Jock Coats and the Anglosphere
Mar 18, 2007
Bishop Hill in Anglosphere

I was completely taken aback by something Jock Coats penned today. Jock, for those who don't visit his blog, is one of those rare beasts: a relatively liberal Liberal Democrat; someone who you could imagine not throwing money at the bureaucracy or, on a good day, perhaps even trying his hand at a little discreet liberalisation.

Or at least so I thought, until I read his posting on Britain's role in the world.

Jock has been pondering the way we treat people in the developing world and the claims made in The Great Global Warming Swindle that environmentalists are preventing development in poor countries so as to save us all from the spectre of climate change.

[W]e should put the Commonwealth, far more so than either Europe or transatlantic polity, at the core of our foreign and international development policy for the twenty-first century. Nearly sixty years ago, Churchill suggested that Britain's post-war role in the world ought to be as a link between Europe, America and the Commonwealth. We seem to have put a lot of emphasis on the former two, but for a variety of reasons seem to have quietly dropped the latter.

Well, yes, this is the Anglosphere idea, at least to a large extent - open ourselves up to these countries which have ties of history and culture, the common law tradition and so on. But why, we might ask, have we failed to emphasise the Commonwealth? I'm surprised that I need to point this out. It's the EU innit? We are not allowed to trade openly with the Commonwealth because Brussels says so. And what's the point in having emphasising our relations with someone we can't even trade freely with?

Yes, the intervening decades have seen many upheavals of independence from Empire and those newly "emancipated" nations struggling and jostling to find their position in the world. But let's face it, we are only where we are because of them. Because of the way we colonised them and took from them what we wanted, what would make us materially rich.

The Commonwealth could be a model, modern community of nations, with members from every continent and from every stratum of economic development on the planet, from the very richest to the very poorest, working together under a common aim of redistributing the common wealth within it to ensure that all its peoples attain their full potential.

I'm right with him here, up until that last bit. Redistributing the common wealth? Does he mean this? Has he completely taken leave of his senses? Surely he realises that "redistribution" impoverishes everyone? And is he aware that the "wealth" in the word "commonwealth" has the meaning of "well-being" rather than anything to do with money.

The whole piece makes no sense. We can't have more meaningful relations with the Commonwealth because we're not allowed to, and it would appear that even if we could Jock would want to make base our new relationship around socialism or reparations.

Thanks, but no thanks.

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