The results, published in the Express, show a discouraging trend. One in four believe we are living in the least patriotic decade ever. The 1940s were named as the decade patriotism was at its height when the nation had been brought together by the Second World War.
The report shows that 79 per cent consider themselves patriotic with almost 90 per cent saying they are proud of their birthplace. Sadly, 22 per cent fear ridicule or abuse if they were to air those same views publicly with one in five feeling they can only display patriotism during large events when it is being encouraged.
“In today’s political and cultural climate, in a divided Brexit Britain, expressing pride in your birth nation can feel like something of a social grey area. “Our study has found that many of us are proud of our country, though feel it is generally only appropriate to express this pride at particular times.” according to Mr. Tatton-Brown.
In 1933, the Oxford Union — a debating society and one of the strongholds of liberal elite opinion — held a debate on the resolution “this House will in no circumstances fight for king and country.” The resolution passed. Margot Asquith, one of England’s leading liberal lights, wrote that same year, quite sincerely: “There is only one way of preserving peace in the world, and getting rid of your enemy, and that is to come to some sort of agreement with him. . . . The greatest enemy of mankind today is hate.”
Churchill disdained the new liberalism, mocking one of his opponents as part of “that band of degenerate international intellectuals who regard the greatness of Britain and the stability and prosperity of the British Empire as a fatal obstacle. . . . ” So deep was this liberal loathing of empire that even as the first shots of World War II were being fired, Churchill’s private secretary, Jock Colville, witnessed at a theater “a group of bespectacled intellectuals” who, to his shock, “remain[ed] firmly seated while ‘God Save the King’ was played.”
These elites could see evil only at home. The French intellectual Simone de Beauvoir did not believe that Germany was a “threat to peace,” but instead worried that the “panic that the Right was spreading” would drag France, Britain, and the rest of Europe into war. Stafford Cripps, a liberal Labor member of Parliament, feared not Hitler, but Churchill. Cripps wrote that after Churchill became prime minister he would “then introduce fascist measures and there will be no more general elections.”
In an important sense, the British Empire’s strength failed because its elite liberal citizens stopped believing in it.
An attitude they would increasingly reacquire in the decades following WWII.