South Holland and The Deepings MP Sir John Hayes with some thoughts about home and the best of Britain
The wonders of the earth are infinitely more numerous than those listed in modern travel guides.
Each of the world’s 195 nations is defined by its own unique history, natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Little wonder then that this summer, like every other in modern times, countless Britons will fly to far flung climes, motivated by the natural human curiosity we share - the allure of the distant and pursuit of the new.
Yet the joy of familiarity and repetition is just as natural. After all, who isn’t drawn to old haunts? Home always calls us back to the place we know best. In this way, at the core of foreign travel’s appeal is the dream of homecoming.
From Robert Browning’s poetic evocation of ‘Home thoughts from Abroad’ to the grasp of Kipling, amongst others, who understood that one can better value the virtues of Britain by viewing it from afar.
An appreciation - too often neglected - of the country in which we were born and bred makes and shapes each and all of us. For without an understanding of the history, values, culture and beliefs that comprise our collective home, how can we hope to enjoy, preserve and defend it?
So, as with my family on our holiday here in England I gazed again in wonder at Whitby Abbey and Bambrough Castle, all the trials and triumphs that characterise our island story will, once more, be brought to mind.
Certain elements of British life are routinely taken for granted. The rule of law, stable democratic government and the rarity of corruption are perhaps only truly appreciated having witnessed the perils of their absence.
Sadly, I am sometimes contacted by constituents seeking my assistance who have travelled overseas with the presumption that common standards of decency prevail universally, only to find to their cost that this is often not the case.
Despite the deceptive narrative of the internationalist commentariat, not all cultures are equal.
As we remember that prosperity takes far longer to deliver than destroy, we should never feel ashamed to celebrate everything that our forefathers worked and sacrificed to build – our United Kingdom, a place of which to be proud. Which is why the Union flag should be a sight to behold every day on every public building.
From the tip of the Scottish Highlands to the sandy beaches of England’s east coast; the tiny Welsh city of St David to Ulster’s Giant’s Causeway, the United Kingdom possesses all kinds of joys.
Our extraordinary eccentricities often leave foreign visitors scratching their heads, yet are bound to entice a smile.
From an afternoon spent chasing a spiralling cheese in Gloucestershire, playing Royal Shrovetide Football in Derbyshire or enjoying our lovely Fenland flower festivals, particularity is everywhere. Even the much-bemoaned climate is actually a blessing in disguise, with its unpredictability provoking countless conversations – think of how the Ashes Test match commentary would be less enthralling without endless speculation about the prospect of rain affecting play. The very same rain that guarantees our land remains green and pleasant.
There remain though those determined to pull our United Kingdom apart. So, believing as he does that the countries of the Kingdom are better together, I welcome the new Prime Minister’s decision to make himself not only our Premier, but also Minister for the union. For, surely, the best future for Britain is one in which localities have enough independence to service their community’s needs, whilst retaining the sure security provided by historic British institutions such as the monarchy, currency and armed forces.
Knowing that absence is sure to make hearts grow still fonder of our fenland home, I wish all my constituents, whether holidaying nearby or far away, safe and enjoyable travel.