Tom Richmond: It’s our duty to ensure the ‘Few’ are never forgotten

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IT IS truly depressing that one third of adults have absolutely no idea about the historical significance of the Battle of Britain that was being waged in the skies above this country exactly 75 years ago.

Without the heroism of those RAF pilots who took the fight to Hitler’s Luftwaffe to ensure Nazi Germany could not invade these shores, these ignorant imbeciles might not be in such blissful denial about the debt of gratitude which they owe to those who fought.

As Sir Winston Churchill told the nation on August 20, 1940: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Churchill then provided the context in his very next sentence which is worth repeating in full: “All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power.”

It would be easy to blame the schools for this sad state of affairs – and ask whether the history curriculum has been diminished by uninspired teaching and too many Government edicts. Perhaps history lessons do need to become more local if the collective consciousness of all is to be pricked, instead of learning dates by rote.

Yet it requires the persuasive passion of all to help inform younger people of the significance of landmarks in history like the Battle of Britain – even if it is so they have a better appreciation of the names inscribed on the war memorial closest to their home. Perhaps community groups could use social media to prompt discussion about local heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice?

Until reading the results of this survey, I did believe that people had a far greater awareness about those past events – respect for the Armed Forces has never been higher and events to mark the centenary of the Great War could not have been more humbling.

As age finally catches up with the last survivors of the Second World War – whether it be the Battle of Britain pilots, D-Day survivors or those who fought in the Far East and who featured in last Saturday’s VJ Day events – it should be the duty of all to ensure these deeds and sacrifices are truly appreciated by all. Without them, Great Britain would not be a shining beacon of liberty that it is today.

DID you spot the Government’s pitiful response to the dairy crisis? I thought not. Three weeks after farmers started taking action against supermarkets, Environment Secretary Liz Truss finally broke her silence and rehashed some policy commitments that had been made to The Yorkshire Post six months ago.

I can’t see a £24m rural growth programme making a difference when farmers actually want a commitment from the Government and the rest of the public sector to source British produce wherever possible, and for clearer “country of origin” labelling.

It also highlights the folly of Ministers being appointed to roles that do not reflect their expertise. Ms Truss cut her political teeth in education and economics – her skills would be far better suited to these policy spheres.

It is the same with Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary. Her background is venture capital, business services and, coincidentally, a stint on Parliament’s environment select committee. Why is she not using her skills to encourage more women into business?

I could go on – the corporate lawyer Nicky Morgan never strikes me as the most enthusiastic Education Secretary – but I do think taxpayers would be better served if more roles were given to people actually qualified to do the job.

TYPICAL. Did you spot how Gordon Brown began his speech on Labour’s future by having the cheek to point out that he had experience of leadership elections? Talk about being economical with the truth – he became Prime Minister in 2007 following a coronation in which no one stood against the then Chancellor and his henchmen.

Perhaps this is one of the causes of the party’s current hardship. For, if Brown had been challenged, he might have been able to govern with more purpose and spare his party some of the anguish that it now faces – irrespective of who has the misfortune to become leader next month.

I HAVE very mixed views ahead of the World Athletics Championships which begin in Beijing today, despite Seb Coe’s election as president of the scandal-hit IAAF. I’d like to think that this event will be a celebration of the very best of track and field, but the continuing failure to ban doping cheats for life has turned the sport into a freak show. The resulting farce has detracted from the spirited endeavour of those competitors, like Yorkshire’s very own golden girl Jessica Ennis-Hill, whose Chariots of Fire-like values are unimpeachable despite rivals resorting to chemicals to enhance their performance.

I NOTE Vince Cable has been a bit presumptuous in announcing his knighthood before David Cameron’s Dissolution Honours List has been signed off and published.

“It is agreed but hasn’t been officially notified yet, it’s not done until it’s done and the Queen needs to send me a letter,” says the York-born Lib Dem who went on to explain that he had rejected a peerage because the House of Lords is too overcrowded and in need a reform.

Though I agree with the former Minister on the latter point, I hope that Her Majesty keeps Dr Cable / Sir Vincent (delete as appropriate) in suspense for as long as possible – even if it means watching more replays of her horse Recorder’s win at York’s Ebor festival for Skipton-based trainer William Haggas.

FOR the first time, Sir Gary Verity was left momentarily speechless. Sat next to the New Zealander Sir Owen Glenn whose globetrotting Criterion ran in the £850,000 Juddmonte International, York’s richest ever race, on Wednesday, the Kiwi asked: “Have you a horse in the big race?” Given a previous venture into syndicate ownership, it was perhaps not the best question to ask...

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk

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