At the Conservative conference, Theresa May urged the party to value “our communities.”
Wrong from the start. Doubly wrong coming from someone who claims to be a Conservative. For at the root of conservatism is the notion of all the people as being one community. This was splendidly expressed by Samuel Johnson in his dictionary where he derided Whiggery as “a faction.”
Conservatism had its origins in the Elizabethan Settlement in which church and state were seen as the one realm in two different aspects – with the monarch as head of state and supreme governor of the Church of England. No doubt this is the origin too of the saying that the Church of England is “the Tory party at prayer.” Toryism in the 18th century – Johnson’s Toryism – was concerned above all with strengthening this belief in the oneness of the realm. The people of that time remembered the civil war and rabid sectarianism which tore the country apart in the previous century and they vowed that this must not happen a second time.
So they built on the Elizabethan Settlement a polity which was concerned above all with national unity. In order for this to succeed it must be a unity that did not make extreme demands on the people. Indeed, this had been at the centre of the original Settlement. Nothing too onerous. Yes, people should go to church, but not every week as if they were enthusiasts or fanatics but, according to The Book of Common Prayer, “three times a year of which Easter should be one.” Only a conformity which did not demand anything excessive could possibly work as the bedrock of peace and stability.
And this is what that other Settlement under the Restoration in 1660 aimed to achieve.
These are things of which we should all be proud because they demonstrated generosity when, with the passing of the Test and Corporation Act of 1828 and the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics were incorporated as full members of the nation.
This worked remarkably well until the mass immigrations of the 20th century. Those arriving on our shores were not enjoined to adopt our way of life but allowed – even encouraged – to separate off into what the multiculturalists – and now Mars May – refer to as “communities.”
What they actually are, of course, is ghettos. When such separate development was practised in South Africa, British politicians condemned it as Apartheid. When precisely the same thing happens over here, it is regarded as wholesome “diversity.”
This, Mrs May, is not the route to social cohesion: it is the way back to the murderous sectarianism of the English Civil War.