“So many questions and none to do
With the ultimate meaning of life.
Why didn’t Shah Jahan build the Taj
For his concubines instead of his wife?
Why does steam come off scrambled eggs
Only when they are moved from the fire?
And the edges of shirts get creased in the wash?
What’s the difference between love and desire?
No answers to these questioning prayers
From the God, who created all things
— Is bewilderment my dharma or fate?
— Look, Science grins from the wings”
From Robins Aren’t Round by Bachchoo
Curiouser and curiouser!’ Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”
Speaking good English has never been my central concern as what’s good enough for Alice is good enough for me. As an immigrant who has spent many years of my short and happy life in Britain, I claim exemption from what Queen Elizabeth II or the present leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, would consider “good English”. As for Her Majesty, I happen to have noted that her late daughter-in-law, Princess Diana in several TV interviews used the word “hopefully”, not as an adverb as Jacob would insist it be used, but as the neologism meaning “I hope that!”
That’s an aside. As an immigrant taking liberties with good English I would, when looking around me at Britain in the process of a fresh general election, say that things grow “ironiker and ironiker”.
Why, gentle reader, do I take this Alician liberty? The present government, led by Boris Johnson, who boasts that his grandfather was Turkish and keeps quiet about his ex-wife being half-Sikh, called for this election. They claimed it was the only way that they could get a majority in Parliament to “Get Brexit Done”. This government, and the Labour Party, who may displace it, stake their future on the single promise that they will pull the UK out of the European Union as soon as they have a parliamentary majority. Boris makes other promises: to extend jail sentences, build more prisons and fund health and schools, but their main plank is leaving the EU. The unspoken part of that promise is that they will make most deals with Europe later, but “Getting Brexit Done” will stop European immigrants coming to Britain straight away.
This single factor, this “keep the European wogs out, regardless of whatever else you do with the EU” is the policy that both the Tory and the Labour Party, without saying so, are embracing as their hope of electoral appeal.
So, lets begin with irony number one. Leave aside the Prime Minister’s immigrant grandparent, in the Cabinet we have Sajid Javid, the chancellor who avidly wants to keep the immigrants out. Who’s he? The son of a Pakistani immigrant who settled here when there wasn’t this anti-immigrant prejudice dominating British politics.
And there’s Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary whose father came from Czechoslovakia as an immigrant. Oh yeah — keep these poor Europeans out and I can remain as foreign secretary — hippopotamic hypocrisy?
What of Priti Patel, the home secretary in this Cabinet, whose parents are first generation Ugandan immigrants to Britain? She wants to stop European immigration with her Brexit stance. Gentle reader, I remember being part of a very active street sataygraha movement to demand that Ugandan Asians be let into the country in 1968 when the government tried to deny them the right. And now Priti and her dad, who stood for the far-right’s very anti-everybody UK Independence Party (UKIP) want to keep immigrants out.
There’s also James Cleverly in the Cabinet, whose mother is an immigrant to Britain from Sierra Leone.
None of them see it. If they had been in power that generation earlier, they wouldn’t be here.
The Labour Party leadership in their manifesto for the election again say they will get a deal to leave the European Union in six months of their being elected as a government. They want to stay in the customs union, in the single market, to adopt the EU regulations that protect workers’ rights and the environment. So why do they still leave open the door to exiting the EU? Because Brexit will keep the European immigrants out. Simple.
The irony is that this policy is supported by so-called “Socialists” and even by supposed “Trotskyists” who decry the way Stalin oppressed Eastern Europe but don’t want the workers of those worlds coming to Britain to honestly earn a living. Does one hear a rumble or a minor earthquake in a Mexican graveyard as Trotsky rotates down under?
But back to Lewis Carroll, merey yaaron:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less”.
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”
The word in question in Britain’s present political crisis is “democracy”. Boris and his advisers and Cabinet use the word to bolster their Brexit claim, pointing out that three years ago 51 per cent of Britain’s electorate voted to leave the EU. True. Two years ago they voted in the present Parliament. Boris and gang insist that the Brexit vote three years ago is binding and forever, but that the Parliament has to be subject to a fresh vote. They absolutely oppose a fresh referendum even though the Opposition truthfully claims that the leave campaign lied in the last one, that voters had no information about the economic upheaval of Brexit and that a fresh referendum would be more informed. So “democracy” for this government means a PM appointed through the party’s vote of 0.06 per cent of the British population and the denial of a people’s vote which will probably demand staying in the EU.