Today David Cameron will play the immigration card. He will tell a distinguised European audience that multi culturalism in Britain has failed and that Britain must advance a stronger sense of national identity. A literate national audience will reach for references to the most famous poem ever written on the subject: Daniel Foe’s scathing poem The True Born Englishman, published in 1701, that halted the notion that there was someone who be called a True Born Englishman and that we were all, if you dug deep enough, foreigners. He wrote: ‘From this Amphibious Ill-born Mob began, That Vain ill-natur’d thing, an Englishman. The Customs, Sirnames, Languages and Manners, Of all these Nations are their own Explainers. Whose Relicks are so lasting and so strong. That ha’lefta Shiboleth upon our tongue, By which with easy search you may distinguish Your Roman-Saxon-Danish- Norman English. Or more briefly as I would write, ‘Scratch an Englishman and you will find a foreigner’. ‘I am one and so are you, your neighbour is a little dark, his children of a lighter hue, And in the market place you hear the laughter of a thousand tongues, Of me, and them and you.’ If multiculturism in Britain has failed it has taken two thousand years to do so.
I find David Cameron beguiling. Whatever Nick Clegg might think or say he is in union with A True Born Tory. What do you get if you scratch a True Born Tory? You get a person absolutely convinced of certain social and political values which he regards as inalienable and true. It is a narrow vision of the world. Being an intelligent sort of chap Our Dave develops evidence to support theses values and naturally he can gather it in. He has certain powers to communicate these values to us. He does so with clarity, energy and certitude. He is heading for the rocks and his crew will watch and cheer as he heads there. They know too that they stand for something vital to our national well-being and survival. They are willing, and even enthusiastic to accompany him.
The truth is that David Cameron is playing the national identity card. Eventually all Tory leaders do this in one form or another. I remember sitting next to Enoch Powell on a plane to Belfast. I studied him carefully and even dared to speak to him. This is a man who advanced the notion that the streets of some of our cities would soon be awash with blood (metaphorically speaking of course). Where is this blood now other than in David Cameron’s imagination. Relationships between people of differet ethnicity have, in my humble opinion, never been better. I like my neighbours I enjoy a rich selection of foods and recipes, I enjoy playing cricket with people from Barbados, and how about a curry this evening.
I have always believed this sort of creature, A True Born Tory, to be dangerous. David Cameron has embarked on a difficult and potentially disastrous path. Of course he will sound reasonable. Ideas will be advanced which 30 percent of the population readily agree with. Recruitment to the English Defence League and the BNP will rise. The Tory vote will strenghten in the Tory shires. However, someone should tell our Dave that speaking your own mind is a dangerous activity.
Filed under BBC, Beyond Belief, BNP, Cabinet, Cameron, Conservative Home, Defoe, Ed Milliband, English Defence League, Enoch Powell, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, Immigration, John Martin, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Vision, Liberal Voice, Multi Culturalism, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Pakistan, Religion, Thatcher, Turkey
High Office can be very cruel to a man. Shakespeare has shown us something of what can happen. He presents a mighty figure new to his task. As you look, a small crack can be seen in the edifice and under the pressure of high office one can see it widen until suddenly it splits asunder.
Are we witnessing this coming apart already in David Cameron? I do not suppose Cameron will repeat the mistakes of seeking to curry favour with some countries by insulting their ‘enemies’ and neighbours in public. At least not in the exactly same way. We shall write that down to learning from experience and the influence of others. But he will continue to be himself and he has told us so. Many hundreds of thousands of people will have seen the complicated expressions on David Cameron’s face when qustioned by journalists on his recent gaffes in Turkey and India: puzzlement, obstinacy and a degree of stupidity. After all when he shouted crude insults at Gordon Brown (of beloved memory) across the floor of the House of Commons people laughed and cheered. There must have been many similar moments in the Eton and Oxford debating societies: no one objected there. So why do they object in Pakistan and Israel?
This whole business of exposing oneself in public is fraught with difficulty. At first the crowd is amused and taken-in by one’s idiosyncracies and there is a welcome in the novellty of it (sorry, Gordon) but then the mood changes as we quickly grow critical and bored with the constant exposure. We try to modify what we do. It makes things worse. Have you noticed a change in our Dave’s intonation? His speech pattern has been altered. He has always , of course, spoken very quickly, as a child speaks and as politicians do, in order to get his point in and evade critical questioning, but now he shouts. Quite suddenly in a speech he seems to take a breath and bellows. You think I exagerate? Listen and make up your own mind. Our Dave is weak on detail. Harriet Harmon has revealed this for us. In the Commons she has sought policy detail from Dave on numerous occasions. He doesn’t answer. He does not know. In a debating society it is not desperately important to know what you are talking about. Succeeding is a matter of style, wit and combativeness. Dave certainly has what it takes to be popular and thus successful there. But in a wider world where most of what occurs is not of your making and liking. It is a question mark. Will we see the public edifice crumble piece by piece over the coming months?
