Monday, 13 January 2014

CJ Sansom's "Dominion": a low punch at UKIP

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It’s now widely accepted that Winston Churchill had a "wobble" in his now-famous three days in May 1940 when he was occupied by the feasibility of negotiating a peace with Hitler’s Germany after the "Narvik Debate" on the disastrous Norwegian campaign brought down Neville Chamberlain’s Conservative government and Churchill came to lead a tripartite National Government.

In CJ Sansom’s alternative history novel set in 1952, Dominion, Churchill was rejected in favour of Lord Halifax as leader of the Tories. Following the Dunkirk evacuation, a crisis in Parliament led to those peace negotiations with the Nazis, and Great Britain became effectively a German vassal state under the leadership of Lord Beaverbrook.

I don’t agree with Sansom’s intimations in the novel that patriotism is by nature evil. Nevertheless, taking something you normally wouldn’t pick up and turning it into something you can’t put down is the mark of a great writer.

What worried me is that, after the end of the novel, Sansom presents an essay on his views on Nazism, nationalism and patriotism in general (which, in conjunction with Palestine – ie Israel – he cites as the two great blights of the real postwar world). At the end of the essay, in which Nazism and fascism are extensively mentioned, he opines that UKIP is another manifestation of the "blight" of patriotism.

He offers no opinion on the EU which, although not a national or nationalist entity, many would point to as non-violent fascism. By the time he comes to UKIP, after pages spent railing against fascism and associating patriotism therewith, the footnotes have dried up, but the intention seems to give the reader the idea s/he is reading an academic essay condemning UKIP.

Should we be asking Macmillan whether, should it reprint Dominion before the 2015 General Election, it will reprint Sansom's tendentious essay?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Three Days in May: When Winston Churchill wobbled - Jasper Rees, Telegraph

Conduct of the War Hansard minutes of House of Commons debate of May 8 1940, also called the Norwegian Debate/Narvik Debate

Click to read reviews of Dominion at Amazon

Pan Macmillan (publishers of Dominion) contact page

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