A statement of British values

 

The government has promised us a Statement of British values to inform School Governors and Headteachers as they guide and manage their institutions.

Today I invite you to tell me what should go into such a Statement.  For my part, it would include a belief in democracy, equality before the law, tolerance, seeking to resolve conflicts and tensions within a community by discussion and democratic procedures. It would encompass religious tolerance, the banning of bullying and violence, and the pursuit of excellence in both academic and non academic subjects. The aim of a school should be to find that spark, that enthusiasm for learning and for achievement which stays with the individual as they move into adulthood.

David Cameron gave his definition of British values as “freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions”. I will be writing more about Magna Carta later.

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85 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    I am not British, I am English.

    To me, the term, British has been somewhat devalued, as anyone can now be British. I also find it highly patronising that politicians feel that they are best able to instruct us on such matters. They, that have done so much to destroy this so called, Britishness and its values, that they now have to spell it out to us, and in particular, the new British. Hilarious !

    Its so good to see the political class spin in circles over what THEY have done.

    • Timaction
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      As an Englishman with traceable roots that go back to the middle ages I am offended by the legacy parties telling me what Britishness is. The legacy parties have engineered mass migration for the last 50 years to support their secret United States of Europe project. All by deceit and stealth to deliberately stop our feelings of nationhood. They have legislated repeatedly to stop free speech by the indigenous population and encouraged us to be tolerant. It’s noticeable that the English are the most tolerant, whilst many of the immigrants are not. There are many groups who choose to live in isolation and marry between themselves and not allowed or want to mix with the indigenous population. This is never mentioned or challenged by our political class. There are never public inquiries into acts that are scandalous. Grooming of teenage girls, attacks on our soldiers? We should know how and why this was allowed to go on (WORDS LEFT OUT ED) whilst the police, health, education and other public services turned a blind eye.
      We have been called all the names under the sun to silence us. We want our sovereignty, democracy returned and law making returned to these shores so we can decide who comes here in the numbers and quality that we want, NOT Brussels or elsewhere.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Agree with most of what you say Mark B. To be British or English or both should be self evident and require no explanation, justification or inculcation. As for the term ‘Briton’ – well we know what that means and it has become self evident!

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Mark – It really is condescending twaddle isn’t it ?

      British passports are doled out like confetti. Anyone remotely British is called a fruitcake or a loon.

    • L Tanner
      Posted June 18, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      I agree.
      Absolutely right. Every nation, people and culture have rights – except us, the English it seems, in certain circles. We are clearly considered a great threat to whatever project is being foisted upon Europe and elsewhere.
      Nevertheless we shall continue to claim our rights.
      We are not going away.

  2. Iain Gill
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Freedom from pressure to marry anyone.
    Freedom from pressure to change religious beliefs for any reason, including in order to get married to the one you love.
    Freedoms from genital mutilation while still a child, whether female or male.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Indeed and freedom for children to make up their own minds over their choice of religion or indeed lack of religion when they are old enough to do so.

      I read in the Sunday Times that Cameron’s priority in three letters, the N. H. S. has one of the worst rates for Child mortality in the developed world. Some 1,334 child deaths could have been prevented had we had just achieved average performance for a developed country. Have his priorities changed again he does no mention it much now?

      Greece and Portugal doing rather better.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: “Some 1,334 child deaths could have been prevented had we had just achieved average performance for a developed country

        Does this figure include or exclude very premature births that in all honesty are of 50/50 viability? I would quite frankly be astonished if 1,334 children are needlessly dying.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 16, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          It is a report by Prof Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 16, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

            Lifelogic, that doesn’t move us on any further, were the ages at which these deaths occurred not stated? Sorry but I can look it up for myself as that article will be behind a paywall.

    • outsider
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Dear Iain Gill, Your comment perfectly illustrates the difference between “freedom” and “freedom from”, which is so often its exact opposite. For example, freedom from pressure to buy consumer goods and services equals banning advertising. And of course children would need freedom from indoctrination in British values, let alone pressure to pass exams. “Freedom from” arguments typically mean imposing rules against anything one disapproves of, which is also the opposite of tolerance.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted June 16, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        No I stand by my words.

