The sacking of our most eminent conservative philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, from his post as chair of the ‘Building Better Building Beautiful’ Commission for having expressed opinions about the validity of the term Islamophobia, the influence of George Soros, and the brainwashing of the Chinese – opinions with which most conservatives would agree – tells us all we need to know about the modern Conservative party.
Of course, he had to go. The Party subscribes to, and rigorously enforces, the doctrines of multiculturalism, identity politics and social justice according to which any expression of opinion which causes offence (on account of a person’s disability, ethnic or national origin, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, or skin colour – most notably if they are from a group considered to be an oppressed or marginalised minority) is designated a hate crime. Number Ten put it succinctly in its customary Newspeak. Sir Roger’s remarks were ‘deeply offensive’ and ‘completely unacceptable’.
But has Scruton not been a touch naïve in some of his recent pronouncements? In the past, he has written with matchless eloquence and sensitivity about the English, their culture, their history, their church, their sense of national identity. Much of his writing is in elegiac vein, a lament for a lost culture, a culture that the elite has repudiated. In Where We Are, his most recent work, Scruton defends the right to free speech, including to satirize and ridicule, including about matters of faith; and he argues the need to address radical Islam by promoting ‘free and public discussion of Islam and its meaning’. Again, most conservatives would agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments. They are hardly ‘extreme’. They are not even especially conservative. Atheists like Christopher Hitchens have advocated them with far more vehemence.
However, Scruton also holds out the hope of a more inclusive British identity encompassing multiple ‘aspects of belonging’ – so that you can be a ‘British Nigerian’ or a ‘British Pakistani’. And it is precisely this new all-inclusive culture-free British identity, with its concomitant British values of compulsory tolerance and diversity, that Scruton has insulted (by causing offence to minority groups) and consequently fallen victim to.
Scruton, until now, has put his political faith in the Conservative Party as the political movement that best embodies the English tradition, the English settlement, the English way of doing politics. Is it not time he recognised that the modern Conservative Party represents completely the opposite, the active destruction of this precious inheritance?