Tony Blair’s regime manages to be simultaneously comic and tragic, with a slight tilt toward tragedy. The government is made up of chinless Christian Socialists, Anglophobe Scots, aggrieved proletarians, shrewish women, and militant homosexuals—most of whom seem to detest each other. The members of the Cabinet all have grandiose schemes, which tend toward unfeasibility and never work out as planned. It’s all very Gilbert and Sullivan.
But this ragtag collection of bores and monomaniacs is now in charge of a real country (thanks to the foolishness of a few thousand swing voters in key constituencies in 1997), and their personal differences fade into insignificance in their joint determination to do away with the last vestiges of British independence, integrity, and identity. The latest skirmish in their inchoate campaign of Anglocide is the Parekh Report.
In February 1998, Home Secretary Jack Straw created the 24-member Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain. The Commission is a subdivision of the Runnymede Trust, a race relations brain trust named—perhaps humorously—after one of the most important places in England, the Thames side meadow where the Magna Carta was signed. The Commission was charged with devising ways in which relations between indigenous Britons and postwar immigrants could be improved, in a formerly placid country that has begun to feel severe intestinal pains thanks to rapid, large-scale immigration of both the legal and illegal varieties, combined with aggressive “multiculturalism” and politically correct censorship. The Commission, said Straw, with an eye on the inner cities, was setting off “with a strong wind. We are going to take it very seriously.” The more uterine segments of the press “oohed” and “aahed” in approval.
The deliberations of the Commission were published in a 400-page report in October 2000. Known formally as The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, the findings became generally known as the Parekh Report, after the chairman. Lord Parekh, an Asian peer and political scientist of the ultra-left variety.
A Daily Telegraph columnist noted that the job titles of the Commission’s members were just like the satirical tides made up by Michael Wharton, the London Telegraph‘s “Peter Simple,” in his prescient columns over 20 years ago. Wharton foretold the growth of a massive, self-perpetuating “race relations industry” at a time when Conservatives were saying such myopic things as “At least it will never get like America over here.” Examples of Commission members’ job titles include: “research professor at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations”; “chairman of the race relations committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers”; “professor of ethnic health”; “former equal opportunities adviser to the Greater London Council”; “head of equality and diversity policy, Haringey Council”; and “founding commissioning editor for multicultural programmes for Channel 4.”
Several things are apparent immediately: First, the Commission is a conservative-free zone, in true “liberal” style. Second, the intellectual caliber of the Commission’s members is not the highest. (These are people whose minds were set in aspic, circa 1968.) Third, the sort of people who contribute to such reports have little experience of real jobs or even real people beyond their immediate—and, frankly, atypical—circles. Fourth, when one looks at some of the more important people on the commission—many of whom work for the police, in the media, and in serious universities—it becomes clear that p.c. pathology has affected every corner of national life.
Bearing in mind the prejudices of the Commission, the content of the report was predictable. The text was full of gems for connoisseurs of cliches to mine—lots of talk about crossroads, rainbows, multiple identities, being inclusive and diverse, and all the rest of the preachy, glutinous jargon that is customary when discussing such matters. Parts of the report demonstrated how far its authors are removed from reality: “The attitude to asylum-seekers sends a shiver down many spines.” That may be true for 24 easily shocked spines, but those who actually come into contact with the hordes of economic opportunists who have come to Britain in massive numbers feel differently—often with good reason.
The section that received the most attention in the press read: “Britishness, as much as Englishness, has systematic, largely unspoken, racial connotations. Whiteness nowhere features as an explicit condition of being British but it is widely understood that Englishness, and therefore by extension, Britishness, is racially coded.” The implication is somewhat amusing: Do, say, “French,” “Nigerian,” or “Indian” lack racial connotations? To avoid the newly offensive word “British,” the report suggested that a blander collective noun might be used “similar in power to the unifying word ‘Nordic’ in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.” A racialist term such as “Nordic” is “unifying”? Houston Stewart Chamberlain, thou shouldst be living at this hour!
The tabloids claimed that the report deemed the concept of “Britishness” to be racist. This characterization is slightly unfair, as the extract shows, bitt the tabloids were only anticipating the real views of the authors, to whom “racial” and “racism” are virtually indistinguishable. The same section of the report went on to say that
Race is deeply entwined with political culture and with the idea of nation and underpinned by a distinctively British kind of reticence—to take race or racism seriously or even to talk about them is bad form, not done in polite company. Unless these deep-rooted antagonisms to racial and cultural difference can be defeated in practice, as well as symbolically written out of the national story, the idea of a multicultural post-nation remains an empty promise.
Other segments of the report declared that British history should be rethought, reconsidered, or jettisoned completely—presumably to be replaced by fireside chats and bedtime stories about racism.
