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Tag Archives: liberal bigotry
Any Questions (BBC R4 1 August 2014 ) included a question on whether immigration had made Britain poorer. The question provoked an extended debate which would have been much longer if the chairman had not cut the discussion short.
Both the time devoted to the question in the show and the fact that every poll shows immigration to be at or near the top of the public’s current political concerns should have made it one of the primary subjects of the following Any Answers. The reverse happened.
First, the presenter Anita Anand put the question down the batting order as she introduced Any Answers by asking for questions on the subjects discussed – she placed it very near the end – then she took just one call with 29 minutes of the thirty minute programme, a call which lasted a few seconds.
There is no reasonable explanation for the failure to relegate the question to a point where it virtually vanished from Any Answers. The one caller who got on did complain about the late introduction of the question and was fobbed off with the usual BBC excuse of the weight of calls on other subjects driving it down the list. The excuse was particularly absurd in this case because the interest immigration provokes. It is reasonable to believe that the BBC deliberately kept callers about immigration off the air to further their own political agenda. The fact that Anand ancestry is subcontinental adds to the suspicion.
As the BBC is a closed shop when it comes to how prospective callers to are chosen, there is no way to get an independent check on what they are doing. It is also true that they operate of telephone system which blocks out callers deemed to be a nuisance – details below.
Please investigate how the BBC chooses who shall be put on air during phone-ins and how the extraordinary treatment of immigration on this Any Answers programme occurred. I would be delighted to come on to Feedback to question whoever the BBC puts up to justify their behaviour.
I have submitted a complaint to Roger Bolton at the BBC’s Feedback programme. The email for those wishing to complain is email@example.com.
For details of the censoring of phone-ins see http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/how-the-bbc-surreptitiously-censors-callers-to-phone-in/
The Commons Select Committee (CSC) on Education has produced a report on the underachievement of white British working-class children. This ostensibly highlights the poor educational performance of white British children who are eligible for free meals (FSM) compared to those in receipt of FSM from ethnic minority groups such as those of Indian and Chinese ancestry. I say ostensibly because there are severe flaws in methodology. These are:
- The definition of white British is far from simple. The report distinguishes between Irish, traveller of Irish heritage, Gypsy/Roma and Any other white background (see CSC table 2 page 13). The Any other white background is the largest. It is not clear from the report how the white British were defined, for example , a child of white immigrants might well consider his or herself white British. Who would whether they were or were not British?
- The numbers of some of the ethnic minority groups cited are small, for example, at the end of Key Stage 4 (the end of GCSE courses) in 2013 there were only 168 Chinese in the country who pupils who qualified for FSM. (see CSC table 2 page 13).
3. The use of FSM as a proxy for working-class means that white British apples are being compared with variously coloured ethnic minority oranges. Most importantly the use of FSM means that the British white working-class as a whole is not represented , but only the poorest section of it. Hence, the general treatment in the media of the report, that it shows the white working-class to be falling behind ethnic minorities, is grossly misleading. The report recognises this:
…measuring working class performance in education through FSM data can be misleading. The Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE) drew our attention to a mismatch between the proportion of children who were eligible for free school meals and the proportion of adults who would self-define as working class:17 in 2012/13, 15% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 were known to be eligible for free school meals,18 compared with 57% of British adults who defined themselves as ‘working class’ as part of a survey by the National Centre for Social Research.The CRRE warned that projecting the educational performance of a small group of economically deprived pupils onto what could otherwise be understood to be a much larger proportion of the population had “damaging consequences” on public understanding of the issue. The logical result of equating FSM with working class was that 85% of children were being characterised as middle class or above.
The white British group will be overwhelmingly drawn from the most deprived part of that group’s population, while many of the ethnic minority groups held up as superior to the white British children , will have a large component of people who are not drawn from the lower social reaches of their society, but are poor simply because they are either first generation immigrants or the children of first generation immigrants and have not established themselves in well paid work – think of all the tales the mainstream media and politicians regale the British with about immigrant graduates doing menial jobs. These parents will both have more aspiration for their children and a greater ability to assist their children with their schoolwork.
The range of those qualifying for FSM is extensive and there is considerable complexity resulting from pupils going in and out of the qualifying criteria, viz:
(Para 12 of the report) . Of the Children are eligible for free school meals if their parents receive any of the following payments:
• Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
• the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
• Child Tax Credit (provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and
have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
• Working Tax Credit run-on—paid for 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for
Working Tax Credit
• Universal Credit
13. A report for the Children’s Society noted that the criteria for FSM mean that parents working 16 or more hours per week (24 hours for couples from April 2012) lose their entitlement to FSM since they are eligible for working tax credit; as a result there are around 700,000 children living in poverty who are not entitled to receive free school meals. In addition, not all those who may be eligible for FSM register for it; a recent report for the Department for Education estimated under-registration to be 11% in 2013. This figure varies across the country: in the North East under-registration is estimated to be 1%, compared to 18% in the East of England and 19% in the South East.
4. Greater resources, both material advantages and better quality staff, are being put into schools which have a very large ethnic minority component than schools which are predominantly filled with white British children. This is occurring both as a matter of deliberate government policy and through not-for-profit corporations such as charities.
Government policies are things such as the pupil premium . This is paid to schools for each pupil who qualifies under these criteria:
In the 2014 to 2015 financial year, schools will receive the following funding for each child registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years:
£1,300 for primary-aged pupils
£935 for secondary-aged pupils
Schools will also receive £1,900 for each looked-after pupil who:
has been looked after for 1 day or more
was adopted from care on or after 30 December 2005, or left care under:
a special guardianship order
a residence order
The amounts involved for a school can be considerable. Suppose that a secondary school with 1,000 children has 40% of its pupils qualifying for FSM. That would bring an additional £374,000 to the school in this financial year. At present £2.5 billion is being spent on the pupil premium.
According to a Dept of Education (DoE) investigation published in 2013, Evaluation of Pupil Premium Research Report , a good deal of this money is being spent on ethnic minorities and those without English as a first language (see tables 2.1 and 2.2, pages27 and 30) . The pupil premium can be used to provide extra staff, better staff, improved equipment after school activities and so on.
Schools can allocate the Pupil Premium money at their discretion and often make the identification of where money has gone next to impossible because they do things such as merging the Pupil Premium money with money from other budgets and joining forces with other schools in the area to provide provision (see pages 14/15 in the DoE report). It is probable that the Pupil Premium money brought into schools by white British working-class FSM children is being used, at least in part, to benefit ethnic minorities. The converse is wildly improbable.
Ethnic minorities are concentrated in particular areas and particular schools. This makes it more likely that ethnic children will go to schools with a higher proportion of free school meal pupils than schools dominated by white pupils. That will provide significantly greater funding for an ethnic minority majority school than for one dominated by white Britons, most of whom will not qualify for the Pupil Premium. .
Because ethnic minority families, and especially those of first generation immigrants, are substantially larger on average than those of white Britons, the likelihood of ethnic minority children qualifying for FSM will be greater than it is for white Britons because the larger the family the more likely a child is to qualify for FSM. This will boost the additional money from the pupils premium going to ethnic minority dominated schools.
An example of not-for-profit intervention is the charity Teach First. The select committee report (para 116) describes their work:
The Government’s response to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s first annual report noted that Teach First will be training 1,500 graduates in 2014 to 2015 and placing them in the most challenging schools, and that as of 2014/15 Teach First will be placing teachers in every region of England.
The Teach First website states: “Applicants to our Leadership Development Programme are taken through a rigorous assessment process. We select only those who demonstrate leadership potential, a passion to change children’s lives and the other skills and attributes needed to become an excellent teacher and leader. These participants teach and lead in our partner primary and secondary schools in low-income communities across England and Wales for a minimum of two years, ensuring every child has access to an excellent education.”
Apart from specific programmes such as the Pupil Premium and special training for teachers to prepare them what are euphemistically called “challenging schools” which end up disproportionately favouring ethnic minority pupils, there is also scope within the normal funding of state schools to favour ethnic minorities because head teachers have a good deal of discretion in how funds are spent. That applies with knobs on to Academies and Free Schools.
There is also a considerable difference in funding between the funding of areas with large ethic minority populations, especially black and Asian groups, and areas with largely white populations, for example, between East Anglia and London: “ The government has announced plans to raise per-pupil funding 3.7pc in Norfolk to £4,494, 7pc in Cambridgeshire to £4,225 and 2.5pc in Suffolk to £4,347 next year following a campaign by MPs.
“But councillors have called for a long term overhaul of the funding system, which will still see each student in the county receive around half of the allocation in the City of London, which will get £8,594.55 for each pupil.”
5. The effect of political correctness. With good reason any teacher, and especially white teachers, will be fearful of not seeming to be devoutly political correct. They know they are at the mercy of other teachers , parents and pupils and know that an accusation of racism from any source could well end their teaching career at worst and at best seriously disrupt their lives while a complaint is being investigated. In addition, many teachers will be emotionally attached to political correctness generally and to multiculturalism in particular.
In such circumstances it is reasonable to suspect that teachers in schools with a mix of ethnic minority and white British children will devote more time and patience to ethnic minority pupils than to white children. They may do this without conscious intent, with either fear or the ideological commitment making such a choice seem the natural one.
Such preferential treatment for ethnic minority children is facilitated by the large amount of continuous assessment involved in GCSE. (This is supposedly being reduced but the results of the change has not yet worked through to the end of a GCSE cycle. Teachers routinely help children to re-write work which does not come up to par, in some cases re-doing the work themselves . Teachers have also been caught helping pupils to cheat during exams . The opportunity and the temptation to help ethnic minority children is there and the pressure of political correctness may cause opportunity to become actuality.
6. The disruptive effect on schools of a large number of pupils from different backgrounds with English as a second language, the type of schools where the headmaster boasts “We have 100 languages spoken here”. The most likely white British children to be in such schools are those from the poorest homes which means they qualify as FSM pupils. They will be lost in these Towers of Babel not only because often they will be in the minority, but also because, unlike children with English as a second language or ethnic minority English speakers who will have a good chance of enhanced tuition, the white British FSM pupils will not enjoy such a privilege and may be actually ignored to a large extent because of the desire of the staff to assist ethnic minority children.
7 . The downplaying of British culture. The school curriculum in Britain and especially in England (where the vast majority of the British live) is shaped to reflect the politically correct worldview. This means that ethnic minority culture and history are frequently pushed ahead of British culture and history. The larger the percentage of ethnic minorities in a school, the greater will be the tendency to marginalise the white British pupils, who will almost certainly be drawn largely from those qualifying for FSM. They will be deracinated and become culturally disorientated.
To this school propaganda is added the politically correct and anti-British, anti-white propaganda which is pumped out ceaselessly by mainstream politicians and the media. This will reinforce the idea that being white and British is somehow at best inferior to that of ethnic minority cultures and at worst something to be ashamed of, something to be despised, something which is a danger to its possessor.
As far as the general public is concerned, the Select Committee report is saying the white working-class children – all of them not just those receiving FSM – are doing less well than ethnic minority children. The reason for this is simple, the mainstream media have reported the story in a way which would promote such a belief, both in their headlines and the stories themselves.
A comparison between the white British population as a whole and the ethnic minority populations as a whole would be nearer to reality, but it would still be comparing apples and oranges for the reasons given above. The ethnic minority children would still be likely to have on average parents who would not be representative of the ancestral populations they came from, political correctness would still drive teachers to favour ethnic minority pupils, continuous assessment would still allow teachers to illegally aid ethnic minorities, heads could still decide to divert more funds towards ethnic minorities and the promotion of ethnic minority cultures and history would still exist.
What could be done to remedy matters? Continuous assessment should stop and end of course synoptic exams substituted . Ethnic minority children should not have more spent on them than white British children. School funding in different areas should be broadly similar per capita. British culture and history should be the dominant teaching driver. Political correctness should be removed from the curriculum generally.
As for future studies, these should be controlled in a much more subtle manner than simply using FSM as a criterion. Any study of all or any part of group should control for parents’ education, income, the amount of money spent on each pupil, the teacher pupil ratio, the quality of the teachers and the general facilities of the school.
Those suggestions would not entirely cure the problem, but it would be good start to both getting at the truth and ending the demonization of the white working-class which has gathered pace ever since the Labour Party decided to drop the white working-class as their client base and substitute for them the politically correct groups of gays, feminists and most potently ethnic minorities.
The blueprint for the present international mess lies in the overthrow of Milosevic
The first Gulf War was the last Western intervention with force under the old Cold War rules. It was limited to evicting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and establishing a no-fly zone established over the Kurdish part of Iraq . No attempt was made to overthrow Hussein . Indeed, the reverse is the case because the first President Bush deliberately lifted the no fly order in the immediate aftermath of the War to enable Hussein to re-establish control, the USA’s judgement being that it was the lesser of two evils, the greater evil being Iraq as a client state of Iran. This was still recognisably the world of Communist East versus capitalist West.
The wars which eventually occurred from the splitting of Yugoslavia after Tito’s death gradually increased the West’s liberal imperialist tendencies and culminated in NATO bombing – action unauthorised by the UN and illegal under NATO’s own rules because Slobodan Milosevic offered no threat to a NATO member – what remained of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. There was also something new, the desire to remake territories in the West’s image by imposing conditions on a sovereign state over part of its territory, in this case Kosovo. The first steps towards ignoring the UN Charter’s protection of national sovereignty (chapter 7) had been taken not merely in actuality, but intellectually.
It was the experience of the wars resulting from the break up of Yugoslavia and the continuing difficulties represented by Saddam Hussein that persuaded Blair to develop what became the Blair Doctrine. He first outlined this in 1999 in a speech to the Economic Club in Chicago, viz:
The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people’s conflicts. Non -interference has long been considered an important principle of international order. And it is not one we would want to jettison too readily. One state should not feel it has the right to change the political system of another or foment subversion or seize pieces of territory to which it feels it should have some claim. But the principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects. Acts of genocide can never be a purely internal matter. When oppression produces massive flows of refugees which unsettle neighbouring countries then they can properly be described as “threats to international peace and security”. When regimes are based on minority rule they lose legitimacy – look at South Africa.
Looking around the world there are many regimes that are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. If we wanted to right every wrong that we see in the modern world then we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries. We would not be able to cope.
So how do we decide when and whether to intervene. I think we need to bear in mind five major considerations
First, are we sure of our case? War is an imperfect instrument for righting humanitarian distress; but armed force is sometimes the only means of dealing with dictators. Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options? We should always give peace every chance, as we have in the case of Kosovo. Third, on the basis of a practical assessment of the situation, are there military operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake? Fourth, are we prepared for the long term? In the past we talked too much of exit strategies. But having made a commitment we cannot simply walk away once the fight is over; better to stay with moderate numbers of troops than return for repeat performances with large numbers. And finally, do we have national interests involved? The mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo demanded the notice of the rest of the world. But it does make a difference that this is taking place in such a combustible part of Europe.
Milosovec lost a Presidential election in 2000, was arrested on April 1, 2001 and extradited to the Hague Tribunal on June 28, where he died in detention in March 2006, before his trial was completed.
