Farage: “We need a much more muscular defence of our Judaeo-Christian heritage"
The excellent Cristina Odone has a nugget of an interview with Nigel Farage in the Telegraph, in which the Ukip leader says:
“We need a much more muscular defence of our Judaeo-Christian heritage. Yes, we’re open to different cultures but we have to defend our values. That’s the message I want to hear from the Archbishop of Canterbury and from our politicians. Anything less is appeasement of the worst kind.”Ms Odone continues:
Yet he speaks not as a defender of the faith — he ventures to church only four or five times a year — but of “our identity”.There are votes here. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them. Very many Christians across the denominations feel betrayed by the main political parties: their "identity" is being systematically assaulted, and the occasional invitation to No10 for prominent vicars, bishops and leading Christian commentators no longer quite cuts it.
This is the joker’s trump card, and he plays it ably, voice throbbing as he speaks of “the working classes who bear the brunt of excessive immigration”. It is not just the number of immigrants. Their “calibre” matters too. Who doesn’t meet his standards? “Criminals. There are 9,000 eastern Europeans in British prisons. I don’t think they should be here.”
Later, I can’t find evidence for that statistic anywhere. Nigel apologises, he thought he’d said foreign nationals, not east Europeans. In fact, the real figure is 10,786 foreign nationals in prison.
His list of those who will have no place in a Ukip Britain also includes Muslims who speak no English and wear the veil. “It makes people feel deeply uncomfortable. We go on about equality but under our noses, female genital mutilation has been going on in this country. Tens of thousands of women a year, but is anyone talking about it? It’s brushed under the carpet.” This slick eliding of veiling and mutilation is a typical Farage-ism.
“We have,” he says, “some very mixed values”. These include the “betrayal” of the family. “This has been the most anti-family government we have ever seen. The very fact that they pushed for gay marriage, and thought that it was important at a time when not even Stonewall was campaigning for it, shows you their twisted sense of priorities.” He is “100 per cent” supportive of stay-at-home mothers.
The sheer numbers of those now immigrating threaten the creation of ‘ghettos’, as Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has termed them, and others are finding. The desire of some groups to maintain a distinct cultural and religious identity which is antithetical to British culture creates resentment which causes social disturbances.
The consensus of all the main political parties is that modern Britain has been enriched by ethnic pluralism and enlightened by theological ecumenism and European political union. But these developments have caused something of an identity crisis in the nation, spawning numerous books and articles which seek to define what is meant by ‘Britishness’. These have tended to evidence a lack of confidence in national identity or express diminishing trust in the foundations of the Christian heritage of the United Kingdom. The reasons have been attributed to a variety of causes, including relativism and multiculturalism, both of which have been exacerbated by the political process of devolution.
British culture cannot be cohesive when there is diversity of language, laws, traditions, customs and religion. Of course, culture can accommodate diversity, but ultimately the systems of governance and jurisprudence in a liberal democracy cannnot produce unity: they must be the manifest foundation of a pre-existing unity. As far as England is concerned, foreign encroachments have been fiercely resisted since the Reformation, yet the accommodation of Roman Catholics has developed incrementally of necessity to the extent that they agreed to abide by the laws of the state. A logical corollary of this is that Asian immigrants to the UK ought now to adapt their cultural traditions and religious expression to accommodate ‘British toleration’ or conform to those aspects of ‘Britishness’ which make society cohesive. And so a Briton has the right to (say) oppose or support British policy in Iraq and may campaign to that effect, write, agitate and stand for election towards the chosen end. But it is also elementary that he does not have the right to stone adulterers to death, hang homosexuals or blow up the underground or an aircraft.
Religious practices which conflict with traditional British liberties need an urgent focus. While few would defend such abhorrent practices as forced marriages, ‘honour killings’, female genital mutilation or child abuse, there is emerging an increasing tension between the assertion of individuality over the common good, and ‘human rights’ over community cohesion. Since there are no agreed criteria by which conflicting religious claims can be settled, religion is increasingly relegated to the private sphere: morality thereby becomes largely a matter of taste or opinion, and moral error ceases to exist. We are left with autonomy, equality and rights: the creedal values of liberalism that allow each to be whatever he or she chooses. Left unfettered, the assertion of these leads to anarchy, so a values system has to be imposed for society to function at all. This is perhaps what Nigel Farage means by the need for a "muscular defence of our Judaeo-Christian heritage".
While religion can play a role in promoting moral conduct, there is no longer agreement on which institutions are morally capable of implementing the rules of justice. Some secularising "modernisers" repudiate the idea that the Christian religion can any longer be a unifying force for Britain, but it must be observed that it has bequeathed to us our system of laws, administration of justice and our understanding of liberty. Only Ukip seems to understand and appreciate this.
Carry on, Nigel. You're doing God's work.