Last month British Conservative Party Leader David Cameron flew to India to open a factory for a Party donor, announcing that the full carbon cost of his return flight would be covered by a payment to a large carbon-offset company, Climate Care, which does things like supplying treadle pumps -- treadmill-type devices -- to Third World villages rather than have them use diesel pumps.
If there was any lingering wishful thinking that Cameron might be the person to lead the Conservative Party and, more importantly, to lead Britain, this latest obeisance to superstition, meaningless or counter-productive gesture politics and political correctness does not strengthen it. To describe such behavior as fiddling while Rome burns is to put it altogether too mildly.
From the conservative point of view Britain is facing four major and connected crises, to counter which the Conservative Party is offering virtually nothing observable. These crises are:
1. An overarching and existential threat to its national identity caused by a simultaneous inflooding of often unassimilable immigrants and an exodus of native British people (5.5 million gone so far in the last few years, out of a population of 60 million, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research), combined with its own version of the general European demographic problem of a below-replacement birthrate for the native population.
Uncontrolled immigration has now reached such a point that it is estimated that ethnic British people will be in a minority in the major city of Leicester (motto: Semper Eadem -- "always the same") in about 12 years, with Birmingham, the second-largest city in Britain, following about 5 years later. The rapidly growing Muslim population appears to be increasingly radicalized. No one seems to know exactly how many immigrants are coming in, but by the estimate of Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the private organisation Migrationwatch, net immigration over emigration is about 250, 000 a year. According to offical figures, in the 12 months to July, 385,000 people emigrated from Britain and about 574,000 immigrants arrived.
The Home Office admits it has no idea how many illegal immigrants there are. The Governor of the Bank of England says he cannot estimate inflation or interest rates because no one knows how many people of working age there are. Further, unlike previous waves of migrants who often set up new industries, many of the present immigrants have low skills and aspirations (the well-educated and hard-working Poles are an exception). However, desperate to shed what they evidently believe is their image of being the "nasty party," the Conservatives have almost nothing to say about this -- save a certain readiness to brand critics of unrestricted immigration as racists and fascists.
The situation has become so extreme that in France riot police are patrolling ports to combat the increasing violence caused by illegal immigrants bound for Britain. Authorities in Calais, Cherbourg, and Dunkirk have said they cannot cope with the growing numbers. In Cherbourg alone, up to 160 would-be asylum seekers try to jump trucks heading for Britain every night, according to the port's management. Serge Henry, the port director, said: "The problems never end and, if anything, are getting worse." A French police spokesman was quoted as saying: "In many cases, there is absolutely nothing we can do, they do not want to claim asylum here. All they want to do is get to Britain." Ludicrously, and in what looks like a direct inversion of the facts, Cameron has claimed that popular concern about immigration levels was "not because of worries about different cultures."
2. The threat to British sovereignty posed by the fact that the European Union is now plainly and unquestionably aimed at becoming not a free-trade bloc but a total political union, a process already well advanced. The latest development has been the setting up of a paramilitary European police force (the European Gendarmerie Force or EGF). The metric system was forced on Britain so that, according to one senior Eurocrat, it would not have an unfair advantage in trading with the U.S., although following a recent campaign it has ceased to be actually illegal to mention the old Imperial weights and measures in Britain, a crime for which shop-keepers were previously prosecuted. The Cameron Conservatives, like the Conservative Party since the days of Edward Heath, seem to have no policies about this threat to sovereignty that anyone can recognize, and no contingency plans.
3. The so-called "broken society." Britain either leads or has a very high place in indicators of different social pathologies in Europe, including crime, juvenile crime, drug abuse, under-age sex, family break-ups and falling educational performance (the last thinly disguised by lowering examination standards). A survey of European children by various government authorities reported that British children had by far the highest rate of drug-taking in Europe for drugs apart from cannabis, and the highest rate for drunkenness except for Denmark. Russia, notorious for dangerous, drunken chaos, had a rate of teenage drunkenness just over a third of Britain's, and France, where children were frequently given wine from childhood, a rate of just under one seventh. One recent report estimated that here were 200 gangs of feral children terrorizing inner city areas. Cameron's prescription to the effect that juvenile thugs need love and understanding was caricatured in the press as "hug a hoodie," but it was not as great a caricature as all that. Meanwhile, faced with an epidemic of knife and gun crime, police threatened to bring charges against two girls baring their breasts at CCTV cameras after a day on the beach, and in Manchester a youth court heard a case against a 12-year-old boy who threw a cocktail sausage at a neighbour, hitting him on the shoulder. A retired senior police officer was arrested for carrying a pocket-knife that colleagues had given him as a retirement present.
4. A frenzy of bizarre political correctness, of which Cameron's obeisance to the notion of air-travel causing measurable global warming is only the latest manifestation. Along with rising crime-rates there are such things as junior schoolchildren not rebuked but arrested and hauled before adult courts for uttering racist epithets in school playgrounds. Most recently bakery giant Greggs installed a Muslims-only toilet at its new Scottish headquarters -- despite the fact that no Muslims work there. All its new buildings will now be fitted with the specialized toilet regardless of the number of Muslims in the workforce. Some public authorities have banned staff from eating ham sandwiches.
The Draconian enforcement of political correctness, largely by local authorities and statutory corporations, has led to the very voicing of criticism becoming in some circumstances a criminal offense. After an investigative TV program called "Undercover Mosque" recently revealed the extremism, and hatred being preached in British mosques (one preacher spoke of a British Muslim soldier killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan and said: "The hero is the one who separated his head from his shoulders"; another said that all Jews would be killed at the end of time, and made a noise as if imitating a pig, and another that AIDs was deliberately spread in Africa by Christian missionaries in inoculations), police announced that they were investigating not the extremist preachers but the makers of the program itself for stirring up racial hatred and were complaining about it to the television authority.
The environmentalist hysteria which has given political correctness a whole new dimension combines with the fact that both immigration and the increase of single-parent households means more and more of the countryside must be destroyed for housing.
There are any number of signs that the British people in general are desperately worried about these and other matters. But there are precious few signs that the Cameron Conservatives, any more than the avowedly left-of-center parties, are prepared to treat them as urgent or to formulate the tough policies that will be necessary to deal with them. Former Tory Minister Ann Widdecombe asked recently: "Why does Her Majesty's Opposition run a moral Vichy instead of a moral resistance?"
If the last time Britain faced a threat to its core values and institutions was 1940, in a sense the present situation is even worse. In 1940 the political parties at least acknowledged the problem.
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