What Blair saw the fall of Milosevic as a success for the Blair Doctrine and this has laid the foundation for all the misbegotten Western intervention since. Nor has it been simply a matter of military force. The EU had a hand in making sure that Milosovec did not survive by dangling carrots such as eventual membership of the EU for Serbia. From this the EU became more and more ambitious in its expansionist plans to the East, something which is all too apparent in the EU’s messy hand in creating the Ukraine conflict we are presently witnessing by pressing for it to move close to the EU with eventual membership the end of the game. The imperialist mindset of the EU is unambiguously described in an EU document The Western Balkans and The EU: ‘The hour of Europe’ (Edited by Jacques Rupnik Chaillot Papers, June 2011), viz:
Today, more than fifteen years after the end of the wars of Yugoslavia’s dissolution, the ‘Balkan question’ remains more than ever a ‘European question’. In the eyes of many Europeans in the 1990s, Bosnia was the symbol of a collective failure, while Kosovo later became a catalyst for an emerging Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). In the last decade, with the completion of the process of redrawing the map of the region, the overall thrust of the EU’s Balkans policy has moved from an agenda dominated by security issues related to the war and its legacies to an agenda focused on the perspective of the Western Balkan states’ accession to the European Union, to which there has been a formal political commitment on the part of all EU Member States since the Thessaloniki Summit in June 2003. The framework was set, the political elites in the region were – at least verbally – committed to making Europe a priority and everyone was supposedly familiar with the policy tools thanks to the previous wave of Eastern enlargement. With the region’s most contentious issues apparently having been defused, the EU could move from stability through containment towards European integration.
There are favourable trends to make this possible: the EU has emerged as the unchallenged international actor in the Balkans; the region, exhausted by a decade of conflict, is recovering stability and the capacity to cooperate; the EU has no other equally plausible enlargement agenda in sight and could use the direct involvement of some of its Member States in the region to facilitate the accession process.
I wrote the essay below in 1999 for Free Life, the magazine of the Libertarian Alliance. Reading it now I am glad I placed a question mark after Milosovec in the title. Milosevic might be said to have won the war and lost the peace, for it was Western interference which did for him. Had he been left, as Saddam Hussein was after the First Gul War, to fight to retain power in the rump Yugoslavia without international interference he would probably have remained in office. As it was when the Presidential Election was run in 2000 Milosovec
What the 1999 essay does do is show how the move from non-intervention to regime change and nation building was well under way fifteen years ago, with all the disastrous consequences we have seen since, including creating false hopes in many countries democracy could be magicked up simply by removing a dictator.
Rousseau wrote that people must be forced to be free for their own good : the Blair Doctrine states that people must be forced for their own good to live by the rules of political correctness.
A victory for Milosevic?
Now that the big boys toys have been put back in the cupboard and Mr Jamie Shea is returning to run his whelk stall in the Mile End Road, we really do need to ask why this bizarre act of aggression by Nato occurred because it has profound implications for Britain. What was it all about? Well, we all know that, don’t we? To put the Albanians back into Kosovo, stupid! Wrong! The war started because Milosevic would not accept the Nato proposals drawn up at Rambouillet, which was scarcely surprising for they might have been designed to ensure their refusal.
Not only did the Rambouillet Proposals give foreign soldiers the right to enter any part of Yugoslavia, they provided for a referendum on independence for the Kosovan population. Add to that the demand that Serb troops withdraw from Kosovo and the refusal to allow Russian troops to be part of a peacekeeping force, and it is all too easy to see why Milosevic refused them. Moreover, the Rambouillet proposals were not put forward as a basis for negotiation, but as a fait accompli. They then became the subject of a naked ultimatum, issued effectively by the US in the egregious person of Madeleine Albright.
The Rambouillet proposals would have reduced Yugoslavia to the status of a dependent territory, with the virtual guarantee that the land (Kosovo) which had the greatest emotional significance for the majority Serb population would be lost to the hated Albanian minority. Moreover, they had the knowledge that the loss of Kosovo through a referendum would almost certainly result in the expulsion of the two hundred thousand Serbs normally resident in Kosovo, assuming that they had not already left after the withdrawal of Serbian troops. Milosevic was offered the prospect of tremendous humiliation and nothing else. If Nato had wished to ensure a war they could scarcely have done better. As Henry Kissinger remarked in a interview with Boris Johnson of the Daily Telegraph (28/6/99,) Rambouillet was a provocation.
But the Rambouillet proposals were only the immediate cause of the conflict. The war was really about the imposition of Liberal Internationalist ideals. Since 1945, the Liberal Internationalist cause have been growing in strength until it has become the ostensible ideology of the ruling elites throughout the West. During the Cold War the territorial ambitions of the Liberal Internationalists were considerably constrained. Since 1989 those constraints have been removed.
The result has been an unhappy sequence of interventions, covered by the fig leaf of UN colours, which have demonstrated the utter impotence of the Liberal Internationalist creed by invariably creating situations the exact opposite of those intended by the interveners: Somalia is a mess of anarchy, Bosnia a UN protectorate with the warring ethnic groups largely segregated and future conflict just waiting to happen. The war against Serbia marked a new stage in Liberal Internationalist ambitions: naked aggression was undertaken without even the indecent cover of the UN fig leaf.
The persistent failure of international intervention has not deterred the Liberal Internationalists because, like all fanatic ideologues, the Liberal Internationalist is incapable of admitting that his creed is plain wrong no matter have often events prove it to be so. For the Liberal Internationalist any failure is simply the result of insufficient resources and time, a spur to behave in an ever more totalitarian manner; from peacekeeping through outright war to de facto colonial occupation. Consequently those with the power in the West continue to intervene ineptly in conflicts inherently irresolvable in liberal Internationalist terms. Their response to failure or the contrary evidence of events is to embark on ever more intervention regardless of the havoc caused or the long term consequences.
What the war was not about was morality, despite Blair and Clinton’s inordinate and deeply risible posturing. (In fact war is never about morality. It is always about territory, aggrandisement, the removal of competitors and the imposition of the victor’s will.) The nations attacking Yugoslavia had stood by during many greater man made horrors such as the massacres in Rwanda. Most pertinently, the West had not merely stood by while hundreds of thousands of Serbs were expelled from Croatia, but in the guise of the UN had actively assisted in that expulsion by providing arms and airpower to support the Croat military. Most tellingly, and most repellently, because it was utterly predictable, Nato has not meaningfully protected the Kosovan Serbs since the end of the war. Nor could they have had any reasonable expectation of doing so, for the size of even the projected peace keeping force (50,000 – which numbers have not been met) was obviously inadequate to mount a general police action against an Albania population of nearly two million in which there were plentiful arms. A cynic might think that Nato’s aims were from the beginning to produce a Kosovo ethnically cleansed of Serbs.
The course of the war laid bare the stupidity, incomprehension, incompetence and amorality of the Nato members’ leaders. The objective facts say that the conflict has greatly worsened a naturally fraught situation. Before the war, the vast majority of the Albanian population of Kosovo was in Kosovo living in their homes. Since the war began the, vast majority have either left the country or remain in Kosovo having been driven from their homes. Thus, just as the Second World War signalled the beginning of the Holocaust, so Nato’s action signalled that of the Kosovan Albanians’ tragedy. Without the war, it is improbable to the point of certainty that the greatest movement of a population in Europe since 1945 would have occurred.
The hypocrisy of the whole business was graphically demonstrated in the Nato members’ attitude towards the refugees. The public posturing on the need to provide for the refugees was all too clearly balanced by the fear that any large scale import of refugees to Nato countries outside the Balkans would arouse considerable dissent in those countries. Amongst many stomach heaving moments, Clare Short’s protestations that Britain did not want to move the refugees away from the Balkans simply because Britain did not wish to unwillingly assist Milosevic rank very high. The double standards, both amongst politicians and the media have continued with the end of the war, as the Liberal Ascendency quietly tolerates ethnic cleansing of the Kosovo Serbs and the gross acts of revenge taken by the Kosovo Albanians.
What if there had been no war? Judged by what had gone before, there would have been continued harassment of Kosovan Albanians by Serb paramilitaries and some action by the regular Serb forces, the latter primarily directed against the KLA. One simple fact alone gives the lie to Nato’s claims that wholesale ethnic cleansing would have occurred regardless of Nato intervention. Prior to the war, Milosevic had ten years to undertake the task and did not attempt it. Fine ideals are not fine at all if they are so out of keeping with reality that they produce evil ends.
Who won the war? Well, let us follow the Dragnet example and just look at the facts. Milosevic remains in control of Yugoslavia minus Kosovo. Two of the prime demands of the Rambouillet proposals – that the Kosovo population be given a referendum on independence within three years and the right of peacekeeping troops to go anywhere in Yugoslavia – have been dropped. There is also to be no referendum and the peacekeeping force will operate only within Kosovo. In addition, Russian troops are involved in the peacekeeping force, a token Serb presence will be allowed in Kosovo and there are signs that the force may eventually come under UN not Nato auspices. Those are very significant political gains for Milosevic.
Let us make the assumptions which most favour Nato. That the agreement which was reached between Milosevic and Nato was not ambiguous. That Milosevic will keep his word. That the peace keeping force will be Nato led under a unified command. That the Russians involved in the peace keeping will not subvert the process on the ground. That money will be forthcoming in sufficient amounts to rebuild Kosovo. That the KLA will allow themselves to be disarmed. A collection of pretty improbable occurrences. But no matter, let us grant them. What then?
Even under such propitious and unlikely circumstances, it is highly improbable that Kosovo will be quickly returned to normality. The destruction of housing and the spoliation of farm land alone make that immensely difficult, but given the will and the money, the material damage might be repaired.
But material renaissance is not the heart of the problem. That lies in the all too simple fact of the existence of two incompatible ethnic groups occupying the same territory, both sides replete with ancestral hatreds and recent hurts. In such circumstances a peaceful multicultural Kosovo is a fantasy.
We have the example of Bosnia before us. Stripped of all cant, it is now a good old fashioned League of Nations Protectorate, a mandated territory. It has the experience of several years of UN control. Yet the vast majority of the displaced populations in Bosnia have not returned to their homes and the various ethnic groups there lead largely segregated lives.
But the post bombing situation in Kosovo is unlikely to be anything like so favourable as I have described. The KLA have shown no more willingness to generally disarm than the IRA. The agreement which was reached is not unambiguous.
Milosevic cannot be relied to keep his part of the bargain. The Russians have shown that they are not willing to accept Nato command unconditionally. Money in the quantities suggested as needed for rebuilding (anything between 15-25 billion pounds) may well prove to be too great a hurdle for politicians to sell to their publics who are being told of the need for cuts in welfare – The USA and Europe are already squabbling over who should bear the cost of rebuilding Kosovo.
Milosevic also has one great general political advantage; he knows that political life amongst the Nato powers is ephemeral. While he may be in power in five years time, the majority of his opponents will not. He can afford to sit and wait until a propitious moment comes to regain all or part of Kosovo. Milosevic’s position is not as strong as that of Saddam Hussain in purely authoritarian terms, but he has a vital quality which Saddam does not, namely his authority does not rely entirely on force.
Before the war started the Nato leaders must have known that a western led occupation of Kosovo would simply replace one form of repression with another. At best they could expect a replica of Bosnia: at worst, an ethnic cleansing of Serbian Kosovans. Since the end of the war, all too predictably the worst has occurred as the western disregard shown for the welfare of ordinary Serbs elsewhere in the Balkans has been repeated. The peacekeeping force has stood ineffectually by whilst Kosovo is cleansed of Serbs by the KLA and their associates.
Perhaps no one has won the war, but that is often the way of wars. The real question is who has suffered the most damage. At the moment it may look like Milosevic, not least because the Nato countries in truth had nothing material to gain and everything to lose from the War. Yet Milosevic has reduced the Rambouillet demands, probably tightened his control on Yugoslav politics and large parts of Kosovo has been ethnically cleansed. The Nato countries have made significant concessions and committed themselves to massive expenditure and the deployment of troops indefinitely. This will both take money from their own electorates and influence their future foreign policies. It is a strange sort of victory if victory it be for Nato.
For Britain there is much about which to be ashamed and worried. We have bombed defenceless targets which plainly were not in any meaningful sense military. This places us in an impossible moral position in dealing with terrorist action. What moral argument could we have against Serb reprisal bombs in Britain? That it is wrong to bomb innocent civilians?
More worryingly Blair has shown himself to be an unashamed warmonger. I would like to believe that Blair’s public words were simply a cynical manipulation of the public to promote his reputation and were made in the certain knowledge that Clinton would not commit troops to a land war. Unfortunately I think that Blair was anything but cynical in his belligerence. The Observer reported on 18 July that Blair had agreed to send 50,000 British troops to take part in an invasion force of 170,000 if Milosevic had not conceded Kosovo to Nato. Incredible as this may seem, (and it was not denied by Downing Street) such recklessness fits in with Blair’s general behaviour. So there you have it, our prime minister would have committed the majority of Britain’s armed forces to a land war in which we have no national interest, regardless of the cost, deaths and injuries. The danger remains that Blair will find another adventure which does result in a land war. Over Kosovo, he behaved like a reckless adolescent and nearly came a fatal political cropper. Yet this government appears to have learnt nothing from the experience, vide the unpleasant and malicious fanaticism in Blair and Cook’s declarations of their intent to both unseat Milosevic from power and bring him before an international court, vide the humiliation of Russia, vide the ever more absurd declarations of internationalist intent since hostilities ceased. That adolescent idealists’ mindset could lead Britain down a very dark path indeed. It is also incompatible with a foreign policy that supposedly encourages elected governments (however imperfect they are) over dictatorships.
What other lessons does this war teach us? It shows above all the utter powerlessness of the democratic process and the sham of international law. In the two countries which have taken the lead, US and Britain, parliamentary support was not formally sought nor given, funds voted or a declaration of war sanctioned. The other members of Nato have been impotent bystanders.
The American Constitution was designed to prevent aggressive acts of war without congressional approval. That constitutional guarantee has been severely tested since 1945, but perhaps never so emphatically as in the past months. If an American president can commit such considerable forces to a war regardless of Congressional approval, it seriously brings into question the value of the constitutional restraint. Where exactly would the line be drawn in the Constitutional sand?
In Britain, the matter was debated at the government’s convenience but at no one else’s. Incredibly, many will think, support for the war was never put to a vote in the Commons.
As for international law, that has been shown in the most unambiguous manner to be a sham. The war was fought without a declaration of war, in contravention of the UN Charter and in a manner guaranteed to cause significant civilian casualties.
Yet Judge Arbour at the War Crimes Tribunal does not indict the likes of Clinton and Blair, only Milosevic. (Readers might like to note that formal complaints to Judge Arbour about Blair and Clinton have been ignored). Law which is not equally applied is no law, but merely a tool of the powerful against the weak. Moreover, there does not appear to be any illegality at which the US would draw the line. Apart from incitements to murder Milosevic, there have been newspaper reports of attempts by the CIA to illegally enter Milosevic’s bank accounts and drain them of funds (we honest folks call that theft). If governments do not obey the core moral and legal commandments of their own societies, law does not effectively exist.
