PECCAVI?

General Sir Charles Napier was a distinguished General who served in the Peninsula War against Napoleon with the 50th Foot, which became in due course The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), one of the most renowned of English county Regiments.


He later went on to command the army in India. In 1843 he conquered Sindh which is now a province of Pakistan.

The main engagement was the Battle of Miani when Napier’s force of 2,800 men defeated the Emir of Sindh’s army which was 30,000 strong. Napier’s army lost less than 300 men, against about 6,000 dead Sindhis.

After the conquest Napier is famously supposed to have sent a cable back to his superiors which consisted of just one word – Peccavi which is the Latin for ‘I have sinned’.

Napier was a wise man. Here are a couple of his sayings:

“The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed.”

and...

“So perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another.”

Which in turn reminds me of that line from the Edward Lear humorous verse:

“Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?”

Swat used to be a princely state in what was the North West Frontier Province of India. The ruler of Swat was known as the Wali. This province, which is in Pakistan, was renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2010. It is inhabited mainly by Pathans and other hill tribes.

We left India in 1947. But many from the subcontinent came here afterwards. A good number settled in Bradford.

There was of course a by-election in Bradford West on Thursday and it was won by Gorgeous George Galloway. It was a truly remarkable and largely unexpected victory. Yet it owes more to the goings on in places such as Sindh or Swat than it does to Yorkshire.

The result in full is as follows:

George Galloway - Respect - 18,341 (55.9%)
Imran Hussain - Labour - 8,201 (25.0%)
Jackie Whiteley - Conservative - 2,746 (8.4%)
Jeanette Sunderland - Liberal Democrat - 1,505 (4.6%)
Sonja McNally - UKIP - 1,085 (3.3%)
Dawud Islam - Green - 481 (1.5%)
Neil Craig - Democratic Nationalists - 341 (1.0%)
Howling Laud Hope - Monster Raving Loony - 111 (0.3%)

The Bradford West by-election did not attract much attention and in Galloway some ‘respects’ crept in under the radar. But he did not just win – he trounced everyone else.

The result gave me cause to ponder. No nationalist candidate has ever come anywhere near winning a Parliamentary seat. Galloway has done it twice by mobilising politically committed minority groups – Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets and now Pakistanis in Bradford. It is a damning indictment that nationalism in this country has so far failed to provide similar motivation. I believe the English Democrats are best placed to be able to do this in the future.

The tiny Bradford-based Democratic Nationalists were unable to take any real advantage of the lack of a rival candidate for the nationalist vote and only polled 1%. UKIP did not exactly shine in this contest either.

The above picture is of me at Hadleigh Castle in the wonderful county of Essex. Hadleigh Castle stands as a sentinel over the Thames estuary with the Medway and the Kent coat off in the background. I first visited it some 25 years ago and happened to be passing so I thought I would take another quick look. And yes it was still there! That is some comfort after nearly 800 years!

Oh – the candidates for the London Mayoral and Assembly election had to be nominated by Wednesday. I believe the Politics Show this Sunday lunchtime on the BBC will be covering an interesting aspect relating to this...