Talk of British values and what it constitutes to be British has dominated the calendar year, largely pressed forward by Home Secretary and potentially future Conservative Party leader Theresa May. David Cameron talked up “Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality” as being directly associated with such “British Values” and in his Christmas message opined about Britain being a “Christian country”.
But there are also a lot of values that Cameron didn’t mention:
David Cameron, like his spiritual father Tony Blair, followed in a long line of British leaders in taking Britain to war by leading a vote to bomb Syria. This was after he initially failed to launch strikes upon Bashar Assad in 2013. But in true British fashion, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (even if the target of the bombs has switched from Assad to ISIS – a small detail). This is the second war of Cameron’s reign, with him also pushing through air strikes in 2011 in Libya.
2) Refusing to apologise
British people are often lauded for their manners. The simple act of saying sorry is one such British mannerism. This was clear for all to see when David Cameron was asked to apologize for describing those who opposed his war efforts as “terrorist sympathizers”. Cameron refused to apologize a total of 12 times. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise though, the leader was also defiant in the face of calls to apologize over Britain’s role in the slave trade and with regards to the payment of reparations. Sorry seems to be the hardest word.
3) Sex with animals
One crucial aspect left out of his list was bestiality. “Piggate”, as it came to be known, was a highlight of 2015. A tell-all book by former Tory donor and once ally of David Cameron, Lord Ashcroft alleged that David Cameron once engaged in an initiation at Oxford which led to him inserting his penis into the mouth of a dead pig. Quite a bizarre ritual, apparently only one that members of the UK upper-class are familiar with. Cameron did not comment on the allegations and the BBC did not even cover the story.
For all the talk of British values the art of lying is rarely mentioned. Yet David Cameron et al have become masters at it. Most recently David Cameron magicked up 70,000 moderate fighters in Syria, with even his own Ministry of Defence refuting the claim. It’s not just Cameron who gets creative though, Iain Duncan Smith and his Department for Work and Pensions have also been at it. Earlier this year IDS and the DWP were exposed for making up testimonials from people saying that they’d had a very positive experience of the new welfare reforms.
5) Love for unelected autocrats
Interestingly “democracy” is included in most accounts of British values, yet the British have an unwavering love for unelected autocrats, be they in the House of Lords or, most popularly, in the form of Queen Elizabeth. The loyalty to this British Despot was made clear when Jeremy Corbyn refused to sing the national anthem and then compounded when he chose not to kneel to the Queen when he joined the Privy Council. This was curious as Corbyn’s rejection of the Queen was surely in line with British values of democracy, yet he was lambasted in the press and by politicians. Clearly the British love despotic rulers more than they let on.
6) Theft! (Diamonds)
Theft, looting and general plunder is intrinsic to British values. The most high profile instance of British theft – not to mention almost everything in the British Museum – is the £100 million Koh-i-Noor diamond that makes up part of the Crown Jewels. This led to a group of Indian businessmen and Bollywood actors suing Britain over the theft of the diamond, a plundered colonial treasure. Now even Pakistan have got in on the act launching a case against the British. Of course it’s likely it will be held on to for dear life.
7) Post-colonial melancholy
If there is one thing that’s central to British values that has been far too long ignored, it is the idea of the British Empire as central to British culture. David Cameron et al love the Empire. They simply cannot let go. Their romanticism of the Empire and longing to make Britain great again is always lingering in the background. Even with regards to paying reparations Cameron longingly recalled (incorrectly) a time when Britain “wiped slavery off the face of our planet“. Never was this more clear than when British historian Andrew Roberts commented that the British colonialism of India “led to the modernization, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratization of the sub-continent.”
8) Inciting hatred
On a more sombre note one thing that has been a cornerstone of British values this year has been the incitement of hatred from those in power. Theresa May, for instance, got up and told the Conservative Party conference (despite talk of tolerance as being so important) that mass migration was bad for Britain’s “cohesion“. David Cameron went as far as to describe refugees as “swarms”. This led the UN’s Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein to accuse British politicians of “dehumanizing” refugees.
9) Being completely, wholly, uncool
Being completely and utterly “uncool” (as uncool as it is to refer to anything as cool or uncool…) is intrinsic to British values, surely? Cameron, in a bid to improve his credentials in this department only re-affirmed the view by overstating his bromance with Barack Obama, noting that the American leader who – for all his issues – is quite cool, refers to him as “Bro” (sometimes) as he opined on the “special relationship” between the US and the UK.
10) Adherence to proper bacon sandwich eating technique
The 2015 election was one fought along significant fault lines. The major battle ground was one over eating bacon sandwiches. Ed Miliband made a “pig’s ear” of eating a bacon sandwich in 2014, which led the bastion of objective journalism The Sun report “Save our bacon“, with a photo of Ed chowing down on a bacon sarnie in a less than gracious manner. Unlike David Cameron’s run in with a pig, the papers were all over this, using it as a way to suggest Miliband was simply incapable of running Britain. The ability to eat a bacon sandwich is the true test of how trustworthy someone is in Britain. Perhaps this is why Britain is so Islamophobic…
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