If international law meant anything, the Nato action would be deemed objectively illegal. It was so first because of an absence of lawful international authority, there being no UN sanction for the War. On a national level, neither the British nor the American Parliaments sanctioned either the action or the expenditure which permitted the action.
The war also drove a coach and horses through the UN Charter and the Nato Treaty. The UN Charter was breached because it prohibits action to amend a sovereign state’s borders. As for the NATO treaty, this only provides for action to be taken in defence of member countries. Clearly the Yugoslav government had offered no direct threat to NATO members because there was no attempt to act outside the territory of Yugoslavia. Moreover, the only NATO countries which might have called for assistance to a perceived threat – Greece and Hungary – did not do so and made it clear that they were far from supportive of the Nato action.
In general terms, it was impossible before the war began to make a convincing case that Yugoslavia could present a threat to the peace of Europe. It is a country of ten million souls, poor with an underdeveloped industrial base. Moreover, its natural poverty had been greatly increased by years of civil war and UN sanctions.
Balkan history tells a single story: any of its peoples which become possessed of the advantage of numbers, wealth or arms will oppress as a matter of course any other of its peoples. If the Albanians gain control of Kosovo, rest assured that they will behave as abominably towards the Serbs as the Serbs have behaved towards them. The disputed territory is Serb by history and Albanian by present settlement. There is no absolute right on either side.
English translation from the French by Norman Shapiro, Professor of French Romance Languages and Literatures Department 3089, Wesleyan University, Connecticut, USA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The full English text can be found at https://archive.org/stream/CampOfTheSaints/Camp_of_the_Saints_djvu.txt
The French writer Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints was published in 1973. It is notorious or famous, according to your politics, for its story of the Third World poor successfully invading the First World. The invaders come armed not with guns and bombs, but the potent weapons of their huge numbers and the knowledge that the self-destructive ideology of Western elites – what we would nowadays call the “anti-racist” part of political correctness – had warped the minds of most of those elites and also those of the masses of the First World, who have been beaten into a state where they either cannot see when their own interests are being sacrificed on the altar of one worldism or are cowed to the point where they are paralysed into inaction.
At the time of its writing the book was set in twenty or so years in the future. As the story opens a fleet of 100 ramshackle ships dubbed the Ganges Armada gathers in India and soon sets off for Europe. In the ships are one million of the subcontinent’s poor. The intention of the Armada is to run the ships aground on European shores – this is a strictly one way voyage – decant their cargo and present the land on which they descend with a dilemma, namely, allow the million to invade or resist them with force with the ultimate sanction being mass slaughter of the invaders.
It takes the ships fifty daysto arrive on the northern shores of the Mediterranean with Southern France as the final destination. As the Ganges Armada sails the Western elites are either starry eyed about their dream of a world in which there is no us and them – no nation states, just Mankind with a capital M – or paralysed by the one-world propaganda which has been so assiduously fed to them.
Even those members of the elite who do not believe in the One Worldism have developed the peculiar state of mind which arises when propaganda is not only incessant but gainsaying the propaganda is seen as dangerous. Such people do not embrace the content of the propaganda, nor play along out of abject and immediate fear. Rather, they sublimate the fear and develop a feeling that to rebut the propaganda is somehow wrong, although if asked they could not say exactly where the wrongness lay. The state of mind is akin to that of a person who feels that a sick joke is inappropriate if expressed in company even if it makes them inwardly laugh. In short, they have been conditioned to think of certain ideas and words as unclean for no other reason that they have been told over and over again that these things are beyond the Pale. As for the masses, they have variously bought into the propaganda, had their true feelings suppressed by the constant propaganda as described above or been censored out of public life.
But human nature has not been utterly transformed. There is the natural human response to trouble of thinking it will not happen. While the Ganges Armada is a long way off heads are buried in the sand with non-pc thoughts such as that the ships will all be sunk by rough weather and seas before they reach Europe because of their decrepit state. Hardly anyone in a position of authority or influence is realistic and honest about the outcome of the Armada if it reaches its destination , namely, that it will be an invasion which if not resisted will overturn the societies into which the human cargo, full of misery and entitlement, is decanted. Instead they either preach the message that the arrival of the Armada will be a great blessing for it will allow the West to show its generosity of spirit by welcoming the invaders with open arms or indulge in the hypocrisy of secretly hoping the ships will founder at sea.
But the weather is unusually clement and the Ganges Armada comes closer and closer until its arrival off the French Mediterranean coast is imminent. This causes the vast majority of the population of the South of France to abandon any pretence of seeing the ships’ arrival as anything other than a threat and the vast majority flee to the North of France. This is only a temporary place of safety and before long much of the French elite also hot-foot it to Switzerland , thinking wrongly that it will be a haven against the One Worldist mania –eventually the Swiss fall prey to the same lack of will to resist the invaders and open their borders to the invading Third World hordes.
The most naïve of the One Worlders advance towards the point at which the ships will make landfall in the sublimely silly expectation that they will be welcomed with open arms by the invading one million. Once they arrive the One Worldist simpletons are at best ignored and at worst attacked. They also find that they are at risk from the Third World immigrants and their descendants who are already in France.
When the Ganges Armada finally arrives and sheds its cargo of one million there is little resistance because not only have most of the population fled , but the French armed forces prove worthless, most having been robbed of the will to resist the invasion with brute force by the ceaseless propaganda which has been fed to them. The result is mass desertions.
The Ganges Armada is only the beginning. Other fleets full of Third World misery to west upon the West are being prepared. Nor is it just a seaborne invasion. Even as the Ganges Armada is at sea huge numbers of Chinese are massing on the Chinese border with the Asiatic Russian territories.
The novel ends with France overrun and the white native French population reduced to not exactly slavery but an irrelevance as power shifts to the non-white migrants who were either in France before the Armada arrived or are part of the Armada and its successor Third World invasion. The same general thing happens throughout the West, with the white native population everywhere becoming subordinate, becoming strangers in a strange land which was once theirs but is now utterly changed.
How prophetic is the Camp of the Saints? Raspail understood when he published the book that it would not be prophetic in the detail of his imaginings, but only in his general message. Indeed, in his short preface he admits that the detail of the action in the book is unrealistic: “I had wanted to write a lengthy preface to explain my position and show that this is no wild-eyed dream; that even if the specific action, symbolic as it is, may seem farfetched, the fact remains that we are inevitably heading for something of the sort. We need only glance at the awesome population figures predicted for the year 2000, i.e., twenty-eight years from now: seven billion people, only nine hundred million of whom will be white.”
The invasion of the First World has not occurred as dramatically as Raspail portrayed it. If it had perhaps even the Quisling politically correct politicians of the West would have been forced to resist it with force, both because they feared the fury of the people they supposedly represented and for fear of what the reality would be if such an invasion force had landed. Instead the immigration has happened piecemeal, surreptitiously. There has never been a dramatic massing of Third World immigrants to gain entry to the First World Promised Land in one fell swoop, just an incessant trickle through numerous points of entry. The nearest events to what Raspail describes are the various boat people arriving in the West from Latin America, Africa and Asia. But although large in aggregate, each individual attempt at invasion contains hundreds at best and most commonly in numbers of less than ten. When seaborne they come not as an imposing fleet but singly or as a small flotilla at worst. More commonly their illegal entry is by plane, train or motor vehicle, a handful at a time.
Where Raspail was strikingly astute is his prediction of the immense weight of “anti-racist” politically correct propaganda which the West has seen. He l catalogues all the politically correct grotesquery we have today with definitive characters. There are those in positions of authority and influence such Albert Dufort, the trendy radio journalist, who prostitute themselves and their country by representing the Ganges Armada and the other soon to be launched Third World invasion fleets, not as a threat but as a great opportunity to show their humanity. There are those drawn from the ethnic minorities already well ensconced in French society such as the Algerian Ben Suad (who goes by the name of Clement Dio) whose lives are devoted to biting the hand that feeds them. Perhaps most forlornly there are the French young who have had their natural tribal feeling sucked from them: “ That scorn of a people for other races, the knowledge that one’s own is best, the triumphant joy at feeling oneself to be part of humanity’s finest — none of that had ever filled these youngsters’ addled brains, or at least so little that the monstrous cancer implanted in the Western conscience had quashed it in no time at all. In their case it wasn’t a matter of tender heart, but a morbid, contagious excess of sentiment, most interesting to find in the flesh and observe, at last, in action.” Chapter 1
All of this is most impressive because when the book was written political correctness was in its early stages. In Britain a couple of Race Relations Acts had been passed in 1965 and 1968, and one worldism, especially with a Marxist tinge, was very popular in academia. But there was no general propagandising of the British population and punishments for being non-pc about race and immigration had barely begun to get a hold on British society. Even in the United States, the most advanced of states promoting “anti-racist” measures , measures such as “positive discrimination” and “affirmative action” were still in their infancy. The secular inquisition of individuals accused of pc “crimes” that we know today with people increasingly being sent to prison or routinely losing their jobs did not exist. The long march through the institutions still had a good distance to go.
The book’s general argument that the West would be subject to massive immigration which would radically change their societies is correct. In Britain the last national census in 2011 showed this for the population of England and Wales combined :
White was the majority ethnic group at 48.2 million in 2011 (86.0 per cent). Within this ethnic group, White British1 was the largest group at 45.1 million (80.5 per cent).
The White ethnic group accounted for 86.0 per cent of the usual resident population in 2011, a decrease from 91.3 per cent in 2001 and 94.1 per cent in 1991.
White British and White Irish decreased between 2001 and 2011. The remaining ethnic groups increased, Any Other White background had the largest increase of 1.1 million (1.8 percentage points).
The population of England and Wales at the time of the census was” 56,170,900 in mid-2011, with the population of England estimated to be 53,107,200 and the population of Wales estimated to be 3,063,800”. In a generation the white population, British and foreign , has dropped by 8% and those describing themselves as white British were only 45 million out of 56 million.
There is also strong evidence that the idea of deliberately encouraging mass immigration of the unassimilable to change Western societies has been practised by Western Governments. Think of the words of a Tony Blair special adviser Andrew Neather :
Eventually published in January 2001, the innocuously labelled “RDS Occasional Paper no. 67″, “Migration: an economic and social analysis” focused heavily on the labour market case.
But the earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.
I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date. That seemed to me to be a manoeuvre too far.
Ministers were very nervous about the whole thing. For despite Roche’s keenness to make her big speech and to be upfront, there was a reluctance elsewhere in government to discuss what increased immigration would mean, above all for Labour’s core white working-class vote.
This shone through even in the published report: the “social outcomes” it talks about are solely those for immigrants.
And this first-term immigration policy got no mention among the platitudes on the subject in Labour’s 1997 manifesto, headed Faster, Firmer, Fairer.
The results were dramatic. In 1995, 55,000 foreigners were granted the right to settle in the UK. By 2005 that had risen to 179,000; last year, with immigration falling thanks to the recession, it was 148,000.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of migrants have come from the new EU member states since 2004, most requiring neither visas nor permission to work or settle. The UK welcomed an estimated net 1.5 million immigrants in the decade to 2008.
In May 2014 the British think tank Policy Exchange published a report on racial and ethnic minorities entitled A portrait of modern Britain. The headline grabbing statistic in the report is the claim that ”the five largest distinct Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities could potentially double from 8 million people or 14% of the population [now] to between 20-30% by the middle of the century. Over the past decade, the UK’s White population has remained roughly the same while the minority population has almost doubled. Black Africans and Bangladeshis are the fastest growing minority communities with ethnic minorities representing 25% of people aged under the age of five.”
Because immigrants and their descendants have a substantially greater propensity to breed than that of the native white British population and that fact coupled with the much younger average age of immigrants than that of native Britons means that the Policy Exchange projections are realistic.
What the Camp of the Saints should do is force people to accept at both an intellectual and emotional level what mass immigration represents. It is a form of conquest, and conquest of the most pernicious and fundamental kind when it consists primarily of those who cannot or will not fully assimilate into the native population. Oncesuch immigrants are in a country in large numbers, the country is faced with two terrible choices: either capitulate to the fact of their conquest and allow the country to dissolve into a motley multicultural mess occupying a single territory or forcibly remove the immigrants and their descendants through expulsion or massacre. Nor should it be imagined that the dissolution of the country into racial/ethnic blocs will mean an absence of war. History tells a single simple story about racially and ethnically divided territories: violence is an inevitable and ineradicable part of such societies and the more the different groups within a territory begin to be of equal size the greater the risk of conflict.
The question which Raspail brings us to is this, is the invasion to be permitted through an excessive and fatal excess sentiment or is it to be resisted through force, including in the final extremity the mass killing of men , women and children, or will the invaders be permitted to come, breed and settle the territory of the original population? Mass immigration is conquest, just as surely as an armed invasion is conquest. A people who forgets that or buries their collective head in the political sand hoping the bogeyman will go away is doomed.
There are weaknesses in the novel purely as a literary work, although the fact that I am commenting on an English translation should be born in mind. There is little character development, the dialogue is feeble, the language flowery, there is a good deal of Gallic intellectual exhibitionism and a considerable amount of what I can only describe as a third person stream of consciousness. The last I must confess is not to my taste. Raspail also gives his story a strong flavour of the leftist student protest of 1968 and the widespread attraction to the Western intelligentsia of Marxism, especially in its Troskyite manifestations. This seems like another world today even though the period is only 40 odd years ago and may make the work seem alien or simply dated to some readers.
But these weaknesses do not diminish the importance of the book, for it is Raspail’s general message which matters. The message is important both because its general thrust is true and for the shameful fact that it is saying things which if expressed in a new work being offered for publication today would ensure that it did not find a mainstream publisher in the West.
The programme is fixed generally because all those invited will on subjects such as race, immigration, homosexuality and feminism toe the pc line to a large degree. (Ask yourself when was the last time you heard someone on Any Questions saying that mass immigration is an unalloyed ill). They will do this either from ideological conviction or the fear of the consequences if they become accused of a pc “crime”.
There is also a more particular built in bias which will generally result in preponderance politically correct and left leaning answer. To demonstrate this I have compiled the details of panel members for a couple of recent two month runs of Any Questions – June-July 2013 and January-February 2014 (17 programmes). These details are shown at the bottom of this blog post.
Then there are the biases produced by race, ethnicity and employment. Those who are there as right leaning representatives, but are immigrants or the children of immigrants, members of a racial or ethnic minority or compromised by receiving public money or favours such as those bestowed on the quangocracy will often be left leaning in certain areas such as the desirability of mass immigration or the worth of public service, regardless of their nominal political orientation.
In the four months covered by the two periods chosen, the leftist, politically correct bias is clear: on every panel at least two (half the panel) of the participants are formally left leaning and in a number of cases more than two. A good example is the 28 2 2014 programme where at least three members (Hughes, Eagle, Greer) are of the left and arguably all four because Chua being the child or immigrants and a member of an ethnic minority will in many areas automatically be pc (for example immigration) even if she has some non pc ideas as well.
There is no example of any programme with more than two right leaning members on it. Moreover, many of those classified as right-leaning will be right leaning only in the area of economics and even there someone who supports laissez faire economics is veering into the leftist world because the effects of globalism feed into the liberal left internationalist credo.