        Genital mutilation of children no able to make an informed choice themselves should be outlawed, it is barbaric.

        Forcing people to change religion simply to get married should be outlawed.

        Putting pressure on parents to indoctrinate their children in a religion should be banned.

        And so on.

    • zorro
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Freedom from fear of changing religious belief because of a threat to kill because of ‘apostasy’…..

      zorro

  3. Andyvan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    By what twisted logic does any politician have the right to decide what are “British values”? Any individual has the right to have any values they choose without reference to instructions from anybody. If you want to logically work out what British values really are you would have to look at the past few hundred years of British history. Since we have invaded or otherwise gone to war with the majority of other countries in the world you would have to conclude that as a country Britain believes in war, invasion, exploitation, hypocrisy, double dealing and ruling other races. Yes as individuals we do not generally support such things (unless our name is Tony and we used to live in Downing Street). Which sort of values will the government be promoting, theirs as the ruling elite that start the wars or ours as individuals that would like to live in peace? Better to ask a drug dealer about values than a government.

  4. auralay
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    No statement please- we’re British.

    • Richard1
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      I don’t agree with that. I think that might have been OK as a line 50 years ago, but there has been huge immigration, including from parts of the world with very different cultural practices. I think we do need to identify the values we in the UK wish to live with.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 16, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        @Richard1: “I think we do need to identify the values we in the UK wish to live with.”

        Surely we already do that, by the laws we enact, I can’t think of a better way to identify the values we wish to live by! Unless of course the law is an ass…

    • outsider
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      A brilliant summing up Auralay. If foreigners were asked about British values, I suspect that reticence and pragmatism would feature high on the list.

  5. Richard1
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    I agree with your list. It should also include freedom of thought and speech. A very un-British phenomenon of recent years following Labour’s election is restriction on freedom of speech. Words such as ‘inappropriate’ and of course on the question of global warming theory, ‘denier’, are used to shut down debate and dissent and even to criminalize expression of thoughts at odds with official dogma. Incitement to violence must remain a serious crime (and be dealt with more firmly than it is in many cases), but British values means being free to think and say what you want, including the freedom to offend people – and be offended.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Indeed, without a freedom to offend we have no real freedom of speech, some people will be offended by almost anything anyway.

      Some people just need to be offended for their own good.

      • zorro
        Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, Bazman a your ritual offender! :-)

        zorro

        • Bazman
          Posted June 17, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          They needed to be offended and stay offended with mindless deluded views that they cannot defend out in the open.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

            You are too harsh on yourself Baz.

    • outsider
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      dear Richard1: Your are right. It was disappointing that Mr Redwood’s “Freedom Manifesto” ignored these non-economic matters.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      @Richard1: “freedom of thought and speech.”

      We have freedom of thought, that would be very hard for even the most totalitarian dictatorship to take away, unless they discover a way of reading peoples minds…

      But yes, there should be a right to free speech, otherwise political correctness laws get miss used in an attempt to close down legitimate debate and criticism, such comments can’t always be challenged easily without risking being drawn into failing foul of the law. Even more stupid are the occasions when someone takes offence at an otherwise common figure of speech or trademark. Lifelogic is quite correct, some will be offended by almost anything, and then there are those who will purposely become offended because it suits some other agenda.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Well some real and fair democracy in the UK would be very nice I agree. Rather than the current two party carve up between career party politicians (who rarely do what they promise anyway) and the powers given to the positively anti democratic EU.

    Religious tolerance? Well up to a point but many religions are totally intolerant, so we are thus tolerating total intolerance. We certainly should not be pushing it down young minds in schools at public expense or even at private schools it can surely be just a form of child abuse/indoctrination. Nor should we push the bogus quack green, gross exaggeration, religion as it done now in Science and other subjects. Nor should we have Bishops in the Lords, they should perhaps stick to a daft TV evangelist channel where we can see them for what they are.

