British Tea Party Movement? It's No Surprise, Really

By now, unless you've been hiding in a cave, you know about the "Tea Party movement" in the United States. It's an all-American movement, right? Yes, and no

Daniel Hannan, MEP explains that the Tea Parties sweeping America draw inspiration from the Boston Tea Party, which he says was actually a protest by British citizens. 

Writing on his Telegraph UK blog page, Hannan said this on February 27, 2010: Some British Lefties – and some Americans – are thrown by the idea of a Brighton Tea Party. After all, they point out, the original Boston Tea Party was directed against the British Crown. Yes, it was. But where do you think its leaders drew their inspiration from? The American patriots didn’t see themselves as revolutionaries, but as conservatives. In their own minds, all they were asking for was what they had always assumed to be their birthright as freeborn Englishmen. 

This should not surprise anybody who has a basic familiarity with American history, which is of course deeply intertwined with British history. Hannan explains his reasons for hosting a Tea Party in Britain on Fox News (watch video). 

As the American Revolution was still in its embryonic stage, circa 1774-1775, people such as Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams, George Washington and others were Englishmen and considered themselve to be loyal to the British Crown. Their initial intentions were not to break away from England; for years they and others had tried diplomatic methods to pursuade Parliament to treat the American colonies as equals, on a par with their fellow Englishmen back in the British Isles. 

It didn't work, as you may know, and the rest is history. It's been correctly said that the grievances against King George III (left) in 1776 pale in comparison to those against the U.S. Congress in 2010. 

The Declaration of Indepedence was signed on July 4, 1776, about ten and a half months after the King George's Rebellion Proclamation of August 23, 1775, which officially declared the American colonies to be in rebellion. Keep in mind that on April 14, 1775, Massachusetts Governor Gage was given secret orders from the British to suppress "open rebellion" among American colonists by using all necessary force

Today, we have an American government that is taxing the people at higher rates than the British taxed the American colonists. Americans today are openly rebelling, albeit it non-violently, in hundres of groups called "tea parties." Like the revolutionaries of 1775 and 1776, the Tea Party people are not completely united. The 13 American colonies, while agreeing to cooperate in a struggle for independence, were also frequently bickering amongst themselves. As they did over 234 years ago, today's American revolutionaries will get their act together and come together as a united and formidable force. 

Back to the British Tea Parties. History and movements often move circularly. The American Revolution began as a movement by Englishmen in the British colonies of North America to be treated fairly. In early 2009, an American resistance to massive government and ever increasing suppression of financial and personal freedoms spawned the modern Tea Parties. That idea bounced over to the United Kingdom, where modern Englishmen (and women, of course) are fighting Parliament anew - and for reasons that would feel familiar to some of the most famous Englishmen in history: Franklin, Jefferson, Adams and Washington. 

Hannan and I agree, although he puts it differently: Those British Lefties who now sneer at what they regard as the Americanisation of the British Right would do well to remember their own history. They are the political heirs of Charles James Fox, of John Wilkes, or Tom Paine. I have no doubt that if the heroes of that age – Burke or Fox or Pitt or Johnson or Swift – could be transported to our own time, they would recoil with horror at the level of taxation and state intervention

This all comes with a caveat, however. Just as Franklin, Jefferson, Adams and Washington would find common ground with today's tea parties, whether in the United States or the United Kingdom, they would also see potential danger. King George III was, after all, rather tolerant toward the uppity American colonists for years before he ordered force to be used against them. Push any government too hard and too fast, and the resulting consequences could be dire. That's not meant to discourage Tea Parties, but to simply say that history must be used as a guide for victories that can be achieved, but also for mistakes and dangers to avoid.