steeped in a false belief that it can return to empire and domination – fools!

    1. Moscow says:

      I didn’t see much EU cooperation when dealing with Greece’s financial meltdown nor with Poland and their issues with their judiciary. Nor with the UK and it’s fair and legal decision to leave the EU.
      The EU can work for all if it reigns in its Empirical ambitions.
      I know not why you proffer the false narrative that the UK wants to recreate it’s former Empire. That’s false, lazy and ignorant.

      1. John S Warren says:

        Well, well so here you are; still digging your hole.

        “The EU can work for all if it reigns in its Empirical ambitions”.

        Empirical ambitions? What on earth are those? Now what could it be the EU is trying to observe and verify? Could it be that you have confused “Empirical” with “Imperial”? Surely not! For that really would be “false, lazy and ignorant”.

        1. Moscow says:

          Another typically patronising response from you.
          You could have picked me up for using ‘reigns’ instead of reins but you didn’t
          Does that make you ‘false,lazy and ignorant ‘ also…. by your standards..
          it does….not by my standards as a typo or a misspelling or a predictive texting error is not something to comment on or judge someone by…..It is, however, often sadly used by people , such as yourself, when they have lost an argument. ..!!
          Why don’t you try debating the subject to hand instead of getting personal.?

          1. John S Warren says:

            Keep digging. You accused Mr McIntosh of being (!?) “false, lazy and ignorant” without providing any argument at all. It is your sole technique. I think you have made nine comments in this thread and there is not a single argument in any of them; simply personal abuse, usually combined with a dismal, self-serving, lazy ex-post excuse for each blunder you commit when it is exposed. You are a time-waster, and although I rarely care to waste my time, on this occasion I was not inclined to allow you to go through this thread and treat fair comment with gratuitous accusations, insults, sneers, patronising dismissal and abuse (but not a single argument) – against the writer of the article, and no less than four commenters (excluding myself, and I only joined in this thread because I took exception to your comments, and decided I had seen enough of what appeared no more than deliberate disruption of reasonable, civilised debate).

            Here is your stock in trade substitute for argument:

            UTTER NUMPTY
            Nazi
            nasty, vitriolic violent
            smear
            False, lazy and ignorant
            Your moral indignation is pretentious
            classic fascism
            false, lazy and ignorant

            I could go on. None of these gratuitous comments were deserved (or justified, or even explained) and they are quite clearly, personal, offensive comments; made by you, as always, hiding in wretched anonymity. You leave a trail of offensiveness behind you, and then enter each new comment, as if nothing had happened; as if you were the very soul of “truth and honesty”(!).

            You have slithered, backtracked and wriggled over the Poles who have come here to work (some of them perhaps the grandchildren of Polish wartime pilots, for all we know), and what you originally meant in you remarks, but here to remind you – and anyone else still reading this exhausted thread – is what you actually wrote about the Poles at the beginning of the comment section: it was wrong, offensive, uncalled for, and totally unjustifiable:

            “Three thousand Polish pilots weren’t undercutting low paid British workers’ wages, overloading local services like local schools, hospitals and nurseries, nor were they here in such overwhelming numbers that local rents went through the roof and the availability of low-cost housing went through the floor.”

            You offered absolutely no evidence for any of these remarks; and for the avoidance of doubt, without evidence and sources your comments are completely worthless. You clearly do not understand the nature of debate and what is required in forming a rational argument. Your standard of debating is atrocious.

            I have responded to your offensive guff by rebutting your arguments, and pointing out (firmly when necessary) your distinct inability to form a coherent, or even a courteous argument. Your contributions are a disgrace and I will keep reminding you of your inadequacy as long as you are on this thread; of that you may be certain.

          2. moscow says:

            Thank you for condescending to putting me right. You obviously have far too much time on your hands.
            I am struck by your sensitivity to criticism and an alternative narrative to your own.
            The tone of this discourse was set by the author of the article and his claim to ‘piss Nigel Farage off’.
            The whole premise of the article was lazy, false and ignorant. To conflate the wartime efforts of a very small number of Polish pilots with the millions of immigrants that have come to Britain as a result of EU freedom of movement policies and then suggest that their contribution to UK life was in any way similar is false, lazy and ignorant. It doesn’t take in to account the negative effects that mass, unfettered , unplanned unregulated and unexpected immigration has had on many people and many communities throughout the UK.
            Maybe it has only affected you in a positive way. Lucky you. But to deny other’s real experiences is exactly why 17.5million people voted Brexit. …..Not because they don’t like Polish people or foreigners. The British are the probably amongst the most welcoming and tolerant people on Earth, but because their concerns were dismissed and ignored…….by people just like you, no doubt. I don’t need to provide ‘evidence’ or ‘links’ or anything like that because my comments are self evident.
            You say I haven’t provided any arguments……That’s because my reason for commenting was to highlight the poorly made point and the conflated issues in the original article. That I have done, much to your distress.
            You say I have insulted and abused.
            Most of the ‘insults’ were aimed at the site in general or, such as the ‘nasty, vitriolic, violent’ comment was aimed at the whole NationalistCyberBully brigade that is famous for it’s uncompromising arrogance and hate and and not any individual and some of those statements you have highlighted i.e.. ‘your moral indignation is pretentious’ isn’t abuse.

