Attention, Thought Criminals: Glasgow Police Have You In Their Sights

Greater Glasgow Police - THINK - Social Media - Police State - Free Speech

Glasgow Police’s conception of public safety is plain old fashioned tyranny

Imagine the kind of dystopian police state you would have to inhabit for it to be normal for the authorities to routinely warn citizens to be careful about what they think or say, on pain of criminal prosecution and potential incarceration.

Well, you don’t have to imagine, because Police Scotland and the Greater Glasgow Police are busy constructing their own tribute to North Korea right here in the UK.

The tweet shown above was posted on twitter by the Greater Glasgow Police – unironically – this afternoon, along with the menacing hashtag #thinkbeforeyoupost.

Apparently before offering up our thoughts to the internet, whether they be on politics, cooking or sport, we are to ask ourselves whether what we are posting is True, Hurtful, Illegal, Necessary or Kind. The clear implication is that if our speech fails the THINK test, some snarling Scottish police officer will turn up on our doorstep to drag us away, much as the London Metropolitan Police did with Matthew Doyle last weekend.

This is something of a scope increase for the police, to put it mildly. Where once they largely confined themselves to preventing and solving crime, apparently having since eliminated all actual crime in our society (…) and finding themselves at a loose end, they are now eager to swoop in and punish speech which passes Britains’ already draconian hate speech laws but which happens to be arbitrarily perceived by others as hurtful, unnecessary or unkind.

Let’s call a spade a spade: this is tyranny. When an enforcement arm of the state can post jocular messages on social media warning citizens to be on their best, blandest and most inoffensive behaviour on pain of arrest, we do not live in a free society any more. And it is time that more of us acknowledged this, so that we can get on with the task of rolling it back and re-establishing our corroded right to freedom of expression.

Alex Massie thunders:

Whatever next? The monitoring of conversations in public houses? Why not? Twitter and Facebook, after all, are merely digital, virtual, gathering places. As the wags on social media have put it today, Thur’s been a Tweet and Detective Chief Inspector Taggart is on the case.

Beneath the necessary and hopefully hurtful mockery, however, lurks an important point. One that relates to something more than police stupidity and over-reach and instead asks an important question about the value placed on speech in contemporary Britain. The answer to that, as this and a score of other dismal examples demonstrate, cannot cheer any liberal-minded citizen. Such is the temper of the times, however, in which we live. Nothing good will come of any of this but you’d need to be a heroic optimist to think it will get any better any time soon.

What a country; what a time to be alive.

All very good points. If social media is fair game for the thought police, why not the local pub, too? What restraint should there be, besides time and resources, on blanket surveillance of everyone all the time in the pre-emptive battle against speech crime?

When will people finally start waking up to the sheer illiberality and the authoritarian nature of contemporary society?

When will people finally realise that weaponised offence-taking and the Cult of Identity Politics do not create a Utopian paradise of peace and harmony, that in behaving this way we are only driving bad ideas underground to fester and grow while punishing those who dare to think differently?

When will people get that having the state act as an overbearing, always-watching surrogate parent figure, monitoring our behaviour and punishing those who do no more than hurt our feelings, is creating a weak-minded and unresilient population who are unable to handle slights and setbacks without running to an external authority figure for redress?

In a healthy society, the author of that tweet by Greater Glasgow Police would have broken the law by using their position to threaten the right of the people to freedom of expression – a liberty which would be guaranteed in a written constitution enshrining our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But we do not live in a healthy society, the police are free to do as they please without censure and there is no written constitution guaranteeing our liberties. Instead, we have a “make it up as you go along” constitution and form of government with a strong tendency to attempt to solve the immediate problem in front of it by taking power away from the people to act in their own interests and vesting those same powers in the state.

We are approaching the point where some kind of rebellion against this censorious, bullying, tyrannical behaviour by the police must be mounted – perhaps some kind of co-ordinated mass action whereby everyone tweets something “offensive”, gets a partner to report them to the police and vice-versa, the idea being to gum up the workings of the police and criminal justice system until the whole rotten edifice collapses in upon itself.

Semi-Partisan Politics is in very rebellious mood right now.


