To the long list of stiff upper lip-wielding Brits, including the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, Sir Francis Drake who defeated the Spanish Armada and Henry V, the king who defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt, we may add King George VI, father of the current Queen Elisabeth.
King George woke one desperate May morning in 1940 to a call from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who was just then desperately holed up in an air raid shelter in a palace garden against an ongoing assault from the Germans.
“She begged me to send aircraft for the defense of Holland. I passed this message on to everyone concerned & went back to bed.”
Quoted in Last Hope Island by Lynne Olsen.
“If the world comes to an end, I shall go to Holland. There everything happens fifty years later.”
– 19th-century German poet Heinrich Heine. Mark Twain is said to have adapted this quote to Cincinnati.
Any politician who utters the words “We will continue our fight” on election night has lost, and so Geert Wilders is invited to scurry off back to his armed guard while the Dutch center holds, delivering a bracing, if temporary, rebuff of Europopulism, and now, eyes on France. But as the reporting horde scurries from Amsterdam to Paris, there remain coalition politics to resolve back in Den Haag.
GreenLeft looks to end up with something like 15 or 16 parliamentary seats in today’s elections, a huge increase from its previous four, on the same night the Dutch Labour Party has been just about eviscerated, apparently for previously joining in a coalition with the center-right government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Despite Labour’s travails, given the current state of the European left, GreenLeft’s 30 year old leader Jesse Klaver should court Rutte’s VVD for inclusion in the coming Dutch governing coalition as a way to put down a marker, to claim legitimacy for his party after its remarkable quadrupling of its parliamentary presence, and to cement GreenLeft’s arrival on the Dutch political scene.
I’m just sayin’.