Saturday 14 March 2015

Why a statue in London to that humbug Gandhi?

How silly Gandhi's costume is. [Jinnah, by contrast, wore Savile Row suits. He also drank whisky and ate ham sandwiches.]

I have quite a lot of sympathy for pacifism. After our wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya who does not?  But why a statue in London to that humbug Gandhi? He was an enemy of the British Empire. His political career led to Indian independence, partition of India and up to one million dead. That puts the Amritsar massacre, which made Gandhi lose trust in Britain, into perspective.

India like Ireland was only united under British rule - indirectly because of Gandhi and Nehru we have the failed state of Pakistan. And at this historical moment it is vitally important that we in Britain take pride in our empire and know about its great achievements, rather than honour those who demolished it. On the other hand we can take responsibility for those people too - the British Empire formed them, gave them their love of parliamentary government. Unfortunately the our worst colonial legacy was socialism which held India and other colonies back for so many years.

Paedophilia and racism are the two things our relativistic society believes in persecuting hard and of course Gandhi is accused of both these things. He was racist, regarding Africans, as all Indians in his day were. I suspect many Indians of our day are too, but on that my only real evidence is a conversation I had with an Indian in his forties in a first class railway carriage going to Delhi. The same man, by the way, quoted his mother as saying
'All the good things in India were made by the British'.
He added the gloss, 
'This is not completely true but it is almost completely true.'
I suspected his mother was right. 

I think Gandhi did not do very much at all with the young girls with whom he shared his bed, but anything is much too much. 

This is all part of a tradition in England which led to George Washington's statue being placed in Trafalgar Sq close to the one of the arch-reactionary King James II (after whom New York is named). It was a gift in 1921, from the Commonwealth of VirginiaI don't know but imagine that those who placed the statue there did so, shortly after the USA entered the First World War on the UK's side, taking the (mistaken) Whig view that Washington was a great Englishman fighting for English Common Law liberties.

The same cannot be said of Gandhi  but Gandhi was a better man than the unprincipled and devious Washington, at least, and opposed war against the British. 

I prefer to think of Lord Curzon's attractive statue in Carlton House Terrace, which I know very well and love. What would he think of Gandhi and the Communist Nelson Mandela outranking him? 

I imagine Curzon would say it was 'ghastly', said with his characteristic short Midlands 'a' sound. He considered the long 'a' middle class.

I wonder what the dear Queen Mother would have had to say or Churchill. When Gandhi launched his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill said that he 
"ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back." 
Churchill, a racist even by the standards of his day, also said, 
"I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion." 
In fact independence came not because of Gandhi or Nehru or the British educated elite who wanted to take power themselves via the independence movement, but because Japan's victories over Britain destroyed British prestige and because the economic cost of war made maintaining the Indian Empire unaffordable. British rule melted away like snow in spring.

Had Great Britain not gone to war with Germany in 1939 but we'd armed ourselves to the teeth, as some people wanted us to do, e.g. Lloyd George, we would have not been attacked by Japan and history would have been very different. It was also a mistake to end our alliance with Japan to please the Americans.

Gandhi is not responsible for independence, which had been the British goal since 1913, although in 1938 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said he expected it in around 1980. Had Gandhi not led the independence movement somebody worse would have done. It's his sanctification on the part of my British contemporaries that I object to. That statue means public acceptance of the Liberal-Labour view of colonialism and the Empire, the view of the Fabian Society and E.M. Forster, the view that thinks independence in 1947 (with a huge death toll, remember) was the Raj's greatest moment, rather than the Delhi Durbar in 1911.

The answer to my question with which I headed this item is, of course, to win Indian votes for the Conservative Party in the forthcoming general election.


  1. On the subject of statues, I presume you object to the traitorous George Washington standing in Trafalgar Square (even if he is on American-supplied earth to respect his desire never again to stand on English soil); and to Abraham Lincoln, who "graces" your Parliament Square.

    1. I was going to mention that statue even had you not reminded me. I am typing these words 300 yards from it and that reminds me breakfast was served ten minutes ago. Please see what I said in the amended blog post.

