Another week, another initiative which the Tories may look back on as something that seemed a good idea at the time - until it made contact with reality. The press release tells us “James Brokenshire: building better and beautiful will deliver more homes … New commission announced to champion beauty in the built environment”.
And what might that mean? More Faux Georgian Façades For Everyone? “A commission to champion beautiful buildings as an integral part of the drive to build the homes communities need has been announced by the Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP”. The commission “will develop a vision and practical measures to help ensure new developments meet the needs and expectations of communities”.
So who is going to chair this commission? “Sir Roger Scruton has been appointed to Chair the commission”. Who he? Well, he’s allegedly an “Eminent writer and philosopher”. Also, “He is an author of over 40 books”. And “He engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker and is well known as a powerful polemicist”. But there is something missing from the CV.
The missing item is that Scruton is a career racist. No qualification or equivocation is necessary here. Many will know of Scruton’s bigotry through his recent assertions, such as “Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire”, “the Soros instigated conspiracy against Hungary”, and his claim that George Soros opposes Victor Orbán’s nationalism because he is Jewish.
A recent assessment of Scruton’s claims concluded “Sir Scruton somehow thinks that all Jews are united against the government and share the same world view”, and that he “had some influence on the anti-Soros campaign in Hungary”. But there is more to Scruton’s racism than those recent assertions. There is his time at the Salisbury Review.
This small-circulation publication has two claims to fame, neither of them good for Scruton’s appointment to that Government body. One is that the Salisbury Review gave a platform to head teacher Ray Honeyford, head of Drummond Middle School in Bradford. The article, “Race and education - an alternative view”, proved incendiary.
As Bradford’s then Mayor Mohammed Ajeeb put it, “It's not the substance of what he said that was so offensive. It's how he said it and the right-wing journal in which he chose to say it”. Scruton, however, praised Honeyford, as did the Daily Mail. Neither asked the Drummond parents, who were firmly opposed to their head teacher’s views.
And the second demerit for Scruton, as that former Bradford Mayor hinted, is his magazine: that Honeyford’s thoughts had been published in the Salisbury Review only made matters worse, because the publication had promoted what was then called “repatriation”. In other words, paying ethnic minority Britons to go elsewhere.
That was the policy so enthusiastically endorsed by Enoch Powell in his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968, which got him sacked from the shadow cabinet. No, it’s not just a lapse into anti-Semitism. It’s an explicitly racist stance, and over many, many years.
Roger Scruton should not have those views rewarded with a taxpayer funded sinecure.
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