Should we have a new archbishop? Not just a new archbishop of Canterbury, but a new archbishopric. Of Winchester.
Wales separated from Canterbury in 1920 and there is a similar demand for a separate Cornish Church today. So why not a separate Wessex Church? It’s not a new idea. Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester from 1129 to 1171, spent years agitating for Winchester to be the seat of a new, westward-facing province with himself at its head. As the North’s population shrinks and the South’s continues to burgeon, Canterbury has more to do and York less, so maybe it really is an idea whose time has (belatedly) come.
But whether you think it a good idea or not, it’s a matter for the Church and not for our Party. The formal separation of Church and State is one of the few great ambitions of 19th century radicalism still unfulfilled. The recent interjections of Rowan Williams – Labour’s appointee to run the State Church – have illustrated precisely why religion and politics need to be kept apart. It is not the case that ‘militant secularists’ would prevent the religious expressing their faith through their politics (though supposed ‘militant secularism’ is about as nonsensical as ‘militant human rights’). The point is that any political debate on moral principles must address them as such and not assume that faith can be used to short-circuit rational argument. Otherwise, liberal democracy is doomed. Saddest of all the reactions to Williams’ words are those that bray that Britain is a Christian country, as if the statistical fact of a Christian majority is basis enough for treating non-Christians as second-class citizens. Individuals have religious convictions; countries do not, unless the State is to be envisaged as an instrument for the oppression of the non-conforming.
Make no mistake. There is plenty of that going on under New Labour. Its fear of freedom is deep-seated, dating way back to the puritanism of the Commonwealth, when a despotic Parliament legislated to make sin a crime. Labour still struggles, unsuccessfully, to discern the difference between morality (‘oughts’, achieved by persuasion) and law (‘musts’, achieved by force).
Labour’s gag laws are numerous, increasing in number, and, to the extent that they create political martyrs, counter-productive. Abusing minorities is bad manners but in that context only violence and the threat of violence can justifiably be criminalised. Incitement to murder is a crime because murder itself is a crime. To criminalise incitement to hatred, of any kind, implies that hatred itself is also a crime. In reality, and everywhere else outside the pages of 1984, thought crimes do not (yet) exist, despite all Labour’s witch-hunting efforts to make windows into men’s souls. With the growth of the Internet, and the concomitant pressure to express more and more of one’s views in permanent electronic form, this may be only a matter of time. In many respects, freedom under Labour is already just a memory.
It has been well noted that the targets of Labour’s fear of freedom are always its political opponents, never its political friends. Inciting racial or religious hatred is a crime. Inciting class hatred is not. Lawyers have also been quick to point out how loosely drafted many of the speech crimes are; the result, no doubt intentional, is to further circumscribe debate through self-censorship. It is safer to err on the side of caution than to risk imprisonment for the wrong kind of niceness. Restricting the right to prosecute in such cases to the Attorney-General ensures that only politically motivated prosecutions are launched and that the Labour government is protected from the vengeance of others taking out private actions. The European Convention on Human Rights offers no effective protection for free speech. Article 10 incorporates numerous dubious exceptions, among them the right to ban separatist opinions, inserted to secure the accession of the French Republic, that historic enemy of liberty (and no great friend of equality or fraternity either, despite an admirably secular constitution).
Along with freedom of expression, Labour has targeted freedom of choice. Anti-choice laws do not constrain merely central government and its agencies, legitimate vehicles for public policy. They also constrain the decisions that individuals and private organisations, as well as democratically elected local authorities, may take in hiring staff and managing resources. There can be no justification for such infringements of liberty, for the imposition of one person’s prejudice against prejudice on another no less sentient. Increasingly, the law is being used to discriminate in the very name of opposing discrimination.
The laws are backed up by bureaucracies at all levels, Political Correctness Departments funded by the taxpayer at the expense of cuts to frontline services. We have always been open to immigrants. There can be no disputing the contributions they have frequently made; Isambard Kingdom Brunel is one son of an asylum-seeker who deserves to be mentioned more often whenever immigration is discussed. What is equally true but never mentioned at all is that until the late 20th century immigrants sank or swam by their own efforts. There were no laws to place them beyond criticism, no laws to guarantee their place in the labour market, and no State-funded bodies to provide them with special advantages denied to the common herd.
Because our own freedom-focused tradition is alien to Labour’s fundamental aim of control and coercion, driven by intense self-loathing, Wessex has never voted for a Labour government. Labour, having endorsed the destruction of its old power base in industrial working-class communities, now seeks to build itself a new one. It sees it arising principally through the promotion of mass immigration – way beyond what our environment can accommodate – and through allying itself with the equally puritanical creed of political Islamism.
The results in Northumbria and Mercia are there for all to see: the rise of Labour’s new puppet-masters among immigrant power-brokers, increased political corruption and shameless ballot-rigging, coupled with a growing BNP backlash against the diversion of resources from public services into po-faced parasitism. Sadly for us, the results also include an increasing element of ‘white flight’ as parents who don’t want their children’s education blighted by the School of Babel, or worse to befall them, up sticks and head south and west. If we would save our future food supply from being concreted over, then, until we can regain control of our own lives in Wessex, we must take note of these pressures and publicise them to all who will listen.
No doubt on the far Right there are those who are making longer-term plans. Plans that see Wessex as some ‘national redoubt’ into which a new Alfred will gather what remains of Christianity and the English nation and inspire the reconquest of the Sharialaw. In percentage terms, the South West has the smallest Mahometan population of all the Prescott zones, so it is easy to draw the historical parallels. And a stroll round any of our Somerset coastal towns will reveal as many Mercian accents as native Wessex. Many more will follow; Labour’s plans for the best part of a million new homes in Wessex are not intended to meet our housing needs but the needs of the ‘white flighters’. If we are not to fall prey to others’ visions for us then we must be clear in articulating a vision of our own.
There can only be one law of the land, though infinite scope for voluntary arbitration. The land can be any size but all who inhabit it do so out of choice and are free to leave if its laws displease them (taking their own territory with them if need be). There can be no place for the costly language of ‘community cohesion’: the erosion of majority rights to appease immigrants who have suddenly discovered dissatisfactions they never knew they had. Any who feel alienated from our society must ask themselves whether their alienation is self-inflicted and, if so, the remedy is in their hands, not ours. Finally, if we are to seek an inclusive society, the terms of inclusion must not be so negotiable that we ourselves end up on the outside looking in.