It is also noteworthy that although there are a few members of panels who may reasonably be categorised as of the hard left, for example, Diane Abbott and Laurie Penny, there is no one who represents the far right.
It is reasonable to suspect that the BBC packs all its audiences for political and current affairs programmes in a similar way.
28 2 2014
The Bath Literature Festival with Justice Minister Simon Hughes MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Maria Eagle MP, Yale Law professor and author Amy Chua, and writer and broadcaster Germaine Greer.
Political count: two left-leaning MPs (Hughes and Eagle), an immigrant and radical feminist (Greer) and an ethnic minority representative and child of immigrants to the USA (Chua).
21 2 2014
Blundells School in Tiverton, Devon, with Secretary of State for Scotland and Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael, Conservative backbench MP Nadhim Zahawi MP, New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny and Labour backbench MP Frank Field.
Political count: two left leaning MPs (Field and Carmichael ), one ethnic minority immigrant and right leaning MP (Zahawi) and one member of the hard left (Penny).
14 2 2014
Central Hall Methodist Church in Walsall with Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz MP, Fisheries and Farming Minister George Eustice MP, Pauline Black from The Selecter and UKIP Party Director Lisa Duffy.
Political count: ne Left leaning MP, immigrant and ethnic minority representative (Vas), one right leaning MP (Eustice), one ethnic minority representative (Black) and one right leaning representative from a minor party (Duffy).
7 2 2014
Altrincham Grammar School for Girls with Defence Minister and Tory MP Anna Soubry, journalist and poverty campaigner Jack Monroe, the Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne and the Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw MP.
Political count: one Tory MP but with a strong streak of political correctness (Soubry), two left leaning MPs (Browne and Straw) and one leftist journalist and campaigner (Monroe).
31 1 2014
Purfleet in Essex with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP, Labour backbencher Diane Abbott MP, author and columnist Simon Heffer and the new Green party peer Baroness Jenny Jones
Political count: one centrist Tory MP (Pickles), one hard left MP who is the daughter of immigrants and an ethnic minority representative (Abbott), one right leaning journalist (Heffer) and , one hard left peer, (Jones).
24 1 2014
Gwyn Hall in Neath, with the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, Jill Evans Plaid Cymru MEP for Wales, Conservative Vice Chairman for Campaigning, Michael Fabricant MP, and the former leader of the Liberal Party Lord Steel.
Political count: two left leaning politicians (Jones and Evans) and one right leaning MP (Fabricant) and one left leaning peer (Steel).
17 1 2014
Greenbank High School in Southport with the former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham, Supermarket Ombudsman Christine Tacon and Liverpool based textiles businessman Tony Caldeira.
Political count: one right leaning MP (Mitchell), one left leaning MP (Burnham), one member of the Quangocracy (Tacon) and one businessman who is a Tory Party supporter (Caldeira).
10 1 2014
Heythrop College in London with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling MP, Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP, Patrick O’Flynn the new Communications Director for UKIP and former coalition minister the Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather.
Political count: two left leaning MPs (Khan and Teather), one right leaning Tory MP (Grayling) and one rightist representative for a minor party (O’Flynn).
27 7 2013
Endellion, Cornwall with Lord Hattersley, writer Jessica Mann, Times columnist Phil Collins and Jacob Rees Mogg MP.
Political count: one leftist peer (Hattersley), one rightist MP (Rees-Mogg), one immigrant who has been part of Quangocracy (Mann), one left leaning journalist (Collins) .
19 7 2013
Bridport in Dorset with Lord Ashdown, Kate Hoey MP, Baroness Julia Neuberger and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson.
Political count: two left leaning peers (Ashdown and Neuberger), one centrist Tory peer (Lawson) and one left leaning MP (Hoey). Neuberger is the daughter of an immigrant mother and a member of an ethnic minority.
12 7 2013
Bushey in Hertfordshire with Chuka Umunna Shadow Business Secretary, Vice Chairman of the Society of Business Economists Bronwyn Curtis, Grant Shapps Chairman of the Conservative Party and the Speaker’s Chaplain the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin.
Political count: one left-leaning immigrant and member of an ethnic minority MP (Umunna), One immigrant Australian economist (Curtis), one right leaning MP (Shapps) and one ethnic minority immigrant representative (Rose Hudson-Wilkin).
5 7 2013
from Keswick in the Lake District with Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron, Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds MP, Deputy leader of UKIP Paul Nuttall and Leader of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady MP.
Political count: two left leaning MPs (Farron and Reynolds), one right leaning member of a minor party (Nuttall) and one right leaning MP (Brady).
28 6 2013
Titchfield in Hampshire with John Denham MP, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Bar Council Maura McGowan QC and Minister of State for Justice Lord McNally.
Political count: one left leaning MP (Denham), one right leaning MP (Jenkin), one criminal lawyer with no obvious political affiliation (McGowan) and , one left leaning peer (McNally).
21 6 2013
Purley in Croydon. The panel are Labour peer Baroness Oona King; editor of Prospect magazine Bronwen Maddox, Foreign and Commonwealth minister Alistair Burt and the novelist, journalist and human rights activist Joan Smith.
Political count: one left leaning ethnic representative peer (King), one right leaning journalist (Maddox), one right leaning MP (Burt) and one left leaning journalist (Smith).
14 6 2013
Great Yarmouth Racecourse in Norfolk with Daniel Hannan MEP, commentator Mehdi Hasan, Communities and Local Government Minister Don Foster MP and Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Mary Creagh MP.
Political count: one right leaning MEP (Hannan), one son of immigrants and left leaning ethnic minority representative journalist (Medhi Hassan) and two left leaning MPs (Foster and Creagh)
7 6 2013
The Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson MP, Labour’s Peter Hain MP, Leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Woods, and commentator James Delingpole.
Political count: one right leaning MP (Paterson) one left leaning MP (Hain), one hard left representative (Woods) and one rightist journalist (Delingpole).
1 6 2013
Slough in Berkshire. The panel includes the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers MP, the director of the think-tank British Future Sunder Katwala, Business woman Julie White and Labour peer Lord Adonis.
Political count: one right leaning MP (Villiers), one left leaning ethnic minority representative who is the son of immigrants (Katwala), one business woman whose company D-Drill gets a good deal of its work from government (White) and one left leaning peer (Adonis).
There are many rooms in the libertarian ideological house. That fact often derails rational discussion of libertarian issues, but it need not be a problem in this instance because the question being asked is most efficiently examined by testing it against the flintiest wing of libertarian thought. If that pristine, uncompromising form of libertarianism is incompatible with the maintenance of cultural roots and collective identity, then all other shades of libertarianism will be incompatible to some degree.
The pristine libertarian has no truck with any form of government, believing that personal relations between individuals will adequately order society no matter how large or complex the society, and that such ordering will arise naturally if only the artificially constraints on human behaviour such as governments and laws are removed. Such a society would supposedly work along these lines. If the society is threatened by an invader, individuals will join together to defend it out of a sense of self-preservation. To those who cannot work for reasons of sickness, injury, age or innate infirmity, compassion and a sense of duty will ensure that private charity is extended to relieve the need. If public works such as roads and railways are required, self-interest and reason will drive individuals to join to together to build them. Matters such as education may be safely left to parents and such charitable provision as arises. Above all the individual is king and personal choice is only circumscribed if a choice involves the imposition of one individual’s will on another. You get the idea. The consequence is a vision of a society not a million miles away from Rightist forms of anarchism.
This concentration on the individual makes for a fissile society. If each person is to follow his or her own way without any requirement to believe anything other than to respect the conditions necessary to realise libertarian ends , that in itself would definitely weaken collective identity and probably affect cultural unity. Nonetheless in a truly homogeneous society, especially if it was small, the probability is that cultural weakening would not be great and the absence of a conscious collective identity would not present a difficulty provided the society was not subject to a serious threat from outside.
Serious problems for the pristine libertarian arise if the society is heterogeneous, because then there is a loss of collective unity. If the heterogeneity comes from class, the cultural roots may be largely untouched or at least develop in a way which ensures that there is still much cultural uniformity and that uniformity is clearly an extension of past cultural traits. It is also true that in a racially and ethnically homogeneous society, a sense of collective unity will be easily rekindled if the society comes under external threat.
The most difficult society for libertarians to deal with is one which is ethnically divided, especially if the ethnic divide includes racial difference. There a society becomes not so much a society but a series of competing racial and ethnic enclaves. In such a situation, it is inevitable that both cultural unity and collective identity is undermined because there is no shared general cultural experience and this plus racial difference makes a collective identity not merely impossible but absurd even in concept.
The brings us to the most obvious threat presented by pristine libertarians to the maintenance of cultural roots and collective identity. That is the idea that national boundaries should be irrelevant with people travelling and settling wherever they choose. This presumes human beings are essentially interchangeable and in this respect it echoes multiculturalism. The consequence of such a belief is to greatly increase the heterogeneity of a society through the mass immigration of those who are radically different from the native population. We do not need to guess what the result of such immigration is because it has happened throughout the western world in our own time. More specifically, it has happened in those countries whose populations which are most naturally sympathetic to libertarian ideas: those which may broadly be described as Anglo-Saxon; countries such as Britain, the USA and what used to be known as the old white dominions.
The influx of millions of people who see themselves as separate from the native populations of the countries to which they had migrated has resulted in the Anglo-Saxon states gradually destroying their tradition of freedom. Driven by a mixture of liberal internationalist ideology and fear, their elites have severely restricted by laws and their control of the media and public institutions what may be said publicly about immigration and its consequences. In Britain it is now possible to be brought to court simply for saying to someone from an ethnic minority “go home”, while any allegation of racist behaviour – which may be no more than failing to invite someone from an ethnic minority to an office party – against a public servant will result at best in a long inquiry and at worst with dismissal. Nor, in practice, is application of the law or the witch-hunts directed equally against everyone for it is overwhelmingly native Britons who are targeted.
At the same time as native Britons are being silenced and intimidated, an incessant tide of pro-immigrant and multiculturalist propaganda is pumped out by government, the public organisations they control such as the civil service and state schools and the mass media , which is overwhelmingly signed up to the liberal internationalist way of thinking. The teaching of history has been made a non-compulsory subject in British schools after the age of 14 and such history as is taught is next to worthless in promoting a sense of collective unity, both because it fails to give any chronological context to what is put before the pupils because it concentrates on “themes” rather than periods and because the amount of British history that is contained within the syllabus is tiny, often consisting of the Tudors and little else. The consequence is that the young of the native British population are left with both a sense that their own culture is in some strange way to be valued less than that of the various immigrant groups and the lack of any knowledge about their country’s past.
The most and sinister consequence of post-war immigration and the British elite’s response to it is the development within Britain of a substantial number of Muslims who not only do not have any sense of belonging to the broader society in which they live, but who are actively hostile to Britain and its values. But if this is the most dramatic example of the fracturing of British society, it is merely symptomatic of the separatist attitude of ethnic minorities in Britain generally, especially those from radically alien cultures allied to racial difference.
All of these developments are antithetical to pristine libertarian ideals, both because they undermine shared values and because they result in actions to control friction between competing racial and ethnic groups which in themselves undermine the conditions in which libertarian ideals flourish. That libertarians so often subscribe to the ideal of open borders despite the overwhelming evidence of its counter-productive effects for libertarian ends is indicative of the blinkered nature of much libertarian thinking.
The fundamental weakness of pristine libertarianism is its complete failure to take account of human psychology and the way humans behave as groups. This is unsurprising because of the central position given to the individual. But by doing this pristine libertarians ignore the central fact of being human: we are a social animal. Being a social animal entails two defining behaviours: all social animals produce hierarchies and all social animals place limits to the group. Homo sapiens is no exception.
Because hierarchies in the human context arise not only from the personal efforts, qualities and talents of each individual, as is the case with animals, but from the position each individual occupies through the accident of birth, this raises two difficulties for libertarians. The first is there is not a level playing field and without that the pristine libertarian ideal of society organising itself through freely entered into relationships is severely distorted because it is clearly absurd to say that a man born poor is freely entering into a master-servant relationship with a man born rich when the poor man needs money simply to feed himself. The second difficulty is that the very existence of an hierarchy, whether or not it is based on merit, undermines the notion of free choice because once it is established different power relationships exist.
The question of hierarchy becomes more complex as the heterogeneity of a society grows whether that be ever deeper division into classes or increasing ethnic and racial diversity . All social animals have to have boundaries to know where the group begins and ends. This is because a social animal must operate within a hierarchy and a hierarchy can only exist where there are boundaries. No boundaries, no hierarchy, because no individual could ever know what the dominance/submission situation was within their species or at least within those members of the species with whom they interact.
The need to define the group is particularly important for libertarians. Above all libertarianism requires trust. In the pristine libertarian society this means each individual believing that other people will keep their word and generally behave honestly. But as we all know only too well people cannot be trusted to observe societal norms and a society which is fractured by class, race or ethnicity is the least likely of all to have a shared sense of what is right. Therefore, libertarians need to recognise that however much they would like to believe that each human being is an individual who may go where he or she pleases and do what he or she pleases, the sociological reality precludes this and that the only sane ideological course for a libertarian is to advocate closed borders and the preservation of the homogeneity of those societies which are most favourable to libertarian ideals not because the society consciously espouses them, but because the society has evolved in a way which includes libertarian traits.
There will be libertarians who find it immensely difficult going on impossible to accept that the individual must in some respects be subordinated to the group. They will imagine, as liberal internationalists do, that human nature can be changed, although in the case of libertarians the change will come not from re-education but the creation of circumstances propitious for libertarian behaviour to emerge. Let me explain why this is impossible because of the innate differences between human beings and the effects of cultural imprinting.
Because Man is differentiated profoundly by culture, the widely accepted definition of a species – a population of freely interbreeding organisms sharing a common gene pool – is unsatisfactory, for clearly Man is more than a brute animal responding to simple biological triggers. When behavioural differences are perceived as belonging to a particular group by that group as differentiating members of the group from other men, they perform the same role as organic differences for they divide Man into cultural species.
An analogy with computers can be made. As hardware, a particular model of computer is practically identical to every other computer which is classified as the same model. But the software available to every computer of the same model is not identical. They may run different operating systems, either completely different or different versions of the same program. The software which runs under the operating system is different with different versions of the same program being used. The data which is input to the computer varies and this in turn affects the capabilities of the computer.
It clearly makes no sense to say every computer of the same model is the same even if the computer is loaded with the same software. But of course not all computers are of the same model. They vary tremendously in their power. The same software will run at very different rates because of this. Storage and memory size also vary tremendously. Some computers cannot run programmes because the programmes are too large. We may call all computers computers , but that is to say little more than that all animals are animals, for computers range from the immensely powerful super computers – the homo sapiens of the computer world as it were – to the amoeba of the simple chip which controls lights being put on or off in a room depending on whether someone is in it.
Are the circumstances of computers not akin to those of Man? Do not the racially based differences in IQ correspond to the differences in power of older and newer computers? Do not different languages represent different operating systems? For example, think how different must be the mentality of a native Chinese speaker (using a language which is entirely monosyllabic) to that of a native English speaker (using a polysyllabic language) simply because of the profound difference in the structure of the language. A language will not merely impose limits on what may be expressed it will affect the entire mentality of the individual, from aesthetic appreciation to social expression. Is not the experiential input analogous to the holding of different data?
