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Valpariso or Bust!

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If you’re ever down in Valpariso, Chile, you’re bound to come across the massive stone memorial to Thomas Cochrane. There’s even a museum to the former Earl of Dundonald located in the city down near the harbour. Now why would a city 7,000 miles away from the UK have both a museum and memorial to a man born in Hamilton and interred in Westminster Abbey? The answer is simple; Lord Cochrane was instrumental in the preparing the newly-formed Chilean Navy in the battle for independence from Spain. He became Vice Admiral of the Chilean Navy, ensconcing British Navy personnel in the highest echelons of its Chilean counterpart. After successfully seeing off the Spanish in the Pacific, Cochrane became a Chilean citizen for a while before returning to the UK in 1822.

People who have been instrumental in changing the course of history – either in their own country or in another – should be honoured by that particular country. It’s why Chile has a statue of Thomas Cochrane; why we here in Britain have one of Gandhi in Parliament Square; and why Churchill has parks named after him in Copenhagen, busts of him in Prague, schools named after him in Canada and the United States, and a boulevard named after him in Paris.

In short, Churchill isn’t like any other Prime Minister. He isn’t a Blair, a Brown, a Wilson, or even a Thatcher. The man played a huge role in helping to steer a conflict involving the United States and much of the rest of the world. That’s why Biden removing his bust from the Oval Office isn’t the same as removing the bust of any other British PM would be. That’s why it’s a snub to the United Kingdom. And why, despite the oversweet overtures towards Boris on the phone, represents what the man really thinks of this country.

When you have a President who, if he were really honest, would likely sooner have busts of George Floyd or Martin McGuinness in his office than that of a prominent wartime leader, you’ve really got to wonder about his sense of perspective.

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