The National Rail Museum in Delhi is basically a shrine to the development of the Indian railway network by the British during colonial times. Not only is there a dedicated educational exhibition hall on the history of railway construction in India, the place is littered with engines built in places like Leeds, Ipswich, Stoke and Glasgow. One is reminded of how British rule cemented India as one of the world’s great railway nations, and how things could have been very different had the country not been part of the British Empire for almost a century.
One of the things that distinguished British colonial rule from that of other European powers was in its manner of administration. Whilst the likes of the French and Spanish were keen to micro-manage almost every aspect of colonial governance, the British preferred to sub-contract out that rule to local people. It led to an Empire far more manageable and comparatively benign in its model. The very fact the Commonwealth exists at all is testament to a sense of kinship existing between the UK and most of its former colonial possessions.
I’m not attempting to defend the concept of empire here. Nor am I attempting to whitewash some of the atrocities which occurred under British rule. The one that most springs to mind is the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, when British troops fired on more than 400 unarmed Indian civilians (mainly Sikhs) who had defied a colonial order not to gather en masse in public places. It was a cruel, murderous act that probably did more than anything else to kick-start the movement for Indian independence.
But I am not going to personally apologise for that, any more than a young German citizen needs to repent for the actions of the Gestapo. The fact is the history of the world is full of examples of empires – from the Greek to the Roman to the Viking, and atrocities to match. Are contemporary nations supposed to atone for actions carried out in different times, with different values and different people? Absolutely not!
Can you imagine what the neo-Marxist agitators in our school and university systems would make of a Corbyn government keen to waste yet more of our money on pointless, skewered investigations into Empire? This is nothing more than another radical socialist effort to inculcate a sense of national collective self-loathing in our country, its history, the development of its most cherished institutions and its former role in the world – a role that gave the rest of the planet far more than it ever took away.
We all know Corbyn hates Britain. You can see the pained expression on his face when he has to stand at the Cenotaph each November; you realise it when he’s prepared to offer Scottish secessionists another bite of the cherry on breaking up the Union; you see the glow in his eyes when he’s sipping coffee with IRA apologists in the Commons. Luckily, this Britophobia is a fringe Leftist indulgence. Let’s not let the poison seep out by electing such lunacy to power.