The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Monday, January 27, 2003
Could the new silent majority really stymie the war?
The role of Neville Chamberlain in the years before World War 2 was a fixture in War Party rhetoric a few months ago. His most striking verbal contribution, however, occurred on April 5 1940, when he told an audience
Hitler has missed the bus.
The same day on which Royal Navy vessels leave port bound for the truly shambolic Norway 'invasion' .
Now, I don't reckon many Britons believed Chamberlain  at the time. And cynicism is perhaps the safest reaction in time of near-war to any proposition remotedly smacking of bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover.
About this piece from Sunday's London Observer, I'm not totally sure.
It picks up on a point that I've made several times before here - most recently here - that polling numbers against the war (in large majorities, against a war without express UN approval) are useless unless politically organised. And the writer's deeply sceptical (as I am) about the effectiveness of street protests in slowing down or stopping the march to war. (So perhaps my hesitation over the piece is just unconscious flattery - judge for yourself....)
Her idea (to which she gives much less space than those she rejects!) is that Tony Blair is listening to the silent, stay-at-home majority; that his espousing (and getting Bush to espouse, however faithlessly) the UN route can be attributed to the threat that all this political potential energy lounging on the sofas of Britain could be roused to do him damage unless he went slowly.
And that - unfortunately - is it. She leaves out the key detail - the method whereby this damage could actually be inflicted if Blair once says, Bugger the UN! and the war kicks off.
It's the same problem the no-appeasement fanatics have with arguing that Hitler could have been stopped long before Munich. For the argument to be credible, they must say how. Who is supposed to have done what on what day, etc, etc.
So, credit for realism on the effectiveness of demos; but not even close - and certainly no cigar - on how popular anti-war sentiment can be activated.
Perhaps, in next week's column......
CORRECTION Not so much Homerus dormitans as the old guy after a sackful of magic mushrooms! As the page linked states, the Speak for England quote was uttered on September 2 1939 - in response to a suggestion from Chamberlain that a withdrawal of German forces across the Polish borders might be the basis of negotiations. As Captain Mainwaring would have said....
On the bright side, checking the entirely self-indulgent Latin tag got me to the excellent Perseus Digital Library with more classical-related stuff than you could shake a stick at (including an online Lewis & Short, by the look of it. For me, Latin in earnest was a very long time ago.....)
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