Friday, March 24, 2006

What's So Great about Great Britain?

Commentary by Martin Kelly
November 3, 2004

As a Brit who writes for a primarily American audience, it was very heartening to receive positive feedback from home for a recent article called ‘The Fate of Tony Blair’. There was a broadly common theme in the e-mails I received – what a mess we’re in.

The Presidential election cycle is over, and the incumbent will have many serious problems to deal with. Not the least of these is, what sort of country is America’s closest ally? What is it like? What do they do all day long?

The United Kingdom is an ancient, very proud society that for the last 60 years has suffered an onslaught from increasingly isolated political and media classes whose consistent aim has been its destruction and re-birth in their own images and suffering all their prejudices.

One of the least appealing features of the UK’s elites is their knee-jerk anti-Americanism. A fabulous example of this was presented by Peter Oborne of The Spectator, in an article called ‘R.I.P. Democracy 1776-2004’ for the October 31 Mail on Sunday.

Here are some stunning insights from the political editor of a magazine whose editor, Boris Johnson, is also a paid public servant on a salary over twice the national average –

“The majority of the American people might as well be tribesmen of the Amazonian rainforest for all the say they have in the result. …Worse are the people whose votes will actually affect the outcome. The majority are bigoted, ignorant and stupid beyond belief. Virtually none have been abroad, or even know how to get a passport…America possesses the most ignorant voters in the world.’

Now before Task Force Delta sets sail from Norfolk for the Thames, let’s give Mr. Oborne a little context. He had taken a map of the world on to the streets of Philadelphia, and was surprised to learn that many did not know the locations of Afghanistan or Iraq.

The population of the UK is 60 million. According to Chris Woodhead, the former Chief Inspector of Schools of England and Wales, 7 million adults in this country leave public high school unable to spell the word ‘plumber’. We are such a well-educated bunch.

It would be very interesting to see if he achieved a better result in his impromptu geography lessons if he tried the same exercise on the streets of any British city. Personally, I would doubt it – successive Labour and Conservative governments have worked so hard at turning schools into media for the dissemination of propaganda and places of business that it’s a miracle that most schoolchildren leave the public system knowing anything at all. And by the way, before he got his nice gig at The Spectator, Peter Oborne used to work for The Daily Express, owned by a banana-chomping pornographer called Richard Desmond, who was permitted to buy the paper after donating £100,000 to the Labour Party.

What has brought the country to the pass it’s at? Where more people would prefer to leave than remain? Ideology.

The roots of the Labour Party are very different from those of the Democrats. While the relationship between the Democrats and the AFL-CIO has always been close, the Dems are not the child of the unions – the Labour Party is. It sprang from trade unionism, and as a result has always been a directly socialist party. Its heyday was the General Election of 1945.

That election, which swept Churchill from office in a repudiation of the Conservative Party similar in scale to 1997, saw the arrival of big-time socialism on to the British political landscape. The National Health Service came into being – perfectly satisfactory railways, steelworks, coal mines and airlines were stolen by the state, nationalised, in the pursuit of the mad ideology that bureaucratic ownership brings economic efficiency. Over time, the socialisation of the British people was pushed further and further – for many poor children, not just make believe poor but real poor, the best exit to a better life was the system of state-funded selective education called ‘grammar schools’. In the 1960’s the Labour Minister for Education, Tony Crosland, like so many of them the recipient of an expensive private education, said that he was going ‘to close every f…… grammar school in the country’. By design, the Labour Party withdrew a route out of poverty for the poor, perhaps for no other purpose than to keep them in their chains.

The effects have been largely been terrible. For reasons of ideology, children were not streamed according to ability – the brightest suffered from having to study at the pace of the slowest. The Blair government has a fetish for targets. Targets are a useful tool for motivating a sales force, not for setting scholastic standards. Tony has found a perfect way round his own system – when enough schoolchildren don’t reach a grade, dumb down the exam.

The NHS is a yolk on the back of the British people that no political party has the will to finally abolish. Created in 1948, it was designed to do one thing – to provide medical care that was free at the point of use. In 1948, that was a vision that was sustainable – the ratio of taxpayers to sick was such that it could be afforded. By 1951, it wasn’t. That year, it had to introduce charges for spectacles and dentures. It’s been downhill all the way from there. It is still free at the point of use – in order to keep it free at the point of use, people queue for hours to register with an NHS dentist when one opens in town. In order to keep it free at the point of fuse, one third of its doctors and half its nurses are immigrants – it is so big that we cannot train enough medical professionals ourselves just to keep the hospitals open. It’s the biggest employer in Europe. And, of course, it is free at the point of use – there is nothing in the deal about being treated on time; there is nothing in the deal about being treated in a hospital that meets even basic hygiene standards; there is nothing in the deal about being treated by a doctor whose diagnosis you can understand.

That is socialised medicine after 56 years of the NHS.

The other great boon of the Labour government of 1945 was the welfare state, which would care for the people ‘from the cradle to the grave’. The welfare state has done more harm to the United Kingdom than any of the Labour Party’s other mad schemes. We are an island race, thus independently minded, and thus conservative – nothing saps the will of an independent people faster than being told they do not need to work in order to eat. There are families in the UK who have been welfare recipients for generations. This is not right. It is a dehumanising and degrading practice that destroys the self-esteem of the recipient and provokes the anger of the donor. So slender is the knife-edge of artifice on which the current Labour government sits that the hard left Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has had to introduce means-testing to ensure that there is enough money to pay for all of the goodies he promised for the kids and the pensioners, quite forgetting that for many the very words ‘means test’ invoke the terror and hardship of the Great Depression.

