John Buchan (1875-1940) is mainly remembered today as the author of the thriller novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, whose hero, Richard Hannay, was in many (though not all) ways the prototype of James Bond.
But he also enjoyed a career that encompassed, amongst many other roles, practicing at the Bar, war service as a Military Intelligence officer and being elected to Westminster as a Conservative MP. He also served as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and was the Governor-General of Canada.
The son of a humble Fife minister, John Buchan was a shining examplar of patriotic public service, who at the same time put forward ideas for Britain’s role in the world which, had they been heeded, would have placed her in the forefront of a world power made up of our own kith and kin, instead of adhering to the European Union.
Buchan also issued a warning of the Islamic threat to the West, something sufficiently timely to be pulled hastily from the BBC airwaves after the July 7th London bombings!
Buchan’s vision, shared by other radical patriots of his day such as Joseph Chamberlain and Cecil Rhodes, was of the British-settled Dominions such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand confederating with the Mother Country to build a Greater British superpower.
As Buchan put it: “I dreamed of a world-wide brotherhood with the background of a common race and creed, consecrated to the service of peace; Britain enriching the rest out of her culture and traditions, and the spirit of the Dominions like a strong wind freshening the stuffiness of the old lands.
“I saw in the Empire a means of giving to the congested masses at home open country instead of a blind alley. Our creed was not based on antagonism to any other people”.
Instead of importing Immigrants to a shrinking island, Buchan wanted our country to export her people to an expanding British world.
Buchan’s dream of Britain’s world role as motherland of a global ethnically-British superpower stands in stark contrast to our feeble role in current EU nightmare.
Buchan’s dream never came true. Betrayed because the Tory party he supported lacked his vision and the radicalism he believed should be part of its creed. He also expressed a preference for socialism over “orthodox liberalism” and fell into the palsied hands of political eunuchs content to “manage decline”.
But one of his nightmares has been realised. In 1916, in Greenmantle, one of the sequels to The Thirty Nine Steps, Buchan’s heroes Richard Hannay and Sandy Arbuthnot battle a German plot to help launch an anti-Western Islamic jihad, led by a figure eerily reminiscent of Osama bin Laden.
The book is alarmingly prophetic, except that determined British officers, unhobbled by Political Correctness, take decisive action to nip the proto-al-Qaeda in the bud.
Decisive action was indeed taken on this issue by their successors in charge of our country.
In 2007 a dramatisation of Greenmantle was being broadcast as a series on BBC Radio Four. Immediately after Islamic militants bombed London on July 7th, the BBC pulled the plug on the rest of the series.
Buchan’s warning of the threat of Islamic militancy was described by the BBC authorities as “unsuitable and insensitive” — now it has so horribly come true decades later.
We can only hope, as the West reels under the impact of Islam, immigration, environmental collapse and economic globalisation, that Buchan’s other nightmare is not also realized: “You think” he warned in 1916, “that a wall as solid as the Earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a pane of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn” (the god of chaos, mayhem, anarchy and catastrophe).
John Buchan’s dreams died, starved of the energy, vision and leadership to give them flesh, like many other such visions of British greatness.
For the same reason, from the bomb-blasted burrows under London to the blazing banlieues around Paris, his nightmares have lived and grown to haunt us . . .