            Calling someone a numpty could be classed as very minor , nursery school playground level abuse and I offer a very minor, nursery school playground level apology to the author who should perhaps keep ill-formed views to himself if that bothers him

            So , anyway, whatever. You are very sensitive and have too much time on your hands and, if you are able, should get out more. I have made my point that the article was shite, the conflation of two distinct and separate issues have no relevance to each other or to Nigel Farage and Brexit and that this site has a habit of trashing history to promulgate it’s own narrow Nationalistic agenda and has no hesitation in trampling on the truth in the process…..But you already know and condone that.

          3. John S Warren says:

            You must have dug that hole sufficiently deep to strike oil soon; or in your case gas, or at least hot air. Yup, that’ll be hot air.

            1) “I don’t need to provide ‘evidence’ or ‘links’ or anything like that because my comments are self evident.”

            That must go down as one of the stupidist observations that could be made by any commentor – as a defence – that has actually been committed to a keyboard. Your appeal to self-evidence is just lazy, ignorant and plain false. Nothing is that easy; you are just offering another feeble cop-out. I hate to admit it, but this so dumb, it is almost entertaining.

            2) “Most of the ‘insults’ were aimed at the site in general”

            No they weren’t. You chose to reply specifically to the author, and four individual commentors individually; and insulted or abused them all. You really are hopeless at finding a good excuse for bad behaviour.

            3) “You say I haven’t provided any arguments……That’s because my reason for commenting was to highlight the poorly made point and the conflated issues in the original article.”

            No, the way you challenge a bad argument is providing a good one to rebut it. As you admit above – you do not offer any arguments. You really do not know how debate works, do you? Or you simply don’t care.

            You then go on to heap abuse on everyone, and now use the grubbiest, coarsest language to do so – presumably as fairly clear evidence to anyone reading this thread that your standards are derived straight from the gutter. Of course it is all carried out anonymously; well you would hide, wouldn’t you. Who would actually wish to admit they had written that vulgar rubbish. If you are proud of it – then pluck up the (currently entirely absent) courage to provide your real name.

            You are the gift that keeps on giving. It must be Christmas. You have provided me with a splendid illustration of the comprehensively dim-witted activity of a ‘troll’, to offer to the world. I trust it is widely read, for you make my case for me.

            As I said – keep going; please.

          4. Moscow says:

            In your own head you are a beacon of virtue and civility…..you own the moral high ground and serenely and saintly deign to put heathens like me in their place….like a Christian crusader slaughtering the Ottomans.
            The truth is you have done nothing of the sort.
            You have abjectly failed to accept my perfectly well laid point about failings in the overall premise of the original artitle.
            Your focus on some of the stronger words chosen by me and your disingenuous attempt to change the target of those words says much about your lack of honesty.
            You then, hypocritically go on to call either me or my statements…..dim, hopeless,stupid, vulgar, rubbish, from the gutter,
            That is seriously patronising and disrespectful and then you go on to lecture me about how to ‘debate’. If that’suits your debating style it needs a bit of refining itself. All this holier than though nonsense about ‘the gift that keeps giving’….that’s cringe worthy debating patter.
            I made the point ( ignored by you) that my intention was not to debate but to make a statement about the poor standard of the lead article . I succeeded in that, you took offence and have since gone on this pathetic crusade to discredit me with little reference to the original article….quite amusing tbh and confirms my original point was correct. I look forward to your next incandescent tirade.
            BTW, I’ve also already made the point ( ignored by you) that my anonymity is my protection against the nasty, vitriolic, violent ScotNat extremists that pollute our political landscape. You should respect that….unless you agree with those tactics. Perhaps you do!

          5. John S Warren says:

            Still pathetic. Still whinging, apologetic drivel when challenged. Still writing rubbish. At least the bad language appears to have been curbed; but forgive me if I think it doesn’t mean much.

