Britain: A Country Divided and Ruled

When the entire world is looking nervously into the abyss, it may seem solipsistic to concentrate on the particular circumstances of Britain’s national crisis. It’s worth doing so, however, because for the first time since 1945 the British themselves seem dimly or acutely or angrily aware that the very existence of their nation is threatened. Earlier crises—financial, foreign, wartime—were problems to be solved or disputes to be settled by the British people themselves through national institutions in accordance with stable national traditions. But the unstated assumption—unstated because it was universally understood—was that it was they who would be solving and settling crises. They assumed the permanence of their own distinctive society which rested on Orwell’s left-wing but gentle depiction of the British people in 1940 as “a family with the wrong members in control”.

Orwell’s description has sounded almost utopian in the weeks since October 7, when the savage attack on Israel by Hamas provoked a massively divisive political crisis not in Israel (where it arguably settled one, at least temporarily) nor in Middle Eastern “mainly Muslim” countries nor even in France, Germany and the European Union but in Britain and especially in London. The attack itself, conducted with a joyfully sadistic brutality against all in its way was shocking enough in itself. No God other than Moloch could possibly approve of it. What most shocked most British people was not the attack’s murderous brutality, however, but the fact that it was praised by respectable middle-class people in good academic and corporate jobs, discussed in an “even-handed” way by media commentators, and even celebrated as a legitimate reaction to a fictitious Israeli “genocide” by vast, multi-ethnic, “pro-Palestine” marches through London on four successive Sundays. Inadvertently, or perhaps not, the marches themselves undermined this attempted whitewashing of Hamas war crimes because they were attended by people dressed in imitation terrorist uniforms, carrying openly anti-Semitic banners, shouting slogans in unison that were implicitly genocidal towards Israel, and altogether erasing any distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. They were plainly intended to frighten Jews and to intimidate everyone else with a show of force. In short, as the then Home Secretary Suella Braverman said, they were “hate marches”.

Mrs Braverman, a self-confessed “child of Empire” and a tough-minded stalwart of the latest Tory Right, then wrote an article in the Times in which she criticised the Metropolitan Police Service (formerly Force) for biased policing since they acted as helpful facilitators of the “right” to protest towards left-wing marches while cracking down on right-wing or semi-political demos such as vaccine protests.

After which, in quick succession, Downing Street indicated its nervousness about the protests; the Met’s chief officer gave his judgment that they would turn out peacefully (probably after private assurances from its organisers); the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, accepted his verdict; the march went ahead at first peacefully, then less so; the police promptly cracked down hard on a handful of drunken yobs who had interrupted a ceremony at the Cenotaph and who, being white, were instantly diagnosed as “far Right” (though not, on this occasion, anti-Semitic); a Met spokesman made a statement contrasting the peaceful behaviour of the “pro-Palestinian” march with that of the yobs; the peaceful march then turned less peaceful at its edges, mobbing a senior Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, who had to be rescued by the cops; Labour spokesmen, echoed by morally indignant journalists, condemned Mrs Braverman for inciting the yobs to attack the police; the Prime Minister said nothing very much about this train of events, which seemed to justify Mrs Braverman’s prudent counsel, but waited a day and fired her; she also said nothing very much in response, but ominously so; and finally Sunak briefly surprised the political world with a larger reshuffle that gave former Prime Minister David Cameron a peerage and made him Foreign Secretary in the Lords.

A week is a long time in politics, as Harold Wilson said in the 1970s, of which these events are vaguely reminiscent.

The Tory Right expressed emotions from disquiet to outrage at these events, as we shall see. Not many people have wondered, however, how British Jews feel about them. It’s hard to imagine they would feel reassured by the firing of the one senior politician who had spoken out strongly against the people who plausibly threaten to murder them. That will limit what would otherwise be a sharp electoral turn to the Right. So will the serious talk among British Jews of emigrating to Israel which after October 7 amounts, alas, to a resounding vote of no confidence in Britain. Sir Keir Starmer, who has taken a firm pro-Israel stand as Labour leader, must also be made anxious by this new phenomenon of large left-wing anti-Semitic marches. He and his colleagues were able to relieve their anxieties on this occasion by directing their fire at the “far Right” yobs and at Suella Braverman for allegedly inciting them. But they signify that, as in America, the energy (and thus the future?) of progressive parties is now to be found on the “far Left” which joins Middle Eastern migrants driven by Third World resentments and religious hatreds together with ultra-Left white radicals disappointed by the proletariat, let alone Labour, who see Israel as a Western settler colony and Jews as whites enjoying a privilege that deprives them of sympathy.

