Tuesday 16 January 2018

House-training the Labour Party for the 21st Century

The great genius of British society since the demise of Queen Mary 1 has been its ability to tolerate, absorb and generally house-train groups and factions that were ostensibly locked in life-or-death opposition to the establishment - without undue violence.  Since death and destruction in these islands didn't stop in 1558, obviously it isn't difficult to adduce some counter-examples (Civil War and Jacobites heading the list) but I'll stick with my generalisation and point to the significantly greater bloodshed in most other European countries after the mid 16th century.

We'll consider some recent examples later; but first let's briefly consider the reign of Good Queen Bess.  Unlike her sister, who set out to exterminate Protestantism by burning 'heretics' in their hundreds, Elizabeth sought no window into mens' souls and only had Catholics pursued to their deaths if they were actively out to kill her, that is, on account of treason and not religion - a very important distinction.  The Catholic question concerned the obvious civil criminality of seeking the Queen's assassination under a mandate from Rome.   Doctrinally the Church of England was more troubled by puritanism.

In the 19th century, Catholics were re-admitted to the body politic with no particularly baleful consequences that that can be identified today.  Perhaps even more remarkably, one hundred years later the would-be Marxists - including some out-and-out revolutionaries - of the first Parliamentary Labour Party were house-trained (indeed, House-trained) to the point when in 1929 Margaret Bondfield (a relative of mine and one-time firebrand union militant) was mostly concerned about whether or not she should wear a hat when she went to accept her office as Britain's first woman Cabinet minister from the King.  (Her instinct was that she should: but in discussion with the Cabinet Secretary they decided it might get in the way when she knelt to kiss His Majesty's hands ...)

Which brings us to the challenges of the hour, notably militant Islam, and revolutionary Corbyn/McDonnellism.  Defusing the obvious nightmare scenarios in the British Way is a work in progress, and the outcome(s) may fairly be in doubt.  But, not for the first time, I offer you Sadiq Khan as a significant phenomenon - possibly on both counts.

What's he been up to lately?  Here are two interesting straws in the wind.  Firstly, and in the headlines just now, he has responded to the London New Year knifings by announcing a "significant increase" in stop-and-search.  In so doing he is trampling on a lot of left-Labour sensibilities, not to mention going back (again) on a campaign promise.  David Lammy doesn't like this at all, and he won't be alone.  It all confirms Khan as a kneejerk politician in the (in)glorious British tradition.

But there's more, albeit not headlining in quite the same way. 
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Pubs across the capital are often at the heart of our communities or of historic value and should be protected by local authorities in order to protect the capital’s unique character. From historic watering holes to new pop-up breweries, nothing defines the diverse and historic character of the capital better than the Great British Pub. That’s why I’ve set out measures in my draft London Plan to protect pubs against redevelopment, ensure they can co-exist peacefully with nearby residential properties and ensure that councils across the capital recognise their importance to the city’s cultural fabric” ... Sadiq Khan committed to working together with the Campaign for Real Ale ...   (City Hall Press Release)
I put it to you that he didn't need to say all this.  Not every London announcement carries a direct Mayoral quote: he has plenty of deputy mayors to front for initiatives if he doesn't wish to put his personal fingerprints on them. Nope: he's making a point here, and not one that will go down well in every religious quarter.  

The great British genius for sweeping everyone along is still at work.  There is of course, a lot of Momentum moving in a nasty direction.  But who knows: maybe that tide will be turned as well by the time Corbyn kneels to kiss hands.  Continuity Rules ...



Electro-Kevin said...

Continuity rules.

The real attack on the British pub is in the form of a complete smoking ban, beer tax and drink drive limits brought to zero.

Of course, some of this applies less to London than it does the provinces.

Khan's war on the POTUS is way above his pay grade.

In fact any PM serious about post Brexit Britain should have been overjoyed at the Trump win and behaved more like Macron.

Electro-Kevin said...

Last bit referring to Mrs May, not Mr Khan.

Anonymous said...

Presumably as a muslim Mayor Khan doesn't actually support the existence of pubs on his turf. That press release suggests political expediency, not personal belief.

roym said...

Actually anon, he has contributed to several campaigns for local asset orders in his literal backyard in Tooting.

Nick Drew said...

Anon, I think you'll find that, by his tangible actions (which is 99.9% of the issue) in practice he does indeed support the existence of pubs on his turf - and pro-actively so

and he even boasts about it which (as I said) he has no need to do

beyond that ... what's the relevance of your "window into his soul"?

Steven_L said...

Some temptations are 'worse' than alcohol, and on that note he walks up front the gay pride marches too doesn't he? He's a secularist, but so are two thirds of Pakistanis actually living in Pakistan, so that's no great surprise.

Jan said...

Perhaps he's been watching Eastenders where there is a current storyline about a Muslim guy wanting a job in the Queen Vic!

Anonymous said...

For the "great British genius" to prosper depends on demography, I'm not at all sure it'll be flourishing when the 30% minority cohort currently in England and Wales primary schools (DFE figures) are 20 years older. And what will those DFE figures be like in another 20 years?

An alternative and more pessimistic reading is that Sadiq is not stupid and doesn't want to see white working class voters wholly detatched from the Labour Party. Yet.

It may be he's looked at Trump 2016 and decided that the Dem(ographic) triumphalism of Hillary's supporters ('Stale pale males are finished') was a tad premature.

Still ND's news is welcome, just not sure it presages much. "Tough on crime 2018"?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1.10 maybe.

London is full of beer loving hipsters... at the moment. Until they Escape to the Country (a daytime TV show which should be called White Flight and which I think is the most racist show on TV.)

The demographics indicate that continuity will rule, but whose ?

Continuity does not, in fact, rule.

Britain has changed dramatically in recent years but what carries through is our ability to adapt and to accept. The power of denial.

Electro-Kevin said...

That the survival of pubs should even have been in question is shocking. It would certainly have caused problems 40 years ago.

The London Mayor supports pubs and it's something to be thankful for ?

What continuity ?

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Khan routinely engages in taqqiya. He’s one of the brotherhood. These people will not be assimilated.

I think we will have a civil war in my lifetime.

Electro-Kevin said...

Dud da-da da daaa dum dum

Dud da da da-da dum

Taqqiya !

Anonymous said...

Jan 12.54.

I do hope he is one that uses toilet paper then washes his hands properly before working behind the bar. Wouldn't want all those cockernees going down with anything nasty like tummy upsets or even typhoid.

I today heard a dreadful tale - from senior manger - of store employees using hands in traditional manner with bottle of water available to rinse later.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7.59 - or he could be like that guy in Gloucester who sprayed poo over haram supermarket items.


On topic, 10 years or so back Khan addressed a Muslim conference in London saying that the UK could soon have a Muslim PM. I think I know who he had in mind?