The leader of the Labour Party Ed Milband has cynically climbed onto the bandwagon which Labour politicians like John Crudas, Harriett Harman and John Denham tentatively started rolling before the last election as they began to fret over losing the votes of the British white working class, the vast majority of whom live in England. The bandwagon is England, the English and Englishness. Miliband’s boarding point was a speech in the Festival Hall on 7th June (http://www.labour.org.uk/ed-miliband-speech-defending-the-union-in-england,2012-06-07).
Miliband decided to break the habit of a generation of Labour politicians by referring to the English in terms which did not suggest that they were the brutish enemy of all that is right and good and dangerous to boot , viz:
“I believe we can all be proud of our country, the United Kingdom.
And of the nations that comprise it.
Second, that means England too. [RH: Damned decent of the fellow]
And those on the left have not been clear enough about this in the recent past.
We must be in the future.
We should embrace a positive, outward looking version of English identity.
Finally, we should also proudly talk the language of patriotism. “
How dramatic a shift of opinion and language this was can be gleaned from the things which Labour ministers and backbenchers were saying about the English only a few years before. Here is Jack Straw (a Jew as it happens) when Home Secretary in the Blair Government :
“The English are potentially very aggressive, very violent. We have used this propensity to violence to subjugate Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Then we used it in Europe and with our empire, so I think what you have within the UK is three small nations…who’ve been over the centuries under the cosh of the English. Those small nations have inevitably sought expression by a very explicit idea of nationhood. You have this very dominant other nation, England, 10 times bigger than the others, which is self-confident and therefore has not needed to be so explicit about its expression. I think as we move into this new century, people’s sense of Englishness will become more articulated and that’s partly because of the mirror that devolution provides us with and because we are becoming more European at the same” (BBC Radio Four’s Brits 10 January 2000 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/596703.stm )
And here is a Labour backbencher , the German Gisela Stuart. From 2005:
“Yet it has only been in the last five years or so that I have heard people in my constituency telling me, “I am not British – I am English”. That worries me. British identity is based on and anchored in its political and legal institutions and this enables it to take in new entrants more easily than it would be if being a member of a nation were to be defined by blood. But a democratic polity will only work if citizens’ identification is with the community as a whole, or at least with the shared process, which overrides their loyalty to a segment. (15 11 2005 http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-opening/trust_3030.jsp). (http://englandcalling.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/dont-laugh-labour-are-flying-the-english-flag/).)
This is the type of mentality Miliband coyly and disingenuously referred to when he said in his speech
“ We in the Labour Party have been too reluctant to talk about England in recent years.
We’ve concentrated on shaping a new politics for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
And this was one of the greatest achievements of the last government.
We have rightly applauded the expression of Scottish identity within the United Kingdom.
But for too long people have believed that to express English identity is to undermine the United Kingdom.
This does not make sense.
You can be proudly Scottish and British.
And you can be proudly English and British.
As I am.
Somehow while there is romanticism in parts of the left about Welsh identity, Scottish identity, English identity has tended to be a closed book of late.
Something was holding us back from celebrating England too.
We have been too nervous to talk of English pride and English character.
For some it was connected to the kind of nationalism that left us ill at ease.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Union flag was reclaimed from the National Front.
Since Euro 96, English football fans have helped to reclaim the flag of St George from the BNP.
Now more than ever, as we make the case for the United Kingdom throughout the United Kingdom, we must talk about England.
Because people are talking about it and we cannot be silent.
And because if we stay silent, the case for the United Kingdom in England will go by default.
There are people like Jeremy Clarkson who shrug their shoulders at the prospect of the break-up of the Union.
Others will conjure a view of Englishness which does not represent the best of our nation.
Offering a mirror image of the worst aspects of Scottish nationalism.
Hostile to outsiders.
England somehow cut off from the rest of Britain, cut off from the outside world.
Fearful what is beyond our borders.
Convinced our best days behind us.
I don’t think like that.”