  2. Mr Gandhi admitted that his tactics of non violence would not work against a ruthless opponent - only against a civilised one. He should have thought about that. After all his actions led to a ruthless system of government in a least parts of the former Raj (Pakistan and Bangladesh) and India has had periods of ruthless government since indendence. And the "Permit Raj" (state domination) or Mr Nerhu was just about the opposite of what Mr Gandhi wanted - which was a smaller government not a bigger one. Although Mr Gandhi's vision was also fatally flawed - as he wanted to go back to happy villlage communities without much technology (that would have meant mass starvation).

    1. Agree with both of you and think that Curzon will always outrank both Gandhi and Mandela.
      Helen Szamuely

  3. I'm partial to the statue of Peter Pan who stands at Hyde Park. He is a symbol of my childhood fantasies. He stands as one in a neutral corner.

    ..but must admit I also salute Mr Gandhi, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I find I must salute the latter as I'm an American.

    I apologize as I do not mean to appear to take aim at either side. Just joining into a discussion. The mention of the Americans probably do most to help me to join in.

  4. I do not entirely agree. India was united at some periods before in her history. In the 18th century the Mughal Empire declined and began to break up. The Britis Raj was able to piece it together again. As for Ireland, you are partly correct. Ireland was semi-united prior to 1172. There was a high king and below him there were several kings. These petty kingdoms were often at war against each other.

  5. In my experience racism is definately learnt in the home. My stepfather was a so called sikh and he was the biggest racist ever. Mostly aimed at Muslim and whites.. and im ashamed to say that as a kid some of it rubbed of on me luckily I eventually learned how to think for myself. But so many dont they blindly follow their parents beliefs. Its a vicious cycle that needs breaking.

  6. Anyone up for crowd-funding a Clarkson statue? #bringbackclarkson

  7. In recent decades, the Indian authorities have devoted a good deal of their energies to the demolition and erasure of colonial era statues and monuments upon their own turf ( as well as ' revising/ sanitising' school history textbooks) - so it seems incongruous that the British government should seek to reverse this trend by erecting a statue of Mr Gandhi in Parliament Square... Could the ' half naked fakir ' not at least have been cast in the garments that he would have worn as a law student in London in the 1880s ? Such a depiction would, at least, have carried some historical substance - rather than just acting as yet another politically-correct nod in the direction of prevailing postcolonial sensibilities.

  8. PS. A statue of Lord Curzon still stands in the grounds of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta - but - HE has been unceremoniously shifted from the front of the building into what is, effectively, the back garden !

  9. I'd also add that ultimately, the independence movements did very little to actually bring about independence. They had an impact on some of the minor points of the timescale and they had a big impact on what would happen next, but they didn't cause independence to happen. That was down to a loss of appetite from the British public and two world wars.

    Gandhi was a very divisive figure both then and now. His non-violence was a sham and his regressive policies would have caused mass suffering. He certainly wasn't a beacon of democracy.

    The only reason a statue of him has been erected is because he's a popularly tolerable brown person and the government thinks it will make them look good to people who are concerned about race. It's a cynical ploy and I suspect most Indians will see straight through it.

    1. Well, yes and no of course - the old firm of Gandhi & Sons was certainly a factor in exerting a heavy pressure upon the British authorities to act – but, as you rightly point out, this was only one factor amongst many others. The Congress Party was never universally popular in India prior to 1947 – and, as a matter of fact – did as much as it could to undermine and scupper British attempts at ‘consensus building’ and progress towards legitimate constitutional reform (i.e. Dominion status).

      As for the attitudes of the British public towards the possibility of Indian independence: a Gallup opinion poll, commissioned in 1939, found that 77% of those asked (in the streets of London, I presume) favored independence ‘soon'.

  10. Ghandi was a pedophile and a racist. There is plenty of evidence for those accusations in the archives. The British Establishment have recently cancelled the honours awarded to two other high-profile known pedophiles -Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris.
    So why is that statue being erected at all to honour a third high-profile pedophile? That's a disgusting proposal! Is it because none of Ghandi's child victims have complained to the CPS, because of their fear of community sanctions against them? On recent evidence, the CPS doesn't seem to have a Statute of Limitations on historic child abuse.
    Unless it's being done under pressure from the civil service mandarins at the FCO who do not want to offend the Indian Government now so commercially powerful, and with armed forces many times the size of Britain's? The Indians might impose trade sanctions against Britain in reprisals. Or we might have an internal rebellion form residents of India ethnic backgrounds!

