ON Saturday we consecrated the restored Lantern that hangs above the Gateway offices to Ringwood Town Council. Fittingly it is in good time for Remembrance Sunday when we mark the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended The Great War.

I say ‘we’ but as Abraham Lincoln would have undoubtedly observed, rather it is consecrated by the brave souls who struggled and died.

When I was learning about the First World War at school in the early nineteen seventies, we were taught that it was all a terrible mistake, an accident even: that through the complex set of alliances, a political assassination in an obscure city in the Balkans led almost automatically to war between the great powers; that a machine was in motion that couldn’t be stopped.

Consequently, as no great principle was at stake, the slaughter of so many was ultimately just a senseless waste.

There is, of course, no control experiment in history, no way of knowing how things would have turned out had they been done differently. I now reject utterly however, the history I was taught at School.

The Kaiser’s Germany was a fast expanding power run by a militarist elite that derided the values of emerging liberal democracy. It was rapidly developing ever more sophisticated armaments and offensive capability. A swift victory in war with France had been the basis of German military planning and preparation for a generation.

If post Great War history has taught us anything, it is the lethal danger of appeasing aggressive militarist regimes.

Who knows how much darker the modern history of our continent would have been had we not come to the aid of Belgium and France in 1914.

It was a just, noble and honourable cause

n Both my colleagues and my email correspondents are ever more anxious and argumentative about the precise nature of the trade deal that they believe that the PM is negotiating with the EU, often characterised as ‘Chequers versus Canada ++’.

I believe their energy is entirely misplaced: I am prepared to wager that what will be presented will be the blandest of statements which could accommodate any number of future trading arrangements including both Canada and Chequers. Agreement to such a statement merely puts off the arguing about which of them it is actually to be, until later.

What we will be presented with, and I expect will divide us, is a withdrawal agreement which will be controversial because it will be about money and about control of the mechanism for finally determining if and when the problem of our only land border with the EU is resolved.

This will run and run, we all need to develop strategic patience, and to ‘live in the moment’