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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

The Grand Alliance : The United States & The United Kingdom

Britain's relationship with the United States of America was born amid misplaced assumptions on the part of the UK Parliament with the Monarch George III on the fast changing ethos of established thriving economies of the thirteen Colonies on the north eastern seaboard of America. Fundamental flaws of presumption by the Mother Country over citizens thousands of miles distant and attainable only by fraught sea journeys under sail - led inexorably to a bitter extended war which ultimately saw the British Army surrender to the Continental Army raised by the newly constituted States and led by General Washington at Yorktown. Aided by a French naval blockade, Britain bowed to the cause of independence which swept through the thirteen former colonies following protracted exchanges and missteps in London by Ministers who badly miscalculated both the mood of Colonists and the enormity of putting down what quickly became a revolution following military encounters at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts.

A further war between Britain and the new nation emerged in 1812 with British troops burning down the 'new' White House in the emergent capital of the United States. Despite these ill omens the overbearing influence of trade and commerce (sounds familiar?) brought about a balance of respect between the two countries - both grappling with a fast changing world and their respective roles and influence. The US Civil War saw Britain sympathetic to the cause of the Confederacy; due in part to valued importation of cotton to mills in Lancashire; but deft political judgements this time kept the UK free from formally taking sides in what became a bloody struggle between the States.

It was during the Great War of 1914 - 1919 when American sympathies torn between isolationism from European conflicts and doubts over the cause of the German Empire and its allies - would come down firmly on the side of Britain and France. In a small twist of fate the very first American troops to land in the UK in 1917 would be sent to Blackpool. Here the large military hospital at Squires Gate with its extensive knowledge of battlefield wounds would transfer hospitalisation care and surgery skills to the US Army Medical Corps. The Corps was sent across the Atlantic in advance of the first battles in France where the large US expeditionary force under General Pershing entered into the conflict with Imperial Germany. The superior forces provided from America then tilted the endgame in 1918.

Blackpool 1917 - the first American military contingent in Britain shown for the press on parade and drilling on the beach.

Yet a further war (with a newly energised Germany) brought American power firmly on the side of the Allies following the attack on Pearl Harbour by the Empire of Japan and declaration of war by Nazi Germany on the US. The 'Arsenal of Democracy' swung into action with American industry quickly turned on to a war footing. The end never in doubt from that point. On 6th June 1944 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to shed lives in defence of freedom all the way to meeting with the Red Army at Torgau in central Germany in April 1945. Graves abound in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Britain marking the sacrifice of service men and women from over the Atlantic, conjoined with brethren from Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and the diverse places on the globe showing alliegance to a common cause - democracy and respect for human rights.

So to this week and the State Visit of President Trump and leaders of his Administration to the UK - cementing further a continually unfurling pageant of shared belief and mutual support between two nations. All in spite of inevitable differences in policy on an ever widening range of issues. But the fundamentals between this President and the UK's popularly affirmed aims of freeing itself from rigid protocols under the hybrid construct known as the 'European Union' with its unelected Commissars holding sway in Brussels over the lives and future of hundreds of millions of individuals.

Our cause in this regard is clearly recognised in Washington DC - crystal clear. The surges of change in the fabric of Westminster politics now overtaking the sustained political order that served this country (fairly) well in a postwar era - are lapping at all of our doorsteps. There can be no retreat to outdated mantra of Conservative and Labour Parties - braying on our television screens day in day out. Our political class are having to scramble to sustain belief in their respective cause (ie power). Their shelf life has expired.

In retrospect 2019 will be seen as the breaking of the mould of this country's charming reliance on 600+ individuals placing their respective posteriors on green benches which we are now all to familiar with through the endless tussles over shall we shan't we leave the EU debates. The national mandate was given three years ago in a popular referendum with a majority voting for Freedom from the European Union and sundering of links with that body. The reluctance of the minority in accepting this outcome has become a national tragedy of global proportions. The world watches on in disbelief at the antics of a Parliamentary body faced with the ultimate challenge to its authority - voters using the ballot box.

Our oldest and strongest ally is here to remind us of the need to assert strength and leadership when confronted with doubt and vacillation. Playing safe with the familiar being the easiest option for many desirous of continuity. It requires determined thoughtful and sincere minds to overcome the drip drip diet of sensational media keen to sell product by any means.

Brexit has become tainted by the vacillation of many political figures and the cold opportunistic avarice of parties circling what has become an ailing corpse in Westminster - the body politic. The times they are changing.

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