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Errors of nationalism

I would like to respond to the letter by Steve Halden (Adver, August 28) and his claim that we need more nationalism.

If by this he is looking for a more patriotic country that celebrates our great success past and present along with our cosmopolitan modern society, then that’s fine.

However, when looking up the various definitions of nationalism, one states “An extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries”. Such mindsets have led to the rise of National Socialism in Germany in the 1930s and the recent “White Supremacy” events in the USA and must be opposed at every opportunity.

He goes on to claim that more nationalism would have avoided the UK being drawn into the First World War – nothing could be further from the truth.

The build-up to the WW1 was a series of conflicting national interest. The French, still smarting from their defeat from the Prussians in 1871, sought an alliance with Russia in 1894 to protect itself from the now unified Germany.

We signed the famous Anglo-French “Entente Cordiale” in 1904 because it was in Britain’s interests to further cementing peace with our oldest enemy, which also strengthened our grip on the British Colonies. By the early 20th century Germany had become a great industrial nation, whose expansionist ideas could have been a threat to the British Empire.

The decision by the British in 1907 to sign the “Triple Entente” was again done so in our national interest, as it was thought that an alliance with France and Russia was better for the UK than one with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These alliances built on national interests, coupled with a weak and outdated Austro-Hungarian Empire, led to the European political powder keg of July 1914, just waiting for Gavrilo Princia to light the fuse.

As to his claim that nationalism would have saved Harold at the Battle of Hastings, again the history books doesn’t support him.

Harold had just won a great battle at Stamford Bridge, and even though they had a long march south his men were confident in themselves and their Anglo-Saxon superiority. His loss was due more to tactical error, surrendering his high position when chasing as the Normans retreated and exposing his flank, than anything else.

UKIP followers are always claiming how British they are, so I would have expected Mr Halden to have had a better understanding of British history!

KEVIN SMALL, Jennings Street, Swindon

Rewriting of history

“Nationalism Needed” (Adver, August 28). It’s a shame Mr Halden has such a sketchy knowledge of history. The idea that nationalism would have kept us out of WW1 is preposterous. A clash between Great Britain and the new state of Germany would have only been avoidable if such an institution as the EC existed at that time.

Germany was not an ally of Britain during the Battle of Waterloo in 1812, it simply didn’t exist as a state until 1871. Mr Halden mistakes Prussia for Germany, a common error.

It was the rise in the idea of German nationalism before and after 1871 that led directly to WW1 and indirectly to WW2. Nationalism was primary amongst the causes of the two great cataclysms during the last century that caused suffering on such an unprecedented scale. Germany, until the cold war, had NEVER been an ally of Britain.

Mr Halden says: “With a bit more nationalism, we could have defeated the Normans in 1066”.

The idea the men who stood to oppose William the Bastard could have fought harder had they been infused with an extra dose of nationalism is an insult to them. It was that critical 1066 battle that launched the England we know and so many of us love so much.

Without the Norman invasion there would have been no Assize of Arms, no Magna Carta, no national Parliament, no Commonwealth, and ultimately, no democracy.

Britain is the nation it is as a result of our rich and chequered history – we are the Saxons and the Normans and the Romans and the Celts. We are, every one of us, the diverse and myriad mix of nationalities that have come to these shores over the centuries and we are all the richer for it.

If Mr Halden doesn’t feel safe then I would respectfully suggests he seeks counselling for his phobia. We are all safer now than at any time in our history.

Yes, there is a small threat from terrorism as there has been for as long as I can remember. Be it fired by the Irish nationalism of the Republicans or the British nationalism of the Loyalists, or from the religious “nationalism” of DAESH, all terrorism is created by nationalism and all doomed to failure.


Help for Myositis

I have just read an article in Tuesday’s Advertiser about Highworth resident John Davidson who suffers from Myositis. I also suffer from an extremely rare form of Myositis known as Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM).

This disease is incurable and has no treatment available for it. Like John, I have problems with weak muscles in my arms and legs.

I also have the added problem that it affects the muscles in my throat and I am prone to choking. After my diagnosis in 2015 I struggled as, being so rare, I knew nobody with this condition.

In March 2016 I was invited via MDUK (Muscular Dystrophy) to an Information Day in Oxford. After a year of struggling I finally met other people with this extremely rare disease. I met people who told me about an online support group that had been set up to help people with Inclusion Body Myositis, Dermatomyositis and Polymyositis and associated problems.

The group is called Myositis Friends Support Network. We have our own site and also a closed group on Facebook for UK based people.

If John would like to join this friendly group he can apply online to join. I’m sure he would find invaluable support and help with the added bonus of people who truly understand the problems these diseases cause.

CAROL DAWKINS, Matley Moor, Liden, Swindon

Brexit not legitimate

In your article dated August 26 Martin Costello of UKIP rightly points out that the issue of our membership of the EU is very divisive.

However, he is being hypocritical when he says that he wishes to hold out the olive branch so that people may come together and draw a line under the issue.

It is the disgraceful way in which he and his colleagues in both UKIP and the Leave campaign have conducted themselves with their industrial scale deceit and dishonesty about the EU that has caused and continues to cause the ‘bad blood’ in our society that Mr Costello refers to.

Indeed, this is exemplified by his comments quoted later in the article that ‘we do not elect’ those that run the EU, when we do.

If Mr Costello really wants to see an end to the division in our country, he and his colleagues need to stop trying to deceive the British public about the EU and admit that, as a consequence of that deceit and dishonesty by both UKIP and the Leave campaign, the result of the referendum has no democratic legitimacy and never will have.

Deceit and dishonesty as practised by UKIP and the Leave campaign have no place in democracy and must not and should not be allowed to prevail.

ADAM POOLE, Savill Crescent, Wroughton

Failure led to terror

In response to Sarah Church’s recent letter I feel it is important to highlight her comment regarding “The recent attack on Barcelona had nothing to do with Schengen”.

EU laws actually prevented Spain from deporting the Islamic preacher Abdelbaki Es Satty who is suspected of masterminding the Barcelona terror attacks.

The Spanish government tried to throw him out of the country in 2014 after he was jailed for drug smuggling. We are sadly now well aware of the consequences of this failure.

Nobody is suggesting we cut all ties with the European Union, particularly the sharing of intelligence.

We shall always be good neighbours with the EU and the best of friends – however it is now time for us to pursue our dreams, our ambitions and engage with the rest of the world.


Smacking allowed

Chris Gleed’s letter urging that parents should be allowed to smack their children is wrong in one vital detail - they already are!

It is quite lawful to smack a child (“reasonable chastisement”).

It is unlawful to wound or cause grievous bodily harm; or to cause actual bodily harm to a child (or anybody else for that matter!). I couldn’t help smiling when reading Mr Gleed’s final remark “I won’t respond to those who tell me I am wrong”.

It brought back childhood memories in which my mother would often end a difference of opinion with dad, saying “I don’t wish to argue as I happen to know I am right”!

BAS JONES, Grosvenor Road, Old Town

Swindon Signs for a solution

Dear Barry Re. your article August 29.

All it needs to help the locals and visitors alike to save £50,000 is a simple sign: Designer Outlet Car Park (with an arrow pointing straight ahead).

This could and should be provided and paid for by The Outlet Company considering the vast amount of revenue they get. It could also be put on their property at the junction.

RAY GORNALL, Barbrook Road, Swindon