How sad, then, that the anniversary should come so soon after the successes of right-wing, xenophobic parties across Europe: the FN was established by a holocaust-denier; Golden Dawn have come right out singing the Horst Wessel Lied and making overtly antisemitic statements, UKIP is essentially a party of intolerance, overtly blaming hardship on immigrants but riddled with people holding xenophobic, racist, homophobic, even eugenicist views. How sad to see this celebration against the backdrop of the dismantling of the Welfare State under the smokescreen of the demonisation of the poor (Channel 5 starts another benefit-bashing series this week), while the rich (the people really taking the bread out of the working class's mouths) get richer, more children are living in conditions of poverty, education becomes ever more the privilege of the well-off, education as a social good and free thinking in universities are all under attack. Tragic to see this against what looks like a re-run of the 1930s. Saddest of all is the knowledge that, so effective has the politics of fear become that even some of the participants of June 1944 apparently voted for UKIP. (Of course the impending world cup will inevitably be an excuse in some quarters for all the usual Engerlaaaand, Jeeermany, 'we won the war' stuff. *sigh*)
I'd like to think that we might pause to consider what the sacrifice of the Second World War (especially the period between mid 1940 and mid-1941when Britain and its empire stood alone in defence of that greater cause rather than making a peace that might have been economically beneficial, preserved the Empire for longer, etc. etc.) was really about, and it wasn't about chest-thumping, sabre-rattling nationalism, prejudice and certainly not Little Englanderish isolation from Europe.