Monday, 5 June 2017

It's time we remembered who we are

Yesterday I was aboard HMS Somerset. She really is a fine ship. Probably the last direct descendent of WW2 era front line warships. I have a strong affinity with the Royal Navy but I have a particular soft spot for the Type 23 so this was Christmas come early for me.

On board I met some of the crew and had a chat with them. I was struck by how young the crew is. Even the mid ranking officers are younger than me. All of them though were polite, well turned out young people, confident in their stride and immensely capable. I was already impressed but I came away bursting with pride that this is our navy and our people.

I know one is not supposed to get misty-eyed about flags and such, but to see the Union Flag fluttering proudly from the bow was a moment of real pleasure for me. Though I was standing on the deck of one of the more modern ships in the fleet, there was something very familiar about it.

I've been on older classes of frigate before and for all that the black boxes and missiles have evolved, you still know you're on a Royal Navy ship. Nothing has changed and you can see that centuries of tradition have somehow survived. There is nothing more quintessentially British.

This is why I will always argue for a strong navy as a priority over much else. As much as the Royal Navy performs vital functions from sea lane security to defence of the realm, it represents the best of Britain. The best ships, the best air wing, the best people, the best country. An affirmation of everything good about Britain.

I am also reminded that for whatever divisions exist within the country, and for whatever alliances our politicians make, the real glue that binds us is HM armed forces. Our crews are Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Kiwi, Canadian, English and Australian. We can be politically bound by a ring of stars but British identity and is tied up in these alliances where all fight as one. This is why I will oppose to my last breath the chippy upstarts of the SNP - the misanthropes who want to shatter something far more valuable than EU membership.

The threats we face in the modern world are now just as likely to come from within our own borders. We are threatened by people who have found themselves isolated and detached. This is partly because, for a time, we have refused to stand up and say that we are proud of ourselves and our collective accomplishments. We have accepted that somehow our flags are a badge of shame and to take pride in ourselves is somehow a sin. This is what we must challenge every single day. We must confront the attitude that says we have no right to survive.

What I saw yesterday was the best of what we were, what we are and may yet still be. A far cry from the slovenly misanthropy of the left and their corrosive ideas. How refreshing it is to see people with a sense of purpose and duty. Let us be inspired by them. Let us choose to be more than we are.

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