The Haynau Precedent 38

The vicious war criminal King of Bahrain will be among the guests at the royal wedding. There is a much honoured precedent for how we should deal with him.

After the European pro-democracy revolutions of 1848 were bloodily put down, one of the most vicious aristocratic oppressors, the Austro-Hungarian General Haynau, was visiting London. As he had used the military against unarmed protestors, including women, ordinary London people made plain he was not welcome. He was dragged from his carriage and beaten up in Park St, Southwark.

There is a monument to it. I was taught it at school as something to be proud of, as showing the British people’s disdain of foreign tyrants. But then I didn’t go to the same kind of school as David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

So I intend to form the Haynau contingent, a group of people dedicated to landing one squarely on the nose of the fat absolute monarch when he arrives in the UK for the wedding. I am looking for volunteers to join me. I am going to write to Scotland Yard, the Foreign Office and to the Embassy of Bahrain declaring this intention.

When the Emperor of Austria-Hungary launched a diplomatic protest at the treatment of General Haynau, Palmerston told him where to shove it. From Palmerston to William Hague – was there ever a starker illustration of the decline of a nation?

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38 thoughts on “The Haynau Precedent

  • Dan J.

    I'd be interested as well, though you should know that I voted for Cameron and am of a conservative disposition in matters of economic policy. But I am also a Liberatarian. I've seen photos of the demonstrators in Bahrain and can imagine myself as one of them.

  • Paul Johnston

    Far be it for me to defend William Hague but is he worse than say Jack Straw, David Owen or say Antony Eden?

    • carl


      All anyone can do is deal with the leaders they have.

      Is it okay to defend Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko because they were "better" than Stalin?

      Was Suharto more defendable as a leader than Mao or Pol Pot if you were actually one of their subjects at the time?

      Was Idi Amin easier to defend as a leader than Arap Moi or Mobutu or Duvalier?

      Was Pinochet more or less defendable than Videla if you had lived under them at the time?

      The values by which we judge are leaders do not change very much over time. Only politiicans' values change. Only politicians' values are relative.

      The fact that senior politicians like Hague are less willing to own up to their mistakes, have less respect for the doctrine of ministerial responsibility and are more willing to blame their department for blunders of their own making doesnt necessarily make him a better Foreign Secretary than Straw, Owen, Eden or Carrington. When Osborne's dogs dinner of an economic policy finally catches up with him are we going to defend him on the basis that he was "better" than Norman Lamont?

      If its all the same to you I think I will carry on judging Hague by the same independent standards of international diplomacy and domestic political judgement as I did all his predecessors and I have never had a problem sacking an employee who always blames the people beneath him for his mistakes.

      • Paul Johnston

        Hi Carl
        I am by definition a socialist (who has been drinking tonight so sorry for typos).
        It was not that he was better or worse, just that to say he was the end of the line is, I think unfair.
        Hague is, I think slightly less under the cosh then a lot of our politicians and whilst he is not the best to label him as the pits is unfair.
        Yes Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko were "better" than Stalin they did not order genocide!
        Was Beria? now that is a difficult question.
        Osborne will IMHO fail due to his lack of understanding of Keynsian economics but I digress.
        We move on and I cannot agree that "The values by which we judge are leaders do not change very much over time"
        Once upon a time only people with property could vote. I am sure the Chartists would have demands which at he time would seem extreme but now would seem reactionary.
        Regards (a slightly pissed) Paul 🙂

      • Rhisiart Gwilym

        Anyone got any idea what Carl is on about? There seems neither clarity of thought nor of utterance here. Nor relevance to the Haynau initiative. Run with that, Craig. If I weren't such an invalid these days, I'd be right there with you in the scrum. I think that us commoners are so pissed off with the utter baseness of the current crop of political operators, both here and in other countries, that you could get a good showing for this action, which in turn would help to contribute to the revolutionary ferment which is now rolling, in many places. Power to you arm Craig!

      • Suhaylsaadi

        You could pretend to be that reporter from The Sun, you know, the one who dresses up as an Arab sheikh? or else that comedian, what's his name who does the same. Or maybe cross-dress as a Ukrainian nurse? Oh, sorry. Wrong dictator!

  • James

    count me in – although getting enough people to do 'a Mark Thomas' and organise mass lone demonstrations could be a good way to generate media noise, add a little twitter campaign to flavour and Bod's your proverbial.