Police Scotland

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Arrested For Thoughtcrime In Britain Following The Brussels Terror Attacks

Matthew Doyle - Facebook - Twitter - Brussels Attacks - Muslim Woman - Arrest - Free Speech - Police

Britain has become an authoritarian dystopia where the police prefer to waste scare resources scouring Twitter for instances of supposed thoughtcrime, rather than tackling real-world crime

Matthew Doyle of Croydon, south London, was not the first person to say something stupid in the aftermath of the Islamist terror attacks in Brussels yesterday, and he will certainly not be the last. But Doyle does hold the dubious honour of being the first person in Britain to be arrested for thinking and saying – or in this case, tweeting – the wrong thing about the Brussels attacks, the latest victim of Britain’s dystopian hate speech laws.

As with most people whose free speech most urgently needs defending, Matthew Doyle does not come across as a remotely sympathetic character.

The Telegraph explains:

A man who tweeted about stopping a Muslim woman in the street yesterday, challenging her to “explain Brussels”, and lambasted on Twitter for his comments, has responded to the criticism today, insisting he is not some ‘far right merchant’.

Matthew Doyle, partner at a south London-based talent & PR agency, posted a tweet on Wednesday morning saying: “I confronted a Muslim woman in Croydon yesterday. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said ‘nothing to do with me’. A mealy mouthed reply.”

He was later arrested.

His tweet referred to yesterday’s bomb attacks on the Belgian capital’s main airport and Metro system that left at least 34 people dead and 198 injured. His comment went viral, being retweeted hundreds of times before he eventually deleted it.

Mr Doyle told the Telegraph he had no idea his tweet would be the “hand grenade” it has proven to be – and that Twitter’s 140 character limit made the encounter sound vastly different to how he thought it went.

Now there is a good case to be made that Matthew Doyle is something of an idiot – in a follow up tweet, he later exclaimed “The outrage I felt was real. I cannot understand why I decided to ask the nearest Muslim I ran into”, which certainly suggests that perhaps we are not dealing with a world class mind here.

Matthew Doyle tweet

And his subsequent tweets veered firmly toward the knuckle-dragging bigot end of the spectrum, when he retorted “Who cares if I insulted some towelhead??”

Matthew Doyle tweet - 2

But let’s be clear – even if we apply the most unforgiving interpretation of Matthew Doyle’s tweet, and his subsequent account of the conversation, it should not be enough to land a citizen of a supposedly free democracy in trouble with the law.

Even if Doyle literally sought out the first Muslim-looking person he could see on the high street, approached them unbidden and asked them to account for the terrorist actions in Brussels yesterday, no country calling itself free should drag that man through the criminal justice system.

It may be incredibly ignorant and offensive to suggest that all Muslims share responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Brussels this week. It may be astonishingly stupid. But stupidity and lack of manners should not be enough to earn someone a knock on the door from the police.

In this case, the initial response of the Twitterverse was (for once) exactly what should happen – society’s self-righting mechanism kicking in against the actions of a conspicuous idiot. Doyle said something irretrievably stupid which was then widely retweeted, and he found himself on the end of thorough, fully deserved mockery from complete strangers online. Many of the subsequent parody tweets effectively (and wittily) exposed the total lack of logic behind Doyle’s sentiments and actions.

So why is confrontation, rebuttal and mockery not enough in twenty first century Britain? Why can we not simply go to bed content that a self-declared idiot has had his idiocy widely exposed, refuted and mocked, without wanting to twist the knife further? Why is it now also necessary to compound his punishment by heaping an arrest, a trial and a possible criminal conviction on top of the self-inflicted public shaming?

As Alex Massie recently lamented when looking at the public’s response to Donald Trump’s comments about Britain, cases like these only prove his how snarlingly authoritarian and illiberal a place modern Britain can be once the sunny, progressive façade is peeled back:

It is always depressing to discover that there are vastly fewer liberals in this country than you might wish there to be. But that discovery should no longer surprise us.

This is the true attack on British and European values, and it comes from within. I am far less worried about the slim possibility that I will find myself standing next to a suicide bomber on my morning commute, and far more concerned that every single day I am apparently rubbing shoulders with people who smile and appear friendly at first glance, but who would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the criminal justice system crashing down upon my head if I happen to one day say the wrong thing (defined by British law as anything which gives them offence).

As a political blogger with sometimes forceful and controversial views, I am less worried that my writings may earn me a punch in the face from a stranger (I couldn’t be less famous, and my reflexes are quick – though I am probably playing with fire when I criticise our national religion, the NHS) and far more worried that someone will read something that I write, take massively overinflated exception to it, and – with a few clicks of a mouse or a quick telephone call – report me to the police, who would then be obliged to investigate me under Britain’s oppressive hate speech laws.

