Before starting this blog I reached for the nearest dictionary to my armchair, one of the many scattered about the house, which I consult for crosswords or for spelling .It was a Pocket Oxford Dictionary and though the introductory pages showing its date of publication were long gone I inferred that it predated my own birth. But I can think of no better an authority for widening and deepening my understanding the world I was born into and survive in. I quote –
Mandate, Authoritative command; commission to act for another (esp. one from the League of Nationsto a State to govern a people not qualified for independence); instruction from the electorate to its representative(s), inferred from its votes, to take certain action.
The League of Nations was founded by the victors of the First World War and the permanent members of its Council of Ministers were the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Italy. For ten years before 1914 Britain and France had planned together to attack and crush Germany, and British Naval and Military officers had spied out territories in the Ottoman Empire, Maurice Hankey around Gallipoli and T.E Lawrence in Arabia, Palestine and environs. Tsarist Russia was brought into the predatory alliance with the promise of Constantinople by a secret Treaty which the cads and bounders of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party discovered and revealed to the world.
Neither the British nor the French were invited by the rulers nor the peoples of the Ottoman Empire into their territories, but when they had seized them, they gave them mandates to rule and exploit them to suit themselves.
They never arranged plebiscites in Lebanon, Syria, Mesopotamia (now called Iraq), Syria nor Palestine, whose people the British and French deemed not qualified for independence.
I leave it to you to judge the behaviour of the British and French at the time, and its consequences for later generations.
On 14 December 1918 the Irish electorate, ordered by its choice of representatives to establish a sovereign independent Irish Republic, and confirmed that order in the local government elections in 1920.
Professor Richard English of Queen’s University Belfast, and the Sunday Independent’s Eoghan Harris would have you believe otherwise and may well think I’m mistaken.
I will come back to that issue presently.
It will soon be the Feast of the Epiphany, “Little Christmas” or Twelfth Night and though our revels are not ended I wish you a Happy New Year.
A word to pedants – I know Shakespeare’s line was not from Twelfth Night!