Miliband’s England is not England at all and his patriotism is no love of country but love of the inchoate multicultural mishmash which the politically correct promote as the most desirable of all societies and, increasingly, as the only legitimate society. Their wish, implied or in a few cases stated overtly, is to radically change the nature of England (the vast majority of immigrants to the UK settle in England) by allowing and covertly encouraging massive immigration of those who are radically different in race and/or ethnicity.
The passage above from Miliband’s speech sets the ground for England to be left defenceless against further immigration and the placing beyond the politically correct Pale any desire to maintain and celebrate Englishness simply by ensuring that England remains English in people and culture as well as name. You can only be English on Miliband’s terms and those terms are that the English will not only be prevented from resisting the destruction of England as their national homeland, but be forced at least overtly to embrace their own destruction as an independent people as if it were the most marvellous and desirable of social transformations in a manner reminiscent of North Koreans cheering their Dear Leader et al.
One of those willing to come clean publicly about the deliberate destruction of England and the English as a nation within their own territory, is Andrew Neather, a special adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett. Neather let the cat out of the bag in 2009 in the London Evening Standard. Writing about the attitude of the Blair Government towards immigration at the end of its first term, he disclosed:
“I wrote the landmark speech given by then immigration minister Barbara Roche in September 2000, calling for a loosening of controls. It marked a major shift from the policy of previous governments: from 1971 onwards, only foreigners joining relatives already in the UK had been permitted to settle here.
That speech was based largely on a report by the Performance and Innovation Unit, Tony Blair’s Cabinet Office think-tank.
The PIU’s reports were legendarily tedious within Whitehall but their big immigration report was surrounded by an unusual air of both anticipation and secrecy.
Drafts were handed out in summer 2000 only with extreme reluctance: there was a paranoia about it reaching the media.
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.” (http://www.standard.co.uk/news/dont-listen-to-the-whingers–london-needs-immigrants-6786170.html)
The inevitable eventual result of this strategy would be to dissolve the English in a sea of competing ethnicities, to make the English but one of many people in their own homeland , a people bereft of any special claim to the land. On the way to that calamity and while they remain the large majority in their own land, the English are wilfully discriminated against by their own elite which promotes the interests of existing ethnic minorities above those of the English whilst suppressing English dissent in ever more ruthless fashion, including the increasing use of jail for anyone daring to publicly speak out against what is the most fundamental act of treason, namely, the permitting of the de facto colonisation of parts of England.
Miliband reduces Englishness to nothing by embracing the tactics that the Left have used for the past decade . They have moved from pretending either that the English did not exist as a meaningful nation or claiming that any attempt by the English to promote their own interests and culture is racist to the concept of “progressive patriotism”.
“Progressive patriotism is a slogan fit to stand with Orwell’s Freedom is Slavery or Ignorance is Strength because it is the very reverse of patriotism. Rather, it is an ideological fig-leaf designed to cover the disastrous effects of the fundamental act of treason which in post-war mass immigration to England. This “progressive patriotism” requires the people of England (and any other true national group) to disown the idea of the nation as the tribe write large, created not by deliberate design but organically grown, for a self-consciously created idea of the nation as being no more than the people occupying the same territory. Miliband unashamedly embraces this “ progressive patriotism” which, in another piece of Orwellian oxymoronic doublespeak he describes nonsensically as “Celebrating our differences but drawing us together.”
The England Miliband refers to is one in which no one is expected to think of themselves simply as English. Instead, they must have “multiple identities” which muddy the waters of natural (cultural) nationality and allow the overarching faux nationality of British to cover all and sundry regardless of origin. The attack is from below as well as above with local or regional feeling used to corrode and dilute Englishness viz:
“..we are stronger together as a United Kingdom and that essential strength comes from our ability to embrace multiple identities…
To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity.
More than one place in mind when you talk of home.
A Welshman living in London regards himself as Welsh and British.
Someone born in London living in Glasgow remains a Londoner still.
This is the reality of modern day Britain.”
What I remember when I think about English identity.
What I love is the spirit of quiet determination in the face of adversity and the sense of common decency that goes with it….
Celebrating national characteristics does not mean claiming they’re unique.
Or that we’re necessarily the best.
Celebrating our differences but drawing us together.
