Plus Ça Change 18

I am currently reading David Brown’s Palmerston; A Biography.

In 1846 Palmerston had threatened the government of Spain with military intervention if it defaulted on its bond interest payments. Palmerston faced a Chartist candidate, George Harney, at the general election in his Tiverton constituency. At the hustings debate, Harney said Palmerston’s threat to Spain was unjustifiable:

“These Spanish bondholders are English capitalists, who lent some millions of money to the government of Spain, not, as has been represented, because they were anxious to help the people of that country to obtain “Liberal institutions”, but because they were promised a higher rate of interest than they could get at home. That money had been derived from the labour of the English people.”

Harney argued that Palmerston’s foreign policy was simply to deploy the resources of the state to defend the interests of the rich.

The Tiverton crowd greeted this assertion with “immense cheering” and Harney had a clear majority at the show of hands at the hustings, which was attended by most of the adult population of Tiverton. He withdrew from the actual ballot, however, in protest at the extremely limited franchise – only about 600 people in the constituency had the vote.

George Harney, forgotten hero. We could do with him today.

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18 thoughts on “Plus Ça Change

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq Association

    George Harney I believe inspired my great grand-father John Benjamin Waterman, a telegrapher working with diplomatic telegrams from the wire or undersea cable. As a young boy my grand-dad told me more than once that “knowledge is power” and a ‘waterman’ was a source of good gossip. I realised years later that a ‘waterman’ ferried gentry and others across the Thames and picked up on the idle talk or prattle circulating around the posh London suburbs.

  • Chris Jones

    Craig – do not doubt yourself when it comes to these criminals and the corrupt system/s that you are divulging – you are waking up fast from the bureacratic mist the ‘British government’ placed on you. Please keep being true to your original thoughts and instincts. I thank you for your courage.

  • ToivoS

    Craig thank-you for that piece of history. It is heartening to know that there was an antiwar movement in England 160 years back that realized the enemy was international finance. Not so heartening to know that in spite of that realization, we (the antiwar movement) are as powerless today as was Harney in his day.

    Adam Hochild’s recent book on people in England that opposed WWI leaves me in the same sense of despair. The War Party, both in the US and Great Britain, is one powerful force that draws its strength from the populous egged on with so much patriotic sloganeering.

  • Mary

    The gangsters-in-charge are being shepherded to Lancaster House today which is ‘stuffed full of every British innovation available’ according to the Sky News reporter just now. Every innovation available that is except a device for turning base metal into gold to fill the coffers.
    How much is this shindig costing one asks? And what will come out of it?
    Reminiscent of one of Brown’s or Blair’s (failed) ventures. Bliar is there too btw.
    And this one is no Angel – Radio 4 Today this morning
    Today some of the world’s leading business figures will be in London for a big investment conference ahead of the Olympic games. The leader of the OECD, Angel Gurria, who will be attending the conference, shares his views on the state of the UK economy.

  • Komodo

    UK plc reminds me of a shop I worked in when a youth. Originally a big name in hi-fi, it was in the process of losing its market share in the face of strong competition and crap management and wound up selling cheap battery-powered toys and plastic umbrellas made in the Orient. Its shares were down to three old pence when I took my leave. It died shortly afterwards.

  • Mary

    I noticed that an outfit called Healthbox was on this website (part of the show today at Lancaster House). What is an healthcare accelerator when it’s at home? Let them remember that it is OUR NHS and that they steal it at their peril.

    I bet Branson is at the gathering today.
    He has already stolen Surrey Community Health services and the Children’s Health service in Devon.

  • Tom Welsh

    “If voting made any difference, it would be illegal”.

    I can’t take credit for that elegant aphorism, but there is a lot of truth in it.

  • Komodo

    You can access the funny characters from Settıngs çççç )on the full stop key ın Turkısh=ç
    And dıd you see what I dıd wıth the ‘ı’:

  • Jan Wiklund

    It also seems that Palmerston was the inventor of the Bush-Blair tactics of portraiting countries they wanted to attack as ruled by particularly vicious tyrants who needed some bashing.

    And according to biographist Jasper Ridley he succeeded remarkably well – the “radicals” of his day were usually deceived and lauded the wars thus marketed.

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