The perception of “London” – by which I really mean the Metropolitan elite - as culturally and economically a place apart has been growing for some time now, but it has surely now really crystallised in the public minds over the last few weeks as to just how far removed from the rest of Britain it really is. The orchestrated smear campaign against UKIP was one of the most peculiar and grotesque things I have seen in all my years in watching politics, but also one of the most revealing. Before our eyes the faux competition and petty rivalries between different wings of the Establishment melted away as they all began to sing from the same hymn sheet.
That hymn was a hymn of hate against UKIP, with every smear possible dredged up in a desperate attempt to stop our advance. By extension it was an attack on anyone sympathetic to UKIP’s views. It reached its nadir in the articles of the Telegraph’s Dan Hodges. Accusing UKIP as being a racist party on the ground that UKIP wanted to limit European immigration, his utterances became ever more demented as time went on. Yesterday’s article reached new depths by accusing UKIP of wanting a “culture war’ with London, adding for good measure how superior he felt to the UKIP-voting classes.
However, Hodges distasteful contempt does show a wider, if painful truth: we have to recognise that much of London and the rest of us have what parting couples call “irreconcilable differences” and agree terms of separation.
London has become the mecca for the international sovereign individual. Often but not always particularly wealthy, they compromise highly educated and mobile people whose skills are very much in demand and have, if anything, too many opportunities rather than too few. The congratulate themselves on their diversity, and yet their cultural standpoints are remarkably homogenous; essentially rootless, this gilded minority think only in terms of the future, never the past, and only ever consider relocating to other international elite cities rather than somewhere more parochial: anyone overhearing conversations on the tube in London is much more likely to hear reference to relocating to San Francisco or Paris rather than they are Leeds or Edinburgh.
To these people, the very concept of nationhood is hopelessly outmoded and ergo discrimination on the basis of nationality is as ridiculous as discrimination on the basis of race: in their minds, the very word racist has mutated to cover either case. Dan Hodges outburst that UKIP must be a “racist” party for wanting to limit European immigration makes perfect sense from this standpoint.
However, what Hodges and his ilk cannot comprehend is that nationality and nationhood confer definite social advantages whereas true racism does not. A common culture that allows for a degree of shared sacrifice is an obvious one, but also is the feeling that your life is part of a greater whole, a shared endeavour.