I like borders and I have always been glad to live on an island guarded by deep salt water. In the end it is the sea, and the Navy we used to have, which have kept us safe all these centuries from tyrants and conquerors.
I have visited 57 countries, and also lived with my family in two nations apart from this one, my home. I am absolutely not afraid of the world abroad and I think we have much to learn from other peoples. But in the end, I like it here.
People are different in different places. They choose to live differently. Borders, reinforced by seas, mountains and deserts, enable them to do so. Even in North America the US-Canadian frontier marks out two very different ideas of how to live in freedom.
So I cannot say I agree with the recently retired head of the UK Border Force, Mr Paul Lincoln, that ‘bloody borders’ are ‘just such a pain in the bloody a***’. But at least we now know that the man who was for some years in charge of enforcing the borders of this country, and took a chunky salary for this duty, didn’t actually believe in borders.
PETER HITCHENS: So now we know one reason why an apparently simple job, keeping people out of a sea-girt country, unless they arrive legally, has proved so difficult for so many years. And why, even as the weather worsens and the sea gets rough, more than 1,000 illegal migrants are arriving in this country on some days
It comes as no surprise. We already have police chiefs who plainly don’t believe in the punishment of crime, teachers who don’t much like education and bishops who don’t believe in God. But this is a bit more specific. Mr Lincoln had one job, and he didn’t believe in it.
This is not the first revelation of this kind from our new ruling class. As long ago as 2009, the New Labour apparatchik Andrew Neather let slip that his movement had ‘a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the UK Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural’.
He recalled coming away from high-level meetings ‘with a clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’.
I think we can say that this worked. Old-fashioned conservative patriotic politics has been rusting in the junkyard ever since the late 1990s.
So now we know one reason why an apparently simple job, keeping people out of a sea-girt country, unless they arrive legally, has proved so difficult for so many years. And why, even as the weather worsens and the sea gets rough, more than 1,000 illegal migrants are arriving in this country on some days. Those in charge of implementing the policy don’t believe in it.
But Mr Lincoln was only recorded saying what most of our elite think. If you have attended a university in this country in the past 50 years, you will have been taught to believe that borders are bad, that unhindered free movement of people is a high ideal, that objections to this are contemptible, and driven by racial bigotry and stupidity.
PETER HITCHENS: I cannot say I agree with the recently retired head of the UK Border Force, Mr Paul Lincoln, that ‘bloody borders’ are ‘just such a pain in the bloody a***’
Since the graduates from those universities fanned out into the schools, the BBC, the police and the courts, the same idea has been spread even wider. A large part of the Tory Party, for instance, has been captured by it, especially since the Blairite takeover of the Tories by David Cameron.
BUT they know it is not popular. So they lie. They announce targets to reduce illegal immigration, which they never meet. They announce other targets, for the deportation of illegal arrivals, which they never fulfil. They send stupid vans round the suburbs, adorned with slogans falsely pretending that illegal migrants face a realistic risk of being caught and returned. A few token victims are actually sent home but they must be incredibly unlucky people.
And this is typical of all our politics. Our elite says it will be tough on crime, and stops even bothering to prosecute it. It says it will sort out state education, but doggedly persists with the comprehensive schools which have wrecked it.
Unless at some point the real concerns of normal people find a peaceful, rational and responsible political outlet in countries such as ours, there will be serious trouble thanks to this chasm between what is promised and what actually happens.
The ugly rise of Donald Trump in the USA is a rather mild and restrained warning of what lies ahead.
‘Terrorism’ is not the issue – cannabis is
A mentally ill man blows himself up in a taxi. What do we do? We get into a frenzy about terrorism, media and Government alike. Armed men are deployed on the streets. MI5 is called in. Alerts are issued. This is so stupid.
What terror organisation has even heard of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, let alone wishes to blow it up?
Look around you. See how many other cases (often confined to local media) there are of mentally ill people, mostly serial marijuana users, doing appalling, irrational, violent things. I’d be amazed if the Liverpool bomber, sectioned under the Mental Health Act for waving a knife in the street, doesn’t turn out to be a dope user if anyone bothers to look (they probably won’t).
As the police long ago stopped enforcing the laws against this drug, it’s getting harder to find out. And grasp that, yet again, the authorities have no idea what is going on and no idea how to fix it.
This is because they are in the grip of a howlingly wrong 1960s dogma, this time the one that says cannabis is harmless, and prosecuting its users is so, so unfair.
Putting right a terrible wrong
I see the Transport Minister and e-scooter fan Grant Shapps has been dressing up as a character from Thomas The Tank Engine, waving a green flag and blowing a whistle.
He was reopening a railway line in Devon, a line running across the top of Dartmoor, where a kindly driver once let me, aged 12, have a go at the controls of his train.
This tiny restoration of a small part of a lost line fills me with rage. It should never have been closed. It is not nearly enough. It was so beautiful I still sometimes dream of travelling on it again, 50 years after it was ripped up. It was a full-sized express main line between London and Plymouth, still badly needed every summer and every time the other route, along the sea, is washed away by storms at Dawlish.
The reinstatement of such lines, and there are so many of them, would do far more good to far more people than silly high-speed vanity projects such as HS2. We have let the car and the lorry rule this country far too long, spreading noise, ugliness and filth over town and country alike. The closure of railways in the 1960s was a terrible mistake and there has never been a better time to put it right.
Let us now praise Archbishop Justin Welby. These are words I never thought I’d write, but I must, because three weeks after I gave him what for on this page, Mr Welby has finally admitted he was wrong about the late, great Bishop George Bell (not to be mistaken for the horrible Peter Ball).
He has withdrawn his silly claim that a ‘significant cloud’ still hangs over Bishop Bell, who was presumed guilty by the CofE, when someone accused him of incredibly long-ago child abuse. In fact a series of detailed investigations have demolished the cases against him.
Now that Mr Welby has given way, we must hope for a similar climbdown from the current far-from-great Bishop of Chichester, whose name I forget, who badly needs to right the wrongs done to his genuinely distinguished forerunner.
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