Dissolving the people, and electing another.
These stories are the more obvious signs of the dissolution of the people: One of the livelier members of the new people is affronted by an obvious provocation – a satirical magazine, a Jewish school, a pop concert, a swingers’ club; it’s an ever longer list… But we think we know how to handle that: increase the budget of the security services, more surveillance, more databases, more manpower swooping down in the nick of time…
But, in between such stories, the softer, slyer, suppler dissolution continues unseen and largely unreported. My sometime editor Mary Wakefield has an interesting if rather agonized column about how the dwindling numbers of non-Muslim pupils in certain English schools can’t seem to make any Muslim friends:
Quite by coincidence and on separate occasions, in the past month I’ve met two (non-Muslim) women whose children have had trouble at Muslim-dominated state schools. The kids made friends easily in their first term, said the mothers, but as the months went by it became harder to stay pals. Their schoolmates never invited them home, nor would they come round for playdates or parties. The friendships faded away and the kids were left confused. One of the two mothers I met had decided to move house: new catchment area, new start. She felt guilty, she told me, because she’d been keen her son have friends of all faiths. But he was one of only two non-Muslim boys in his class, and he was lonely.
So there’s now only one non-Muslim boy, who presumably feels even lonelier. Although I’d wager he’ll go too – and, to invert Rupert Brooke, there’s yet another corner of an English field that is forever foreign.
What remains now of “Christian civilization” in England? Or of “our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions” – such as, say, Church of England primary schools in which all but two boys are Muslim. There are many communities “far beyond the oceans…built up on our laws and on our civilization”, but in the ancient Motherland Bertolt Brecht’s words seem more pertinent than Churchill’s.
And which men in a new Britain will still say “This was their finest hour”?
As Brecht so stingingly quipped of the East Germans, British subjects have forfeited the confidence of the government. Now they’ve indeed been replaced, turning Churchill’s wistful speculation on the Empire and the Commonwealth lasting “a thousand years” into a sad joke. Winston was right, though: it WAS Britain’s finest hour— one they’ll never again come anywhere near equalling.