The British Election in Red, Blue, Green and Yellow

May 5, 2010

As the British  national election entered its final days, it was interesting to watch the three candidates fall over themselves to prove to the British constituency their multicultural credentials.   Prime Minster Gordon Brown,  Conservative Party leader  David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg consistently pounded home the message  on the hustings that only they are capable of leading the nation to a safer, more environmentally friendly , culturally open future.   Each one insisted that only they will provide  strong leadership and statesmanship, worthy of an occupant of 10 Downing Street.

The whole thing is a bit of a laugh.  Britain’s greatest problems have little to do with the  floundering economy, environmental degradation nor the absence of charismatic leadership.   They are almost exclusively tied to the collapse of British identity.  The flood of immigrants pouring  into the country over the past two decades, particularly after Britain’s became a signatory to the 1999 Treaty of Rome, has opened the doors  to hundreds of thousands of foreign laborers, who, unlike in the United States, are in the country legally.

The foreign workers – a large percentage from Eastern European countries alone, take low paying jobs that British citizens no longer want themselves. Many are quite open about the perquisites of working in the U.K. – particularly the availability of free health services.  Not many wish to remain permanently in the country and become English citizens.

And so it is that  one can walk into an English pub, as I did two summers ago, in the heart of the British countryside and discover the waitresses to be Polish, the cook  Iranian and the owner Pakistani.   If you spend some time listening to the conversation of the patrons you will hear a veritable patois of foreign languages spoken.

The governing elites do not see this  as any real problem.  They fail to appreciate the urgency of upholding British identity and protecting against its erosion by immigrants seeking the benefits of  the English welfare system, without any intention of  permanently remaining in the country.

There should be very little surprise then that prime minister Gordon Brown, in an unguarded moment, could reflexively label a 66 -year-old woman, questioning him about immigration, as ” a bigot.”    For Brown and others in his government, the ideal of England as a heterogeneous nation which subscribes to common values and ideals is now passe and irrelevant.   He, much like  his opponents Cameron and Clegg, have bought into the notion of England as a country which should willingly absorb foreign influences and ideas in order to strengthen its new multicultural order.

Of course Britain is in a bit of a fix about the whole issue.  The Schengen Plan of the European Union, to which England is an enthusiastic signatory, mandates that borders to be opened to  the workforces of other European nations.  This was the final nail in the coffin for the Commonwealth, which once extended the same privilege to the citizens of the former British Empire.   But it has also seen, over the past decade, a death blow to British cultural identity, as  European immigrants, seeking better paying jobs and working conditions, enroll their children in schools without an ability to even speak English and take up hospital beds that were once reserved for those actually born in the country.

Many British politicians, among them the three who fought the election, now seem to accept that the right to free movement is as much a humanizing force in the world as the right to free speech or the principle of free trade.  This is the new Europe – where such universal freedoms and privileges trump national identity and cohesion.   And so it is natural that  Brown could view Gillian Duffy’s words as bigoted.  The hush- hush nature of the discussion casts all who doubt the necessity of open borders as outside the pale of discussion.

And its not just the governing classes who are gung-ho about immigration. In 2006, the Trade Union Congress, concluded in a report:

“Host countries gain from migration. It is possible to debate the size of these gains, but the important point for British debates is that immigration does not have a negative impact: overall levels of employment and wages are slightly higher as a result of immigration, and migrant workers pay more in taxes than the value of the public services they receive. When studied at the level of the country as a whole, the old accusations of the extreme right, that immigrants take native workers’ jobs or are a drain on the welfare state, are as false as they have ever been.”

It is  also perplexing  is that one  couldn’t slide a piece of paper between the three candidates’ environmental policies.  So  committed are these parties to combating global warming and saving the planet from human degradation that you did not hear a word from anybody that the end -is-nigh warning from environmentalists might be somewhat inflated.  Subscription to doomsday scenarios remained strong, for much like the insistence upon open borders among the British elites, no one dared challenge this hallowed trope.

As of this writing it looks as though the Tories in Red  have defeated  Labor in Blue – even if  the resulting  hung parliament may soon  necessitate new elections.   But for a contest painted in multicultural hues, overlaid with a patina of green and with the respective candidates terrified of confronting the real issues,  the whole mess seems  to have taken on a disturbing  shade of yellow.


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