Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Another acute intervention from Mr. Uppal

The mediocre millionaire MP got his face on Prime Minister's Question Time today, the high point of any backbencher's career. Was it incisive and intellectual? It was not.

Paul Uppal, a Conservative, asks about multiculturalism. Does Cameron agree that Britons could learn from their Indian friends, who define themselves first by national identity, rather than religious identity.
Cameron says it is important to support national identity.
It wasn't even factual. This 'nationality-before-belief' India would be the same one which saw killed at Partition because Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs refused to share a country, would it? The one in which Hindus and Muslims regularly engage in orgies of violence against people and property? Amritsar, anyone? The India which clings on to Kashmir without regard to the tens of thousands of deaths required to keep it under control (Muslim state retained by India because the local Prince was Hindu)?

Yet again, it's the kind of meaningless pablum which goes down very well on local talk shows but doesn't bear any resemblance to the truth, which is that despite supposedly being all about peace, the main religions have been the cause of many millions of deaths. Uppal doesn't even mean it: he's very keen to use his Sikh background when it suits. For instance, an hour after he said this to Cameron, he was tweeting this:
Thrilled to be at the Sikh Council UK's launch in Parliament today.

Which doesn't look very consistent. Perhaps he's planning to tell the Sikh Council that it's time they shut up about their religion and concentrated on nationality. I wouldn't bet on it though!

Despite being opposed to religion, I can't see that proclaiming nationality as the foundation of identity is any better. Unless you're the victim of occupation and empire, then nationality is another way of excluding others and inculcating irrationality. You could just as easily dedicate yourself to your bridge club, street or colleagues without any loss of cohesion - indeed the basis of Marxism is that you have more in common with fellow members of your class across the world than you do with members of other classes in your country.

The Dark Place faces many problems: race and nationality thankfully aren't among them. Uppal could have alerted Cameron to the damage done by Tory economics, or raised some pressing issue. Instead, he chose to flap his gums with platitudes. That, my friends, is the measure of the man.

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