    In all the fuss hopefully no one will stop Frazer (comment 1) deploying his knuckle dusters…

  • Suhaylsaadi

    But Palmerston suppported liberal movements aboard while ruthlessly suppressing them at home. He supported the foreign ones only because he felt they would weaken Britain's rivals. It's the old game. So, in essence then, nothing much has changed in this respect.

  • jamtuf

    count me in – although getting enough people to do 'a Mark Thomas' and organise mass lone demonstrations could be a good way to generate media noise, add a little twitter campaign to flavour and Bod's your proverbial.

  • Patrícia

    unfortunatelly i'm so far to go there. I wish i could go. But i will keep my fingers crossed for you. By the way, there is a joke (a kind of cartoon) here (in Brazil) comparing our governments to Gadaffi. "Sad" but very funny. Could you read portuguese?

  • dreoilin

    King of Bahrain's not coming to the wedding. According to Sky News this morning. He's sending a rep.

  • ingo

    Hmm, you mean support the democratic principles this country has lost to mallable politicians and what must be a slightly frightened establishment? Yes, reserve a place for me up front, I'm good at holding on to at least four men of any description, giving Frazer enough time to deploy his flattener.

    But to be honest, should we really besmirch ourselves by touching this maladvised sunni shepherd? would it not be enough to sdhow him the soles of our shoes and spit at him?

  • Keith Crosby

    I enjoyed your tale of a general being duffed up but Austria didn’t become Austria-Hungary until the Ausgleich of 1867.

    Fascisti ite domum.

  • Uzbek from UK

    Good lesson from history. Thank you Mr Murray.

    Why did not we know this when bloody Karimov stopped in London last year on his way to the UN summit?

      • Uzbek from UK

        Anyway it was a shame to allow him to even land here. On the other hand, I would not be much surprised if one day we found out that some of his/Gulnara’s billions were invested in some of the lucrative businesses in London.

        Speaking about dirty money; it surprised me how quick and precise it has become known how much money were in Murorak’s and Gadaffy’s accounts. Are you aware of any funds in London that belong to Karimov or any other bloody dogs from his inner circle?

  • Rick Nelson

    I am curious just how many other despots will be attending this pampered parasite's ghastly extravaganza of taxpayers money?

      • Rick Nelson

        lf there is a just God, or any God, then it will save you having to dirty your hands!

        l hope you decide to stand in Norwich North again? With more time to campaign before the next general election, l am sure we can rid ourselves of 'Cameron's Cutie'. From people l have spoken with…even some of the saddoes who voted for her…Mz. Smith is becoming rather unpopular, and need l mention the 'popularity' of the conning dems? l think Norwich North is ripe for a principled candidate such as yourself. Your task will be much easier if the alternative vote wins the day on the 5th May.

        • ingo

          Ms. Smith indeed has endeared herself only to the top ranking Topries, she stayed well away from hot subjects such is the Gt. Yarmouth outer harbour, the involvement of freemasons in Norfolk County council and the very controversial Kings Lynn incinerator, she just does not do controversy.

          But she has the papers kissing her feet and the BBC has totally lost its fair representative brief. There is already a long standing idependent, Rick, how about supporting 'normal man' Bill Holden?

          Back to the issue, this Haynau precedent could indeed become very popular, just as shoe throwing incident.
          Whatever you do bring an extra shoe, not the one the dog's favourite, but a flip flop would do, one could write a nice slogan on the sole.

  • Frazer

    ingo ..just need abour 4 secs …then the uppercut….we will let Craig distract the buggers then we are in !

  • Brian Boru

    Haynau was visiting a brewery in Southwark as part of his holiday from torture and butchery on the continent (he was especially fond of horse-whipping women), when a group of draymen dropped a bail of hay on his head. He fled down the Thames with the draymen flinging horse dung after him, and dockers and stevedores ripping his clothes and ripping out chunks of his impressive mustachios as he passed. He was eventually forced to hide in a bin for his safety at the Royal George coaching inn in Bankside! The police rescued him and rowed him back across the Thames to safety. He never returned to London. Would be great if we could do the same to the tyrant Hamed of Bahrein 🙂

  • james Coleman


    I was planning to be as far away from the UK as possible on that dreaded day. However, I'm having second thoughts. I would immensely enjoy giving this tyrant a 1-2 followed by an undercut to the double chin. Count me in

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