Thursday, March 25, 2010

Men Without Religion

I can't share the horror of so many secular liberals that - gosh - Muslims associated with religious organisations like the Islamic Forum for Europe are joining the Labour Party and bringing their religion with them.

I think the secularist crowd might be urinating into a Force 10 here. Used to the increasing marginalisation of Christianity in the political sphere over the last 50 years, they haven't realised that the past isn't necessarily a guide to the future.

60 years back the Labour Party, it was often said, owed more to Methodism than Marxism. And the Christian culture of those days was reflected in the law of the land. Most shops were shut by law on Sunday, the Biblical injunction not to spare the rod was implemented in the (single-sex) schools, sex education was non-existent, abortion and homosexual practice illegal. It was shocking for an unmarried couple to sleep together and a disgrace to have a baby out of wedlock. Divorcées would not be considered for the honours list or the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. Violent young criminals were birched, older ones were flogged, and murderers were hanged. Two years' National Service was compulsory for 18-year-olds. Small children sat in rows in the classroom and were caned if they misbehaved. This was Britain under the oft-feted Attlee Government of 1945-51.

The long march of the secular left through the institutions is now pretty much complete. By 2000, in a Telegraph interview, Ken Livingstone could say :

"I think there is a romanticised view that Trimdon Working Men's Club in the Prime Minister's constituency - solid working-class, patriotic - is the backbone of the Labour Party. They overlook the fact that a lot of Labour voters in the teeming cities are irreverent and radical. Labour succeeds when it brings together that respectable working class with what I call the radical urban perverts... I'm not going to talk about it (homosexuality) now, either. The point is that, 20 years ago, it was a damaging accusation: now it's almost an essential accessory for Cabinet membership!"

That was before 9/11. A couple of years later Ken was inviting Yusef Al-Qaradawi to London. No radical urban pervert he.

Do I digress ? The point is that secular Britain is the exception, not the historical norm. Nature abhors a spiritual vacuum.

We have once more, in London and many other of our major cities, large numbers of relatively young people with strong religious faith. Muslim immigrants and their descendants in the UK have a far lower incidence of births out of wedlock and sexually transmitted disease than other groups in the UK - in fact Swinging London as was is now the place where the highest proportion of babies are born to married parents. London is becoming a Godly place again, after a 40-year interregnum.

To imagine that this faith will not impact upon political life is the acme of gullibility. Why should hundreds of thousands of voters not express their faith at the ballot box ? And why should their faith not impact the Labour Party as that of the Methodists did ?

(These developments are distressing to me, even while I applaud some of their results. Because decreasing bastardy and increasing fertility in London are not the result of the native British changing their behaviour for the better, but statistical evidence of their replacement by other - in some respects better-behaved - people.)