The patriots who despise Britain

Funny how the people who profess to love this country (Britain) the most always seem, deep down, to despise it, says Alex Massie. After the terrorist attack in Westminster, the reaction of most of us was to feel sympathy for the victims and to continue quietly to go about our business. But not Nigel Farage and “other members of the bulldogs-and-bullshit brigade”. Their first thought was to take to the airwaves to deplore our failure to prevent the latest horror to befall our benighted nation, a nation which has apparently been brought to its knees by fanatics and craven politicians. Yet this is not a picture most of us recognise. The latest surveys reveal a country at ease with itself, where the vast majority are pretty content. Some 89% of us say we live in a neighbourhood where people from different backgrounds get on well, up from 80% in 2003. The only ones who think we’re going to hell in a handcart are Islamist extremists and the hard-right. In their mutual contempt for Britain’s “instinctive liberalism”, and shared relish in each new terrorist outrage, they “need and feed off each other”. (Alex Massie, The Spectator)

Alex Massie is talking about the hyper-ambitious wreckers, the people who want to pull everything down and then re-erect it in autocratic style, with them as the autocrats. They don’t actually seem to know much and don’t want to know much. Anger is their thing. At some point in life they have been passed over and dissed by establishment figures, who looked down on them, and they have never gotten over it. As goes the UK, so goes the US. Bannon, for instance, grew up in Richmond, Virginia. My wife did, too. It was very conservative and what you might call “socially static” at the time (different now). Newcomers dealt with politely enough, but not encouraged. It is quite likely that his outsider status in Richmond still fuels his resentment. Trump may have inherited money, but the New York elite never accepted him in top circles; his alleged links to the mob and his penchant for not paying his suppliers saw to that. Huge chips on shoulders.


  1. When these so called patriots describe the country as socially divided, they always put pressure on people from minority backgrounds to be more ‘British.’ But they never acknowledge that part of the problem of social division lies with the native population, who more often than not, move out of a neighbourhood if they believe it has too many immigrants in it, only to complain that there are parts of some cities with “hardly any British people” in them. This self segregation can be seen all over the world, though it’s the Americans who first cruedely referred to it as ‘white flight.’ Somewhat extraordinarily, those who cause segregation are virtually never criticised. It’s always assumed that their decision to move is for benign reasons: the local schools are bad, they feel like embracing country or suburban life, it’s for their children, etc. Now much of that is true. But it’s also certainly true that many people leave urban areas because they don’t like living with people of other backgrounds. When CityAM interviewed British millionaires who had chosen to leave London for other parts of the UK, many cited ‘cultural change’ and ‘rising religious tensions’ as reasons for their departure.

    Now I completely agree with Alex Massie, who writes an excellent column for the Spectator. The populist right is exaggerating social divisions in Britain for their own gain. But it isn’t just politicians that are to blame- ordinary people hold prejudices too. There’s also the question of whether wanting to live with people of the same background as you is necessarily a bad thing. For devout Muslims and Orthodox Jews, life is simply easier if they live with fellow members of their religion. When immigrants first arrive, they often feel socially isolated, and so benefit from living in communities where their native language is spoken and their culture is understood, at least initially. The problem is, if British people feel just as vulnerable as the newly arrived immigrants, segregation will be inevitable. The right presents simple solutions to the problem of social division. The reality is the opposite: social division and segregation may be impossible to solve, especially as most people seem content living in segregated environments, hence the increasing proportion of people who say they live in areas where people get along.

    • The Germans, I understand, deliberately placed the recent influx of migrants all over the country, and in small numbers – in towns and villages. Whether this will stick I don’t know. There is nothing to stop Syrians , for instance, moving gradually to, say, Hamburg and creating a Moslem laager there, similar to the Bangladeshi neighbourhood just east of the City of London. But at least it’s an intelligent try.

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