            Still the arrant nonsense about protecting your anonymity from “nasty, vitriolic, violent ScotNat extremists that pollute our political landscape”. Try looking in the mirror instead, because if it is here, you brought. From over here, protecting your anonymity while delivering abuse to commentors and the author just looks spineless.

            Keep going, and keep making my case. It is becoming a case study in ineptitude.

  14. William Ross says:

    Looking again at Bella Caledonia on a quiet Christmas morning, I come across this article by Peter Arnott and the hilarious comments.

    A few words on the article. Peter Arnott ( a playwright?) starts by saying that he means to “piss Nigel Farage off”. Peter’s article is poor even by Bella’s standards, and nobody, Leave or Remain, can see Peter’s point.

    Let’s look at the structure of the piece. After his aspirational “Farage” sentence, Peter goes into a historical dialogue about 1940, the Battle of Britain and it’s attendant uncertainty, and the importance of “the few”. Because some 10% of the RAF pilots of 1940 were Polish ( and they were brilliant) that shows how we should be welcoming to immigrants, and Brexit is awful. 1940, then, teaches us something about Brexit. What a brilliant argument!

    Peter’s history is iffy and incomplete. Had we lost the Battle of Britain, Peter assures us, the Germans would surely have invaded before bad weather set in in the Fall of 1940. Having had a father who served in the Battle of the Atlantic, I can assure him that this is not so. The “many” of the British Navy constituted just as big an obstacle to Hitler as the “few” of the RAF. Incidentally, many Poles, some in Polish flagged vessels, served in that naval force. Peter also suggests that Churchill was a “criminal” I regard that as being as offensive. He was certainly a chauvinist child of his time. Criminals were in Berlin and Moscow.

    Peter rightly highlights the international flavour of the RAF ( and by extension all Allied Forces). But the gallant Poles did not come as immigrants, they came as servicemen to continue the war as required by their legitimate government in exile. Others, perhaps lacking opportunity, opted to continue in continental resistance ( with the Home Army). The Poles who fought in Britain had as their goals, the expulsion of the Nazi invaders ( and murderers) and the re-establishment of Polish sovereignty and freedom. To use a modern slogan, they sought to “take back control”. They knew that it was absolutely vital to sustain the flame of freedom burning in the UK , as the continent lay prostrate before the monsters of Berlin and Moscow.

    My father often told me that the Jack Tar regarded the Poles ( and the Norwegians also) as being the finest Allied co-combatants. Very nations stand higher in the roll of freedom than Poland. I think of 1940, the storming of Cassino, the Battle of Arnhem and more recently the gallant Polish Pope, Lech Walesa and Solidarity. In fact, you can say that the Poles have been instrumental in breaking Nazi and Marxist tyranny. To try to turn the Polish heroism of 1940 into an anti-Brexit argument is dreadful ( and I could find choicer words for it)

    So we come to “Moscow”‘s response, which I think is expressed much too strongly. The Leave that I support is pro-immigrant but against uncontrollable immigration. I have skin in this game, as my wife and son are from South America. I have a particular respect for Poland for historical reasons and because Polish immigrants are honest and hard-working. Being a YES supporter, I have no doubt that Scotland needs more immigration, and such a need could even be accommodated in the UK.

    John Warren makes much of the fact that Moscow hides behind anomynity. From previous articles, I understood that John Warren was also not a real person? Is that not so?

    I am glad that John highlights the brutal betrayal of the Polish Rising of 1994. We should be grateful for the collapse of Soviet Communism. How many of the heroes of 1994 lived to see the truimph of 1989? When will the Marxists ever give up? Remember that Arthur Scargill reviled Solidarity? How much support did the British Left give to Polish patriots in the years 1945 to 1989? Which statesmen/organisations are most responsible for a free Poland today? Ronald Reagan, Mrs Thatcher and NATO. What did the EEC/EC do? Virtually nothing.

    It would be much better if John Warren makes a New Year resolution to stop wasting space critiquing the form of detractors arguments and actually focus on substance. He sounds like a proletarian Captain Mainwaring chastising some Corporal Wilson.

    1. John Warren is a real person.
      Peter Arnott is a playwright.
      The intro is not by the author.
      You ask: “How many of the heroes of 1994 lived to see the truimph of 1989?”
      Quite a few I’d imagine.
      Your comment is poor, even by your standards.

    2. florian albert says:

      To William Ross,

      Is the reference to the ‘Polish Rising of 1994’ not a misprint ?
      I assume it is a reference to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

      I do not agree with every point you have made but it is far from being a ‘poor comment’ as the editor of Bella Caledonia has described it.

