by Mary W Maxwell
Imagine it. On “the eleventh of the eleventh at eleven o’clock,” the nations that had fought in the first ‘world war’ signed the armistice. Shown in the picture, standing, is Marshal Foch in French uniform. Across from him is Matthias Erzberger, head of the German delegation. To Foch’s right hand is the British Rear-Admiral George Hope.
In 2014, just 96 years after that eleven-eleven meeting, two disgruntled Scotsmen came out with the real story of World War I in their book Hidden History. I say ‘disgruntled’ in that they had long since learned that what we were all taught in school — that the shooting of the Archduke Ferdinand was the cause of the outbreak of war – is a crock from start to finish.
Earl Grey, Viscount of Something or Other, said “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” Luckily we have now seen them lit again, right there on the desk of scholars Docherty (a teacher) and Macgregor (a physician). The person they blame the most for the war is none other than Earl Grey, Viscount of Something or Other.
On August 3, 1914 he more or less singlehandedly informed the House of Commons that the show was on. A discussion followed which, Docherty and Macgregor say, the government tried to curtail.
The rank and file Liberal and Labour members stood their ground. They desperately insisted on an immediate debate. Percy Molteno, the Liberal MP for Dumfriesshire, was first on his feet to lament the lies that had passed as assurances from his own government over the years.
“They have brought us to the brink of disaster without our knowing, and without our being warned. I say that at the last moment, they should give the people of this country a chance to decide. This is a continuation of that old and disastrous system where a few men in charge of the State, wielding the whole force of the State, make secret engagements carefully veiled from the knowledge of the people, who are as dumb driven cattle without a voice on the question.” (page 342-5)
Wouldn’t it be nice if that last sentence had been carved in stone and set where everyone could see it – including in Parliament House, Canberra?
The authors note:
Another Liberal, W. Llewellyn Williams, accused Sir Edward Grey of disguising his motives and falsely arousing war fever: “If you had asked any man in this country, whatever his politics, whether he would calmly contemplate the entrance of his country into this quarrel, he would have said No.
As each and every contributor attacked government policy, challenged every step, asked more and more telling questions, it became ever more evident that there was a very strong body of articulate opinion ranged against Sir Edward Grey.
At which point, Arthur Balfour (1848-1930) rose menacingly. He had heard enough. Balfour derided their objections as the “very dregs and lees of the debate, in no way representing the various views of the Members of the House.” With consummate arrogance [he said] what they were engaged in was a ‘relatively impotent and evil debate’.
Docherty/Macgregor emphasize the role of Lord Grey and Lord Esher, and the young Winston Churchill. Surprisingly they pin a lot on the king. Queen Victoria’s son had been known as Bertie the playboy. He reigned as Edward VII from 1901 to 1910. These authors show that his playboy image covered up the fact that he worked hard to plot World War I. They also say that “Natty” Rothschild supported the king’s gambling addiction.
The authors remark on the significance of the Order of Bath, but I surmise that a greater role is played by the Most Noble Order of the Garter, which began in 1348. It always includes the sovereign of Britain as its head plus a select few others. In the last 20 years there has been a new category of members: Stranger Knights and Ladies, bringing in the royalty of Sweden, Netherlands, and Japan.
The motto of the Garter is “Honi soit qui mal y pense” – roughly:
“Don’t you dare say what we do is evil.”
Some bishops are members of the Garter. What does that tell you? A former chief justice of Australia is there, too, Sir Ninian Stephen.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are visiting Australia this week and on Remembrance Day they will lay a wreath at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. They will meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. I wish they would all sit down and have a nice, calm talk about how best to prepare the world for the next generation. Stewardship sort of thing.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall
Note: I am sorry to be the one always throwing a wet blanket on everything. But I know we could do a lot better than we are doing. Facing up to errors of the past is a big step to fixing up the future.
Since today is Remembrance Day, we may as well make an effort to remember.
–Mary W Maxwell lives in Adelaide. Her PhD is in Politics.