Recently, on 27 July, 2005, the London Telegraph published a list of "10 core values of the British identity" whose adoption, it argued, would help to prevent another terrorist attack.
The paper said these were not values the British might choose to embrace, but "non-negotiable components of our identity".
I. The rule of law. Our society is based on the idea that we all abide by the same rules, whatever our wealth or status. No one is above the law – not even the government.
II. The sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. The Lords, the Commons and the monarch constitute the supreme authority in the land. There is no appeal to any higher jurisdiction, spiritual or temporal.
III. The pluralist state. Equality before the law implies that no one should be treated differently on the basis of belonging to a particular group. Conversely, all parties, sects, faiths and ideologies must tolerate the existence of their rivals.
IV. Personal freedom. There should be a presumption, always and everywhere, against state coercion. We should tolerate eccentricity in others, almost to the point of lunacy, provided no one else is harmed.
V. Private property. Freedom must include the freedom to buy and sell without fear of confiscation, to transfer ownership, to sign contracts and have them enforced. Britain was quicker than most countries to recognise this and became, in consequence, one of the happiest and most prosperous nations on Earth.
VI. Institutions. British freedom and British character are immanent in British institutions. These are not, mostly, statutory bodies, but spring from the way free individuals regulate each other’s conduct, and provide for their needs, without recourse to coercion.
VII. The family. Civic society depends on values being passed from generation to generation. Stable families are the essential ingredient of a stable society.
VIII. History. British children inherit a political culture, a set of specific legal rights and obligations, and a stupendous series of national achievements. They should be taught about these things.
IX. The English-speaking world. The atrocities of September 11, 2001, were not simply an attack on a foreign nation; they were an attack on the anglosphere – on all of us who believe in freedom, justice and the rule of law.
X. The British character. Shaped by and in turn shaping our national institutions is our character as a people: stubborn, stoical, and indignant at injustice. "The Saxon," wrote Kipling, "never means anything seriously till he talks about justice and right." …
I glanced recently at the Fitzgerald Report to the Hawke government. It suggested immigrants enter in to a declaration setting out an acceptance of certain core values. The government did not act on this.
While I think this is a good idea, I lost interest in the Fitzgerald report when I read its recommendation for affirmative action programmes for immigrants, which I think divisive and unjustified.
My immigrant grandfather and my immigrant mother would have found any such programme demeaning.
Until next time,