In the age of Islamo-fascist terror, my liberty and wellbeing is far more under threat from the Public Order Act 1986, the Communications Act 2003 and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 than it is from the terrorist’s bomb or the bullet. Not because I ever incite racial or religious hatred – indeed, I abhor those who do so – but because under the same laws that put Matthew Doyle in a jail cell, my “guilt” would depend entirely on the perception of the supposed “victim”. Anybody at any time can read anything that I write, claim to be alarmed and distressed by the ideas that I express, and have me carted off to prison.

They can do this to idiots like Matthew Doyle. They can do it to political bloggers like me. And they can do it to you. Sitting at your computer right now, you can get yourself arrested and cautioned, convicted and even sent to prison just by typing fewer than 140 characters on your keyboard. In Britain. In the year 2016.

In case the government actually cares, this is how the terrorists really win. They’ll never make Britain part of a radical Islamic Caliphate, but they can certainly help to ensure that we become such a snarlingly authoritarian, freedom-hating society that our country is changed irrevocably for the worse.

And as the freedoms and liberties which distinguish Britain from more benighted parts of the world – including primitive quasi-medieval regimes like the Islamic State – are shot to pieces, it is our own hand on the trigger. No one else’s. We do this to ourselves.


Postscript: What remains unclear at this time is whether Matthew Doyle was arrested for the content of his original tweet, his subsequent tweets (some of which were actually far more offensive) or the real-world act that his initial tweet described.

It may seem an arcane detail, but it will be interesting to discover whether the woman accosted by Doyle made the complaint, or whether it was a foot soldier in Britain’s growing army of professional online offence-seekers who took offence on her behalf. I would bet a very large sum of money that it is the latter, and that while the “victim” herself probably shrugged off the incident, Doyle’s prosecution is being urged most strongly by other people who are completely unconnected with the incident and who were not adversely affected in the slightest by his tweet.


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The Daily Toast: Alex Massie Calls Out Britain’s Growing Illiberal Streak

Ban Donald Trump Petition

The pathetic petition to ban Donald Trump from entering Britain – for the high crime of being an idiot – reveals a festering illiberal sickness at the heart of our nation

Are we really that country? Are we really that petty, authoritarian, second rate destination that bans foreigners whom we accuse of endangering the “health and morals of the nation”?

Yes. Increasingly, regrettably, yes we are. Donald Trump will escape the travel ban which many on the virtue-signalling Left are desperate to impose by virtue of who he is, the fact that he has no plans to come here anyway, and the diplomatic impossibility of thus spurning a US presidential candidate, even an unlikely one. But others before him have not escaped Britain’s growing intolerance of intolerance.

Comedians such as Dieudonné M’bala M’bala have been banned from visiting Britain to perform their racist comedy routines. Bloggers like Pamela Geller have been banned from entering the UK because their pungent and unpleasant political views have been deemed to be “not conducive to the public good”.

So we are already that country, no matter whether or not Theresa May decides to put Donald Trump’s name on her little list. We are already that country which has lost so much faith in our British, Western and democratic values that we now see unpleasant or inflammatory speech as something which will harm our already-fragile society.

The wretched story even made it to Prime Minister’s Questions. The fevered ramblings of that reality TV star turned presidential candidate were actually raised by an MP in the House of Commons, and George Osborne (standing in for David Cameron) was asked to intervene to protect us from the Big Bad Man. Serious journalists debated whether or not a ban was appropriate, when they could have been writing about something, anything else.

There’s certainly nothing like a swaggering, ignorant Republican presidential candidate to bring out the angry, authoritarian cheerleader in Dan Hodges:

What we have just witnessed is not just another attention-seeking rant from a Republican hopeful who is trying to secure definition in a crowded primary field. What Trump has done is effectively call for a race war.

[..] One of the most popular TV shows in the US at the moment is an alternative history drama called The Man In The High Castle. It is set in a world in which the Allies lost the second world war, and America lives under a fascist dictatorship.

Donald Trump wants to be the man in the high castle. Ban him. Ban him now.

But this is far from an uncommon reaction. The Independent earnestly argued exactly the same point – that Donald Trump’s views were not simply factually incorrect and misguided views to be challenged and debated, but potentially “harmful” words of such power that their speaker must be forcibly kept at bay and prevented from corrupting the impressionable minds of the British public.

