UKIP has launched a new, controversial poster featuring the white cliffs of Dover, with the caption “No border, No control”. The caption talks about Britain being open to 4,000 Europeans a week. This is the figure UKIP claim have come to the country.
The cliffs have a great emotional significance to many Brits, as they would be the first thing British soldiers see on their return from European wars. They are the psychological dividing line between Britain and Europe, being just 30 miles from France.
The symbolism of the UKIP poster is very simple: that the line of defence for a country that has not been invaded since 1066, has now been breached by the Europeans. So instead of the cliffs forming an impossible barrier to invaders, they now have an escalator making it easy to get in.
‘White Cliffs of Dover’ was also a song during the Second World War sung by Dame Vera Lynn. The lyrics refer to a time when the war is over and there will be “blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover” rather than German bombers coming to attack London.
In 1940 British fighter pilots met the German Luftwaffe in the air over the cliffs in a desperate attempt to stop the capital being destroyed. In the end, despite being badly outnumbered, the Royal Air Force beat the Germans during the Battle of Britain. The following year the Americans entered the war, and having air superiority enabled the two countries to liberate Europe.
Many British and American soldiers would have seen the cliffs on their way to the D-Day invasion of occupied Europe, and then those that survived would have known their ordeal was over when they saw them again on their way back.
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