Dear God Almighty, what did we do to deserve David Cameron?

Entering the debate on national identity and religious tolerance, the Prime Minister will declare an end to “passive tolerance” of divided communities, and say that members of all faiths must integrate into wider society and accept core values.

To be British is to believe in freedom of speech and religion, democracy and equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality, he will say.

It\’s very difficult indeed to think of anything less British than insisting that there is some State approved mantra that defines whether you are British or not.

We certainly used to have such a system: at various times you could be burnt at the stake for either believing in transubstantiation or not believing in it. But the development of British society over the centuries since then has been about the basic point that we are the British and that you, they, the government are just the people we hire to do the scut work of society on our behalf.

We\’ll believe what we wish as we wish, thank you very much, not what we are told to nor what is defined by others asw being acceptable that we should.

To be British therefore means that you, we, us, are entirely able to believe in the disgustingness of Teh Gayers, if that\’s what floats our boat, that those who partake of the Demon Rum are damned to all eternity and that the law should be changed to save their souls, that witches aren\’t just deluded spinsters, that privilege (the real meaning of which is private law and thus not equal rights for all: see aristocracy) is the defining point of a civilised society and so on.

To be British is also to insist that whatever you atually think about these things is going to have fuck all to do with how the law works or how we\’re going to let you treat other people. You might think that your sister should die for having sex outside marriage: a vile belief but one that you\’re entirely entitled to hold. Just don\’t do anything about it, for if we do we\’ll hunt you down.

Cameron\’s entirely missed the very heart of Britishness. He\’s saying that this set of beliefs define us, something which simply isn\’t so. Indeed, to insist on a set of beliefs is entirely unBritish. It is actions, or even actions not taken, which define us. The Wee Frees get to believe absolutely anything they want about booze, including not offering equal rights within the Church to those who partake. But they don\’t get to impose prohibition upon the rest of us. Catholics get to believe that remarriage after divorce means leaving polite society: but they don\’t get to make that the law for us all.

And Conservative politicans get to tell us what they think we should believe: and we get to tell them to stuff State thought control up their jacksies.

17 thoughts on “Dear God Almighty, what did we do to deserve David Cameron?”

  1. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that we dint want people to live here who don’t share our notion of civilised behaviour, which we (and you) believe includes tolerance.

    Cameron is kicking against post-modern cultural relativism, and it’s about time someone did.

  2. I think you’re actually agreeing with him there, Tim.
    “To be British is to believe in freedom of
    speech and religion , democracy and equal
    rights regardless of race , sex or sexuality” is, in my opinion, an expression of the principle that you articulated.

  3. Listening to the debate on Radio 4 this morning I reckon someone’s been reading AC Grayling’s book Liberty In The Age Of Terror. There is a section in which Grayling argues that we shouldn’t tolerate those who would use our own freedom of speech and tolerance against us as a way to curtail that tolerance and freedom of speech.

  4. I’m with AC Grayling on that score…

    But don’t get too carried away, Tim. These are just empty words from an empty suit – iDave will DO nothing. Nothing at all.

  5. Pingback: Longrider » Cameron on Multiculturalism

  6. Agreed. Every free born Englishman should have the right to publicly advocate the murder of apostates, adulterers and gays, plus anyone else who he feels has insulted Islam.

    I tell you what – let’s import more and more people who feel that way into our cities and give them UK passports. Let’s make sure they live in segregated communities, so they don’t have to interact with people who might bring their world view into question. Let’s give their children special Islamic schools, with special text books from Saudi Arabia, so they can pass on their world view undiluted to their children. After all, Protestants and Catholics have separate schools in Northern Ireland, and that hasn’t caused any problems has it? So what’s all the fuss about? What could possibly go wrong?

  7. Yes, for once I think you’re a bit wide of the mark on this one. Surely the point is that “Britishness” means a willingness to accept and tolerate others who live lifestyles and express opinions that you may strongly disagree with, regardless of the principles you choose to live your own life by. It’s “live and let live.”

  8. It is hard to define what is being British.
    But threatening people who don’t wear burkas or for insulting the pedophile prophet, certainly is NOT British.

    Personally I think we should have never allowed large scale Muslim immigration here. Poland has a very similar foreign policy to us but has not problems with Muslim terrorists, this is because they don’t have any Muslims.
    Obviously we can’t do anything about Muslims here but we should stop more coming.

  9. I’m sure I’m going to get stick from a couple of the posters above for saying this. I did last time.

    This is the reason we need the freedom to display a measure of intolerance in our relations with others. The pressure to conform to some sort of consensual standard is needed & is better coming from a community working out its own consensus than having the whole thing imposed from without.