Fortunately, there are dissenters. This blog weighed in when the Donald Trump story first broke, making the case that the illiberal instincts of the outraged Left are just as harmful as the nonsense spouted by Trump.

And now Alex Massie has an excellent piece in CapX, taking square aim at the “fatheaded nincompoops” more interested in signalling their virtue and parading their ignorance of the free society than defeating the actual ideas espoused by Trump.

Massie writes, sarcastically:

If we ban something, you see, that something will disappear. Even better, by banning ugly speech we will be able to demonstrate our moral superiority. And, when push comes to shove, that’s what matters most. Smugness warms the soul like nothing else this winter and every place must be a “safe space”.

And so it is. Imprisoned by the dogmatic belief that all cultures and values are inherently equal, none superior to any other, all that some parts of the Left can now do is squeal with protest when anyone does anything to hurt someone else’s feelings.

Massie continues, making reference to the parallel “controversy” surrounding champion boxer Tyson Fury whose nomination for Sports Personality of the Year is causing hysteria because of his unreconstructed views on gender roles and sexuality:

Repeat after me: there is no right not to be offended. But if we must be outraged let us be more outraged by those who seek to stymy and prohibit speech than by those whose speech the censors would have us suppress.

I deplore Donald Trump and have little admiration for the cut of Tyson Fury’s jib but, damn it, I’ll defend their right to be objectionable – and even repellent – if the alternative is siding with those who instinctively react to disagreeable opinions by seeking to suppress them. These people pose a vastly greater threat to liberalism and public decency than the people they deplore themselves.

These arguments over Trump and Fury might seem trivial but they are minor manifestations of a much larger issue. Remember January? Remember “Charlie Hebdo”? Remember all the pious declarations of sympathy and support and solidarity? Remember how politicians discovered that free speech might actually be something worth defending? Remember “Je suis Charlie”?

[..] Trump and Fury do not, in themselves, matter very much. But the reaction to their speech does matter. It is always depressing to discover that there are vastly fewer liberals in this country than you might wish there to be. But that discovery should no longer surprise us.

One can hope that the growing number of signatories to the Ban Donald Trump petition are drawn entirely from the ranks of virtue-signalling left-wing keyboard warriors, and are thus entirely unrepresentative of the British people as a whole.

One can tenuously hope that some of those who say that they want to ban Donald Trump are simply registering their strong disagreement with his latest inflammatory comments, and that they don’t really mean it when they call for a person to be banned from entering this country on account of their political views

One can even hope that the angry petitioners are outnumbered by a greater silent majority of Britons who don’t see Britain’s current, shameful track record of banning controversial people from entering our country as a marvellous precedent which should be extended to Donald Trump, simply because he’s an exceedingly offensive ass.

One can hope.

But I’m not sure any more. Perhaps it’s entirely a function of following the daily news cycle too closely and attaching too much weight to the petty storms and crusades of social media. Perhaps Britain isn’t really becoming a more sanctimoniously self-satisfied and intolerant place, populated by beady-eyed, brittle-egoed adult babies whose first reaction to encountering dissenting or unpleasant opinions is to screech indignantly for the authorities to have them banned.


But it’s hard to feel much hope after reading much of the Donald Trump coverage in Britain over the past couple of days.

Donald Trump Hat - Make America Great Again

From next week, I’ll be in Texas and Ireland to celebrate Christmas and the New Year respectively. Blog updates will continue, but at a reduced frequency until normal service resumes in January.

Many thanks to everyone for reading, sharing, commenting, debating and contributing.

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Why The United Kingdom Is Coming Apart At The Seams

British Values word cloud


“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present” – President Abraham Lincoln, Annual message to Congress, December 1862

Nobody should be surprised that the Scottish independence referendum campaign has tightened so much in the closing days, and that we now face the very real prospect of our country breaking in two.

Though it is immensely painful for unionists to see the “Yes” camp boast even a viable chance of success, and the events of the past week seem like an unforeseen emergency, the roots of this crisis have in fact been sowed over many years.

The uncomfortable truth is that the Scottish independence referendum campaign became so close because it was allowed to generate into a mere political argument – left wing pipe dreams versus conservative continuity – rather than being built into a real debate about nationhood, nationality and belonging.