Filed under Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Commons, Conservative Home, Eton, Guardian, Israel, Labour Blogs, Labour Home, Liberal Vision, Nick Clegg, Oxford, Pakistan, Parliament, Shakespeare, Turkey
I am really surprised. I’m a straight speaking forthright sort of chap. I always speak out and give people my opinion and I am not going to stop now. Some Jonnies from the Foreign Office tipped me the wink that in foreign affairs it is not always a good thing to tell other countries in public what you think about their policies and funny ways. At Eton we were taught not to worry about that kind of thing. Work out what you want to say and get it out there. It’s always been my way. I put it to you that there is a limit to the number of countries who need to hear your views. Let’s say not more that a hundred or so. If you arranged a short number of overseas trips you could p..s them all off in no time. Take a meeting of the European Heads of State, you could p..s of twenty eight countries in less than two hours! How about NATO? You can include North America in your mission.
And why am I dong this? I can envisage you saying this. In the modern Tory Party we have some interesting guys. I’m sure you will agree with this. Take Michael, for example, he can use words that you won’t find in the Short Oxford Dictionary. You’re laughing at me . Don’t believe me? I always take the Dictionary with me if I know he is going to be there. Well, Michael has introduced me to the idea of mutabilty. Now to you and I that is an unusual word but what it means is that we live and breath with the certainty of change. Or to put it bluntly, life is short – especially if you are a politician. You don’t have long. Of course there are exceptions, Mrs T? The blessed Gordon. When I think of Gordon in the morning I imagine that as I look through the window at the back garden I see a rhino. No really, a rhino can do a lot of damage in a relatively short period of time and it is difficult to persuade it to go away.You try, if you don’t believe me. Anyway, I digress, Michael makes the point that we do not have long to change Britain in our image and we had better get on with it. If it is worth doing, do it. Michael’s philosophy is my own. If you are bound to annoy all those Heads of State you had better get on with it. How long do we have? Well our Tory members think not long. When we asked them about the dangers to the Coalition and how long they thought it could survive, they were pessimistic. A lot of them thought we wouldn’t survive two years and many thought no more than one year. George thought this far too short when it comes to the economy. He points out that there are twenty chapters in his economics textbook and he has only reached chapter four. (My advice was to read faster!!) Anyway, to come back to the main point. I do not have much time to tell all of these Heads of State what I think about their policies (Sarah, bring the Diary and remind me where we will be next week). But I shall. Count on it.
Filed under BBC, Big society, Cameron, Europe, George Osborne, India, Labour Blogs, Liberal News, Michael Gove, Pakistan, Parliament, Politics, Treasury
Hello, you out there. I’m going to boast a little. I have been in this job only three months and I have not only shaken up Britain -Small Government Big Society-, he, he, he – but I am changing Britain’s tole in the world for good and I hope for ever – or at least until the next General Election. And by the way I am fixing that, the date and circumstances of an election, so if you think you can easily throw me out think again. Don’t try it! In this I am helped by William [Hague]. He is a real historian, if I ever met one, and knows all about Walpole: no foreign wars, no army to wage it, a few ships to make it difficult for nasty powers to invade us, and local militia (I have been thinking of beefing up the School Cadet Service and the Territorial Army). When I look at what has been happening abroad I am truly appalled: foreign wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan; following the Americans into those god-awful places, Kossovo, do you remember it; slavishly following the European Union line; cowtowing to Canada in NATO. You name it, we did it! No more. William is wise in all this. He tells me that we could not have defeated the Spanish Armada but for the storms that dashed their ships on the rocks; and it took us fifteen years to defeat Napoleon and we would not have done that but for the Prussians. And the two World Wars? Well as I said to Obama, we should have left to you. It would have saved us a lot of grief. I have changed all that. You can’t engage in these wars if you do not have an army, air force or navy can you? Liam is knocking them all down to size.We need to sell goods and services around the world. We want those countries who are large and growing powerfully to buy from us. Why not? We can make things too. Countries like Turkey, India, China, Brazil, and South Korea. I have a Plan. I go there and act humble. I tell them about our needs. I support them vocally and denounce their enemies (sorry about that fraulein). I become their buddy (this is a strategy I learnt at Eton, by the way). So what if I annoy other countries. Who the hell in Britain wishes to toady up to Germany and France – otherwise known as the European Union! And how much more can we sell to Israel? Be reasonable.
Now some people question both my judgement and character. They describe me as combustible, excitable and something of a bully, and they complain that I am alienating powerful players in the world. They are entitled to their opinion. But did you not know that Britain has traditional ties with our Turkish friends, that we meet more curry than any other type of meal! We can eat more curry still, take it from me. And now for a word on immigration. The question has been asked whether Turkish membership of the European Union would result in hundreds of thousands of Turks settling in Britain. Perhaps, yes, perhaps no. With a bit of luck we might be out by the time they get in. Joke joke! But then you can’t have everything in life can you? Did I ever say you could?
Filed under BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Guardian, India, Iraq, Liam Fox, Liberal News, Liberal Vision, NATO, Nick Clegg, Obama, Pakistan, Politics, Turkey