    We certainly should not have to respect religions by law, they should never have any special protection from criticism. Such laws are an outrage. Respect should be earned not enforced by daft laws.

    Academic and non academic is an interesting division, many practical subjects engineering, electronics, construction, logistics for example can in fact be highly challenging. Perhaps rather more so than traditional academic subjects.

    We should also backtrack from the absurdly damaging, arbitrary, very long & hugely over complex taxes system and the poorly constructed, arbitrary, slow, expensive and multi layer legal system we have. These are British values we could well do without and result in far too many Lawyers and Accountants doing essentially non productive jobs.

    We should certainly back track from the British “values” of spending/wasting nearly 50% of GDP on the state sector and paying state sector workers with pension 50% more than the far more productive private sector workers. Also the British value of being so anti car/truck and pro train and thus blocking the roads all the time and not building any. We should also stop the “value” or subsidising lunacy like the green crap payments, CAP and all the rest of the nonsense.

    The British value of having a left wing, anti science, big state, high tax, green crap, over regulation, indoctrinating, tax funded broadcaster at the BBC is very unhelpful too.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    “respect for the rule of law”. But what about, as is so often the case in the UK, the cases where the law (or just the courts interpretation of it) is so highly damaging? GAAR for example and the ECHR.

    We have only recently made theft of residential property by squatters a criminal offence even now it is not for commercial property. Soon we will have Miliband’s rent act two and we have absurd employment laws that damage employee as much as employers. How can one have respect for such absurdities, perhaps he have to comply, but respect no?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink

      Or Cameron idiotic gender neutral pensions and insurance absurdity.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      On Iraq and Afghanistan might not a period of penitent silence from Tony Blair be his best policy? Rather than his absurd attempt to shift the blame away from himself.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      How can we have ‘respect for the law’ when so much of the anti-British Thought Crime legislation was introduced by the government whose former leader is considered by many to be a war criminal.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 16, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Indeed not just many but probably by a majority of the electorate.

      • John Wrexham
        Posted June 16, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        I think he meant respect for the rule of law, which would not mean that you can’t campaign for certain laws to be changed. Perhaps he is hinting that people can’t follow Sharia Law and British Law; the latter trumps the former in the UK.

        • Max Dunbar
          Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          Yes, I misquoted by missing out ‘rule of.’
          Would you agree that the majority of the population still respect the rule of law but not the law itself? However, the rule of law could also be called into question in the light of recent scandals involving the police such as Plebgate and the politicisation process which one recently retired police chief described as a policy to use them as ‘agents for social change.’

  8. The PrangWizard
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I hope there will be no conflation of British and English. We know the Prime Minister for one goes to great lengths to avoid mentioning England. So, especially tomorrow, Magna Carta was a product of England and English history, not Britain and British history. Others later adopted those English values and principles. They may have thus become ‘British’ because of later events, so by that measure they might just as easily be called American or Australian. But they are essentially English and we must avoid writing England and the English out of history.
    ————————————————————————–
    PS. What has happened to my comment under ‘religious wars’?

    • outsider
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Dear PrangWizard, you are right to make this distinction. Characteristic English values are, for instance, often very different from Scots and Irish. Of course, individuals vary across the board but Scots and Irish typically value justice and right-thinking highly but are intolerant. Whereas the English are traditionally not right-thinking but value pragmatic fairness and tolerance.
      Three typically English expressions spring to mind:
      “Fair Play!”
      “Live and let live, that’s what I say.”
      “Some of my best friends are (fill in name of any group or activity against which one acknowledges prejudice)”.
      You would not find many Scots, Irish or even Welsh people saying such things.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      There was some Scottish representation at Runnymede.