    3. John S Warren says:

      “From previous articles, I understood that John Warren was also not a real person? Is that not so?”

      No it isn’t so. I use my real name. You have simply “spun” that remark out of nothing. You have no grounds whatsoever for making it; and I am confident that I have made it abundantly clear in the past – following another anonymous commentor’s remarks (I do not recall the details) – that I use my own name. So it is actually worse than groundless.

      I do not intend to debate you other remarks; but at least you form an argument that may actually be joined and debated.

    4. John S Warren says:

      Since part of your reply refers to my “critque”, I might – with reason – merely note for consideration, that not only did I “focus on the substance”, but Mr Ross actually used part of it: “I am glad that John highlights the brutal betrayal of the Polish Rising of 1994.” (not 1994, incidentally). This was in the context of a longer defence of Polish emigration to the UK. There was, therefore an argument on “substance”. Your reference to my need to “focus on substance” was therefore quite obviously inaccurate; a point you made rather well for me.

      That is all I have to say. I do not intend to begin another line of debate on this thread, for obvious reasons.

    5. Moscow says:

      Thank you, William Ross, for putting a very thoughtful and balanced summary of this thread..

      I fully accept your charge that my response was too strong. I guess that’s because I was absolutely disgusted by Arnott’s ham-fisted attempt to claim the Polish people’s sacrifice and heroism of WW2 for the anti-Brexit campaign. His article also hinted that everyone else’s efforts in the war were more heroic than those of Britain’s…….as if you could even compare in any meaningful way!
      Like you I have immense respect for everyone who fought the fascists in the 30’s and 40’s and Communism from the 50’s through to the fall of Soviet tyranny.

      Like you I have doubted John Warren’s authenticity. More likely he’s a bully account set up by the editor to dish out abuse that can’t be traced back to the editorial team.

      I also agree that Scotland needs more immigration. This country is as stagnant as a pool of cow piss on a summers day, both genetically and economically.
      However, it needs thoughtful, planned, targeted and agreed immigration that invites people in that the country wants…….i.e no criminals ………with skills or attributes the country needs, who will go where the country needs them, for as long as the country needs them( with, perhaps, an inbuilt incentive for citizenship should certain criteria be met over a given time-frame) ….who have a basic level of language skills and only AFTER we have ensured Scottish folk aren’t being denied access to work, training or upskilling first.
      Now, we Scottish folk are an intelligent, innovative and progressive people so I’m sure we are fully capable of creating such a system.

      As for my anonymity……By far the most sensible way to contribute on a political forum in my opinion. I assume we all agree I’m entitled to my opinion? Surely the basis of free speech is one’s opinion!

      1. “Like you I have doubted John Warren’s authenticity. More likely he’s a bully account set up by the editor to dish out abuse that can’t be traced back to the editorial team.”

        You’ll need to retract that baseless remark immediately.

        You may hide behind anonymoty but neither I nor any of my writers do.

        1. John S Warren says:

          “Like you I have doubted John Warren’s authenticity. More likely he’s a bully account set up by the editor to dish out abuse that can’t be traced back to the editorial team.”

          Another baseless accusation, indulged by a low-grade anonymous “troll”. As ever you are wholly, carelessly and ineptly wrong; a bungler. I am entitled to expect a retraction from Mr Ross for starting this canard, but while I am entitled to demand one from you, I expect nothing from a contemptible “troll” who has shown no respect for any standards of debate at all.

          Fortunately you have turned this thread into a textbook example of trolling, which I would hope could be used widely as an example of the ‘technique’. You just can’t help it.

          You falsely imply that I am a “bully account”; but you are the bully: set up “to dish out abuse that can’t be traced back” to YOURSELF, whoever or whatever you are. As ever you fail to notice that you are the perfect exemplar of everything you claim to deplore; a sign in normal life of rank hypocrisy.

    6. John S Warren says:

      Mr Ross.

      For the avoidance of doubt I am waiting for, and expect, a retraction of the baseless suggestion that I am not a “real person”; a fatuous rumour – begun solely and clearly, by YOU alone.

  15. William Ross says:

    Dear All

    I just happened to re-visit this thread on 29 Dec. I note the on-going comments.

    John: I note that you are a real person and I apologise for raising the issue. It was a question and not an assertion.

    Florian: You are off course right, the right date for the Warsaw Rising is off course 1944. Slip of the button.

    Regards

    William Ross

    1. John S Warren says:

      A gracious apology Mr Ross. Accepted.

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