But the most potent of human behavioural triggers are racial differences, for they exercise the strongest control over the group in a territory where different racial groups exist. Race trumps ethnicity where the ethnic clash is one of people of the same race but different ethnicities. Place a significant population of a different race into a territory where ethnicity rather than race is the cause of unrest and the ethnic factions of the same race will tend to unite against those of a different race.
To argue that racial difference is not important to the choice of a mate is as absurd as arguing that the attractiveness of a person is irrelevant to the choice of a mate.
In Freakonomics Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner cite a study made of a US dating site (the full story is on pp 80-84). The site is one of the largest in the US and the data examined covered 30,000 people equally divided between San Diego and Boston. Most were white but there was a substantial minority of non-white subjects.
The questionnaire the would-be daters had to fill in included a question choice on race as “same as mine” and “doesn’t matter”. The study compared the responses by white would-be daters (those from non-white were not analysed) to these questions with the race of the emails actually sent soliciting a date. The result in Levitt and Dubner’s words was:
“Roughly half of the white women on the site and 80 percent of the white men declared that race didn’t matter to them. But the response data tell a different story The white men who said that race didn’t matter sent 90 percent of their e-mail queries to white women. The white women who said race didn’t matter sent about 97 percent of their e-mail queries to white men.
“Is it possible that race really didn’t matter for these white women and men and that they simply never happened to browse a non-white date that interested them?”
Or, more likely, did they say that race didn’t matter because they wanted to come across especially to potential mates of their own race as open-minded?” In short, around 99% of all the women and 94% of all men in the sample were not willing to seek a date of a different race. How much stronger will be the tendency to refuse to breed with a mate of a different race?
If sexual desire will not commonly override the natural disinclination to remain racially separate nothing will.
Because the tendency to mate with those of a similar race is so strong and universal, both in place and time, it is reasonable to conclude that the behaviour is innate and that cultures necessarily include the requirement for a member of the society to be of a certain racial type. The consequence of this is that someone of a different racial type is effectively precluded from full integration because one of the criteria for belonging has not been met. That is not to say, of course, that many of the habits of mind of an alien culture may not be adopted by someone of a different race. What is withheld is the instinctive acceptance of the alien and his or her descendants as members of the society. Just as no human being can decide for themselves that they are a member of this or that group, no individual can decide that they belong to this or that nation because it is a two-way process: the other members of the group they wish to join have to accept them as a true member of the group. (Stephen Frears the English film director once wryly remarked that he had known the actor Daniel Day-Lewis “before he was Irish”).
Where does this leave us? In its present form libertarianism is a most efficient dissolver of cultural roots and collective identity. It is this because it ignores the realities of Man’s social nature. This results in the creation of the very circumstances which are least conducive to the realisation of libertarian ends. If libertarians are to realise those ends, they must recognise that the society most favourable to their beliefs is one which is homogeneous in which the shared values create the platform of trust which must underlie libertarian behaviour. Of course, that does not guarantee a society favourable to libertarians because the shared values may be antithetical to them, but it is a necessary if not sufficient condition for libertarian ideals to flourish. To that libertarians must add a recognition that there are profound differences between ethnic and racial groups and identify those societies which are most worth protecting because they have the largest element of libertarian traits within them.
Written for entry to the 2010 Chris Tame prize
John Marsh, Arena Books, £12.99
“Is Western society based on a mistake?” asks John Marsh in his introduction. The possible mistake he considers is whether liberals have a disastrously wrong concept of what human beings are and what determines their behaviour which leads them to favour policies that are radically out of kilter with the way human beings are equipped by their biology to live.
It is not that liberals do not believe in human nature as is often claimed. It can seem that they do because they insist that nurture not nature is the entire font of human behaviour and consequently it is just a matter of creating the right social conditions to produce the type of people and society the liberal has as their ideal. But liberals balance this rationale on a belief that humans are naturally good, an idea which itself assumes innate qualities. Hence, they believe in an innate human nature but not one which bears any resemblance to reality.
The belief that disagreeable aspects of human nature do not exist and that all human beings are innately good is a product of the Enlightenment, where it took its most extreme and ridiculous form in the concept of the ‘noble savage’. Marsh will have none of it. He debunks the idea thoroughly. He sees human beings as not naturally wholly good or bad but the product of natural selection working on the basic behaviours of humans. In this opinion he leans heavily on the Canadian-born evolutionary biologist Steven Pinker who in his The Blank Slate dismisses the idea of the noble savage with a robust
A thoroughly noble anything is an unlikely product of natural selection, because noble guys tend to finish last. Nice guys get eaten
If there is no rational reason why anyone should think that human beings are innately good , why do so many, especially of amongst the elite, fall for the idea? Marsh attributes the phenomenon to the idea being emotionally attractive. There is plentiful evidence for this. One of the pleasures of the book is its first rate line in quotes, many of which are staggering in their naivety. He cites the grand panjandrum of atheism and a fervent believer in innate human goodness Richard Dawkins as writing in The God Delusion
I dearly want to believe we don’t need policing – whether by God or each other – in order to stop us behaving in a selfish or criminal manner
So much for Dawkins’ scientific rationality.
Or take the case of A. S. Neill, founder of the famous or infamous (depending on your politics) Summerhill School, which did not require anything in particular from its pupils:
I cannot believe that evil is inborn or that there is original sin…. We set out to make a school where children were free to be themselves. In order to do this we had to renounce all discipline, all direction, all suggestion, all moral training, all religious instruction…We had a complete belief in the child as a good, not an evil being. For over forty years this belief in the goodness of the child has not wavered
That is a quasi-religious statement no different from a Catholic saying they believe in the Trinity.
In the first half of the book Marsh questions and finds wanting in varying degrees just about everything the modern liberal holds dear: that human nature is good and rational and formed by nurture alone, that freedom is the primary end sought by humans, that morality is a set of shackles rather than a safety catch on human behaviour, that science is an unalloyed good, that religion is no more than harmful fairy stories; that a county’s history and customs are at best unimportant and at worst a malevolent means of maintaining an undesirable status quo, that economics should be determined by the market, that universalism and multiculturalism are unquestionably desirable, equality is always beneficial, and the idea that the individual has primacy over the group.
Some of these liberal ‘goods’ are contradictory, for example, the clash between equality and the individual. To enforce equality inevitably means impinging on the wishes of individuals. Doubtless a liberal would argue that the individual should only have their wishes met insofar as they do not impinge upon the wishes of others. In practice that means a great deal of coercion to prevent individuals satisfying their own wishes, and often such coercion occurs where individuals have perfectly reasonable and moral wishes which cannot be satisfied at the same time. For example, two sets of parents may want to send their children to the same school where there is only room for one child.
There are also heavy question marks over whether modern liberals actually believe in individual freedom. The idea that human beings should and can be manipulated into behaving in a certain way by producing social circumstances which engender the desired behaviour is determinist. Where is the freedom if human beings are seen merely as automata responding to the stimuli of their circumstances? Nor is the ‘freedom’ liberals are supposed to espouse a general freedom. The individual in modern Britain may be free to drink what they can afford to buy, or be as sexually promiscuous as they choose, but they are not allowed any freedom of speech which attacks the core values of political correctness. Who would have thought even twenty years ago that English men and women would be appearing in the dock for saying things which went against the politically correct ethos, but that is precisely what is happening with increasing frequency.
It is also arguable that the modern liberal is interested not in individuals but groups. It is true that human ‘rights’ are exalted by liberals, but these are not really individual rights but communal ones. For example, a law which grants free expression or insists on due process is an individual right because it applies in principle to all. Conversely, if (for instance) ‘hate speech’ is made illegal, this is a de facto communal right given to particular groups, because in practice certain groups enjoy much greater protection than others, for the police and prosecuting authorities are not even-handed in their application of the law.
The second part of the book is devoted to the morally disreputable means by which liberals have propagated their beliefs. Marsh is unforgiving about this aspect of liberalism. It involves persistent dishonesty when dealing with evidence which contradicts their world view. The dishonesty consists of both calling black white and conscientiously ignoring and suppressing that which contradicts the liberal world view. In the case of Britain he singles out the BBC as being hopelessly biased towards the liberal left world view, with a particularly strong line in Anglophobia, something he illustrates by citing the BBC’s After Rome, a programme which painted Dark Ages Islam as a vibrant civilisation and Dark Ages England as primitive and barbaric (p152).
The author laments the fact that liberals have generally been silent on the abuses of Communist regimes whilst engaged in a never ending raking over of Nazi malevolence. He cites as a rare and most honourable leftist exception Malcolm Muggeridge, who exposed the Stalin-inspired Ukrainian famine and searingly described the all too many useful idiots of the British liberal left at the time:
Travelling with radiant optimism through a famished countryside, wandering in happy bands about squalid overcrowded towns, listening with unshaken faith to the fatuous patter of carefully indoctrinated guides, repeating the bogus statistics and mindless slogans – all chanting the praises of Stalin and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (p138)
There is a further problem which Marsh spends a good deal of time examining. It is not clear exactly what constitutes the modern liberal. Many of the most enthusiastic enforcers of what we now call political correctness do not call themselves liberals, but are members of the hard left or representatives of ethnic and racial minorities who see political correctness not as a moral corrective but as an instrument to promote their individual and ethnic group advantage, often with the greatest cruelty. Nor is this simply a modern phenomenon for it has been happening since the 18th century.
Marsh patiently records atrocities in gruesome detail generated by those following secular and rationalistic systems of thought deriving from the ideas of Enlightenment, from the grotesque slaughter of the French Revolution to the insanities of various communist and fascist regimes in the 20th century. This is a truly depressing catalogue not merely of murder on a colossal scale but murder committed with atrocious cruelty. His tale of atrocity begins with the suppression of the Vendée rebellion by Republicans during the French Revolution, where men were castrated before death and women killed by explosives detonated within their vaginas, to the madness of Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” which rode on slogans such as “smash the old culture“ and the terrible promise of the Red Guards that “We will be brutal”.
Marsh’s judgement of liberalism both in its beliefs and the practical consequences of its implementation verges on the despairing:
To sum up: in the past there were positive aspects to liberalism, but at its core lies a deeply flawed attempt to impose a romantic, but unrealistic, view of human nature on society. Because it is fundamentally untrue, lies, bullying and coercion are needed to impose it, and opponents must be silenced. Because its view of mankind is idealistic, its devotees think it must be true, and are strongly committed to it. It is congenial to people who are well-meaning and who have a naïve rose-tinted view of the world, which avoids dwelling too much on the ugly side of life, like the single mum in a tower block in Tottenham, trying to keep her children safe and worrying about gangs and knife crime. It is in denial of the fact that many aspects of life are worse today than in the past. Liberals cling to their views, ignoring the evidence of science, psychology, anthropology, history and social workers. It is a blind faith in a Utopian project , which blithely dismisses reality and regards its opponents as prejudiced. There is nothing to discuss because we are right. Sadly, for its devotees, truth will out in the end. The experiment was foredoomed from the start (p171)
Damning as that judgement is, I think Marsh is being rather too generous to liberals (especially the modern ones) when he credits them with being generally well-meaning. They are ideologues. That makes them dangerous, because any ideology removes personal choice in moral decision making as the mind becomes concentrated on fitting the ideology to circumstance rather than addressing each circumstance pragmatically. As Marsh points out, it also gives the individuals captured by the ideology an excuse to behave immorally in the enforcement of the ideology on the principle that ends justify means. That is particularly so with ideologies which are what might be called millenarian in their psychology, with a promised land at the end of the ideological road. Political correctness is of this type.
Once someone has accepted the validity of ends justifying means and they know or even suspect that the means will cause harm, that removes any claim to being well intentioned because their final end good intentions are swallowed by the immoral means. Nor can any ideologue, liberals included, rationally have any confidence that a great upheaval of a society will result in their desired ideological ends. What history tells us is that tyranny or chaos are invariably the results of such attempts.
There is also a tremendous arrogance in assuming that it is possible to define what is desirable human behaviour and what is a good society. Liberals may imagine that what they purport to be the ultimate human goods – non-discrimination, equality and the primacy of any individual are objectively what they claim – but in reality they are both no more than value judgements and highly questionable in terms of their outcomes. Modern liberals, or at least the true believers, are really just another set of self-serving egotists who think they know how others should live.
There is a looming leviathan throughout the book that is largely ignored, namely mass immigration and its consequences. Marsh to his credit does mention immigration as a problem, both in terms of weakening British identity and causing resentment amongst the native white population, but it does not feature in more than a peripheral way. Marsh never really asks the question “how much of the change in general British behaviour and the nature of British society in the past fifty years is due to mass immigration?” The answer is arguably a great deal, because multiculturalism and ‘anti-racism’ have been used as levers to promote the ‘anti-discrimination’ and ‘equality’ agendas across the board.
In the end Marsh stumbles in his task of debunking modern liberalism, because he is reluctant to face the full implications of what he is saying. In his introduction he writes,
So is this book a straight-forward attack on liberalism? No. It is not as simple as that. There are some areas in which I believe liberals are right. I acknowledge that some liberalism is necessary and beneficial. Few would want to go back to the restrictions of the Victorian era or live under a despot. There was also a need to free us from a negative attitude towards sex. Liberals are right to be concerned about inequality and to fight for social justice. There still remain great inequalities and their campaign for greater fairness deserves support. I welcome the undermining of the class system, the greater opportunities open to women and the improved treatment of racial and sexual minorities – the decriminalisation of homosexuality
He cannot quite bring himself to go all the way and see modern liberalism for what it is, a pernicious system increasingly aimed at suppressing the resentment and anger of the native British population as the consequences of mass immigration become ever more obvious and pressing. Clearly he agrees with much of the central politically correct agenda, but it is precisely that agenda which has created the present situation and it is difficult to see how such an ideology could ever have resulted in any other outcome once it became the guiding ideology of the elite – because the ends of political correctness run directly against human nature and can only be enforced.
Marsh’s sympathy with political correctness leads him wittingly or unwittingly to risk having his argument distorted by concentrating not on the whole but a part of British society and treating that part as representative of Britain. Take the question of liberalism undermining the poor by making them dependent on the state and denying them moral guidance at home and in school. Marsh uses an interview with the youth worker Shaun Bailey (chapter 11) who works in a poor area of London. The problem is that Bailey is black and this colours his interpretation of what is happening. He looks at the experience of blacks and treats that experience as representative of the poor generally, which it is not. For example, poor white Britons may have a greater incidence of one-parent homes and fathers deserting mothers now than previously, but the incidence of these behaviours amongst poor whites is much lower than it is amongst poor blacks, whether British born or immigrants. Yet Bailey’s views are represented as being generally applicable to British society.
Despite these caveats, I strongly urge people to read the book. The Liberal Delusion is important because it succinctly performs the task of pointing out that the liberal emperor has no clothes or at least very tattered and insufficient ones. That is something which is sorely needed. The book’s value is enhanced by being written in a lively and easily accessible style. Just read it with an understanding of the limitations imposed by Marsh’s residual, almost subliminal, hankering after the core values of political correctness.
