Johann Hari has written an article in today’s Independent (free to read on his personal website) in which he contends that the British right has come to hate Britain. Here is some of his ‘evidence’:
- Richard Littlejohn’s recent declaration that emigrants from our shores are seeking “sanctuary from the madness of modern, multicultural, morality-free Britain.”
- "The Tories are proposing to relegate six million Brits to second-class citizenship – a massive gift to the Scottish nationalists, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein and all the people who want to see the United Kingdom crumble into its constituent parts."
In fact that is the sum of Mr Hari’s evidence. The rest of the article consists of general accusations that the right are anti-immigrant, anti-French and uninterested in gay rights. Britain, he thinks, is a left-wing country…
"Even at the apex of right-wing domination – Thatcherism – 56 percent of people went into the polling booths at every election and voted for liberal-left parties committed to higher taxes and higher public spending."
…and the right is increasingly uncomfortable with it.
I fear that there is something in Mr Hari’s analysis, however. American conservatism is characterised by ‘can do’ positivity. Today’s US Republicans have inherited the personality of Ronald Reagan’s morning in America. British conservatives and right-of-centre commentators are far less hopeful. Our inheritance is Margaret Thatcher’s handbagging of trade union barons, Brussels bureaucrats and militant council leaders. America has David Brooks, Peggy Noonan and William Safire. We have Simon Heffer, Peter Hitchens and Melanie Phillips. Britain and America are different but there is probably more room for British conservatives to celebrate the things we love about Britain. That is certainly one of the strengths of David Cameron’s leadership. He appears to feel at home in Britain and to enjoy its culture, its tolerance and is committed to protect its environment. All conservatives could occasionally reflect on my favourite of Aesop’s fables:
"The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin." So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on. Kindness effects more than severity.”