9 Days Remaining

Saturday 24th
posted by Paddy McGuffin in Features

The Paddy McGuffin column

Dear coalition government,

Money is God, (which I believe is the correct term of address to those adherents of your ideology).

We have recently seen terrible atrocities committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya as well as closer to home.

Finding the right response to these events is a challenge for everyone.

The hijacking of a great institution to justify such heinous crimes sickens us all.

As people around Britain have made clear, such actions are an affront to democracy and common decency.

And yet amid the carnage came a sign of hope — over three million people of all backgrounds marching to oppose the imperialist slaughter and brutal austerity cuts and to protect our values: free speech, the rule of law, and democracy.

We are proud of the reaction of British communities to this attack by the Tory-led coalition.

People from across the country have spoken out to say: not in our name.

But there is more work to do. We must show our young people, who may be targeted, that right-wing extremists have nothing to offer them.

We must show them that there are other ways to express disagreement, that their right to do so is dependent on the very freedoms that you seek to destroy.

We must show them the multitude of statements of condemnation from the British electorate delivered via the ballot box; show them these men of hate have no place in our Parliament or our councils, and that they do not speak for people in Britain or anywhere in the world.

You, as multimillionaire Tories, are in a unique position in our society. You have a precious opportunity, and an important responsibility in explaining and demonstrating how faith in conservatism can be part of a professed Christian, British identity.

There is a need to lay out more clearly than ever before what being a Tory means today. The vitriol espoused by the thugs of the 1922 committee and the Carlton Club is just as much an affront to British values as the teachings of preachers of hate, such as Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith.

Every day, mosques, churches and foodbanks across the country are providing help for those made destitute by your actions, and acting as a centre for what remains of our communities.

It is these positive contributions that are the true messages of faith and decency in our society and it is these contributions that need to be promoted, not your ideologically driven hatred and hypocrisy.

We welcome your thoughts, ideas and initiatives on how to ensure that democracy’s true message of peace triumphs over those who seek to divide our communities — ie you.

Please feel free to contact us, we’re the ones out on the streets calling for you to be sacked.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully, the People of Britain.

Yes, that’s right, not content with alienating vast swathes of the country on economic and racial grounds, the Tories have decided to have a pop at the Muslims again.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, in conjunction with Tory peer Lord Ahmad, wrote to imams this week helpfully suggesting that it was about time they proved their “British identity.”

The letter itself was quite lengthy, combining as it did patronising platitudes, prolix prestidigitation and veiled threats couched in purple prose but the general gist was “you’re either for us or agin us.”

And God help you if it’s the latter.

Now perhaps unsurprisingly this didn’t go down too well with members of the Muslim community.

Mohammed Shafiq, of the inter-faith Ramadan Foundation accused Pickles of “straying dangerously into the territory of suggesting that, as a British Muslim, if you don’t agree with the government then you have a problem.”

And employing “the sort of language we have come more commonly to associate with the far right.”

In fact it wasn’t so much a case of straying close to as explicitly stating it, with Cameron backing Pickles by saying that the letter was “reasonable, sensible and moderate,” and that if anyone had a problem with it, it was them who had the problem.

Which is quite an extremist viewpoint when you think about it.
“We’re right and you’re wrong.”

That’s never caused problems before has it..?

The letter does not however give any indication of how people are supposed to demonstrate their patriotic fervour.

Tattooing a Union Jack on your forehead? Raising a toast to the Queen at every meal? Catching VD on a one-night stand in Magaluf?
It also raises the intriguing question: What exactly does constitute “Britishness” as envisioned by Pickles et al?

Tory arch-bigot Norman Tebbit once infamously described it as being a matter of supporting England not Pakistan at cricket. A somewhat simplistic equation I would have thought, still it would make the citizenship tests easier I suppose.

The only real criteria seem to be being morbidly obese, rubbish at sport and rude about foreigners.
So it’s good to see Pickles setting an example…