“London’s burning! London’s burning! All across the town, all across the night”. So goes the song by The Clash from the last time London burned in the early 1980s. Last night I watched aghast as streets I know were torched by a mindless, criminal mob. People were robbed in their beds before being burned out of their homes. Businesses were torched and looted, livelihoods smashed forever. As ever, the BBC was full of the speculators – apologists for the thugs vying with the hang’ em high and long brigade; although being the BBC the emphasis was very much on the former.
The simple sad truth is that for over a decade I have been watching my once great country descend into this multicultural hell-hole led by a political class so complacent, so lost in its political correctness that no issue can now be addressed properly or objectively. Every act, every deed, every tension has to be presented through the stupefying lens of pretence. Policy is thus pretend policy in a pretend Britain; a fairy-tale Britain with a foreign capital at its heart. Indeed, London stopped being an English city some years ago and is now a dangerous cocktail of competing races, creeds and ethnicities on the front line of a new class war that one had hoped banished to the past.
There will be much wringing of hands by the politically guilty who either through design or neglect created the conditions for this mayhem. They will pretend that the causes are hard to discern. Working groups will be established and no doubt a royal commission set-up to kick cause and effect into the long grass in the hope it can become someone else’s problem. Spin has replaced leadership in Britain.
This is not a Left or Right thing – both are guilty. In the past two days I have been in contact with two friends, one black the other white, who operate at the extreme ends of the policy cycle. One is on the Left and advises the highest of the high on these matters and recently spoke out against the progressive elite and their disconnectedness from contemporary British social reality. The other works on the front-line of inner city youth despair and has for years been warning of precisely this mayhem and been studiously ignored. Nor is this simply a ‘black’ v ‘white’ thing. The term ‘black’ has now become utterly misleading as it has come to mean any non-white, non-indigenous group thus masking much more complex social challenges and issues.
The causes are not hard to discern:
1. Hyper-immigration and multiculturalism: The hyper-immigration of the past decade was cynically promoted by the Left to create a new working class. This led to the import of some 1.9 million over the past decade from some of the most socially and religiously conservative places on the planet. The ghettos that resulted either pushed out traditional communities or created tensions with long-standing immigrant communities. Consequently, multiculturalism, i.e. lazy government, has led to the creation of fortress communities, with no sense of national or social obligation. Last night several were at war with each other.
2. Unemployment and loss of control over borders: Britain has lost control of its borders far more than any other member of the European Onion, which is quite an achievement for an island. The Right has exploited this by flooding the labour market with cheap labour from Eastern Europe. Job opportunities for Britain’s young have dried up. Last year 400,000 new jobs were created in Britain with 87% going to foreigners.
3. Loss of control over legal sovereignty: The transfer of legal sovereignty to European institutions, particularly human rights legislation has emaciated English law. This has led in turn to police and judicial forces wholly uncertain as to how to deal with minorities in particular.
4. The failure of education: For years now education has been an ideological battleground. Educators have retreated into a fantasy land of pointless qualifications that fail utterly to prepare much of Britain’s youth for today’s world. There are now whole swathes of modern British society unable to communicate effectively in English.
5. White fear and the submerging of racism: White flight from many British cities has left many city centres full of poor whites and often even poorer minorities, erroneously blaming each other for their wretched condition. After the riots of the 1980s the rampant racism of the time was rightly targeted. For a time it worked but with the hyper-immigration of the last decade or so white fear has re-fuelled racism. However, today it is now an underground movement whispered in corridors for fear of being overheard by the thought police of political correctness. Paradoxically, such racism has been compounded by the appalling political correctness of the mainstream media that at times has made the 80% majority feel like a threatened minority.
6. The fact of discrimination: Minorities are still discriminated against. Fact.
7. The loss of respect for authority: With the break-down of social cohesion over the past twenty years neither institutions nor authorities are any longer respected. The England of the past survived on the basis that rights were balanced by responsibilities. Today, it is only rights that are discussed, never responsibilities. The trust that once bound the fabric of society has gone.
8. Criminality: With the failure of education, the break-down of the family and loss of opportunity and social cohesion a new gang culture has emerged in many inner-cities, often driven by the drugs trade much of which is targeted on Britain. That criminality is plain for all to see, not just in London, but in other British cities.
The solutions will be slow and difficult:
1. No nostalgia: Some commentators implicitly hark back to some mythical golden age in British society. There was no such age. I grew up in the 1970s and it was pretty rough. We British have the society we have and we must start from where we are.
2. Scrap multiculturalism as policy: The officially sanctioned ghettos of multiculturalism must over time be replaced by much greater efforts at integration. Indeed, government must painstakingly begin to rebuild a British identity through integration. Yes, it will be a ‘British and…’ identity. British and West Indian, British and Pakistani etc. etc. And, no, it will not be the British identity of old. The key will be citizenship.
3. Regain control of the borders: There can be no more hyper-immigration until society has coped with the last surge. If that means scrapping or adjusting human rights legislation that immigration lawyers exploit then so be it.
4. Regain control of the economy: ‘British jobs for British workers’, was a slogan invented by Gordon Brown that was much ridiculed. Why then do Britain’s continental neighbours seem able to strike a much better balance between opportunities for home-grown and imported labour. In Britain today there is now an entire generation condemned to welfare dependency by the structure of the economy and its reliance on imported foreign labour. It is precisely in such groups that resentment breeds.
Above all, leaders must now finally lead by confronting Britain’s tortured reality. That in turn demands they remember their first duty; to act in the interests of all the British people. Right now the task must be to stabilise the situation. It is self-evident that the planned 20% cut in the police force cannot proceed. It is self-evident that far more needs to be done to engage Britain’s lost young. Indeed, the Government needs to take a much more sophisticated view of cuts as it will be utterly pointless to reduce Britain’s mountain of debt at the expense of social chaos. Sadly, one cause of that debt was a Labour Government fully aware of the social mess it had caused and which sought simply to buy off the consequences. It is a Labour Party still in denial.
The Britain I knew is dead. It has gone forever, is no more and will never return. It is hard for an Englishman of my age to accept that my country was given away without my permission. And yet I am prepared to accept just that it if it means that a new Britain emerges that honours its heritage of tolerance, fairness and justice for all in a new age.
My challenge to the political elite is simple; which of you will have the guts to withstand the progressive elite and the vested interests to break the political correctness that for too long has denied reality and which has turned Britain from one of the great nations into a Potemkin’s Village. It is village that is now in flames.
David Cameron? We will soon find out!
Professor Julian Lindley-French, a member of the Atlantic Council Strategic Advisor’s Group, is Special Professor of Strategic Studies, University of Leiden, Netherlands and Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London. This essay first appeared on his personal blog, Lindley-French’s Blog Blast.