Who is Your Favourite Briton?

Who would you choose to be the greatest Briton of all time?

See: list of 100 Great British Heroes

Is greatest synonymous with favourite?

Many of those featured in the top 100 britons achieved great things, but often with serious defects. For example, Oliver Cromwell, founded a new constitution, but his intolerant brand of Calvinism, led to a fanatical religious intolerance.

Of those chosen, the winner, Winston Churchill, is by far the most complex.

He became the emblem and inspiration behind the fight against Hitler and the tyranny of Nazism. When western civilisation was threatened with the prospect of unspeakable tyranny and totalitarianism - Churchill stood defiant. For this alone, Churchill probably does deserve the award for Greatest Briton. It was, after all, the most important struggle of humanity in the present era.

Yet, despite this Churchill held many views I could not agree with.

  • Set the army on striking miners (1910,1911, 1926)
  • Opposed independence for India.
  • He believed in the British Empire and the Right of Britain to rule over other countries
  • He held racist views, believing white civilisation superior
  • "I do not admit...that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia...by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race...has come in and taken its place" - Churchill to Palestine Royal Commission, 1937.
  • Opposed universal suffrage for women
  • e.t.c
My Choice for Greatest Briton would be William Blake.

William Blake spoke passionately against the injustice of society and Empire. His heart identified with the suffering of others, and he expressed it in the most powerful way.

But, Blake was not just a prophet against tyranny; Blake was a visionary who saw an underlying spirituality in the mundane world. In ordinary objects, the Seer in Blake, saw the hand of infinity and immortality.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
From: Auguries of Innocence

Who would object of William Blake's Jerusalem was made the National Anthem of Britain?

God Save the Queen is turgid; Jerusalem is inspiring.


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.


Perma Link | By: T Pettinger |


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