tag : bright yellow-green apples: the politics of a nation

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

the politics of a nation

Whose faith? Whose country?

In one swoop, with today's House of Common's statement, Charles Clarke has managed to persuade me that he should go after all. Rather than seriously commit to implementing the current system properly, whereby convicted foreign nationals are considered for deportation, he now wishes to change the system, such that: "The guiding principle will be that foreign nationals guilty of criminality should expect to be deported." Such a shallow response, nakedly appealing to every prejudice to expel any troublesome element from our country in an effort to appear 'tough' and 'decisive', has shredded any sympathy I might have had with the idea that he should stay and clear up the troubles. He's just overreacting and trying to mask the troubles.

With voting going on in the local elections tomorrow, and the apparent threat of the BNP in some areas, it’s worth flagging up the latest exploits of those committed to the deportation of all people with any immigrant link whatsoever. A group has been set up, calling itself The Christian Council of Britain, which is said to be a facade for the BNP to try and establish links with right-wing Christianity. Except it’s such a sham that even Christian Voice have renounced any association with this new group, expressing concern about its racist motives (though their full list of charges is a bit crazy, including pagan revivalism!)

But the BNP can certainly keep their ugly mitts off, given that a paramount vision in Christianity is for complete equality and emancipation of all peoples. Indeed a radical transcendence of all that makes us different, acknowledging our unity and diversity. Giles Frasier sums up the insanity of the BNP’s attempts to tie our faith up with a hateful, distorted, racist, nationalism very well:

"But what is so utterly ridiculous about the BNP's desire to defend "Christian culture" is that the vast majority of Christians in the world are not white. The average Anglican, for instance is a black woman living in Africa. Moreover, if Jesus were ever to walk this green and pleasant land, the BNP would be committed to his repatriation. Even their great love of St George is a joke: George was either Turkish or Palestinian, and his legend migrated to this country from the Middle East."


Anonymous Graeme from Middle England (or is that Little Britain?) said...

But what I love about the website of the so-called Christian Council of Britain is the use of an American (that's foreign, folks) spelling of 'moulded'. As in:

For over 1500 years the faith has molded our national psyche and spirit...

Honestly. Send them all home.

7:44 PM  
Blogger hatchris said...

"Angry, chippy and defensive are words which characterise a website lacking in Christian humanity"

- say Christian voice about the BNP. OR is that the BNP about Christian Voice?

It's all really very funny. Christian Voice trying to boost their image but going on about how much the BNP dislikes them!

8:27 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Ha, brilliant. When I said Ruth Kelly should go for shallowly responding and nakedly appealing to every prejudice to expel any troublesome element from the education system in an effort to appear 'tough' and decisive, you said:

I consider a resignation to be likely to prolong difficulties. Whoever follows almost certainly won't handle things differently, given the track record of ministers towing the #10 line for how to approach things, so at least it'd be better to have some continuity of ministerial oversight going on.

Does the same not apply to Clarke then? Or was I right about Kelly after all? :p

By the way, my view of Clarke remains that he should go. As Sir Menzies said so uninspiringly at PMQs, the issue here is competency in actually deporting foreign nationals upon release from prison, not that the law doesn't provide the requisite available mechanism to deport them. But this is a persistent New Labour problem: they can't resolve their utter incompetence, so they legislate.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Mind you, my contempt for Clarke's proposals today is dwarfed by my dislike of parts of David Davis' speech, notably the start:

And this government has failed in [the duty to protect the public] in a most appalling fashion... by releasing over 1,000 known criminals from its own prisons.

Right, David. So the fault here is that criminals were released from prison at all? Do you mean that anyone convicted of a crime should be kept in prison indefinitely? God help us if you're ever Home Secretary!

(He did make some other good points, but that was just obscene! Mind you, I have no doubt you'll join me in slagging off the Tories)

9:13 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Graeme -
For once, I'll truely appreciate your minute attention to the details of English ;) That's wonderfully ironic!

Chris -

I found it rather strange to actually sympathise with some critiques made by Christian Voice, insofar as they said "racism is bad".

12:45 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Martin -

I don't know about right and wrong, on that point, but I can change my mind or perspective about different situations ;P
The line that the Lib Dem leader came out with was fairly succinct, and put in a good answer to the absurdity of another bit of lawmaking: ""less legislation, better government and a new home secretary". Which is, indeed, a better shot that the Conservative shadow minister's catch-all rhetoric!

12:49 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

Ah, so I was right then.

That's good.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous RobertB said...

According to our friends at the (so-called) Church of England Newspaper:

Charles Clarke’s problems really root back to the issue of immigration and New Labour’s policy of open doors with lax deportation policies. Were it not for those ‘foreign’ criminals, he would be fine.

I'm not sure if this is the same New Labour I read about in the papers; if so, their 'open door' may need its hinges oiled...

Coincidentally, the same editorial finishes up on the other topic of your post:

Warning against parties which peddle racism and hatred, such as the BNP and their radical left wing equivalents, is possibly all the churches can sensibly do, on the basis of Christlike love of neighbour – even of enemy, the uniquely Christian teaching.

I wouldn't wish to exculpate the political left from all complicity in racism; but I do wonder who precisely today's `radical left wing equivalents' to the BNP are...?

12:21 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

"I wouldn't wish to exculpate the political left from all complicity in racism; but I do wonder who precisely today's `radical left wing equivalents' to the BNP are...?"

There are no real equivilence to far-right or neo-nazi politics - it's in the nature of political trends to be fairly unique to thier situations. But perhaps that comment alludes to the rather blinkered fanaticism of some far-left protagonists, who seem quite happy to dabble with fanatical Islamic groups and anti-semitic types.

All in all, you're better sticking with the Church Times!

12:51 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Martin -

Not neccesarily ;P

12:51 AM  
Anonymous RobertB said...

That's a fairly charitable reading. If they meant racism or hatred, they shouldn't have written and...

> All in all, you're better sticking with the Church Times!

So it seems. Contrast this week's CT editorial (not yet online when I made my last comment):

What has been lacking in the current debate is the compassionate understanding of offenders that the Christian faith demands and which many campaigners and prison visitors demonstrate.

1:38 AM  
Blogger Martin said...


I'd point out that degrees of left and right depend on where you're standing, and so it's entirely possible the Church of England newspaper could be nearer to the far right than some of those you may consider centre-left!

Perhaps your friends at the newspaper could come with me and meet a few of the people affected by Labour's 'open doors' policy: people with no money or no home, or no support for their children, or sleeping in a car...

11:26 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

I tend to fall, be default, into giving people more benefit of the doubt than is perhaps fair. Though in this case I do think it’s good to point out how easily the far-left - bearing in mind it’s a lot more fragmented, chaotic, and unsystematic than the far-right – can fall into some form of racism. Particularly the anti-Semitism that can follow from a highly charged and simplistic, if passionate, concern about Israel-Palestine. All in all, though, the far-right’s impact is the more toxic, contagious, and prescient to our own country’s societies.

4:41 PM  

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