Let me run through the list of recent disasters.
The Northern Ireland Protocol: this was meant to be a solution but became, predictably, a disaster when the DUP derailed the Northern Ireland assembly. The Tory right wing have further stirred the waters. The DUP continue to deliberate. Sunak, patching an agreement with the EU, is doing his best.
Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp messages. Handing them over to a known anti-lockdown campaigner like Isabel Oakeshott is hardly credible. Her publishing them, an act of betrayal, dishonesty – she should be scorned, not welcomed. Oakeshott is one of those unfortunate breed of libertarians who would look out for themselves at the expense of others. Claiming public interest. On the other hand… we have a sense of how government works. It gets personal. Everything does. (And in this case unpleasant.) But keep it out of WhatsApp messages.
Sunak heads to France, he and Macron embrace, and we are, the Brits and the French, the friends we always should have been if Brexit hadn’t got in the way. But that’s drowned out by ….
Braverman’s refugee bill, which is nasty in its objectives, in effect denying refugees the right to claim refugee status, and in its language. And then we have…
Gary Lineker’s comments comparing Braverman’s language to that used in Germany in the 1930s. We’re not talking about the Holocaust. We’re talking about inflammatory language, and that Braverman is guilty of, and by association all her acolytes in government, including Sunak.
So much stems from this deep-rooted fear of outsiders. By closing our nearby borders we, by some marvellous sleight of hand, open them again to a more distant world, who, because the world long ago moved on from Empire, hardly cares if we exist.
Patriots – pater, father – so supporters of the fatherland. Make that motherland as well. Children retain their family loyalties, but they grow up. Nationalists – holding on to an unchanging idea of nation. And never growing up. And in our case nation gets muddled with Empire, and we have a breed of writers and historians, including Jeremy Black, Robert Tombs and Nigel Biggar, who find it hard to move on, and do themselves and the rest of us a massive disservice.
Lineker: we have to support him. He’s someone who is living in the present, not the past. And he has the right understanding of the BBC. He can speak out. So should others be able to do, in a private capacity. Anyone who remembers the Blair years will remember the hostility shown by left-wingers to the BBC. That’s how it’s always been. Let everyone speak, and chart a middle course. The BBC will sometimes get it wrong, but leave it alone.
Let everyone speak, give opportunities to everyone seeking refuge to find that refuge … but at the same time, hold to the middle ground. If we’re not centred, we fall apart.