What little talk there was of national identity was ceded entirely to the pro-independence campaign. Within the SNP are a die-hard contingent of Braveheart-style zealots who would vote for independence come hell or high water, ruinous economic consequences be damned. But a far greater number, the ranks currently giving the “Yes” campaign a marginal lead, are formed of naturally left-leaning Scottish voters who do not know – because they have not been told – that this campaign is about anything other than advancing a left-wing political agenda to which they are sympathetic.

There has been almost no talk from the “Better Together” campaign of what would be thrown away and lost forever if the Scottish people vote to leave the United Kingdom. This is partly because it was felt that a campaign in which voters were forced to choose between their Scottish and British identities could only ever end one way, with Scottishness winning hands-down. This may or may not be the case. But it is also because the inhabitants of the British isles have gradually become unaccustomed to talking about our nationality, our shared sense of identity and purpose, at all.

When Britain is mentioned in political debates, it has been in the false context of how small and ineffectual a country we are, buffeted by economic and geopolitical forces beyond our ability to control or influence alone. Witness, for example, the debate about Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, where the political consensus among all main parties (save UKIP) is that Britain cannot possibly survive in the world without surrendering a huge portion of her sovereignty to the EU’s supra-national institutions.

This air of national decline and inferiority has been peddled so successfully and for so long that it is accepted unquestioningly as a universal truth by many of us, despite overwhelming facts to the contrary. The truth is that Britain remains one of the few truly consequential and influential nations on Earth – culturally, economically, politically and militarily. It has become fashionable to be blasé about this fact, or to deny it altogether, but pride in this fact is justifiable, indeed essential if we are to maintain the importance of a strong nation state as the best guarantor of individual freedom and prosperity.

And yet the importance of the nation state has been continually played down in Britain. Decisive action in the national interest is viewed as arrogant and unseemly, with undue reverence given instead to the nebulous notion of “international co-operation” which sounds wonderful on paper but inevitably means closed-door meetings and undemocratic decisions taken by ministers and heads of government with no real accountability. On some level the leftists realise this truth, as their growing opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) reveals.

The concept of British nationality has been further undermined by well-intentioned but misguided dogmas which insist that all cultural behaviours within Britain’s wonderfully multiracial patchwork are valid and acceptable, even when they conflict strongly with traditional British values of tolerance, democracy, patriotism, fairness and equality before the law. Thus problems that manifest within non-assimilated minority communities go unaddressed for fear of violating the unwritten rules of political correctness, leading (in part) to scandals such as the Birmingham Trojan Horse schools scandal or the appalling, endemic sexual abuse scandal in Rotherham.

When politicians have raised concern about the lack of British values being taught in schools and promoted more generally in the culture, the petulant response from many quarters (mostly but not exclusively from the left) has been to negate British accomplishments and virtues, talking up the rest of the world while disparaging Britain at every turn.

Michael Rosen, writing in The Guardian, attacked then-education secretary Michael Gove’s call for schools to teach British values with all the smug superiority of a brainy sixth-former, and inevitably tinged with the usual list of left-wing resentments – some of which are fair, but none of which should be sufficient to negate his love of country to the extent that they clearly do:

I see you’re going to require all your schools to teach British values. If you think you’re going to have the support of all parents in this project, you’ll have to count me out.

Your checklist of British values is: “Democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.” I can’t attach the adjective “British” to these. In fact, I find it parochial, patronising and arrogant that you think it’s appropriate or right to do so.

So let’s go through it. I like democracy. I don’t think you do. You’ve replaced the democracy of local government control over schools with the marketplace.A tiny number of speculators, debt-sellers, rate-fixers and gamblers have altered the lives of millions of people. No one voted them in. No one can vote them out. We have an unelected head of state and an unelected second chamber…

And so it goes on, ad nauseam.

But the problem is not confined to the likes of Rosen, or to the many Scottish nationalists who see independence only as a useful stepping stone to achieving the kind of far-left political settlement that they so desperately want.

The problem is that even many patriotic Brits from all corners of the United Kingdom are struggling to articulate the reasons why they desperately want to keep our Union together. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, tried in his own unique way, but the result was nothing special. Various elder statesmen of British politics have tried, but none of them have managed to make the heart beat faster for love of Britain, either. And God knows that the people running the “Better Together” campaign have failed, focusing almost entirely on the risks of Scottish independence rather than the great benefits of continued union.