  11. When our present Queen was Princess Elizabeth and was getting married to Prince Phillip all their wedding presents were put on display at Buck House for everyone to gawp at. One day Queen Mary decided to visit and on a table was a little scrap of folded cloth which she peered at and asked what it was.
    Well, Your is a loin cloth woven by Gandhi .." Queen Mary recoiled in disgust , said "How simply dreadful" and continued on her walk...

  12. Gandhiji said that Indians should not fight against the Japanese and that the United Kingdom should capitulate to the Third Reich. Then he said Indians should train with ''lathi play and the like'' to resist the Japanese invasion. This man's reputation should have gone decades ago.

  13. Pacifism is immoral.

  14. There is a statue of Lenin in Seattle, USA.

    As for partition, it is a favoured solution to the problems of post-colonial societies but it is about as artificial as colonies were themselves. On one side of the partition, there is normally a functioning state, on the other a failed (or failing) one.

  15. The decison to divide British India along religious lines (rather than along regional, linguistic or cultural lines) was surely a mistake - but - it need not necessarily have been the catastrophic disaster that it proved to be at the time - the ramifications of which continue to reveberate into our own time ...
    It was the break-neck speed with which the process was conducted that led directly to deaths of at least one million people (possibly twice that number) and the displacement and impoverishment of millions more. Partition should have unfolded, in a guided fashion, over the course of five YEARS - rather than over the course of five months !
    All of the parties involved in the discussions/ negotiations share the blame equally for their intransigence.
    British India was itself an artificial construction - not a nation state - and preventing the ' Balkanisation ' of the sub-continent need not have been resisted at all costs ...

  16. This revisionism view of history, through the rose coloured glasses of The Empire, really undervalues and discredits the British legacy. Colonialism has done untold damage and the reality is that colonial rule created the conditions and legacy that was the direct cause of caused partition post independence!

    For the record, the "love" that former colonies inherited is not the narrow perspective of parliamentary democracy but parliamentary democracy embodied in a constitutional republic!

    So the statue of Gandhi is a mature gesture acknowledging a great statesman of a great nation!

  17. The ending of the alliance with Japan happened many years before 1939 - but I agree it may have been a mistake (although the Canadian pressure should not be forgotten - it was not just the United States). The real question is could the rise of the totalitarian movement in Japan (for example the twisting of Shrine Shinto into State Shinto) been prevented? Perhaps continuing the formal alliance, ended in the early 1920s, would have helped prevent the internal changes in Japan - I just do not know.

    On 1939 - there appears to be a deep campaign (which started with the Marxists, then spread to anarchist "libertarians", but has now got to some conservatives also) to twist the history of the 1930s - and of the run up to the First World War also. In reality the British government did all it could to avoid both World Wars (desperate, absolutely desperate, efforts were made to avoid both World Wars).

    The Imperial German government had clearly decided to take over all of the coast facing this island in 1914 - the Declaration of War upon France was a tissue of lies (it even claimed that France was bombing Bavaria). As the President of France put it in his reply - it was not really a Declaration of War upon France, it was a Declaration of War on the "universal principles of reason and justice" (as a philosopher the President of France know that the German academic and political elite denied that these principles even existed, and beliefs are important). No government on this island (from the first Elizabeth onwards) could allow a hostile power to control all of the coast facing this island - and take all the resources of Europe into its hands.

    As regards the Second World War - even Austin Chamberlain (the Prime Minister's half brother and a man who was actually deeply attracted to German culture) came to see in the 1930s that war with the National Socialists was inevitable.

    Neville Chamberlain was not some sort of warmonger (as the idiot faction among anarchist "libertarians", the late Murray Rothbard and co, pretend) he, as I have said, made desperate efforts to avoid war. In fact the real problem was those efforts.

    Had the Allies intervened in 1936 (the Rhineland) the Nazi regime would have collapsed - the German troops did not even have bullets in their rifles. Even 1938 was not too late - the Nazi War Machine needed the Czech factories to perfect its tank armies. But, in a desperate effort for peace, Britain and France betrayed Czechs.

    By the time of the attack on the Poles in 1939 - the nature of the Nazi Beast was obvious to everyone, even Neville Chamberlain.

  18. Perhaps they should replace it with a statue of Edward Carson. Ed