“No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were as

well as any manner of thy friends or thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

John Donne (1572-1631) Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral London.

I don’t know whether the poet was speaking for himself or speaking for England when he wrote

those lines. But there is damn little evidence that his sentiments resonate too strongly with England today.

“Every man is a piece of the continent”   finds little echo in the incontinent jingoism of Farage or Boris Johnson, Rees-Mogg and their friends.

As for the “moderates” who argue for a hearing for Tony Blair, they reckon “the loss of British soldiers’ lives” (reckoned at 218 in Dick Cheney’s Iraq War) “will haunt him forever” whilst the loss of upwards of 1,000,000 (mainly civilian) Iraqi lives concerns them, and, presumably him, not at all*.

*Letters on” The right of Tony Blair to speak on Brexit” in THE TIMES January 21 2019

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