Monday 30 March 2015

If Conor Gearty were British Prime Minister things would be even worse than they are

An article by Professor Conor Gearty from today's Independent makes a plea for an internationalist United Kingdom, a sibling in Europe not merely a good neighbour. If he were Prime Minister, he says, he would speak the truth:
that Britain is a small place that should stop pretending it is a power, much less a super-power; that the future depends on sibling and not just neighbourly relations with Europe; that immigration is what Britain is, not what Britons should fear; that the country is horribly class-conflicted with the engine of inequality being driven not by the poor but by the upper middle-class with their different schools, accents, health plans and gated communities; that the "free press" is merely the commercial tool of capitalists who trade off the worst instincts of the people for their own gain; that the green belt is a rust belt standing in the way of British homes; that re-industrialization is a fantasy but that the skills to cope with post-industrial Britain can only be delivered by the higher taxation needed to fund the better schools and colleges we need.
His ideas are utterly mistaken, topsy-turvy. The class system is one of the few things that unites Britain and creates social cohesion. Immigration, on the other hand, gravely weakens social cohesion. It acts on our sense of national community like Agent Orange did in Vietnam on forests. So, to a lesser extent, do European integration and devolution, of course.

I am told and believe that Conor Gearty, Professor of Human Rights law at L.S.E., is very clever but this stuff does not impress. As a Southern Irishman, naturally enough, he does not particularly love English national identity, sovereignty, our tradition or our ruling classes. Which goes to make my point for me about immigration and social cohesion.

He might be right, though, that we should forget about being a second rank great power. It is the case that the main threats to us come from terrorists and extremists at home. Also from nationalists who want to dissolve the union and, I should argue, from the European Union.  But if we abandon our role as an American satellite and the USA becomes isolationist what ensues? I am not sure we would like it. 

So I am torn. Perhaps we should be isolationist ourselves, though I am not sure about this one. I think we should probably leave the EU and certainly resile from the ECHR. International law is a great threat to democracy in Great Britain, but so, even more so, is the authoritarianism of the British political class and the sheepish docility of my compatriots. By authoritarianism I am thinking, inter alia, of much human rights law, which extends rather than restricts the powers of the state to tell people what to do, while giving power to foreign institutions to tell the British state what to do. 

1 comment:

  1. If Mr Gaerty believes, as he clearly does, that the European Union should rule the United Kingdom - what is wrong with the United Kingdom ruling southern Ireland. After all, Mr Gaetry, Ireland (north and south) had seats in the Westminster Parliament - just as the United Kingdom has seats in the E.U. Parliament. So what is your problem with British rule in Dublin Mr Gaetry? And have fun with your "ex" KGB employer.