  9. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Education is about more than achievement in a particular subject. It is about opening up a world for a child to enable he/she to enjoy life to the full. It is an all round perspective on life. All subjects are academic if they are studied. I would like to see a statement which doesn’t mean the child has to work rigorously to get ”A’ stars in everything and allows enjoyment of learning.
    I have always believed children should have ethical training to allow them to analyse the good bad and evils of this world without the vector of religion.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Indeed Margaret, children (and parents) should be free to chose what education they get (within a statutory minimum standard obviously), for example schools like Summerhill in Suffolk should have been praised, not targeted as it was in the 1990s.

      That said, I do believe that overtly faith schools are a bad idea, a child needs to be free to develop their own paths in life, and schools need to be neutral to counter-balance any overt messages being delivered away from school such as in the home or via their parents own faith.

  10. Alan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    It seems strange to have ‘tolerance’ in the list of British values, when a reason for having the list is so that we can be intolerant of those who do not adhere to them.

    And ‘democracy’? An unelected House of Lords, ‘safe’ seats where the incumbent is not selected by the electors, a House of Commons whose composition does not reflect the voting preferences of the electors.

    I think it is better for political parties to stay away from this sort of statement. It’s good, I think, to have a guiding philosophy for ourselves, but not so good when we try to say that others should adhere to it.

  11. formula57
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    There used to be a value encapsulated in the expression “playing the game for its own sake” (i.e. not only to achieve a win).

    It is a value that was denigrated by those obsessed with the “must win” mentality (as given prominence in American culture and doubtless responsible for many commendable achievements) but it seems to me it does have a valuable place, recognizing as it does the tremendous value of process over outcome.

  12. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    One thing that is very un-British is a multi-cultural society: “multi” in the sense of many different cultures coexisting in the same society. The British way has been to absorb the influence of different cultures into a single, homogeneous culture for the whole of society.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Certainly setting up and keeping different religious schools and setting up cleavages in society can be a very bad plan indeed, as we saw in Northern Ireland.

    • Posted June 16, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      True, but unfortunately the distinction you make between learning about other cultures at a distance, and second, (inviting i9n many people from ed) wherever, is ten miles above the heads of Guardian journalists.

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      We do not I think live in a multi cultural society. My mother lives about 40 miles from Birmingham in a small village. The difference between parts of Birmingham and where she lives is is such that they are effectively different countries. Birds of a feather flock together.

  13. JoolsB
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    John,

    Could you please remind the Eton & Oxford educated Cameron that the Magna Carta is English not British and although we know he will go to any lengths to avoid saying the ‘E’ word, his mandate as PM of the UK only extends to ENGLISH education just as 650 UK MPs sitting at Westminster including the 117 Scottish, Welsh & NI ones only have any say in ENGLISH education , not British education and whilst they are happy enough to promote Scottishness and Welshness at every opportunity, they think they can get away with us ENGLISH having Britishness rammed down our throats. Well we are sick of it. Thanks to their anti-Englishness and the avoidance of all things English, I now consider myself ENGLISH not British and unlike Cameron and the rest of the useless bunch of MPs squatting in English seats, proud of it!

  14. Narrow shoulders
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Charity begins at home

    First come first served

    Too many cooks spoil the broth

    Do unto others as you would wish to be done to.

    You are not on the list you are not coming in

    Pay your own way.

    England expects every man to do his duty.

    If you are not part of the solution you are the problem.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Empty vessels make the most noise

      He who pays the piper calls the tune

  15. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    To be British is to have fluency in the English language.

    There is currently concern that over one million Britons do not have English as their first language. That is not the key issue; the issue is not whether English is a first language but whether command of English is sufficiently fluent to enable a person to fully participate in the life of the nation using the language of that nation.

  16. Iain Moore
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Your dear leader has said he wants British values to be taught in English schools , and there you have the problem in a nut shell. There is no Britain any more, there are no common values.

    Parliamentary democracy, not since the EU and devolution.

    Equality, not when you have the West Lothian question.