Remembering our history.
But building a shared future.
Honouring our people.
And learning from their stories.
This is what I have learned from my own story.
This is what I am learning from our summer of national celebration.
And this is what I believe we all need to learn by reflecting on our country. “
Miliband details his own divided self which reveals more of his mentality than perhaps he imagines:
“I am proud to represent the people of Doncaster North.
I am proud to lead the Labour Party.
I am proud to be Jewish.
I am proud to be English.
And I am proud to be British too. “
Very revealing that English comes last but one on his list. He also emphasises several times in his speech his Jewishness and his status as the son of immigrants:
“Neither my Mum nor my Dad came from Britain.
As I have said on other occasions, they arrived here as refugees from the Nazis.
My Dad was 16 when he caught one of the last boats from Ostend to Britain.
He was a Jew.”
“This is who I am.
The son of a Jewish refugee and Marxist academic.”
The obvious point to make is that the multiple identity nation concept is very convenient for someone with Miliband’s background. A much deeper observation would be to ask what Englishness can mean to someone like Miliband, a man who must have been set apart to some degree from English society by his second generation immigrant status and membership of an ethnic minority? His distinct oddity of physical appearance would have made him a target for bullying anyway and the things which set him apart for other children – his immigrant origins and Jewishness – would have been obvious tools for bullies to latch onto.
The primary objection to this salami slicing of identity is that it takes no account of what each claimed source of identity can provide. Thinking of yourself as a Londoner or a Yorkshireman before anything else ignores the fact that such localised loyalties cannot offer protection against enemies , the building of infrastructure which extends over a wider area than the local allegiance or the other 101 things that a nation state can provide. The age of the city state is over and small states exist at the will of large ones. The same objections apply to those minorities who see their first allegiance as religious, ethnic or racial. In fact their position is even weaker than those with a local territorial allegiance, because the latter are dominant in their area and consequently at least have the possibility of raising taxes and running some important matters within their locality. The nation has to be the source of first allegiance both because it is the only group which can provide meaningful protection and because a territory with many competing national or ethnic groups will be unable to provide that protection. #
Miliband also uses the other two ploys commonly adopted by “progressive patriots” The first is the claim that England is and always has been a nation of immigrants
“We must always debate the right approach on immigration.
And never run away from the issues it throws up.
Our villages and towns have always been mixtures of locals and newcomers.
At their best, these are places where people come together to make something new.
A common good.
Learning to live together, not separately, in new ways that serve us all.”
That is a claim which is pedantically true in the sense that foreigners have come, either by force or invitation, to England throughout history. What is howlingly untrue is that England has always welcomed or tolerated foreigners or vast numbers of immigrants have been absorbed before 1945 . In fact, very little immigration took place from the expulsion of the Jews by Edward I in 1290 until the eighteenth century with the reintroduction of the Jews and the Huguenots from France. But even this and the Jewish immigration of the 19th and early 20th Centuries was small in comparison with tidal wave of post-1945 immigration. Compared with much of continental Europe, England was a country remarkably little touched by immigration before WW2.
The other ploy is the reducing of nationhood to values such as respect for the law and material considerations such as wealth and poverty:
“I have talked about the need to secure our poorest a living wage.
Because that recognises the dignity of work.
It’s an idea that came from working people.
I have spent much of my leadership talking about the need for a ‘responsible capitalism.’
An economy that works for working people.
That preserves the sense of justice and fairness that people value against an unregulated market.
And I have talked too about the need to restore hope among people that politics can bring the change they so desperately want to see.
All of this speaks precisely to the English Labour traditions I have described:
A politics that starts with people.
That builds a sense that we really are all in it together.”
That is a political ideology not part of what constitutes a nation which is something which evolves without conscious planning or design.
The denial of an English Parliament
Miliband completely gives the game away about his feelings towards England when it comes to the question of giving England a political voice. In Miliband World England alone of the four home countries is to be denied a Parliament and consequently a political voice:
“There are some people who say that this English identity should be reflected in new institutions.
But I don’t detect a longing for more politicians.
For me, it’s not about an English Parliament or an English Assembly.
