The BBC’s children’s channel, CBeebies, is currently running a seasonal link that involves three of its most popular presenters green-screened on to a winter wonderland background. One of them, known only to my daughter as “Sid”, is black, and at one point he is seen trudging through the snow, rope over shoulder, hauling the other two as they loll on a sleigh. He also gets snowballs thrown at him, and has a bucket of snow tipped over his head.
I need hardly spread myself on what die-hard enthusiasts for political correctness would make of this, and it is quite surprising to see it on the BBC, given the corporation’s reputation for pandering to minority lobbies – after all, even Plasticene animation shows in its tots’ output have to have non-white and disabled characters. But I have noticed that Sid is noticeably better spoken than any of his colleagues, and a quick search on the net reveals that he is a former stockbroker – real name Gary Gibson – who jacked it in to go to drama school, so let’s just imagine (though I’m sure this isn’t the case) that this is a talented public schoolboy who could therefore only get an oncamera job because of his AfroCarribean roots. Thus, in this jolly little film, he is subjected to subservience and humiliation not because of his skin colour, but because he talks posh.
And so to David Cameron, whose chances of growing up to be Prime Minister were always much better than those of his becoming a children’s presenter on the BBC, which would have made him much more popular. Last week he was on his feet at a security conference in Germany, declaring that a strong national identity prevents people from turning to extremism – funny place to say that – but also that “state multiculturalism has failed” – an observation to which I would add a heartfelt “Amen!” The failure of state multiculturalism is the reason we do not live in a secular republic, the reason the carefully cultivated ghettos of Tower Hamlets and Bethnal Green are not fighting guerrilla separatist wars on the streets of London, the reason it is not illegal to wear an oh-sooffensively English pinstripe suit. This is what Cameron means, because he’s not daft – but it wasn’t what he intended his audience to think he means. Rather, this was that state multiculturalism, the superficially benign ideal to accommodate immigrants by encouraging them to bring their religious and cultural practices with them, and to hire legions of interpreters and counsellors at public expense, has unaccountably resulted in their exclusion from Team Britain, and accidentally fostered the odd bit of homicidal insanity along the way. He’s never going to say that the effect was intentional, that socialist politicians at every level deliberately conspired in the destruction of industrial, imperialist capitalism’s cradle even though he knows it’s true, because he also knows that the ranks of the defeated will always claim they were on the side of the victor all along, and that the sweetness of victory resides in smug contempt for their cowardice, and remembering who they are. That’s practical politics. I would name the guilty men and women, and clog the courts with treason trials. That’s why I should never be allowed near the levers of power, and why DC, my former colleague at Tory HQ, is a successful politician, while I am a mere ranting hack.
But I still have my voice, as long as Dave’s commitment to free speech holds, and I do wonder about his promotion of “muscular liberalism” in that same speech. For in the same breath he identified the bundle of values to which we should all sign up as including “equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality” – which immediately leads us, on this newspaper, to the right of homosexual partners to adopt children. There are many Christian folk who object to that one, but also many Muslims and many Jews. It is one issue (there are others) that would make allies of law-abiding traditionalists and jihadists, because it is fundamentally illiberal in its diktat that there is only one liberalism – a ghastly contradiction to which Nick Clegg and his party – deliberately flattered, of course, by the reference – appear to be blind. The PM should stop pandering, and assert his native, freedomorientated Conservatism.
The truth is that state-engineered multiculturalism is dictatorship by another name, while organic multiculturalism, with all its anomalies and jokes, and its part in the evolution of a coherent national identity, is something we’ve been living with, and benefiting from, since the Roman occupation. As Dave and I used to say, in the glory days of our youth during Thatcherite privatisation: “Don’t forget to tell Sid.”