    Tolerance, is cited to give the British establishment of fig leaf of cover for their moral cowardice.

    seeking to resolve conflicts…… by circumventing democratic bodies by raising up tribal leaders, otherwise known as community leaders.

  17. Mike Stanley
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The one thing I would be keen to include under the general headline of “freedom” is freedom of speech. This does not just mean the right to advocate a set of political proposals or values which most of the population would reject. It also means the right to offend.

    Too often we hear of people who have said something about a particular group which they thought was innocuous only to find that they receive a visit from the police because an allegation of offensive behaviour has been made against them. What is free speech if it is not the right to offend?

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I see the Daily Mail reports that Michael Gove’s former adviser has an inside view of Cameron which resonates with the thoughts of many of us outsiders:
    ” Dominic Cummings said the Prime Minister lacked ‘the slightest sense of purpose’ He mocked Mr Cameron as a ‘sphinx without a riddle’, and warned the Prime Minister is ill-served by ‘sycophantic’ advisers who fawn over him and refuse to challenge him when he is wrong.

    ‘To get anything done you have to have priorities, and there are no priorities,’ he said. ‘Everyone is discouraged from telling the truth to important people. There’s no grip, no focus………………….Mr Cameron’s Old Etonian chief of staff Ed Llewellyn was described as a ‘classic third-rate suck-up-kick-down sycophant presiding over a shambolic court’.”

  19. nigel
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Teach children the words to the National Anthem, and get them to sing it every morning?

    Maybe future football teams will then be able to sing it before matches.

    • John Wrexham
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Considering it is the English football team, it’s about time the players learned the words to Jerusalem, which should be made the official anthem of England. It is ridiculous that the England rugby team sing the National Anthem of the United Kingdom, even when they are playing Wales and Scotland, and then people wonder why the Scots and the Welsh don’t like hearing the National Anthem.

  20. John E
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Two things:
    1. Freedom of rational thought unrestricted by religious superstition, without which we would not have had the scientific and industrial revolutions.
    2. Freedom from corruption in public life and business. Part of the rule of law I know but worth stating as an example given the situation in so much of the world is worse than here.

  21. acorn
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    “The viability of democracy requires a belief among people that they can make a difference to their lives by participating in the democratic process. This belief may be a false one; it may be a mere illusion. But unless this illusion exists, people become not just cynical about the democratic process but despondent about their capacity to make any difference to their lives through their own efforts.

    Such despondency then leads to their quest for a “saviour” or a “messiah” supposedly endowed with extraordinary powers who can come to their rescue. They no longer remain “on this side of reason” but start moving into a realm of irrationalism. Since in the period of hegemony of monopoly capital such “saviours” and “messiahs” are typically either manufactured, or propped up, or, even in those instances where they make the initial headway on their own, appropriated, by the corporate-financial elite, which uses for this purpose the media under its control, their rule becomes synonymous with corporate rule.” (Neo-Liberalism and Democracy by Prabhat Patnaik).

    Currently, I haven’t spotted any budding “saviours” and “messiahs”, in or out of parliament. But there again? Farage: I’m not the Messiah! The Crowd: We say you are, Nige’, and we should know, we’ve followed a few! (With apologies to Python).

  22. Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I would include “live and let live” – this allowed Britain to run our empire as a commonwealth and retain the affection of the vast majority of its members.

    But I would also include a perhaps bloody minded determination not to knuckle under or we would have reached an accommodation with Napoleon or Hitler.

    And a slow moving but inexorable determination when, as a society, we feel something, even something that does us no harm, has to change – I do not think you can appreciate Britain without understanding the campaign against slavery.

    A yearning for the sea used to be a British value but there is nowhere unexplored on Earth now. I would like to see it become a yearning for space travel but cannot honestly say today’s Britain is generally that outward looking.

  23. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Tolerance towards the backward and intolerant can never be an absolute. We have a right to defend ourselves and our system of law. That includes rejection of Sharia Law and ‘no go’ areas. We may need a paramilitary police force, along the lines of the old Northern Ireland ‘B specials’, in order to prevail.