The English people don’t yearn for simplistic constitutional symmetry.
Our minds don’t work in spreadsheets, just like our streets don’t follow grids.
But there is a real argument here which does unite England, Scotland and Wales:
And that is about the centralisation of power in London.
This resentment is felt in many parts of England.
A sense that our politics is too distant.
When Miliband says the he doesn’t “detect a longing for an English Parliament” he is being grossly disingenuous. He must know that polls on the question of an English Parliament have regularly shown majority support for it. In 2007 a BBC poll showed 61% of the English in favour (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6264823.stm) and in 2011 a Mori poll showed 51% of all Britons (not just the English) in favour of an English Parliament (http://robintilbrook.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/poll-most-english-want-english.html). Compare that healthy support with the votes for Scottish and Welsh devolution in 1997. The turnout in Scotland was a mere 60.4% and the voting although not close (Yes 74.3% to No 25.7%) showed a substantial minority voting against (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/politics97/devolution/scotland/live/index.shtml), while Wales only engaged 50.1% the Welsh electorate and the referendum was won by a minute 6,721 votes – Yes 559,419 (50.3%) No 552,698 (49.7%). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_devolution_referendum,_1997).
The referenda figures tell their own story: the Scots and Welsh as peoples were far from fervently seeking a parliament or assembly . This lukewarm response came despite the fact that there were established Westminster Parliamentary nationalist parties as well as the Labour and LibDems supporting the proposals and much of the mainstream media in favour. Conversely, the English have now and never have had, a Westminster Parliamentary Party – nationalist or Tory, LibDem or Labour – advocating an English parliament. In addition, precious little time and space has been given to the question in the British mainstream media and when the subject does occasionally get an airing, it is almost always to deride the idea of the English needing a parliament or devolved powers. Despite these immense disadvantages, the English desire for a Parliament and control of much of their own affairs is arguably stronger than that of the three home countries who have devolved powers and a parliament or assembly.
Miliband has a venal reason for denying England a voice and political power to look to its own interests: an English Parliament would in effect be the UK Parliament because so much of the population is in England and the large majority of the UK’s tax revenue is raised from English taxpayers. An English Parliament as the de facto UK Parliament would mean the end of Labour as a serious force in UK politics because so much of their support comes from the non-English parts of the UK. But he may have another more visceral reason: the type of active dislike of English society displayed in Neather’s piece quoted above. After all, he was if not an elected politician at the time Neather let the cat out of the bag , a NuLabour insider as special adviser to Gordon Brown. Nor has he repudiated or denied Neather’s startling claims.
The Lion and the Unicorn
As so often with the left Miliband engages in serious and unashamed misrepresentation. In his speech he quoted from George Orwell’s 1941 essay The Lion and the Unicorn: “Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different?… How can one make pattern out of this…”
Miliband takes this at its edited face value. Whether he is simply ignorant of what follows or he is deliberately misrepresenting Orwell I will leave readers to judge. Far from believing that England and Englishness could not be defined – as Miliband’sedited quote suggests – Orwell merely used his questions as a platform for rebutting the idea that England is just an atomistic collection of cultures and peoples, viz:
“But talk to foreigners, read foreign books or newspapers, and you are brought back to the same thought. Yes, there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantelpiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person.
“And above all, it is your civilization, it is you. However much you hate it or laugh at it, you will never be happy away from it for any length of time. The suet puddings and the red pillar-boxes have entered into your soul. Good or evil, it is yours, you belong to it, and this side the grave you will never get away from the marks that it has given you.
Orwell understands, as Miliband does not, that nations are organic growths which are not delineated neatly by self-conscious moral imperatives, but arise and sustain themselves through an unconscious process of behaviours becoming the norm for a group and those behaviours collecting to form a distinctive culture. No one can create a nation consciously, although many have tried. The best such would-be social engineers can achieve is the temporary subordination of a people to an ideology through fear. Once the fear and control is removed the old and natural feelings which belong to the group, whether it be tribe, clan or nation, re-emerge.