First published in The Quarterly Review
See also The Liberal Bigot
ROBERT HENDERSON suggests some ways in which the No side can maximize its chances of winning the referendum on EU membership
Amidst all the confusion and excitement of bringing about a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, it is easy to forget that there are considerable risks associated with the vote. The government will almost certainly campaign to stay in, as will the Labour Party, and many institutions, lobby groups, media groups, foreign governments, and influential individuals. Public opinion, although hardening towards leaving, is fickle and cannot be relied upon. A decision to stay in would probably destroy the UKIP, and would also seriously undermine Conservative Eurosceptics. It is therefore essential that we should think about the likely shape of the campaign, and how we who believe in leaving can improve the odds.
The general strategy
A) How to leave
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty states
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49. (http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-european-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html).
It is strongly implied in in para 3 of the Article that unilateral withdrawal is possible :
“ The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2”.
However, the clause does not explicitly give the right of unilateral secession and could be interpreted as merely referring to how any agreement might be scheduled to take effect. The other EU members could adopt this interpretation to thwart the UK leaving without declaring UDI.
The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties cites two legitimate instances where a party wants to withdraw unilaterally from a treaty which does not make any provision for withdrawal : (1) where all parties recognise an informal right to do so or (2) the situation has changed so substantially that the obligations of a signatory are radically different from that which was originally agreed to. The informal right patently does not apply in the case of the EU. As for radical changes to the obligations of a signatory, that would be difficult to sustain. It is true that the organisation (the EU) the UK belongs to now is radically different from that which they originally joined in 1973 (the EEC), but the UK has signed new treaties to agree to the new circumstances as they have arisen. Hence, there would be no radically changed obligations which had not been taken on formally by the UK.
The only precedent of any sort for withdrawal is Greenland’s secession in 1985 from the European Economic Community (EEC). The was facilitated by the Greenland Treaty. However, it is not an obviously relevant precedent because Greenlanders retain Danish citizenship for Greenland has home rule not full independence from Denmark. They are consequently full EU citizens. Because Greenland is also one of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU it is also subject to some EU law and regulations, mainly those relating to the Single Market. .
Even if it is accepted by the other EU members that there is a unilateral right of secession, the fact that it could only take place legally after two years would give the remainder of the EU the opportunity to run the UK ragged before the UK left.
As for getting an agreement which would allow the UK to generally re-establish its sovereignty, especially over the control of its borders, this is most improbable. A Qualified Majority in the European Council is required and even if such a majority is obtained the European Parliament can block the secession. The potential for delay and blackmail by the EU of the UK is considerable.
In any event it is likely is that the EU would drive a bargain which is greatly to the UK’s disadvantage because the Eurofederalists would be terrified of creating a precedent for any other EU member which might wish to radically change their relationship with the EU. That would make them demand conditions of the UK which were so unappealing it would deter other member states from following suit. There is also the danger that the Europhile UK political elite would take the opportunity to agree to disadvantageous terms for the UK simply to keep the UK attached to the EU in the manner that Norway and Switzerland are attached. The treaty arrangements of Norway and Switzerland are routinely portrayed by supposed Eurosceptics as purely trade relationships. They are not. Both countries are firmly within the EU straitjacket. Indeed, the Europhile BBC ran a story in 2012 entitled Non-EU Norway ‘almost as integrated in union as UK ‘ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16594370). As for Switzerland, a glance at their treaty arrangements will show their close EU embrace http://www.europa.admin.ch/themen/00500/index.html?lang=en. Most importantly they have no control of immigration from the EU . If the UK signed up to the Single Market after formally leaving the EU we should be in the same boat.
The OUT camp must make it clear that it would be both damaging and unnecessary for the UK to abide treaty requirement. Even if the UK did not try to sign up to the Single Market, it would allow the EU to inflict considerable damage on the UK both during the period prior to formally leaving and afterwards if the price of leaving with the EU’s agreement was for UK to sign up to various obligations – for example, to continue paying a large annual sum to the EU for ten years.
There is also the danger that the stay-in camp could use Article 50 to argue that whether the British people want to be in or out, the cost of leaving would be too heavy because of this treaty requirement.
The Gordian knot of Article 50 can be cut simply by passing an Act of Parliament repealing all the treaties that refer to the EU from the Treaty of Rome onwards. No major UK party could object to this because all three have, at one time or another, declared that Parliament remains supreme and can repudiate anything the EU does if it so chooses.
If the stay-in camp argue that would be illegal because of the treaty obligation, the OUT camp should simply emphasise (1) that international law is no law because there is no means of enforcing it within its jurisdiction if a state rejects it and (2) that treaties which do not allow for contracting parties to simply withdraw are profoundly undemocratic because they bind future governments.
The OUT camp should press the major political parties to commit themselves to ignoring Article 50. If a party refuses that can be used against them because it will make them look suspicious.
Before the vote
B) The parties’ plans of action if there is a vote to leave
It is important that all the parties likely to have seats in the Commons after the next election are publicly and relentlessly pressed to give at least a broad outline of what action they would adopt in the event of a vote to leave. Left with a free hand there is a serious danger that whatever British government is in charge after a vote to leave would attempt to bind the UK back into the EU by stealth by signing the UK up to agreements such as those the EU has with Norway and Switzerland which mean that they have to (1) pay a fee to the EU annually, (2) adopt the social legislation which comes from the EU and (3) most importantly agree to the four “freedoms” of the EU – the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour throughout not merely the EU but the wider European Economic Area (EEA).
It is probable that the Westminster parties will all resist this, but that would present them with two problems. First, a refusal to do so would make them seem untrustworthy; second, if one party laid out their position but the others did not, that would potentially give the party which did say what it would do a considerable advantage over the others which did not. If no party puts its plans before the public before the referendum, there should be demands from those who want the UK to leave the EU that any new treaties with the EU must be put to a referendum and, if they are rejected, the UK will simply trade with the EU under the WTO rules.
C) Repudiate re-negotiation before the referendum
Supporting the negotiation of a new relationship between the UK and the EU before a referendum is mistaken, because it would seem to many to be giving tacit approval for renegotiation and legitimize the possibility of the UK remaining within the EU. It is also rash, because the likelihood of the EU giving nothing is very small. Indeed, they might well give something substantial, because the UK leaving the EU would be a very great blow to the organisation. The UK is the country with the second largest population within the EU with, depending on how it is measured, the second or third largest economy and the country which pays the second largest contribution to the EU budget. For the EU to lose the UK would not only be a blow in itself, it would also create a very strong precedent for every other EU state, especially the largest ones. If the UK left and prospered, the temptation would be for other EU states to leave.
If the EU offered a big carrot such as the abolition of benefits for migrants to the UK from the rest of the EU until they had lived in Britain for ten years, that could seriously undermine the resolve of those wanting the UK to leave the EU because it would dovetail with British fears of mass immigration from the EU and the mainstream media representation of the immigration problem as being essentially a welfare problem. The Europhiles would then be able to represent the immigration threat as no longer a threat as they bleated their mantra “the only immigrants will be those who are working and paying their taxes”. That would be difficult for any mainstream British politician or party to counter because they have all be peddling the line of welcoming “hard working immigrants” for years.
But even if negotiation produced nothing of substance, as happened with Harold Wilson’s “renegotiation” of 1975, it would be a mistake to imagine that it would not influence the referendum result. The electorate is divided between the resolute come outs, the resolute stay-ins and the wavering middle. A claim by the stay-in campaigners that something had been conceded by the EU, however insignificant, would provide the waverers with an excuse to vote to stay in because they could convince themselves they were voting for change. If the EU were to offer nothing, waverers might see this as evidence that the EU was too powerful to oppose.
Those who want the UK to leave should unambiguously put the case for no renegotiation. Dismiss anything Cameron (or any other PM) brings back from the EU by way of altered terms as being irrelevant because the EU has a long record of agreeing things with the UK and then finding ways of sabotaging what was agreed. In addition, a future British government may agree to alter any terms offered at the time of the referendum. The classic example of this changing of agreed terms happening in the past is Tony Blair’s giving up of a substantial amount of the Thatcher rebate in return for a promised reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a promise which was never met. That episode produced my all-time favourite amongst Blair’s penchant for lying. Two days before he went to the EU meeting at which he gave away a substantial part of the rebate he declared during Prime Minister’s Questions that the rebate was “non-negotiable – period”.
It is difficult to envisage any British prime minister not trying to negotiate with the EU before a referendum, but it might just happen if whoever is in power when the referendum is announced were to be told privately by the major EU players that nothing will be given and the prime minister of the day concludes it would be best to pretend that a decision had been made not to negotiate rather than risk the humiliation of getting nothing, perhaps not even a pretence of negotiation before nothing is given. Why would the EU do this? They might calculate that it would be a gamble worth taking to send a British PM away with nothing, whilst hoping the referendum vote would be to stay in because then the power of the UK to resist further integration would be shot.
If the EU offers nothing, the OUT camp should welcome the fact and stress to the public that if the referendum is to stay in, the EU could force any federalist measure through because not only would any British government be much weakened in its opposition to more federalism, the UK political class as a whole would more than willing to go along with it because of their ideological commitment to the EU.
D) After the vote
Ideally the government which deals with the EU after a vote to leave will have committed themselves to a plan of action before the referendum vote. However, as described above, it is quite possible that this will not happen because the UK’s overwhelmingly Europhile political class will try to re-entangle the UK with the EU. To prevent them doing so there should be a concerted campaign after the vote to ensure that the British public understands what is being done on their behalf with a demand for a further referendum to agree any new treaty.
The terms of the debate
It is essential that the Europhiles are not allowed to make the debate revolve around economics. If they do it will effectively stifle meaningful debate. As anyone who has ever tried to present economic ideas to an audience of the general public will know it is a soul-destroying experience. Take the question of how much of UK trade is with the EU. The debate will begin with the stay-in camp saying something like 45% of UK trade is with the EU. Those wanting to leave the EU will respond by saying it is probably less than 40% because of the Rotterdam/Antwerp effect. They will then be forced to explain what the Rotterdam/Amsterdam effect is. That is the point where the general public’s concentration is lost and the debate ends up proving nothing to most of the audience.
But although nothing is proved to the general audience by detailed economic argument, the audience will remember certain phrases which have considerable traction. In amongst the serious debating on the issue of trade there will be phrases such as three million jobs in Britain rely on the EU and dire threats about how the EU will simply not buy British goods and services any more. This is nonsense, but fear is not rational, and many of those who vote will enter the voting chamber with fear of losing their jobs in their heads regardless of what the OUT camp says if the debate is predominantly about economics. Shift the debate away from economics and the fear-inducing phrases will be heard less often.
How should those wanting to leave the EU shift the focus of debate? They should put the matter which is really at the core of the UK’s relationship with the EU – national sovereignty – at the front of the OUT camp’s referendum campaign. Campaign under a slogan such as Are we to be masters in our own house?
Making national sovereignty the primary campaigning issue has the great advantage of it being something that anyone can understand because it is both a simple concept and speaks directly to the natural tribal instincts of human beings. Being a simple concept readily and naturally understood, it is a far more potent debating tool than arguments attempting to refute the economic arguments beloved of the stay-in camp. The fact that the natural tribal instincts have been suppressed for so long in the UK will increase its potency because most people will feel a sense of release when it begins to be catered for in public debate.
The appeal to national sovereignty has a further advantage. Those who support the EU are unused to debating on that ground. That is because uncritical support for the EU has long been the position of both the British mainstream political class as a class and of the mass media. That has meant that the contrary voice – that which wishes Britain to be independent – has been largely unheard in public debate for thirty years or more. Where it has been heard, the response of the pro-EU majority has not been rational argument but abuse, ranging from patronising dismissal of a wish for sovereignty as an outmoded nationalism to accusations that national sovereignty amounts to xenophobia or even racism. These tactics – of excluding those who want to leave the EU from public debate and abuse substituted for argument – will no longer be available to the pro EU lobby.
The most threatening and energising subject relating to the EU for the general public is immigration. The public are right to identify this as the most important aspect of our membership of the EU because immigration touches every important part of British life: jobs, housing, education, welfare, healthcare, transport, free expression and crime besides radically changing the nature of parts of the UK which now have large populations of immigrants and their descendants.
The public rhetoric of mainstream politicians and the media is changing fast as they begin to realise both what an electoral liability a de facto open door immigration policy is, as the effects of mass immigration become ever more glaring. The argument is shifting from the economic to the cultural. For example, here is the Daily Telegraph in a leader of 25 March:
“The fact is that, for many in Britain (especially those outside the middle classes), it is not just a matter of jobs being taken or public services being stretched, but of changes in the very character of communities. Those changes may not necessarily be for the worse: as the Prime Minister says, Britain’s culture has long been enriched by the contributions of new arrivals. But as long as ministers treat immigration as a matter of profit and loss, rather than the cause of often wrenching social change, they will never be able fully to address the grievances it causes.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/9952717/Immigration-and-the-limits-of-the-possible.html)
This new frankness in public debate means that the OUT camp can use the immigration argument freely, provided they keep the language within the confines of formal politeness. The subject will naturally dovetail with the emphasis on national sovereignty because the most important aspect of sovereignty is the ability to control the borders of the territory of a state. Judged by their increasing willingness to talk publicly about immigration, it is probable that the mainstream UK parties will be content to go along with ever more frank discussion about immigration.
The economic argument must be kept simple
It will not be possible to avoid economic arguments entirely. The OUT camp should concentrate on repeating these two facts:
The disadvantageous balance of payments deficit the UK has with the EU
The amount the UK pays to the EU
Those are the most solid economic figures relating to the EU. There is some fuzziness around the edges of the balance of payments deficit because of the question of where all the imports end up (whether in the EU or outside the EU through re-exporting), while the amount the EU receives is solid but it has to be broken down into the money which returns to the UK and the amount retained by Brussels. Nonetheless these are the most certain figures and the least susceptible to obfuscation by the stay-in side.
The best way of presenting the money paid to the EU is simply to say that outside the EU we can decide how all of it is spent in this country and to illustrate what the money saved by not paying it to the EU would pay for.
It will also be necessary to address the question of protectionist measures the EU might take against the UK if the vote was to leave. It is improbable that the EU would place heavy protectionist barriers on UK exports because:
1. The massive balance of payment deficit between the UK and the rest of the EU, which is massively in the EU’s favour.
2. Although the rest of the EU dwarfs the UK economy, much UK trade with the EU is heavily concentrated in certain regions of the EU. The effect of protectionist barriers would bear very heavily on these places.
3. There are strategically and economically important joint projects of which the UK is a major part, like Airbus and the Joint-Strike Fighter.
4. The Republic of Ireland would be a massive bargaining chip for the UK to play. If the UK left and the EU rump attempted to impose sanctions against Britain this would cripple the RoI because so much of their trade is with the UK. The EU would be forced to subsidise the RoI massively if protectionist barriers against the UK were imposed. The EU could not exempt the RoI from the sanctions because that would leave the EU open to British exports being funnelled through the Republic.