  24. rick hamilton
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Not in any way to criticise John Redwood but I suspect that if you have to ask what British values are you are not really British.

    For me the British value that has really faded away in my lifetime is that of a quiet stoicism, as seen in abundance in WW2. All this hysterical media over-reaction to the slightest upset doesn’t sound British. I liked the comment by Lord Stockbridge in ‘Gosford Park’ when his wife was sobbing after the death of their host: “For heaven’s sake woman stop wailing, anybody would think you’re Italian”.

    Also the abandonment of common sense among officialdom. If you were obviously who you said you were, then having exactly the right bit of paper was not an issue. Now it’s original gas bills in duplicate etc and they ask greybeards to prove they are over 18 when buying wine. Pathetic. Or a product of EU membership.

    • John Wrexham
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Travelling around the EU, you realise most of the barminess blamed on the EU seems to be absent from daily life when you cross the Channel. I am not a mad Europhile. but sadly most of the bureaucracy appears to be self-imposed or rather imposed on us by the bureaucrats. If you ask a civil servant to come up with a solution, you should not be surprised if they come up with something that fits in with their world view: regulate, exterminate, regulate, exterminate….

  25. David
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    It should include the following :-
    1) Pedophilia is wrong. E.g. A man in his 50s who has sex with a 9 year old girl should not be respected
    2) The statement “If anyone changes his religion, kill him” is not acceptable.

  26. Roger Farmer
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Your definition of what British values are is a very good starting point before we get into a love of cricket and warm beer. When I read that your leader is considering light shows on the façade of the HOC depicting Magna Carta and our founding values, part of me thinks what a nice idea. I then think the man must be schizophrenic.

    First it is only a reaction to the Islamic education plot in Birmingham and no doubt elsewhere. Second and at the same time he is intent on kicking all this history and it’s building block values into touch by embedding us into a federal Europe. This is the logic of his desire to be in Europe with all it’s corrupt and anti democratic processes. He is hoping for a fudged referendum based on overblown but irrelevant concessions from Brussels. Brussels will not allow any meaningful re-negotiation because the logic of this is that their empire would fall apart. Numerous other members would turn round and say “We want some of this for ourselves”, and the result would be chaos.

    Something of great significance that is getting no publicity is an apparent statement by the Eurocrats of Brussels. Reference Daniel Hannan in his blog of 13th June 2014.

    “If they say Britain simply wants to withdraw from a number of common policies, if it wants a relationship based on unrestricted trade rather than common citizenship, a Swiss type deal, a form of associate status, Fine.”

    The totally bizarre and illogical reaction of Cameron is to refuse to pursue this, knowing that a large percentage of the UK electorate would probably go for it. The reason being that he and the whole Lib/Lab/Con conspiracy are Europhile with the exception of about 100 MPs. These Europhiles are happy to see a nation born out of Magna Carta enslaved to an undemocratic EU whose values are anything from Napoleonic to corrupt. Hypocrisy comes to mind.

  27. boffin
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Whatever happened to honesty …

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      In politics honesty was rarely tried.

  28. James Matthews
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    There seems to be one glaring omission from both John’s list and Cameron’s – Freedom of Speech. Perhaps this is because it is sometimes in conflict with some of the other’s specified and is routinely suppressed when it is. A statement like this can’t just be a list. There have to be priorities.

    As to respect for British institutions, well up to a point Lord Copper. Many of our institutions are clearly crumbling or unfit for purpose. Unwarranted respect is not good.

    Mind you, to the extent that Magna Carta was about values at all (rather than s a balance of social power) it was about English values. not British. Britain as an entity is also crumbling so perhaps we should once more be talking about English values.

    The whole thing is pretty depressing anyway. In the days before we were culturally enriched, British values were implicit in the history, literature, music and religion taught in English schools (less so in Scotland or Wales). That should have been continued, but it was deliberately abandoned. The need for this debate is a symptom of years of disastrous immigration and social policies.