Orwell also understands that although national cultures inevitably change, they are not universally plastic and can only develop in ways determined by existing structure of a culture:
” Meanwhile England, together with the rest of the world, is changing. And like everything else it can change only in certain directions, which up to a point can be foreseen. That is not to say that the future is fixed, merely that certain alternatives are possible and others not. A seed may grow or not grow, but at any rate a turnip seed never grows into a parsnip. It is therefore of the deepest importance to try and determine what England is, before guessing what part England can play in the huge events that are happening.”
This misrepresentation of Orwell is akin to the frequent false attribution to Churchill of a desire that the UK should be part of what has become the EU when Churchill explicitly said that he wanted Britain to remain outside any such European supra-national organisation. In both cases the exact opposite of what Orwell and Churchill actually wrote or said is represented as their true opinion.
Britishness is dead letter
Throughout his speech Miliband frequently confuses or equates Englishness with Britishness. This is no surprise because British as a national label is used by the politically correct to act as a camouflage for the effects of mass post-war immigration.
Britishness has always been a manufactured national feeling, because the idea of Britain as a nation since its inception after the Act of Union in 1707 has been a political device not a nation wrought by Nature. Nonetheless, although it is a political rather than natural nation something of the feelings of patriotism and a true sense of nation relating to Britain did emerge over the centuries. This was partly because of the experience of being under one government and partly from Britain’s ever swelling imperial role which provided both a shared enterprise for England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to coalesce around and new broadly Anglo-Saxon countries such as Australia and New Zealand still searching for an identity often spoke of their Englishness or Britishness. The experience of two world wars added to this melding of the peoples of Britain and the white dominions and by 1945 there was probably a greater sense of the British as an emotional rather than a manufactured nation than ever before. Yet it never obliterated the natural sense of belonging to the four natural nations which formed Britain.
This sense of British unity was rapidly thrown away by the mass immigration which began in the late 1940s. With mass immigration came a problem of identity: what were the hordes of blacks and Asians and their descendants to call themselves? The early immigrants from the West Indies might call themselves British because that was what their schools had taught West Indians to believe they were, but this was soon swept away by the rush to independence of British colonies in the 1960s. As for the Asians who came from the Indian subcontinent, they did not think of themselves as British because an independent India and Pakistan already existed. The children of these immigrants were placed in a toxic situation where they had neither the full ancestral culture imprinted nor an unequivocal acceptance of being English even if they were born brought up in England. They had no sense of certain place and retreated into a paranoid world in which they saw themselves as victims of the English.
Today, blacks and Asians in Britain cling to the idea of Britishness, often moderated by a qualifier such as British-Asian, Indian-British or black-British but very rarely do they describe themselves as English, even with a hyphen such English-Asian or Black-English. In more than 50 years of living in London I have never heard a black or an Asian describe themselves as simply English unless they are in a situation which prompts them to do so, for example, a black or Asian representing England at some sport. I routinely hear blacks and Asians raised in this country referring to themselves as Indian, Pakistani, Chinese or African.
The blacks and Asians raised in Scotland or Wales are more likely to describe themselves as Scottish or Welsh but that is probably because there are far fewer blacks and Asians in Wales and Scotland than in England. (Northern Ireland has such a small non-white population that the nationality question does not really arise and in any case the sectarian divide in the province renders the nationality question meaningless because the Protestants see themselves as British and the Catholics as Irish). But even in Wales and Scotland blacks and Asians are more likely than not to qualify their Scottishness or Welshness along the lines of Asian-Scots or Black-Welsh.
As blacks and Asians (and some white immigration groups) have embraced the word British, whether hyphenated or not, the white native population of England have largely rejected the idea that they are British and embraced the idea that they are English. This trend has been enhanced by the effects of devolution which has left England greatly disadvantaged as the one home country which has been denied a Parliament and power over much of its own territory and people. The word British has been marginalised to the point where its main purpose within the UK is to designate someone who is not or does not think of themselves as English. In terms of binding the UK together the idea busted flush.
A Miliband government would simply see more of the deliberate suppressing of English interests , the encouragement of continued mass immigration and the privileging of ethnic minorities over the English which has been a feature of the past fifty years at least.