5. The EU would be bound by the World Trade Organisation’s restrictions on protectionist measures.
The economic issues which are not worth pursuing in detail are those relating to how much the EU costs Britain in terms of EU-inspired legislation. It may well be that these load billions a year of extra costs onto the UK but they are not certain or easily evaluated costs, not least because we cannot in the nature of things know what burdens an independent UK would impose off its own bat.
Getting into detailed discussions about such things will simply play into the hands of the stay-in camp because it will eat up the time and space available to those promoting the OUT cause.
Apart from the economic questions, the stay-in camp will use these reasons for staying in:
That the EU has prevented war in Western Europe since 1945. This can be simply refuted by pointing out that the EU was not formed until twelve years after WW2; that until 1973 the EU consisted of only six countries, three of them small, and of only nine countries until the 1980s. Consequently it would be reasonable to look for other reasons for the lack of war. The two causes of the peace in Western Europe have been the NATO alliance and the invention of nuclear weapons which make the price of war extraordinarily high.
That nation states such as the UK are too small to carry any real diplomatic weight in modern world. That begs the question of whether it is an advantageous thing to carry such weight – it can get a country into disastrous foreign entanglements such as Iraq and Afghanistan – but even assuming it is advantageous, many much smaller countries than the UK survive very nicely, making their own bilateral agreements with other states large and small. It is also worth remembering that the UK has such levers as a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (which allows the UK to veto any proposed move by the UN) and considerable influence in institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.
ROBERT HENDERSON is a London-based freelance writer
Originally published in the Quarterly Review
Published in http://www.quarterly-review.org/?p=1737
Margaret Thatcher was the subject of a cult of personality. This was not the result of calculated propaganda, but simply the creation of her extraordinary personality. Because the cult of personality developed not in a totalitarian state but a country where public opposition was possible, there were two cults of personality attached to her in a relationship which mimicked the matter/antimatter duality. These were the Thatcherite religious believers fulfilling the role of matter and the Thatcher-hating Left acting as the antimatter.
Both the matter and the antimatter Thatcher cults were potent. The religious believers bowed down before the great god MARKET (and Thatcher was his prophet) and, when things went wrong, did what all religious believers do until they lose their faith, denied reality by simply pretending something had not happened or by giving a calamity some absurd spin to ”prove” the god had not failed.
For the Thatcher-hating Left she was the personification of the Devil and consequently credited with all manner of evil, but, as is the way with personifications of the Devil, never portrayed as anything but powerful, a being possessed of a political juju (doubtless ensconced in her handbag) which could wreak any degree of havoc with all that the Left held dear is if she so chose. Like all those who believe in evil spirits the Thatcher-hating Left ascribed every act of ill fortune to her.
The attitude of both bands of cult followers was essentially superstitious, attributing powers to the woman which she did not, and often could not, have. The religious Thatcherites imagined she could speak the spells which would miraculously convert Britain from a country making silly old fashioned things such as steel, ships and cars and mining coal to a country stuffed to the gunnels with entrepreneurs creating new non-unionised service industries; the Left saw her as a witch practising black magic to contaminate and transmogrify the world they knew.
Because the Thatcherite religious believers and her leftist haters could not and still cannot see past the woman’s gigantic political personality, they made and continue to make the same mistake, namely, seeing the two cult figures as the reality while ignoring her actual policies and their outcomes.
The reality of Thatcher
The reality of Thatcher is that objectively she achieved little if any of her wishes. It is a bitter irony for the woman (and Thatcherites generally) that her policies were of a nature which undermined the ends she espoused. Perhaps the prime example is Thatcher’s avowed wish to see a strong and wealthy Britain whilst creating through her commitment to laissez faire economics the very circumstances that would weaken the country. Under her economic regimen and its lingering aftermath ever since Britain has become ever less self-sufficient in strategically important economic activity such as the production of food and energy and vast swathes of British business were either bought up by foreigners or ceased to operate from Britain because of offshoring and the absence of government action to protect our own economy. She simply did not understand that you could not have laissez faire in both the domestic and international economic sphere and have a strong nation state. Had Thatcher known any economic history she would have realised that, but even without such knowledge common prudence should have told her that a country which is dependent on others for necessary goods and services is a weak country. Moreover, one of her claimed tutelary heroes Adam Smith readily understood there are things which are either strategically important such as armaments or social goods which are never going to be supplied universally by private enterprise such as roads. Thatcher never gave any indication of realising that Smith was not the unrelenting free marketer of her imagination.
Thatcher’s failures in making policy to achieve her ends were legion. She destroyed much of British heavy industry in the belief that those made unemployed would rapidly be re-employed in private sector jobs. The new jobs did not materialise and she was reduced to presiding over massive and long lasting unemployment which she funded with North Sea oil and gas tax revenue and the receipts from privatisation, whilst fiddling the unemployment figures shamelessly. She sold off state owned services (which belonged to the community as a whole not to the government) in the belief that service would be improved . It was not. Instead vital services such as the railways and the provision of energy and water became ever more expensive whilst providing poorer service and less employment. She introduced so-called private business methods into the NHS and higher education in the belief that they would become more efficient. The result was massive increases in bureaucracy and an ever climbing cost of both the NHS and higher education and a substitution of the pursuit of money for the public service ethos because money was attached to individual patients and students. She introduced the Community Charge or “Poll Tax” in the belief that it would be fairer than the old domestic rates. The result was widespread unfairness because it took no account of an individual’s means and provoked the nearest thing to a national movement dedicated to the non-payment of taxes known in modern times. She raged against EU interference in British affairs but signed up Britain to the Single European Act (SEA) in the belief that it would create a genuine single market within the EEC. It did not create such a market and merely presented the EEC with an open goal for ever more audacious sovereignty grabs. A supposed opponent of further mass immigration, her signing of the SEA also opened the door to free movement within the EU, a situation worsened by her strategy of dramatically widening the EEC. She signed Britain up to the She embraced “Care in the Community” for the mentally ill or disabled on the grounds that it was more humane than keeping such people in long-stay institutions. The result was thousands of people left to largely fend for themselves in the outside world who were quite incapable of doing so. She sold off great swathes of social housing (which belonged to the community as a whole not to government) to tenants in the belief that this would result in a “property owning democracy” whilst more or less ending the building of new social housing. The eventual result was the growing housing emergency we have today. She instigated the disastrous “light touch” regulation of the financial services industry by abolishing credit controls and failing to meaningfully regulate the industry meaningfully after “Big Bang” in 1986 which effectively de-regulated the London Stock Exchange to bring in a brave new world of free trading (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8850654/Was-the-Big-Bang-good-for-the-City-of-London-and-Britain.html) with the dire results with which we are now living.
Even in the few areas where she was ultimately successful such as the Falkland’s War she was at best negligent in ignoring warnings from the Foreign Office of a growing threat to the Falklands in the months leading up to the invasion and even after the expeditionary force had been dispatched she agreed to a US organised plan which would have not offered the Islanders either self determination of or any meaningful security (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/10008116/Margaret-Thatcher-how-she-took-on-the-men-and-won.html).
There were also acts of omission and collusion with policies with which she supposedly fundamentally disagreed. Most importantly, Thatcher failed utterly to carry her strong views against further mass immigration into her period in office. Not only that but, as already mentioned, she made things much worse on that front by signing up to the Single European Act. She agreed to the institutionalisation of political correctness in public life, especially in the Civil Service, schools and universities. In addition, she allowed the “progressive” educational establishment to destroy a first rate school examination system by swopping the certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) and O(rdinary) Levels for the dangerous absurdity of the General Certificate of Education (GCSE), an exam supposedly for all 16 year olds but which was in reality two exams masquerading as one. Despite the fact that Tory support rested heavily on the countryside she allowed the de-regulation of rural bus services to occur which reduced them so severely that to live in countryside meant owning and driving a vehicle or at least having access to someone who did. To make matter worse, this was done in tandem with a wilful neglect of the then nationalised railways.
The protests after her death were unsurprising
Just based on her economic disasters the uproar surrounding her death is unsurprising. In the space of a few years she raised the unemployment pay claimant count from 1.4 million when she took office in 1979 to 3.2 million by 1986 (http://www.economicshelp.org/macroeconomics/unemployment/measuring_unemployment.html) That bald figure is startling enough but the reality is ten times worse. She must have known her policies would result in mass unemployment, at least in the short term, when she removed the financial support of taxpayers from nationalised industries or sold them off in the belief that private business would be able to do the job more efficiently with much smaller workforces. Further, as these industries were concentrated in areas where they were by far the dominant employer she should have realised that structural unemployment would be created in many parts of the country. To imagine, as she did, that new jobs would rapidly sprout in the areas showed a shocking lack of understanding of economic history which has no example of such a thing happening on the scale required in 1980s Britain.
What is certain is the fact that she had no doubt about the destructive possibilities of laissez faire economics, viz:
“Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ is not above sudden, disturbing, movements. Since its inception, capitalism has known slumps and recessions, bubble and froth; no one has yet dis-invented the business cycle, and probably no one will; and what Schumpeter famously called the ‘gales of creative destruction’ still roar mightily from time to time. To lament these things is ultimately to lament the bracing blast of freedom itself.” — Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft P. 462
A politician of conviction?
The idea that merely having convictions is praiseworthy is a rum one. Hitler, Stalin and Mao had convictions. But even if the quality of a person’s convictions is ignored, this is one of the most mystifying of myths attached to Thatcher. The reality was she frequently changed her position on the most important issues she faced or adopted methods which went against her avowed policies when she had created a mess, most notably with the massive rise in unemployment resulting from her slash and burn approach to the British economy which greatly increased the benefits bill for many years and left people unemployed for years, in many cases for decades.
The most significant publicly admitted changes of policy were on immigration, the Europe and global warming. Before the 1979 election she had spoken of the need to control immigration because the country was in danger of being “swamped”:
‘If we went on as we are then by the end of the century there would be four million people of the new Commonwealth or Pakistan here. Now, that is an awful lot and I think it means that people are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture.’
She went on to say, ‘The British character has done so much for democracy, for law and done so much throughout the world that if there is any fear that it might be swamped people are going to react and be rather hostile to those coming in.’
‘If you want good race relations, you have got to allay peoples’ fears on numbers. […] We do have to hold out the clear prospect of an end to immigration…’ (http://www.runnymedetrust.org/histories/race-equality/59/margaret-thatcher-claims-britons-fear-being-swamped.html)
Once in office she did nothing despite still feeling strongly about the subject in private (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/6906503/Margaret-Thatcher-complained-about-Asian-immigration-to-Britain.html).
On Europe she went through the following metamorphosis:
- 1975 she campaigned and voted for Britain to remain within the European Economic Community (EEC – the EU was only formed by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993).
- By 1980 she was convinced that the EEC was not acting in Britain interests.
- By 1986 she had signed the Single European Act giving the EEC immense powers to interfere with Britain’s sovereignty.
- In the late 1980s she adopted the policy of enlarging the EEC which meant that a vast new swathe of workers from poor countries would be allowed free movement within the EEC. The effects of this also allowed the federalists to press for things such as Qualified Majority Voting on the grounds that the EEC/EU had become too unwieldy to operate under the original rules and to generally press forward with the creation of a United States of Europe.
- In 1990 she took the UK into the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) despite being opposed to a single currency to which the ERM was a stepping stone with the pound effectively shadowing the Deutschmark.
The idea that Thatcher only realised what the EEC was after taking office in 1979 is simple nonsense. Thatcher’s speech to the Conservative Group for Europe at the start of the Wilson referendum on the EEC clearly shows her viewing the EEC as far more than a simple free trading area, viz:
That vision of Europe took a leap into reality on the 1st of January 1972 when, [ Edward Heath] Mr. Chairman, due to your endeavours, enthusiasm and dedication Britain joined the European Community.
* The Community gives us peace and security in a free society, a peace and security denied to the past two generations.
* The Community gives us access to secure sources of food supplies. This is vital to us, a country which has to import half of what we need.
* The Community does more trade and gives more aid than any group in the world.
* The Community gives us the opportunity to represent the Commonwealth in Europe. The Commonwealth want us to stay in and has said so. The Community wants us.
Conservatives must give a clear lead and play a vigorous part in the campaign to keep Britain in Europe to honour the treaties which you, sir, signed in Britain’s name.
We must do this, even though we dislike referenda. We must support the [ Harold Wilson] Prime Minister in this, even though we fight the Government on other issues.
We must play our full part in ensuring that Conservative supporters say “Yes to Europe”. (http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/102675).
In any case, the Treaty of Rome left no room to believe it was merely a free trade organisation. No one could read that and be in any doubt that the intention was to create a United State of Europe. Thatcher, the supposed obsessive who was a stickler mastering a subject, should have read it before the referendum.
As for global warming, she started the ball rolling whilst in office and then reversed her position in her autobiography published in 2003. Here she is speaking to the UN general assembly, in November 1989:
“What we are now doing to the world … is new in the experience of the Earth. It is mankind and his activities that are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways. The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto. Change to the sea around us, change to the atmosphere above, leading in turn to change in the world’s climate, which could alter the way we live in the most fundamental way of all.
“The environmental challenge that confronts the whole world demands an equivalent response from the whole world. Every country will be affected and no one can opt out. Those countries who are industrialised must contribute more to help those who are not.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2013/apr/09/margaret-thatcher-green-hero)
By the time she had published her political work Statecraft in 2003 she was thinking along these lines:
“The doomsters’ favourite subject today is climate change. This has a number of attractions for them. First, the science is extremely obscure so they cannot easily be proved wrong. Second, we all have ideas about the weather: traditionally, the English on first acquaintance talk of little else.
“Third, since clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism. All this suggests a degree of calculation. Yet perhaps that is to miss half the point. Rather, as it was said of Hamlet that there was method in his madness, so one feels that in the case of some of the gloomier alarmists there is a large amount of madness in their method.” (http://www.masterresource.org/2013/04/thatcher-alarmist-to-skeptic/).
There were other issues where her public position was at odds with her actions, for example, the troubles in Northern Ireland and the rule of law. Thatcher claimed that there would never be a surrender to IRA terrorism. Yet after she narrowly escaped death in the Brighton Grand Hotel bombing in 1984 (12 October) the Anglo-Irish agreement was signed little over a year later in November 1985 giving the Republic of Ireland government a say in what happened in Northern Ireland and committing the British Government to accepting the principle of a united Ireland if a majority were in favour. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/15/newsid_2539000/2539849.stm). There was no obvious reason for such a change of heart beyond the fear generated in Thatcher by the bombing of the Grand Hotel.
As for the rule of law, far from respecting it as she claimed, she laid the basis for the ever increasing authoritarianism of the British state by permitting the police to act unlawfully during the miners’ strike by stopping miners and their supporters from travelling across the country and turning a blind eye to any police excesses as they clashed with the miners and their supporters.
A politician of conviction? Only if you define someone as such who runs from one position to another while vigorously embracing each successive position regardless of its contradiction of a previous advocated policy or set of ideas.
Nor was she someone who would take responsibility for her actions. When she found her policies were a disaster she either claimed she had been badly advised or cheated (for example, the Single Market, global warming) or attempted to ignore the mess she had created (for example, enduring mass employment and ) by misrepresenting it, or in the case of unemployment, using North Sea oil tax revenues, the privatisation receipts and blatant manipulation of the unemployment statistics to paper over the unemployment cracks.
