Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Paul Keating's warning to the Brits - beware this malignancy
Bell in The Guardian
Paul Keating has enlightened readers of The Guardian as to why he thinks the other Mr Howard is not fit to inherit Churchill's moral legacy:
”It has been one of the conundrums of Australian public life that as Labor leader and former prime minister, I drew much inspiration from a British Conservative leader, Winston Churchill, and often said so. He sometimes expressed views on economic and social issues I would not endorse, but his moral clarity was a lesson to us all.
It was that which informed his unshakable belief that Hitler was a psychopath, a racist and a criminal and that, unlike the view of most of the upper class in Britain at the time, Hitler could not be dealt with.
Churchill bequeathed to his party a mantle of moral rectitude which remains to this day. All the greater the pity that its current leader fails to understand the importance of this inheritance. And is even prepared to shop and trade it.
All the people who dabble in race, whether it be the Hitlers at the hard end or the Hansons in Australia on the soft end, have one subject in common - citizenship. And these days, for citizenship read migration.
They seek to construct parochial and arbitrary distinctions between the civic and the human community. So some of us have a right to enjoy the sovereign benefits of security, sustenance and belonging while others are wayfarers and itinerants who are not entitled to inclusion with us.
These appeals more often than not find a measure of uncritical acceptance in countries that formerly have been monocultures. But only the shabbiest of political figures has any truck with this stuff.
Britain is a great state because it has always had solid values, and has been prepared to fight for them. How wrong it is for Michael Howard's Conservative party to tread the slippery and sleazy track of race to ingratiate themselves with that proportion of the electorate always susceptible to this malignant appeal.
A national leader should always be searching for the threads of gold that run through a society, that lift us up and bind us together. The Liberal party, Australia's Tory equivalent, has in recent years made an art form of the whispered word "race".
In 2001, Prime Minister John Howard ran a despicable election campaign against asylum seekers. The campaign was successful but Australia was weakened by it. Its moral compass now lacks the equilibrium it had and the underlying compassion has been compromised.
The Australian Tories' agents are now in Britain. The chief operator, Lynton Crosby, calls it "guerrilla warfare" or "below-the-line campaigning". Michael Howard will know none of this of course; he will be like his namesake in Australia, hearing no evil and seeing no evil.
But in his paltry opportunism, whether he understands it or not, he will be putting at risk his country's integrity. Churchill would regard the tactic as anathema and against every value he fought for.
The economically strong country that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have created has at its core a moral basis from which it derives its energy and purpose.People cannot have the wealth and the jobs while at the same time laying waste to the human spirit. The beating heart of the country has to be kept in good fettle.
Michael Howard should be mature enough and decent enough, even at this late stage, to pull the rein on this expedient search for the dark-hearted.”