The pronouncement of the Archbishop of Canterbury may or may not be words of wisdom, but the underlying sentiment was to try to regain a climate of tolerance. The outcry it produced confirms the depths of intolerance following the hysteria engendered by the neocons in the US supported by the New Labour government in Britain.
“We need to engender ‘British values’ ” says Brown. What are we talking about exactly? Booze binges, gambling mania? Liam Byrne talked about fish and chips and roast beef (glad he didn’t say “pork”). Reading further Brown spouts “fair play”, “tolerance” and the like. Well I’ve always liked to think that way about myself and country. Learning about British colonial history it’s difficult to sustain this cant for long. Intolerance and bigotry rule. Blair used to do the same, but for some reason I expected better of Brown. Why? Well I was in West Bromwich a while ago when he came to speak at a union office and he seemed quite passionate about child poverty. I’m afraid it’s an illusion since he is one of New Labour’s authors. More Thatcherite than Thatcher and its selfishness we see our children the unhappiest in the developed, record numbers in prison the majority of whom need treatment for their mental health. More and more are either killing or harming themselves.
A curious state of affairs exists with the government pressing people with disabilities into employment. At the same time Peter Hain announced that Remploy is to close its factories. Remploy specialises in giving employment to this group. Yes all firms should have policies and procedures in place for employing anyone on an equal basis. In practice many face discrimination when they meet ignorance and prejudice. Intolerance again. But then that can’t be so. We’re a tolerant bunch. Gordon has said so.
Blunkett is another New Labour figure who has been preaching what “Englishness” is supposed to mean. These are leaders of a diverse country who can’t get it into their heads that their exclusivity gives a message which divides and deeply so. the whole thing is a myth anyway. There are so many examples of people who have given everything for Britain who came from anywhere else but Britain. They are invisible people, although fortunately there are attempts to reveal them. The search is intensely moving and satisfying so often. Birmingham archives have a site which has an extraordinarily rich seam of jewels.
On Newsnight Paxman bludgeoned a Muslim spokesperson who kept repeating that he felt that Muslim people in Britain were happy living under British law. Paxman didn’t listen while another Islamophobe sitting in the studio was allowed to rant on and talk everyone else down. One could have hoped for better from this source. The Sun screamed venom. Is this what Germany looked like in the thirties?
Once again Muslims in Britain will feel under attack by bigots. While they patiently point out that they are not all so smitten with Sharia law either, or all of it, they will undoubtedly feel alienated. Some will even feel rejected and seek refuge with what they see as traditional Islamic values.