    • John Wrexham
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      The best way to foster British values in schools would be through the old fashioned assembly and act of worship, history classes, english literature, encouraging debating societies, having a proper prefect and house system in each school, encouraging team sports and outward bound activities, and the example of teachers, parents and other role models. In fact doing what our best schools do already. Drawing up lists of British values is a very bureaucratic solution and far too top down to succeed. It’s hard to know who is worse: leftie teachers, the corpulent LEAs or meddling politicians at Westminster. Meanwhile, private schools seem to manage the job without all these hangers on!!

  29. Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    If the Scots have a right to be called Scots and the Welsh to be called Welsh, I’m English not British.
    Englishness is defined by the events which led to our present parliamentary system, our constitutional monarchy, individual rights, trial by jury, trade unions, etc. Thus our education should include a brief history of this country, from the Doomsday book (which was a first attempt at uniform taxation) onwards, highlighting those events which impacted on the development of this country.

    • John Wrexham
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      The English can call themselves English. It is the English political class that has a problem with nationality. The Welsh and Scots politicos see devolution and independence as a way to make themselves feel more important, while English politicians see posing as British as a way to make themselves feel more important. History lies behind these attitudes.

  30. Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I always like the bog standard leftie response the Cameron’s suggestion. It consists of pointing out that British history is complex, ergo there is no such thing as Britishness or British culture.

    Of course if you were to point out that Islam is complex, and thus that there is no such thing as Islam, then you’d be a wicked, Islamophobic, xenophobic racist.

    In short, the nearest lefties get to originality is vandalising their own neighbourhood.

  31. woodsy42
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    My Granny’s favourite saying – and from a religious background – was ‘treat others as you would wish to be treated’.
    Basically that covers just about everything in the way of honesty, fairness, manners, consideration and decent treatment.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Your Granny was so right. So many problems would not arise if this was followed!

      We have no need of a statement of British values. Time was when we all knew what they were. They were passed down the generations. Families passed them down to their children. If one listens to the Politicians, one would think it was a new invention! Times may change but decent standards to live by, dont. They are timeless. I hope we hear no more of this from The Prime Minister. It wont make an ounce of difference.

  32. Bert Young
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Its all very well talking about “respect for our laws” – the fact is , whether we legislate for them or not , many are over-ridden by Brussels . Young and old are confused and irritated at the inconsistency of the laws supposed to govern our country when decision after decision is made a mockery of by EU interference . The principles you have outlined in your blog today are admirable – everyone with any common sense would support them ; I am not at all surprised that you propose to follow up with a piece on Magna Carta . The hope I have is that we restore our dignity and independence back asap .

  33. yulwaymartyn
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Being able to continue studying history and geography at the age of 14 (year 9) through to GCSE at year 11 and not having to give them up in order to continue with the the mandatory subject of religious studies as my son is obliged to do.

    I seriously cannot believe that there are children in this country who finish studying history and geography at the age of 14. That tells you so much.

    • libertarian
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      yulwaymartyn

      If you wanted a proper education you should have sent your kids to a private school.

  34. Pam Plona
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Committment to small state, no income tax just consumption tax, judicial system free from political interference, policing by community consent, right to bear arms, protection of personal and residential property in law and freedom from interference by local authorities telling you to cut the grass, judgement by jury of peers in always open court, no secret trials, no state surveillance without judicial permission, freedom of education, no career politicians, max 2 terms for ALL elected representatives, make it illegal for govt. to BORROW and spend. Ban national debt, get rid of paying interest on our own money to the BOE..

  35. outsider
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, If we want to establish what are British values, I suggest that we first conduct an anonymous survey of all foreign ambassadors requesting them to tell us what values they think of as distinctively British/English. A similar survey of MEPs might also be illuminating. And please come in Peter van Leeuwen.