Activists drunk on this woke cocktail of historically absurd grievances threaten our entire society, its liberal and democratic institutions, and ultimately all its political, ethnic and religious groups outside the charmed circle—as did the Bolsheviks in 1917. But their arrival on the political scene has been so recent and dramatic that few analysts really have worked out where they come from. What follows is my own back-of-the-envelope analysis of how the events of this week emerged from the confluence of several developments. In brief, these are as follows:

The most obvious driver of these changes is the mix of mass migration and a multiculturalism that sought to encourage migrants to stay within their different communities rather than to assimilate into the national culture. Some communities assimilated anyway; others have formed parallel societies; still others live in two worlds. Multiculturalism introduces new group conflicts into Britain—see the recent Muslim–Hindu riots in Leicester—and aggravates the inevitable tensions in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. And it rests on a historical irony. Promoted by the Blairites to “dish the Tories” electorally, migration and multiculturalism have become the foster parents of ideologies much more dangerous to traditional Labour values—and to the wider taken-for-granted liberal ethos of British society.

A second contribution is the rapid and ill-managed expansion of the universities. About 3.5 per cent of the college-age cohort went to university in 1960. Major expansion began in 1968. It accelerated under the Blair government to reach a student share of today’s age cohort of almost 50 per cent. Britain’s economy lacks the demand for the number and kind of middle-class high-income jobs that a college degree implicitly promises, that universities sometime explicitly promise, and for which students pay by taking on heavy debts that later make taking out a mortgage impossible. We are therefore producing millions of graduates who can find only low-status jobs. This resentful lumpen-intelligentsia, unemployable at levels they think to be their right, is exactly the social class that has produced revolutions from Russia to the Third World. They find work in lower-middle-class occupations such as the police where they can act out their woke fantasies on the body of the public.

A third factor is the general growth of government and its para-institutions—the quangos and other bodies half-in and half-out of the public sector—that live off the taxpayer, provide homes for some of the lumpen-intelligentsia, claim to manage the discontents generated by migration and multiculturalism, and enforce the related doctrines of diversity, equity and inclusion under the guise of running museums or arbitrating labour and civil disputes.

And finally there is Brexit—no, not Brexit itself, which until it happened was seen, however reluctantly, as a democratic way of settling long-standing political disputes that were not reflected in Parliament’s party divisions. It was the reaction of the political class to Brexit that divided society profoundly. The establishment itself seems to have been surprised by its own strong feelings that the decision was a mistake that had to be rectified. Three years of parliamentary and official resistance to implementing Brexit followed and implanted a deep suspicion among non-official Brits that they were despised by those governing them. That suspicion wasn’t entirely unfounded. EU membership seems to have been attractive to top people across the board because it increased their powers through bureaucratic co-operation and corporate lobbying and decreased the powers of ordinary citizens through their votes. And they showed it, some openly expressing hostility to the idea of democracy itself. The result was a counter-reaction from ordinary citizens of growing suspicion towards “their betters”—leading to activism in some, including perhaps the “far Right” drunks, and democratic apathy in others.

If all these developments underpin this week’s turmoil, how have they been translated into Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle? The answer seems to lie in something as humble as parliamentary candidate selection. British Social Attitude surveys show that both Labour and Tory MPs hold opinions on social questions to the left of their respective voters and activists. That’s interesting in itself because it refutes the usual explanation that MPs in both parties are more “moderate” than their supporters outside. If that looks true of the Tories, Labour MPs seem more “extreme” than theirs—unless a better explanation is that both elites have imbibed at college and later a “progressive” outlook that sees wokeness as inevitable—thus reinforcing Labour’s leftism and diluting the Tory Party’s conservatism. Starmer is therefore resisting a full-blooded wokeness and Sunak nervously avoiding the open clash with wokeness that Suella Braverman, Tory voters and (according to polls) 70 per cent of the electorate would prefer. Hence the return of the Cameronians with their distaste for “culture wars”.

It seems that since Orwell wrote, Britain has become a very modern family indeed, divided, divorced, and always on the edge of domestic violence but that the wrong members are still in control.

17 thoughts on “Britain: A Country Divided and Ruled

  • cbattle1 says:

    According to the modern British TV series, Britain has seamlessly integrated and assimilated a number of peoples of African and South Asian ancestry, from Land’s End in Cornwall to the outermost Shetland Islands. This fact of “rainbow culture”, as portrayed on TV, is also now evident in series having historical or period settings, such as a recent series about Ann Boleyn, the actress playing Ann Boleyn clearly being of sub-Saharan ancestry. This re-interpretation of the past does away with the historical stereotype of Britons being of Caucasian Anglo/Celtic stock (Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Celts), and also corrects the omission of feminist and LBGT+ themes. Newer remakes of old productions now automatically correct the old racist and patriarchal paradigms and stereotypes. Of course this has an Orwellian connotation, that of taking control of the past by rewriting it, so as to control the present and future. Of course, this is going on in Australia too; particularly in the commercials on free-to-air TV. Since we are now multi-everything, we must redouble our efforts to progress into the future of socialism!

