Today is VE Day and we are celebrating the parts played by our parents in bringing about Peace in Europe. I will not indulge in jingoistic flag waving of the red, white and blue variety. Britain did not do this on her own. We were aided by many nations and peoples particularly from India, africa, Poland and America and the various resistance movements underground in all Nazi occupied territories. Indeed without them we would have been overwhelmed all to easily. Between them they defeated particularly brutal, nationalist and undemocratic regimes and gave my generation the Europe they enjoyed for the whole of their formative lives and subsequent careers.
Percy Bishop, my wife’s father, was sent to work in the mines and kept the factories powered, the lights on and literally the home fires burning. My father Sam helped at the liberation of the Belsen death camp and worked behind enemy lines destroying supply routes and capturing retreating enemy soldiers. Ellie joined the land army and for three years worked the fields of Essex to feed the nation.
It is impossible to celebrate my parents contribution without at the same time regretting that the Europe they fought for and that I flourished in has of late been sacrificed on the alter of that same nationalistic populism that got the world into so much trouble the last time.
It is equally impossible not to be irked by the hypocrisy of a Prime Minister who has not put protection of care homes at an early stage in his Coronavirus strategy when anyone left who was around when world war 2 played out is very likely to be in one of them!