David Cameron: No to Shari’a and no to multiculturalism
Good grief, it is rich of the BBC to criticise the humble and impoverished blogger for failing to comment upon important speeches and events when their entire recent history has been one of strategic silence in areas with which there is institutional prejudice (like coverage of the EU Constitution, for example, or even EU matters in general, or maybe just matters in general).
But the BBC is not the topic of this post.
This speech by the Conservative leader is most welcome, though not for his intervention on the Shari’a debate – which he has profoundly misunderstood - but for his repudiation of a doctrine which has spawned more Socialist twaddle, lefty hogwash and politically-correct claptrap than any other single policy in recent history, and beaten an indigenous white population into submission to the point of feeling ‘alienated, threatened and voiceless’ (and that’s from a ‘BBC boss’!).
Mr Cameron rejects any expansion of Shari’a law in the UK, saying it would ‘undermine society and alienate other communities’. Indeed it would, but the Archbishop of Canterbury was not proposing this. He also said that two laws working side by side ‘would be dangerous’, insisting that ‘all citizens are equal before the law’. This is good, because they are precisely the points made by Dr Williams. British law already permits individuals to settle private disputes in different ways - but under the ultimate jurisdiction of English law. Nothing that the Archbishop said conflicts with Mr Cameron’s assertion.
So shame on him for saying that the Archbishop's ideas could create ‘legal apartheid’, and that they were ‘dangerous and illiberal’. Dr Williams may not be much of a politician, but neither is Mr Cameron a purveyor of spiritual edification or religious truth. One gets the impression that either he has not read Dr Williams’ speech, or, having read it, has misunderstood it or is purposely misrepresenting it for political gain. Or (most likely) he has simply trusted the matter to some superficial speech-writer for whom the subject matter is way beyond his competence.
Cranmer would like to know if Mr Cameron is aware that there are already Shari’a principles at work in the Treasury – in the form of Shari’a compliant mortgages, Shari’a bonds, and a welfare and benefits system which acknowledges polygamy? To re-work Mr Cameron’s speech, do these not ‘alienate others not subject to preferential treatment’, demoralise non-Muslims, or ‘provide succour to separatists’? And would he repeal these in order to ‘strengthen our collective identity’? For adherents of which other faiths may go abroad, acquire four wives, then live off the state with each wife being legally recognised?
Mr Cameron said ‘the big challenge facing the country is how we end state multiculturalism’. Indeed it is. And the surest way is to repeal New Labour’s acts of bland uniformity and reinvigorate genuine diversity – not to create multiculturalism but an infinite variety within a single culture. The United Kingdom (and - dare His Grace say it? - the British Empire and Commonwealth) has a long and successful history of achieving this, and one must begin with the language. What unites the Anglosphere must be the fundamental building block of Mr Cameron’s vision, so let us cease translating every government document into Panjabi, Arabic, Turkish, Polish, Romanian, for this truly weakens the British collective identity ‘to the point of encouraging...separate lives’.
If multiculturalism has had ‘disastrous results’ and ‘fostered difference between communities’ it is important for the Conservative Party to be united as a national party. The ‘broad church’ metaphor may be somewhat cliché, but it is nonetheless wholly applicable. The Party could learn much from the via media of the Church of England, which, for all its faults (or those of its leaders), remains at the spiritual heart of the nation.
And the BBC further bemoans the silence emanating from Lambeth Palace, goading the Archbishop with accusations of reluctance, or being ‘loathe to reignite the row’.
Cranmer’s advice, for what it is worth, is not to cast pearl before swine.