  • Sindri says:

    And yet there is still an element of roll-up-the-sleeves seriousness among the Brits. I would venture to suggest that the British as a whole don’t gaze at their navels to quite the same extent as we do. They know the world doesn’t owe them a living.
    And compare the demonstrations in London with those in Sydney or Melbourne. All of what John says is true about London. But as far as I’m aware, there were no demos in London in which, before Israel had reacted in any way at all, a mob of ferals chanted “fuck the jews”and “gas the jews”, and during which the only person arrested was a peaceful jew waving an Israeli flag.

    • cbattle1 says:

      From what I saw of the opera house demonstration, I couldn’t hear those slogans being vocalised, but I did see the text that had been put on the bottom of the screen spell out what they were supposedly or apparently chanting. There probably wasn’t such an equivalent protest in London, but then again they don’t have a forecourt to the Sydney Opera House to assemble for a photo-op, either!
      Probably Britain has more maturity, with deep roots into its history, literature, architecture and landscapes, etc. Having mainland Europe visible from Dover, the continent has a geomorphic field that no doubt has a stabilising effect. Australia, set adrift by Whitlam & Co, has devolved/regressed into a Lord of the Flies, winner take all scenario. I might be exaggerating somewhat?

      • Sindri says:

        Not too much! I just get the impression that Britain is trying to deal with some of its problems, however ineffectively, while Australia doesn’t even see them coming.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Good piece John, thank you.
    The problem remains the same as it was ever since the Lebanese civil war, caused of course by that other murderous mob….the PLO.
    Unwanted, uninvited, hatefilled ,unassimilatable people being allowed in in droves, by our political elites who for the most part don’t have to mix with them, and more importantly don’t seem to care about the damage it does to our country.
    It smacks a bit ( or a lot ) of Marxism come Leninism I think and the firm theory that the point of philosophical science is not to understand society, but to change it…… and very,very, radically at that it seems.

  • Stan Yeaman says:

    Multiculturism? Yes and no. I have no problem with people from the old Empire, particularly the Caribbean, who brought good cricket, good manners, happy faces and cheerful London bus conductors during the grim days of post-WWII austerity, but I do object most strongly to immigrants who bring all their hatreds with them. Regrettably, this includes a small number of Irish who hate everything British. Why don’t they leave the hatreds they were brought up with in their old country and embrace the freedom of their new country? Cockneys are being culturally driven out of London when they find their children are the only English kids in the classroom. Regrettably, the closely united Great Britain which resolutely defied invasion by the forces of pure evil and violence in 1940 and provided hope for the oppressed nations of Europe no longer exists.

    • pgang says:

      Immigration is not the same as Multiculturalism. Note that there is an ism at the end of the word. It is an ideology unto itself, which insists that all cultures are morally equivalent and should be blended together to create global equity. It is an expression of socialism, with the underlying goal being the dissolving of anything meaningful or life affirming.

    • pgang says:

      Worth noting also are the moral relativists we are seeing recently in play in the comments, namely rosross and cbattle1. Their opinions are often offensive not just because they cherry-pick history and truth to accommodate a personal prejudice, but also because their relativism leads into the sewer of cultural destruction and the undermining of man’s intrinsic worth. Hopefully they will figure out that truth can only exist with God, and that their relativism is not clever or intellectually challenging, but simply the result of being confused and adrift without anchor. The answer to all of their opinion is straightforward. Human meaning only exists within the frame of reference of Christ. Any other attempt to discover meaning, whether it be via Islam or secular humanism, inevitably results in death (socialism).


    Britain is now at an advanced point of Stage Two of the Four Stages of Islamisation. Over the last few decades, Britain has progressed through Stage One: Infiltration, largely via waves of immigration. Stage Two: Consolidation of Power is well underway. Muslims and their gullible non-Muslim followers are demonstrating their disproportionate sway over the British psyche with their divisive pro-Palestinian (pro-Islam) mega-marches and rowdy demonstrations. Their consolidation of power is virtual for the time being but well on the way to becoming real. Increased efforts to intimidate, and shout down opposition is current. Continuous and covert attacks and challenges are targeted against Jewish society and religious symbols like the Star of David. Is Britain experiencing a NAZI Germany 1930’s rerun? Perhaps the current national crisis dividing Britain, well illustrated by that SKS cartoon heading up John O’Sullivan’s article, is a salient and worrying graphic illustration of the coming reality.

  • coggancreek says:

    The nonsense that is being rammed down our throats in recent times can’t last.
    I won’t be here to see it, but 20 years from now the people who so badly want to depopulate the earth will be panicking over the declining population.

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