  36. Tom William
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    The appalling power of the Court of Protection, the way social workers are in some area given targets for taking children into care is obscene and totally un British. The secrecy of courts, the twisting of evidence (or fabrication) to justify interference, the Kafka like rules on any contact with parents or relatives would make the STASI proud. I never thought I would live in an England which sent a grandmother to prison for embracing her granddaughter. Social workers have been sent abroad to “recover” children sentenced to being in care but who have willingly fled with a parent to escape.

    Christopher Booker, in the Sunday Telegraph, has been reporting such abuses (being careful not to break the law which prohibits any reporting) for years.

    We could start by respecting the wishes of children rather than the judgements of ambitious box ticking social workers and arrogant judges.

    • Richard1
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes this is another one. I occasionally see Christopher Booker’s pieces on secret family courts and find them very disturbing. Of course its impossible to know whats true as there is no official reporting and no comment on them. Secrecy in justice should be used very very sparingly. its the antithesis of a free society.

  37. Dennis
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    David Cameron gave his definition of British values as “freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions.

    Yes I agree with him and trust him and other politicians to decide on –

    Freedom, unless it gets out of hand so how much.
    Tolerance, unless it tolerates nasty things so how much.
    Respect for the rule of law, unless the law is an ass, which it frequently is so how much.
    Belief in personal and social responsibility, which varies in multi-cultural societies unfortunately so this is a difficult one for him.
    Respect for British institutions, unless they screw their customers.

  38. Robin
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Mr Cameron would do well to take note of Her Majesty’s conduct during more than six decades. A better example of British values it will not be easy to find.

    It is somewhat ironic to see Mr Cameron emphasising responsibility, when , it appears to me, successive governments have done much to take resonsibility away from the individual.

  39. Posted June 16, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I think the whole idea of defining our values is ridiculous. Ask the French to define their values or the Egyptians to define theirs.

    If we attempt to neatly box up the values that the British all hold in common there be much left out as we attempt to please everyone. What will be left will be clichés.

    What is more, schools are there to provide an education to prepare us for our lives ahead and not a tool for indoctrination.

    There are too many people trying to ‘get at’ children with their propaganda. We should throw the lot of them out; get rid of teachers/governors and hangers-on with a political agenda and allow kids to have a decent education free from all of this baggage.

    • John Wrexham
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      What we need is independence for each school, accountability through a mix of appointed and elected school governors, a rigourous exam system that sets exams that meet our future needs and not the needs of governments now and a decent independent inspection regime for faith and secular schools that answers to Parliament, local authorities and individual constituency MPs, who answer to us.

  40. Jerry
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Slightly off topic and bridging two or more topics I know but I feel I must ask this;

    John, one thing that used to give people a sense of national and local identity, thus values, were the old style farming markets, I don’t mean the modern townie type farmers markets but old style auction markets, both cattle and produce, that were found at least once a month is principle towns. Perhaps as part of Cameron’s statement or next manifesto there could be a pledge to support the return of these traditional markets, not only would it be good for farmers but would also act as a way to educate the end customer that most of what we buy in the supermarkets is not manufactured but grown in or on the land – I sometimes wonder if anyone ever now gives a first thought as to the life history of their morning cornflakes and toast.

    New Labour did untold damage to the farming community (not just their response to the 2001 F&M outbreak), unfortunately and understandably this government has had other priorities, hopefully the next Tory majority government (in or outside of the EU) will once again return framing to its vital pedestal, without healthy farms and farming how is the country ever going to feed its self without spending much of our GDP on imported food.

    Jerry, at heart an armchair farmer!

  41. Dennis
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Again Mr Redwood you have not included my comment which I think would have been the first to be listed.

    Please tell me why.

    • John Bracewell
      Posted June 17, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      My comment also went missing without explanation, not for the first time. There appears to be some kind of selection going on which has not been explained. I think I will change my name to John Wrexham, he has 6 comments included in just this one thread.

      • Dennisd
        Posted June 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Good idea.

        My comment was waiting for moderation so it did arrive. This ‘glitch’ if it is so should be explained.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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