Old Blighty no longer a safe home

After the terrible murder in London of soldier Lee Rigby, it's clear the public and the security services understand the Islamist threat, while the politicians have their heads buried in politically correct sand

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Vincent Cooper
On 28 December 2013 10:21

‘Take me back to dear old Blighty; Put me on a train to London town.’ That music hall song of the early years of the twentieth century captured the nostalgic feelings of the British public. In particular, it was a common theme of the British squaddie abroad who longed to be back in dear old Blighty.

It wasn’t just a longing for family and friends. Britain, Blighty, was an island of safety, away from the conflicts of foreign parts.

That’s no longer the case. For the first time in Britain’s history (leaving aside the civil conflict in Northern Ireland), a British soldier can no longer consider Britain to be the one place where he is safe from his foreign or domestic enemies.

Drummer Lee Rigby, a private in the British army, was murdered – almost beheaded – on a London street by two machete-wielding British Muslims who claimed the murder in the name of Islam.

Lee Rigby had served in Afghanistan, and no doubt felt that back home in Britain he would be safe from the Islamists he had fought there. Not so. Britain has changed deeply, and in ways politicians refuse to acknowledge.

Large-scale immigration over a period of fifty years has altered some of the most fundamental features of British society. Britain is no longer culturally and ethnically homogeneous, with Muslim immigration in particular challenging some of the most fundamental ideas of British identity and values. Immigration, including Muslim immigration, has, of course, brought major benefits too; but there is certainly a darker side, as anyone but the wilfully blind can see.

Today in Britain, old-style, traditional national loyalty can no longer be assumed, and as a consequence British military personnel are at risk of enemy attack.

That is not a rhetorical exaggeration. It’s true that Rigby is the only soldier to date to be murdered in Britain by the Islamist enemy. But the home-grown Islamist threat to British soldiers is alarming, as Britain's own security service know and say.

MI5 chief Andrew Parker has stated that there are several thousand Islamist extremists in Britain who see the public, including military personnel, as legitimate targets. Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, Cressida Dick, has warned that British troops would always be a target. The threat cannot be eliminated, she said.  

Outside the extremist fringe which I reject passionately, where is the public debate on this radical change to British society brought about by immigration? Much of the debate on immigration takes place only in the context of economics; never in the context of the deep cultural transformation that immigration has brought.

The British home-grown Islamic terrorist threat is treated by the political class as if it were simply a species of common criminality that can be contained and even eliminated with the right policies; never as a growing, deep-rooted and militantly political opposition to the British way of life.

Such political complacency might make some sense if Muslim demographics in Britain were to remain at or below five percent. But even on the most conservative estimates, within 30 or 40 years Muslims could  be a majority in some of Britain’s cities.

The question should then be asked: If, as MI5 say, there are several thousand Islamist extremists in Britain today, how many will there be in 30-40 years time?

The British political classes essentially deny that there is a future Islamist problem. They deny that continuing heavy immigration will create a future problem for the country; (though they are right that countries thrive when immigration policy is conducted sensibly).

Yet such denial is hardly rational. Is this a case of political naivety, or of politicians burying their heads in the sand and refusing to face up to the consequences of their ill-considered, as opposed to intelligent, immigration policies?

An example of this refusal of the political class to face reality is David Cameron’s insistence that the killing of Lee Rigby had nothing to do with Islam. That is the political establishment’s official public position; but fewer and fewer people are convinced.

Douglas Murray in the Spectator speaks for many when he says: ‘Far from having nothing to do with Islam, the killing of Lee Rigby had everything to do with Islam – the worst possible version of Islam, certainly, but a version of Islam nonetheless.’

There is a powerful belief running through British political culture that all problems eventually yield to patience and compromise. With enough patience and enough compromise, British society can negotiate its way through Islamism to a future multicultural harmony.

Compromise and concession have certainly worked in the past, with the IRA for example. However, the IRA (outside its Marxist-leaning period) was never fundamentally at odds with general British values as both the Irish and the Brits understand them. Islamism is different.

How will British political culture deal with a growing Muslim population, a small but significant part of which rejects at the most fundamental level all that Britain stands for?  

Vincent Cooper is a regular contributor to The Commentator

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