One of the few voices to really succeed in speaking up in favour of the United Kingdom, and arguing that Scottishness and Britishness need not be mutually exclusive, is Alex Massie. In a long piece in The Spectator – worth reading in its entirety – he writes:

The other day the historian Tom Devine remarked that all the Union has going for it is sentiment, family and history. Like that’s not enough? Those aren’twee things, they’re the things that make us who we are. The blood and guts, the bone and marrow of our lives. The tissue that connects us to our fellow citizens, the stuff that makes us more than an individual. The things from which you build a society.  You can have that in Scotland, alone and independent, too of course. But we also have it in Britain, right now, and we will lose some of that if we vote Yes. Or some of us will, anyway.

So I think of E Pluribus Unum and I think that’s a motto that applies to the United Kingdom too. And so does its opposite: within one, many. There’s ample room for many types of Britain. Not just Scots and Welsh and Irish and English but Pakistani-Scots, Jamaican-Welsh and Nigerian-English too. I think it’s the tensions and ambiguities inherent in all of this that makes Britain interesting; that makes Scotland interesting too.

The conclusion also offers a much-needed hint of British exceptionalism, and makes one see Britain as really being a country quite like no other:

Most of all, I like that when you get the train to Scotland from London or Peterborough or Newcastle north and you cross the border in the gloaming you feel your heart soar and you cry hurrah and yippee because you know you’re home now without having been abroad. I like that and think it matters. I don’t know if I know why it does or why it suddenly seems so valuable but I know I do. But that’s the Britain I know and like; a place in which I’m always Scottish but also, when it suits, British too. A country where you travel to very different places and still always come home without having been abroad.

Sadly, these kind of sentiments – though possibly quite common among British citizens from both north and south of the border – have been heard far too rarely in the debate, until the referendum is almost upon us and it may be too late to prevent a calamitous outcome. And there is no justification for the outraged surprise now pouring forth from unionist pundits and politicians. Britain is now reaping what her political and intellectual leaders sowed over the course of an entire generation.

This is what happens when an extreme, uncompromising brand of enforced multiculturalism is allowed to triumph over multiracialism.

This is what happens when we allow the perception to take hold that patriotism and pride in one’s own country is a dirty, shameful thing.

This is what happens when years of appalling education policies create a generation who do not possess a narrative history of their own country or have the faintest clue how it came into being, what it has stood for and how its institutions function.

This much is no exaggeration – your blogger took compulsory history classes at school until the age of 14 (at which point the subject was dropped thanks to the awful way it was taught), during which time the topics studied included the Tudors, the Vikings, the First and Second World Wars, and coal mining in Wales. Contrast this woeful failure to provide a comprehensive narrative history of Britain with the history education that an American student might expect to receive, and it makes a painful comparison.

Britain has been slowly waking up to these problems, but in a lazy, leisurely manner that is wholly inadequate to the urgency of the threat. Until now, our failure to nurture a common sense of shared national identity (something that the Americans do so well, and from whom we have much to learn) has led to unfortunate blips and political scandals such as the Birmingham schools Trojan Horse scandal or the repeated flying of a black, ISIS-style flag from the gates of a public housing estate in London. But these symptoms pale in comparison to the very real existential threat which seems to have crept up on so many politicians and pundits almost unnoticed.

Sure, failing to ensure that newly arrived immigrants integrate into the British way of life or allowing proponents of extremist Islam to gain a foothold in schools poses a medium-term threat to the security of the United Kingdom due to the possibility of future acts of terrorism. But the fallout from these failures does not have the potential to destroy our country overnight. On the other hand, our collective failure over at least the past thirty years to inculcate any sense of Britishness even among our own indigenous population could see our country effectively destroyed at the ballot box as soon as next week.

There is blame enough to go around for allowing this slow-motion calamity to come so close to fruition, but now is not the time. Right now, it must be all hands to the pumps in a final effort to save the United Kingdom from Alex Salmond’s chimerical fantasy of an independent Scotland serving as a socialist, egalitarian beacon for the world.

If we avoid disaster and are still fellow countrymen the morning after next Thursday’s referendum, we can then finally get to work shoring up our battered and frayed sense of nationhood, and by every means at our disposal. Educational reform, constitutional reform and government policy at the Westminster and devolved assembly levels will all have an important part to play, as well as a new constitutional settlement to iron out the unfairness of the many perks now being showered on Scotland as a desperate bribe for them to stay in the Union.

But even if the United Kingdom survives the referendum and its aftermath, it will still be for nothing if all 64 million of us British citizens cannot find a way to unlearn years of relentless teaching that there is nothing great about Britain.