The report made over 100 recommendations that would help the authors perpetrate their scheme to erase Britain. These included suggestions that Britain be formally declared a multicultural society by the government, that an all-encompassing Equality Act be passed to cover all forms of unlawful discrimination, that a Human Rights Commission be created, that vouchers for asylum seekers be abolished and full appeal rights against deportation granted, that “citizenship education” should include human rights principles and “understanding of equality difference.” The granting of broadcasters’ licenses would be made dependent upon having a suitable quota of minority employees and running propaganda about “cultural diversity,” while political parties should have an ethnic “audit” of members. Educational authorities would be required to keep detailed statistics on ethnicity; equality and diversity awareness would be incorporated into teacher training at all levels; and steps would be taken to reduce the disproportionately high number of black children suspended or expelled from school. (These children are never expelled or suspended because of their behavior, of course, but because of “institutional racism.”)
Upon publication of the report, Home Office Minister Mike O’Brien said that it “adds much to the current debate on multi-ethnic Britain,” and Home Office jobsworths drafted a 40-page response. But then the Daily Telegraph galloped into the breach, with a banner headline accusing Jack Straw—with considerable justification—of wanting to “rewrite history,” and the back-tracking began. Publicly stung, Straw was compelled actually to read the report; to the surprise of its authors, he delivered a very different speech at the formal launch than they had expected. This time, he was thinking of the middle-class constituencies. He argued that the Commission was “grudging” in accepting what had been achieved and said that he “strongK- parted company” with them over their definition of Britishness. Leftists are wrong, he said, for “washing their hands of the whole notion of nationhood,” and the report was “sub-Marxist.”
The report and the Straw climb-down were satirized in the magazine Private Eye, which listed “The great and good who make up the Runnynose Commission, authors of Britain Don’t You Hate It? The Future of Multiculture.” They added caustically: “Mr Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, wishes to make clear after reading adverse press comment on the above, that he had nothing whatever to do with the Runnyegg report which is now all over his face. Mr. Straw is proud to be British and has no intention of implementing a report which he merely commissioned and promised to implement.”
But the report’s authors defended it, though many seemed cowed by the ferocity of the counterattack. One of the problems about being part of an insular elite is that you tend to lose sight of the wider picture, thinking that everyone else is just like your friends and associates. The most spirited defense of the report came from the winsome Lady Gavron, “vice-chair” of the Commission, whose husband was coincidentally made a life peer after becoming a major donor to the Labour Party (although Lady Gavron is naturally a member of the Commission on her own merits). Speaking at a press conference, she said that “It would have been great if Prince Charles had been told to marry someone black. Imagine what message would have been sent out.” She added that Charles’ stated wish to be “defender of faiths” rather than just the head of the Church of England did not go far enough. The royal family is “a symbol of our unmeritocratic tendency and, of course, they’re all white. It is part of a rather unattractive hierarchy.” (Her distaste for hierarchy does not seem to require that she eschew her title.) She decried the hereditary principle, saying that one wouldn’t run a cricket team on that basis. The response of any cricket fans present was not recorded, but it seems at least possible that such a tactic might improve the English team’s performance.
Lady Gavron then switched targets, attacking the Church of England. “[Y]ou immediately assume that [a vicar] will be a white man rather than a black woman.” When a reporter responded that this is because most vicars are white and male, she replied, “That’s the kind of perception we want to change.” (Incidentally, the press recently reported that the archbishops of Canterbury and York plan to attend a 24-hour residential workshop designed to rid themselves of “institutional racism.” Who says the age of martyrdom is over?)
In a fit of generosity. Lady Gavron did allow that we could keep the name of Trafalgar Square because “if you got rid of everything associated with something bad you’d have nothing at all.”
The Parekh Report sets out explicitly what many on the left have long believed: There is no such thing as Britain; even if there is, it is intrinsically evil and should be replaced by ever-shifting “communities” made up of people united by geographical propinquity, “lifestyle,” and shopping habits (unless the people concerned are nonwhite, in which case they can unite themselves with whatever atavistic myth they like).
The Parekh Report has rather embarrassed the Blair government, which wishes to distance itself from its new militant tendency. Although the government’s members basically agree with it, the report is a little too honest for professional politicians to wish to associate themselves with it.
In the run-up to a general election in a country where there is a strong conservative press and whose electors pride themselves (rightly or wrongly) on their independence of mind, it would be a brave government indeed which sought to replace Great Britain with “a multicultural post-nation.” For the moment, Blair and his fractious team will continue the pretense of being “patriots” who have the national interest at heart. Unfortunately, even after Parekh let the cat out of the bag, there are people—enough, perhaps, to decide an election—who will believe them.