  10. And the simple answer to Curmudgeon @ 6 is that it isn’t & it never was. It’s one of the biggest fallacies we delude ourselves with. The British were no more accepting of “others who live lifestyles and express opinions that you may strongly disagree with” than any other nationality. Probably less so. We live on an island so until fairly recently we didn’t have to deal with strange people ideas & customs on a great scale.

  11. Tim

    I just don’t agree with your analysis of British history.

    Maybe we’ve been more accepting of individual eccentrics – though the treatment of Oscar Wilde in 1895, or Quentin Crisp in the 1930s, or Mary Whitehouse’s blasphemy win against Gay News in 1976 all suggest otherwise.

    As for religious dissent & nonconformity, we’ve invented more such movements than any other country – the methodists, quakers, congregationalists, diggers, baptists, puritans etc. The point is, pretty much every war, revolt or insurrection fought between 1534 & 1745 had a significant religious element to it (think about Bloody Mary, The Armada, Guy Fawkes, the Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, the Jacobite Rebellion…).

    The campaign for emancipation for Catholics & Jews required that they demonstrate their loyalty & religious quietude to the Protestant majority. Henry Pelham sponsored the Jew Bill of 1753, arguing that Jews had shown great loyalty during the Jacobite Rebellion (needless to say, the Tories opposed this “abandonment of Christianity”). To get the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 through Parliament, the Duke of Wellington had to fight a duel with the Earl of Winchilsea, who accused him of having “treacherously plotted the destruction of the Protestant constitution”.

    If things improved from then on, it was because our previous historical experience had made us very wary of people fired with religious enthusiasm. Alistair Campbell’s “we don’t do God” really means “we used to do God in a big way, and it was bloody and divisive!”.

  12. pete, Hayek wrote to the effect that tolerance does not mean license. The lack of stigma associated with undesirable behaviour has been a big factor in both the increase in loutishness and crime, and the State’s curtailment of the freedoms of the law-abiding majority.

  13. Cameron is kicking against post-modern cultural relativism, and it’s about time someone did.

    Because it’s not as if *every mainstream politician since Mrs Thatcher* and *every newspaper except the Guardian and the Indie* spent half their time railing against some fuckwitted, half-understood version of ‘cultural relativism’, is it?

    georgesdelatour:
    “Let’s give their children special Islamic schools, with special text books from Saudi Arabia, so they can pass on their world view undiluted to their children. “

    Erm, that’s almost diametrically the opposite of the actual situation. Because we failed to step in and fund moderate Muslim schools (in the way that we’ve long funded moderate Catholic schools – precisely because we want people to be able to exercise their faith, but at the same time to be educated in an environment that’s compatible with British liberalism rather than the revolting extremes of the religion in question), Saudi-backed extremists stepped in and filled the gap with completely private schools and religious education institutions entirely outside of government control. The whole point of the last government’s plans to allow funding for Muslim schools was that they’d be compelled to be just as moderate and in-line with the National Curriculum as existing Catholic schools are, providing an alternative to Wahabii’ist nutjobs.

  14. john b remarks,”…we’ve long funded moderate Catholic schools….”

    Does this imply that there were extremist Catholic schools that you didn’t fund? If so, tell us about those.

  15. PoC: I’m assuming you’re aware of the Roman Catholic Church’s history in England as a hostile foreign power dedicated to forcibly overthrowing the government? At that point, there were plenty of extremist Catholic schools and other organisations that the English state certainly didn’t fund.

    Once Catholics were generally emancipated in the early 19th century, the British state started funding Catholic schools, on the understanding that they’d provide a moderate-Catholic education to the children of Catholic parents. Now, this *could* be total coincidence, but wasn’t.

  16. john b

    There is a historic parallel between post-Reformation fear of Catholic disloyalty and modern fear of Muslim disloyalty. It’s not an encouraging analogy. It took hundreds of years for Catholics to overcome the distrust of the Protestant majority and achieve equality (Catholics are still forbidden from inheriting the Crown, so they’re not fully equal even now).

    When the Queen meets the Pope these days it seems potty to mention “Regnans in Excelsis”. Technically this bull of 1570 is still in force, still obliging English Catholics to try and murder the monarch. Yet I doubt the SIS is monitoring English Catholics in case they act on it and attempt a second Gunpowder Plot. The reason is, all-consuming religious passion has largely dissipated for both Protestants and Catholics. The only place where it persists is Northern Ireland, and it’s your preferred school system that does much to perpetuate it.

  17. The only place where it persists is Northern Ireland, and it’s your preferred school system that does much to perpetuate it.

    Hmm. Now explain the reason why in the modern era, Catholic schools perpetuate violence in Northern Ireland (and Glasgow), but not in Surrey, Kent and Greater London (where they are also prevalent, and where as far as I’m aware, sectarian tensions between Catholics and Protestants are limited).

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