James Daly james.irldaly at ntlworld.com
Tue Nov 26 08:15:47 MST 2002

The Etonian "outsider" Eric Blair (aka George Orwell) may have been right
about the machinations of Stalinism in Spain, but his response was to become
an English nationalist; his hero's name in *1984* is Winston. (In the real
1984 we used to say we had not Big Brother but Big Sister, of *Belgrano*
fame). In *Inside the Whale* he defends Colonel Blimp (the preposterous
"blimpish" character created for the "Liberal" Manchester Guardian (itself,
by the way, anti-Irish on the grounds that the Irish were not --
sufficiently -- liberal) by the cartoonist A. M. Low). (Low's cartoons of
the Trade Union Congress as a carthorse also gave Orwell a key image for
*Animal Farm*). Orwell portrays Blimp as exemplifying quintessential English
"decency". This had been done already by Michael Powell and Emeric
Pressburger in *The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp*; they made up their
actor to look exactly like the cartoon figure, and then made him hopelessly
romantic and tenderhearted, gallant not only towards ladies but towards his
Prussian officer friend. It was the myth Eric Hobsbawm kept to the end, as
well as Hobsbawm's Anglo-Irish admirer Perry Anderson and the other Etonian
editors of the New Left Review. They published not a word about the role and
activities of the British (or even of the Orangemen) in Ireland during 25
years of war, but afterwards they published Hobsbawm's article in praise of
the British as the only people who did not engage in torture. The recipients
of English decency might not have had so rosy a view.

I wonder if the transparently "decent" Tony Blair is any relation of Eric's.

James Daly

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