England and the UK needs a new Athelstan (Æthelstan)

Personally, I wish Athelstan, King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and first King of England from 927 to 939, was alive today. He saw – back in the Middle Ages, roughly 1,100 years ago – that the only solution to the development of England was to unite all the previously warring regions of England to deliver sustained peace, thereby enabling progressive economic and social progress. In this endeavour he was phenomenally and unprecedentedly successful.

Were Athelstan alive today, he’d instantly spot, just as Winston Churchill did after the Second World War, that the only way to stop future World Wars initiated by the major powers of Europe (roughly every 21 years) was to integrate their economies and encourage them to start working together on issues beyond the purview of individual states, like climate change, deforestation, the ivory trade, tax avoidance by global corporations, plastic in the oceans, etc.

To achieve this outcome in England, Athelstan sacrificed his personal self-interest by volunteering never to get married or have children, in order to avoid a feud over dynastic succession.

Contrast Athelstan’s vision and personal self-sacrifice, in the national interest, with Theresa May today. Theresa May was faced, at Chequers on Friday 6 July, with a choice between: (a) crucifying the UK economy and breaking our four nations apart; or (b) keeping the Conservative Party in power.

Which option did she choose? Answer: personal self-interest and the short-term interests of the Conservative Party.

Perversely, if Theresa May  eventually persuades the EU to accept her latest version of “Brexit Fudge” (see https://www.facebook.com/bbccomedy/videos/10155547858116778/), the Conservative Party will be toast for generations to come … assuming: (a| either Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell can be persuaded to recognise the benefits of remaining in the EU; and/or (b) we can secure a People’s Vote on the exit terms actually on offer to the UK.

Who is going to step forward today, like Athelstan, to lead the UK in a progressive direction?

Editors notes*

Æthelstan centralised government; he increased control over the production of charters and summoned leading figures from distant areas to his councils. These meetings were also attended by rulers from outside his territory, especially Welsh kings, who thus acknowledged his overlordship. More legal texts survive from his reign than from any other 10th-century English king. They show his concern about widespread robberies, and the threat they posed to social order. His legal reforms built on those of his grandfather, Alfred the Great. Æthelstan was one of the most pious West Saxon kings, and was known for collecting relics and founding churches. His household was the centre of English learning during his reign, and it laid the foundation for the Benedictine monastic reform later in the century. No other West Saxon king played as important a role in European politics as Æthelstan, and he arranged the marriages of several of his sisters to continental rulers


Author: Alan Meekings

Alan Meekings is a management consultant specialising in the field of Organisational Performance Management. He has led programmes of major change and sustainable improvement with public, private and third sector organisations for over thirty years. He is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University School of Management, a Visiting Scholar at Heriot-Watt University School of Management and a member of the Conservative Group for Europe, the Tory Reform Group and European Movement both nationally and in Lincolnshire.