Fraser Nelson’s Christmas message in the Telegraph the other day (‘Despite the Brexit warnings, Britain has never been a better place to live’) showcased everything that is wrong with the modern Conservative party.
The good news, we learn, is that Britain is the best place in the world to do business, foreign investment is flooding in, immigrants are being welcomed and settled, global property investors ‘now prefer Britain to Germany’, catering staff across Europe pronounced Britain ‘the country they’d most like to work in’, the Midlands is Europe’s ‘warehouse distribution hotspot’, and we have never been wealthier or happier. We are ‘a globally minded island’.
But to whom does ‘we’ refer? The problem, of course, with this global liberal notion that Brexit is an opportunity for Britain to become a global hub for business, an international business park in which anyone from anywhere in the world who can arrive ready-skilled and ‘contribute’ will be welcomed, is that it serves the interests of big business, and of a privileged cosmopolitan-minded elite who gain all the benefits but suffer none of the costs. For ordinary folk, it is a different story – which is why they voted Brexit, and why they have consistently opposed mass immigration for the past half century.
Out Christmas shopping in the London suburbs, I can’t help noticing that the proportion of English in the crowds diminishes year-on-year, but I don’t feel elated at the advent of a multicultural cosmopolitan society. Rather, I wonder what I have in common with the newcomers who throng the streets. I wonder whether there will be any English left round here at all in a few decades. When I see people move into my street who do not share my culture, or who speak a foreign language, or English in a different idiom, I regret no longer having neighbours I can share memories and experiences with, or a laugh without having to tread on eggshells. I wonder where the young English who would have lived in these houses are going to live. I wonder how long it will be before the English (including me) retreat altogether from my street. Increasingly, I wonder why global Britain, this microcosm of the world that has replaced England, deserves my loyalty at all. For the newcomers sure as hell feel little loyalty to England – and since England has officially been abolished, how could they? In short, I no longer feel at home.
Nelson crows that Britain is ‘now almost alone in Europe in having no populist, anti-migrant party in Parliament’. But many of us quietly, privately (for none of us wishes to be branded a racist or convicted of hate thought and lose our job – a feature of global multicultural Britain not mentioned by Nelson), wish there were such a party. Anyone who doubts it should look at the comments sections of the mainstream Conservative press online, which make hair-raising reading. We aren’t alarmed at all about what Salvini is doing in Italy, or Orban in Hungary. We agree with their every word.
Nelson writes that 2018 was ‘the best year in our nation’s history’. But what nation? The absence in Parliament of any ‘populist, anti-migrant’ party is not something to take comfort in, but represents a monumental democratic deficit, which the travails of UKIP have only served to deepen. If complacent global liberals like Nelson don’t watch out, they could find that the tumbrils will be coming for them sooner than they ever could have imagined.