pikeys, pariahs and parochialism

Comments in the British press over the last few days point to a spread of parochialism in Britain – at […]

Comments in the British press over the last few days point to a spread of parochialism in Britain – at least among those motivated to comment. First up, there are few more powerful ways to energise a debate in the UK than to challenge  something as sacrosanct as an Englishman’s home. Homes and castles, etc. On the other hand there are few things that better wind up British media’s online comment space moderators than calling a spade a spade. Bait-the-moderator entertainingly animated one of the Daily Typograph’s most-commented pieces of the week on the Pikeys of Dale Farm. These self-titled Travellers have been building stuff on a site they own but for which they don’t have the requisite planning permission. The reason they are in England in the first place is because Ireland kicked them out, arguing that owning a caravan doesn’t define you as a race. In England it does. Yes, really. They’ve been ‘travelling’ in the same field for a decade. In the next week or so bailiffs are going to be engaging them in pitched battle. Somewhere in the melee the easily deceived Vanessa Redgrave and Joan Bakewell will hopefully be devoured by the resident pack of pitbulls. Bakewell compared the Pikeys to Australian Aborigines and the Bedouin, overlooking that those cultures live according to their environments while the Tinkers are taking a one-way trip on the Holyhead ferry to greener pastures. Or happier looting.

Another bee in the Englishman’s bonnet – or should that be Barnett – is Scotland and the interminable posturing of its Scottish Nationalist Party. A former Labour Party political strategist rather ironically opined that England should give Scotland the boot and most of the 2,000 or so comments to the piece were strongly supportive. There’s not much to say on this one though as Alex Salmond will never hold a referendum and even if he did too many of the 5m in the northern wastelands are sensible enough not to bite the hand that feeds them. Today it’s being reported that the Scottish Tories may disband. This will change nothing. I’ve lived and studied in Scotland and it has some fine attributes but the inherent tribalism (also to be found in pockets elsewhere across the UK), time-warped hankering for militant socialism and a fervent belief that Braveheart was for real will always return  a left wing/nationalist hegemony. To run and run…

Back to the blight of parochialism. There are perfectly good reasons why Britain shouldn’t be involved in Libya. But they  are outweighed – nay sunk – by a multitude of moral, ethical and, yes, economic imperatives for intervention. Left, right or centrist, the apologists for Gadaffi are everywhere. In their eyes, Britain and France have somehow recruited legions of Al Qaeda to topple a legitimate regime and run off with Libya’s oil. In practical terms Libya at the point of NATO intervention did not pass the sovereignty test. Gadaffi had isolated it to such an extent it had few viable diplomatic relations, at least if you exclude his fellow despots and interested ‘investor’ nations like China and Venezuela. So, supporting the apparent will of the majority in incidentally deposing a tyrant while acting in accordance with the UN security council resolutions to protect the civilian population seems perfectly reasonable. I’m glad my grandfather’s generation wasn’t as lily-livered as today’s mob when Poland was subject to an illegitimate regime. The obsession of the hysterically voluble minority and their puerile dogma of ‘oil wars’ is nevertheless depressing.

If ever there was a case for Britain’s parochialists learning how to read and think for themselves, this piece in The Economist speaks volumes as to why Africa – and Libya – sadly can’t be trusted with itself. Was there ever a more corrupt and selfish bunch of kleptocrats, warmongers and geriatric narcissists than the African Union. I wonder how many of the 54 would have made it to the meeting had it been a talk shop in Monte Carlo or anywhere else with good duty-free shopping.

4 September, 2011


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Living in Hong Kong... a Brit... via Singapore