If the Labour Party has been the red blight upon us, the Conservative Party has been the blue, a party of hope and change that became a party of sloth, sleaze and pecculence. Its most ambivalent figure is Margaret, Baroness Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher did do good, no question. However, the destruction that her ideology of the market, almost a cult to its adherents, has brought in its wake has had consequences just as dire as anything wrought by the Labour Party.

Under Margaret Thatcher, our manufacturing base was destroyed as being too expensive to maintain. The nationalised industries were privatised. The philosophy of privatisation is an unusual one – the business having been stolen from its original owners through nationalisation, does the state then have the right to sell it on to others, decades afterwards? The economic rationale is sound – a business will always have more opportunities to acquire capital in private hands than in public – it’s the moral one that’s a bit shaky.

The great state industries were not to be supported – as a result, the UK’s automotive, aircraft, steel making and shipbuilding industries are but a shadow of what they used to be. Instead, we concentrated on service industries and trading things, buying and selling stuff, and the market red in tooth and claw has had some interesting social consequences.

Pre-Maggie, there was no telesales industry. There is now. She achieved the feat of turning the home into a place of business.

Pre-Maggie, the country towns of England, Scotland and Wales all had their own individual character. Now they don’t – they all look the same. The chain stores all worked the market so well that you can’t tell what part of the country you’re in unless you look at the map – Peter Oborne, take note.

Pre-Maggie, we used to be a reserved, cautious people, not prone to boasting – not now. For many, ostentation is the norm. The TV schedules are dominated by cheap tat designed to feed our apparently insatiable appetite for ogling other folks’ stuff.

Pre-Maggie, people didn’t move house much – not any more. If you’re a trader, you’ve got to trade, and what better asset to trade than bricks and mortar? The weirdest aspect of the market’s triumph has been the proliferation of neutral decorating schemes, designed to enhance a property’s value but which make them all look the same.

Even the kids look the same – when they rebel, they are rebelling according to the massive marketing pressures placed on them by the music, fast food, fashion, computer games, body piercing and mobile telephony industries. These kids have been bred from the crib to be consumers, to the extent that even their human development is dictated by the market. Maybe they’re getting in touch with their Celtic and Anglo-Saxon roots, but there is something definitely sick in a culture that enables corporate interests to dictate to young girls that piercing their stomachs and tongues is fashionable, saying it’s OK to render the flesh susceptible to infection so long as they spend money. Yuk.

But what can you expect from a Conservative Party that produced a roll of honour like Kenneth Clarke, former Chancellor, still an MP and making big bucks as a director of British American Tobacco, selling cigarettes to the Far East? John Major, a former Prime Minister, who’s made a packet as a director of the Carlyle Group along with George H.W. Bush? Michael Portillo, who’s doing nicely as a BBC pundit while still a public servant? Oliver Letwin, who had to stand down from his post as a director of Rothschild’s (Castro’s bankers) when he was appointed Shadow Chancellor? Lord Young (went into telecoms)? Lord Prior (went into guns and bombs)? Lord Kenneth Baker (went into smutty text messages)? Keep the cash rolling in boys!

Then came 1997, Year Zero of New Labour. There wasn’t anything new about it – it just a cosmetic patch-up job designed to make them look better than the Conservatives, gulling the public into thinking they were moderates by pledging not to raise the income tax. They’ve raised everything else, throwing money into the public sector without any appreciable return. Having ripped off the mobile phone operators for billions at the time of the last licensing round, they still don’t have enough money, so they’ve just come up with the Gambling Bill, aiming to expand the casino industry as another vehicle for mulcting cash from the suckers! There has been a furore over this – the socialism of Labour’s founders was as much informed by Wesley as by Marx, and this is not what they would have wanted.

At the same time, they haven’t had the bottle to tackle the market, doing nothing to tackle the obscene gap that now exists between rich and poor. It’s been reported that the UK’s wealthiest man is Lakshmi Mittal, an Indian steel billionaire for whose commercial interests Blair once wrote a letter of support. Over the past year, inflation has run at between 3% and 4%- according to Christopher Fiddes of the Daily Telegraph, executive compensation has risen by an average of 16% over the same period. Nice work, if you can get it.

But the really nasty by-product of this combination of socialism and unbridled market capitalism has been a sort of compulsory libertarianism, where the Communism of political correctness fuses with the desire of the individual to do as they please, in turn producing some very confused people.

Take Leading Hand Chris Cranmer of the Royal Navy’s HMS Cumberland. According to the October 24 Sunday Telegraph, Leading Hand Cranmer is the first adherent of his religion to be formally recognised as such by the service. He is a Satanist.

Like everywhere else in Europe, the liberals control social policy with a rod of iron. Children are presented with images of sexuality from the earliest age – politicians express shock when they start having sex young. Intercourse is presented as an entertainment without consequences – the Sunday Telegraph has recently reported that the taxpayer-funded British Pregnancy Advisory Service is sending women to Spain in order to obtain abortions that are illegal in the UK due to the stage of their pregnancy. The debris of this ruinous liberalism wanders round our towns at all hours of the day and night. The institutions of the state, provided by the citizen for their own protection, do not function unless in this liberal atmosphere. The citizen is not permitted to protect his home without having to make a lawyerly judgment in a split-second decision in combat against intruders, in the middle of the night. So paralysed is the police service by its institutional liberalism that it cannot keep the streets of Nottingham and Birmingham free from a gun culture that would shame LA’s ganglands.
This is Great Britain now. This is your ally.