UKIP, Flanders and Swann

The bunting is out for the maverick voice, as UK councils turn purple towards UKIP. People on the street tell the media that they're not racists - they just like the idea of Border control. And the media pretends to understand.

The pace of change is frightening. People are expected to cope with the loss of national identity, merged as it is today in the spectacle of multi-culturalism. Those people who have voted for UKIP may be the same ones who have begun to wonder why they alone lack the right to an opinion in a country they call their own.

It's a sobering thought to consider that Flanders and Swann would be locked up today for songs, which were acceptable - popular - 50, 60 years ago. Sobering, when we ask ourselves where will it end.

When they sang their patriotic, tongue-in-cheek song The English, the English, the English are best, it was in a grown-up atmosphere. It exudes a uniquely English sense of humour: even in our pride we are absurdly self-deprecating. The deprecation comes through the stereotypical idea expressed about those of other nationalities - stereotypes which run in English blood as absolute truth, and yet which would not stop the English from bending over backward to help that same "foreigner" if they actually met one.

This gives rise to humour - a bold, British lion song, with brazen lyrics and yet no malice.

Would Flanders be accused of hate-crime for such lyrics today?


Would an audience accept such a song?

I think not. And that is where Orwell takes hold. For the public fear of appearing to be intolerant means that the police can follow behind and be seen to endorse public opinion, by condemning those who express a view that has not been sanctioned as "moral" in this trans-moral environment.

It is all deemed as progress, of course. The crime of 100 years ago brings comedy awards today. The offence of 50 years ago secures celebrity status. The unwed-mother is not only "understood", but rewarded with a house and free child-care, while she trains for a career. There are no consequences for sin. Political correctness provides a mop to clean up after each and every one.

Of course it doesn't work and it can't last. It would be nice to think that UKIP offered a hurrah! from the Michael Flanders generation. But I doubt it. UKIP may only be a straw, grasped by anxious hands who had thought there would never be a straw again. It doesn't make them the solution, or indeed any different.