Why did Thatcher get things so horribly wrong?
Why did Thatcher get things so horribly wrong? Her behaviour strongly suggested that she was seriously lacking psychological and sociological insight. This meant she constantly made horrendous mistakes such as trusting the EU over the single market and imagining in truly infantile fashion that millions of jobs shed from heavy industry and coal mining would be rapidly replaced by “modern” jobs in the service and light industry sectors. Her record in choosing people to support or employ was also dismal.
Far from being a free thinker her cast of mind made her the ready captive of an ideology:
“…as Leader of the Opposition MT once cut short a presentation by a leftish member of the Conservative Research Department by fetching out a copy of The Constitution of Liberty from her bag and slamming it down on the table, declaring “this is what we believe”. (http://www.margaretthatcher.org/archive/Hayek.asp).
It is dangerous to trust anyone who is susceptible to ideological capture for the simple reason that all ideologies, whether sacred or profane, are inadequate descriptions of and guides to reality. This means that ideologues constantly have to try to fit reality within the ideology rather than having reality driving their choices. Those which include economics are particularly dangerous because their reach is so vast.
Ideologies are the prime example of Richard Dawkins’ memes, mental viruses which capture the individual and direct their thought and behaviour. Those who are captured by them by them give up their mental autonomy. That speaks either of a character trait such as that of requiring a source of authority for choices or a weakness of intellect which seeks ideological algorithms developed by others to answer political questions because the person’s capacity to answer the questions by rational pragmatic examination based on their own knowledge and intelligence is inadequate.
How good was Thatcher’s mind? She is frequently represented by her adherents as ferociously intelligent. This view will not stand up to examination. She read chemistry at Oxford but only achieved a second class honours degree (http://womenshistory.about.com/od/thatchermargaret/a/Margaret-Thatcher.htm). Oxford at the time did not divide the second class degree into upper and lower second classes and had a fourth class honours division instead. The old Oxford second is generally taken to be the rough equivalent of an upper second. That raises questions over her intellect. Chemistry at degree level in the 1940s had not become heavily mathematized as it now is. Diligence would get a student a long way. This quality Thatcher reputedly had in spades. If she did, the fact that she only took a second suggests that she was not very intellectually gifted. That is particularly the case when it is remembered that she went up to Oxford during wartime when competition for places was severely reduced because so many of the potential male students went into the forces rather than to university. A beta plus mind at best.
What people probably mistook for intelligence was her avid seeking and retention of data. But it is one thing to learn facts or arguments parrot fashion, quite another to mould them into a coherent intellectual whole. Based on her frequent renunciation of previous positions, it is reasonable to assume that she simply did not have the intellectual wherewithal to put the data she took on board to any useful purpose. She certainly never gave no indication that she ever saw the bigger picture.
There were also the question of her how fitted she was by experience to fill the role she played, that of the hard-core economic libertarian forever seeking ways of making people take responsibility for their lives both socially and in their work. When I look at the present Tory front bench I have a similar feeling to that which I experience when thinking of the Nazi leadership. The Nazis had a rather noticeable lack of Aryan types amongst them: the present Tory front bench is remarkably short on people who have been entrepreneurs or indeed of people who have any great experience of work outside the narrow confines of politics.
Margaret Thatcher was a forerunner in this respect. She graduated from Oxford in 1947. For the next four years she worked for various private companies as a research chemist. At the age of 26 she married a millionaire. He funded Thatcher’s career change from chemist to barrister. She took the bar exams in 1953 and practised (specialising in taxation) until 1961, the last two years of the period occurring after she was elected to the Commons in 1959. After that it was all politics.
Thatcher’s experience of the real world of work is at best four years as a research chemist and eight years as a barrister. However, being married to a millionaire at the age of 26 rather dulls the idea of her living a normal working life. The truth is she made her way not as a self-made woman but by the traditional route for female advancement of marrying a rich man.
There was no need for Thatcherism
The really angering thing about Thatcher’s time in No 10 is that she could have done what she was elected to do, tame the unions, without engaging in the deliberate wholesale destruction and alienation of much of Britain’s heavy and extractive industry and the placing in private hands of the public utilities, especially those of gas, electricity and water. This was because Thatcher had the great good fortune to arrive as Prime Minister just as North Sea oil and gas was coming on-stream in large quantities. Those revenues alone would have provided any government with a very large safety net to finance temporary difficulties caused by serious confrontations with the larger trade unions. She also enjoyed the very large receipts from the big privatisations such as gas, electricity and BT. No British government has ever had such a sustained revenue windfall as hers.
There was absolutely no economic need to destroy so much of British industry or place much of the state-owned organisations into private hands. Continental countries such as Germany and Italy retained their shipbuilding; France, Germany and Italy retained a native mass production car industry. Germany still has a substantial coal mining industry. Privatisation proceeded at very different speeds throughout Europe. That no other large industrialised country followed Thatcherite policies with anything like the speed or fervour of Britain yet survived and frequently out competed Britain economically demonstrates that Thatcher’s policies were not a necessity but simply an ideological choice.
Her government could have spent the 1980s taming the unions sufficiently to prevent the excesses of the 1970s. It is true that the very high level of unemployment of the 1980s was an aid to this, but it was probably not the main rod which largely broke the Trade Unions’ back. Home ownership had been rising steadily throughout the twentieth century and by the time Thatcher came to power in 1979 not far short of 60%. The highest it reached even after Right To Buy was only 69% – the idea that it was Thatcher who made it possible for the working man and woman to own their homes for the first time is another myth about her(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/houseprices/10005586/Home-ownership-falls-for-first-time-in-a-century.html). .
The fact that so many people were owner occupiers with mortgages meant that they were much less willing than they had been to strike at the drop of a hat because they feared losing their home. Even those who were not owner occupiers had much more to lose in terms of general comfort, security and prospects of greater opportunity for their children than had been the case before, say, 1939. To take just one example, children from poor families had a greater opportunity than ever to enter higher education. This growing reluctance to come out whenever the union called for strike was why the National Union of Miners’ leader Arthur Scargill was not willing to hold a ballot of all his members before calling a strike. He feared such a ballot would be lost.
The combination of this increasing reluctance to strike amongst union members together with the legal restrictions on unions such as no secondary picketing and severe penalties for strikes called with a formal ballot would have been enough to end the anarchy which prevailed in the 1970s.
Apart from the social and economic upheaval of the Thatcher years, she can also be blamed for a continuation of the damage she caused both in the long term structural unemployment but also in the fact that she subverted the Labour Party so that it adopted most of what was damaging from the Thatcher period, most particularly in the adoption of her devotion to laissez faire economics and in Labour’s all too ready acceptance of the EU elite’s desire for comprehensive political and economic union.
The 1980s could have been so very different. The revenue from North Sea Oil could have been put into a sovereign wealth fund which by now would be worth hundreds of billions. If the Single European Act had not been signed the movement towards a federal EU would have been halted in its tracks (national vetoes applied to this area of decision making at the time). If Thatcher had not argued for an ever wider EEC the poorer nations from the East would not have joined and the immigration threat they carry would not exist. Indeed, Britain could have left the EU entirely because the Tory Eurosceptics could have allied with Labour under Michael Foot or even Neal Kinnock. New social housing could have been built with the proceeds of Right to Buy thus obviating to a large degree the shortage of housing now. If the nationalised industries had been sustained there would have been no serious structural unemployment. Had proper attention been paid to the strategic importance of essential economic areas such a food and energy self-sufficiency we should not be so dangerously reliant on foreigners for such things today. Most importantly, if that had been the general thrust of politics in the 1980s it is doubtful in the extreme that Blair and NuLabour would ever have arisen.
The tragedy of Margaret Thatcher is that she had a sense of patriotism and probably genuinely thought she was doing the best for her country at the time she implemented or advocated policies (her honesty when policies went wrong was another matter). The problem was that her judgement and understanding was all too often hideously wrong or defective. She so often provided comforting rhetoric, especially on Europe and immigration, but she never delivered the goods. The fact that she was such an overpowering political figure made things worse because it meant she could steamroller her cabinet on most issues at most times. It is difficult to think of another politician in the past three centuries who wrought so much damage on Britain.
The central plank of the 2013 UK Budget – boosting house building and sales activity – was both morally disgraceful and criminally reckless. The Government proposes to underwrite mortgages to the tune of 20% of the value for both first time buyers and those with properties who are trying to move up the housing ladder and from 1st April 2013, even more recklessly, to provide loans of 20% of the value of new build properties up to the value of £600,000 for three years from April 2014. The loans will be interest free for five years after which an annual fee of 1.75% will be levied on the government loan, with the fee rising annually by the retail prices index (RPI) inflation plus 1%. The loan can be paid off at any time up to and including the time when it is sold. ( http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/10012.htm ). The amount taxpayers will risk on the underwritten mortgages is estimated to be £12bn with the full value of the mortgages underwritten totalling £130bn, while £3.5bn of taxpayers’ money will be committed to the loans.
This policy is morally disgraceful because it is yet again favouring the haves over the have-nots . It is made doubly offensive because it is being done at a time when the Coalition Government’s attitude towards those in social housing is increasingly shrill with a constant portrayal of those in social housing as being parasites on the taxpayer because they do not pay the market rent for their properties while owner occupiers pay their way.
The reality is rather different. Social housing tenants have long received far less subsidy than owner occupiers who have been granted massive benefits by governments since at least 1969 when Roy Jenkins introduced Mortgage Interest Relief At Source (MIRAS). MIRAS lasted until 2000 when it was ended by Gordon Brown. In addition to MIRAS owner occupiers receive or have received these benefits:
1. Right-to-Buy (RTB). The gains from RTB both from a considerably reduced purchase price (way below the market value) and the huge rise in property values in the period 1980 to 2008. The rules to qualify were tightened and the discounts offered were gradually reduced in the period, but have been boosted again by the Coalition Government which announced a discount of up to £100,000 in the Budget (http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/budget-2013-100000-off-righttobuy-a-london-home-8540690.html).
2. Private residence tax relief. No capital gains tax is paid on a property used as a private residence when it is sold.
3. No inheritance tax (IT) is paid on a private property when it is inherited by a spouse who is resident in this country. Regardless of who are the beneficiaries, no IT is paid on a property if it forms part of an estate worth less than the inheritance tax exemption limit (£325,000 in 2012-13). No IT is paid on a private property if the private property has been gifted to someone else more than 7 years before the death of the person making the gift.
4. Housing benefit for the interest paid on a mortgage. This could be received by someone unemployed or employed, but with an income so low they qualified for housing benefit.
5. A surprisingly large number of taxpayer funded schemes providing substantial grants, especially for energy saving improvements (http://www.freegive.co.uk/grants.htm).
6. The lax credit policies from the mid-1980s onwards which allowed mortgage providers to grossly inflate property prices before the 2008 crash by granting no deposit mortgages and even mortgages up to 125% of the purchase price. In addition, “light touch” regulation of the banks and their ilk greatly increased the money supply which also inflated property prices. Finally, prices were inflated further by the permitting of massive immigration during the years of the Blair and Brown Governments which added some three million to the UK population.
7. Since the crash of 2008 successive British governments have offered massive direct and indirect aid to those with mortgages. The direct aid has been such things as mortgage payment holidays (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/dec/04/brown-mortgage-interest-break-repossessions), and indirect protection, for example, keeping Bank Rate at microscopically low levels.
Whilst all this has been going on social housing has become ever scarcer as several million social housing properties have been sold off under RTB (http://www.politics.co.uk/reference/right-to-buy) and the provision of new social housing since the mid-1980s has been meagre in the extreme.
Morally obnoxious as the policy may be, the fact that it is criminally reckless is even more worrying. The almost certain short term effect of this taxpayer funded largesse is that house prices will rise because there will be more money chasing scarce housing. This will make purchase even with the helping taxpayer hand more and more difficult, especially for first time buyers who will be tempted to pay over the odds because the terms look so easy and the participating mortgage lenders will be willing to lend more in the secure knowledge that the taxpayer will either cover a substantial minority of them mortgage or provide a buffer against future negative equity because of the significant amount of equity resented by the taxpayer funded loan. Suppose a house is purchased for £500,000. The purchaser pays a 5% deposit and the taxpayer makes this up to a 25% deposit with a 20% equity loan to the purchaser. This leaves the private mortgage provider to find £375,000. Provided the property can be sold for £375,000 the mortgage provider will lose nothing. If it is sold for just £375,000, 25% of the original purchase price (the total deposit) will be lost. The taxpayer would lose £100,000.
The intentions of the Government – to boost house building, enable first time buyers to get on the housing ladder and loosen up the property market generally – are likely to be undermined further because it appears Britons buying second homes and foreigners will be able to access the taxpayer funded privileges (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9947031/Wealthy-homeowners-could-use-state-backed-loans-to-buy-second-homes.html and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/borrowing/mortgages/9952998/Foreigners-can-qualify-for-state-subsidised-mortgages.html)
The danger in the longer term is that the housing market will tank as the Irish and Spanish ones have done and property prices halve. This is a significant possibility, because apart from the general economic turmoil in the EU, UK interest rates will have to rise substantially sooner or later and this alone will suppress the market dramatically as very large numbers cannot meet their mortgage payments. If property prices do collapse it will leave the taxpayer taking a severe financial hit. Osborne is effectively betting the national farm on a recovery in the housing market.
What housing policy should the Government be pursuing?
I suggest this:
1. Use the money they have earmarked for the underwriting of risk and the 15% deposits in new build properties up £600,000 to engage on a massive social housing building programme.
2. Put a tax on land held by property developers with planning permission while they refuse to build on the land as per the planning permission.
3. Ban Buy-to-let mortgages.
4. Introduce rent controls on private landlords. If rents were frozen for a number of years this should not impact too seriously on most private landlords, the majority of whom will either own their properties or have small mortgages on them . Even those with large mortgages should be able to survive in the low interest environment which looks as though it will continue to several years at least. If they can pay the mortgage now they should be able to keep in paying it until interest rates rise significantly. By that time
All of those policies could be done whilst we remain within the EU. If we left the EU it would be possible to:
5. Deny all social housing to foreigners.
6. Ban foreigners from purchasing residential property.
7. Put an end to further mass immigration.
These policies will greatly increase the supply of housing in the medium term if not sooner . If even 1-4 were implemented this would do a great deal to bring the cost of housing to a level where those on the average wage could afford to rent in most areas and
Governments bear the responsibility
For thirty years or more British Governments have been almost entirely responsible for the truly dismaying rise in the cost of property both to buy and to rent through a failure to ensure enough housing both private and social was built, by removing rent controls, ending credit controls on mortgages, failing to control mortgage lending generally and, most dramatically, by allowing mass immigration to add between three and four million people to the population in the past 15 years.
To understand exactly how inflated housing costs have become compare property prices today with what they were in 1955. Then the average residential property price was around £2,000. Uprated for inflation the average price of properties today would be around £40,000. (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/the-vicious-poison-in-the-british-economy-is-the-outlandish-cost-of-housing/). Makes you think. If that was the case now, even those on half of the average national wage (half of the present average wage would be about £13,000 ) would be able to purchase a property of some sort.