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  1. For once  Channel 4 has contributed to the intelligence of the nation!

     Make Bradford British was a thought provoking and touching series, much needed to stimulate conversations about difference, and whether it matters for instance how a girl chooses to dress, whether a person goes to Mosque, Church or Temple or none of these. Check this out if you missed the series.http://www.channel4.com/programmes/make-bradford-british/articles/diversity-and-difference

    Jeremy Paxman continues to try to find people, living in the ex colonies now, who will castigate entirely the legacy of the British Empire, in his series Empire. Mostly the responses are about what they have now because of the British having been in their country then, like the railway system in India, shifting six million passengers every day. The schools in central Africa begun by the missionaries, and still operating. Democracy was another gift left where we had been and no mean gift. The civil service and law which regulated the 'dominions' has a legacy in the civil administrations still extant in India. Even a Mau Mau activist in Kenya could say that she is thankful for the school system left by the missionaries.

    No one can say that the British Empire was entirely 'good' or 'bad'.  It happened, as the Roman Empire, the Egyptian Empire, the Spanish Empire all happened.  All we can say is that we can look back now and see the effects which we live with now.

    We have an exciting mix of peoples from all over the world.  This is our legacy of our Empire. It adds to the excitement of life here in the UK,  in terms of music, dance, literature and  business. It widens the gene pool which is a healthy thing for us as a nation.

     I think we need to have pride in this legacy, instead of being hangdog and 'ashamed' for the bad things which happened. We have to live  in the present.  It is what it is! Accept and grow!   

  2. In his extended rant of a book 'Empire' (and his series of the same name on BBC 1 tonight at 9pm, March 6, 2012 )  Jeremy Paxman castigates the manner in which the Brits in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries walked into countries and made themselves at home, while improving trade and exploiting the natural resources they found. But such is the way with empires.  Hindsight is a cracked prism through which to view our history.

     If you are in the driving seat at the time, you have the power, the influence and sufficient arrogance, which  always accompanies imperialism in every age, then in the 'interests' of your own country and yourself, you wade in and take whatever you can.  'Twas ever thus and always will be , humanity being what it is.  It seems to me to be a questionable approach to call 'shame upon us' for our rapacious ancestors. 

    I have to remind myself when driving through Kenton  and Harrow, feeling disapproval at the demise of the 'English gardens' to shiny paving,  plastic bins and multiple cars, that we, the British did exactly the same in India.  We created Home Counties enclaves in the hill stations,  to sit out the hottest part of the season. We had bridge clubs, rose gardens, tennis and polo clubs all just for the Brits. I don't expect that the local Indians particularly liked that either.

    However the UK is now reaping a kind of reward in the influx of talented, hard working, family oriented immigrants now settled here. They have changed our landscape in many ways. They bring big brains, the drive to succeed and new blood, which the UK is benefitting from already. It's reverse colonisation and it's a reward that we hardly deserve, given the suspicion often felt towards these 'foreigners' who are now mainly British born or new citizens of our country.

    Take the long view.


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