Monday, Tuesday, British Values Day…

The “debate” rumbles on, and now we have one of the more unpleasant government ministers, Liam Byrne, publishing a Demos pamphlet on the subject.

Highlights include his attempt to write the history of immigration legislation in this country without using the word “racist” (apparently the “debates were difficult”, p.48) and the vox pop who entered into the spirit of things by suggesting, p.61, that we might deal with the proposed “Britain Day” “by making more of an existing day e.g. Pancake Day”.

The person who suggested (p.64) that such a day involve the participation of “celebrities with the right values (eg David Beckham, Kate Moss)” may have been onto something, too.

14 thoughts on “Monday, Tuesday, British Values Day…”

  1. God, it really is dreadful.

    “When the rules of the road are clear, people relax about where their neighbours plan to travel.”


    “With the death of Princess Diana, Britain suddenly saw in its response a very different kind of country from the nation of 30 years ago. We realised that Britain was a place of diversity.”

    Good God.

    I got as far as the nonsensical paragraph on Burke and gave up, I’m afraid.

  2. (Commenting on my own post like a deranged creature…)

    On reflection, there’s something pretty odious about the New Labour immigration minister, of all people, kicking off his pamphlet with the words “In a world without walls…” What a wanker.

  3. (And now, replying to Dan)

    It is very badly written, in a strangely bad way. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    And the New Labour Britishness industry is weirdly preoccupied by the death of Diana. Years ago, when Bernard Crick was pushing his wretched Citizenship curriculum in schools, I think his outfit was proposing that kids write down their dreams about Princess Diana, or something equally twisted.

  4. Points 13 and 21 of Liam’s list of things to do on a British day (‘drinking’ and ‘cheap’) can be rolled into one by simply buying a can of traditional British Tennent’s Super.

    I had a look at the Demos pamphlet. Is it me or are there bits where sentences just end completely unexpectedly?

    ‘Throughout our political history our movement has nurtured those who reached a point – like the Rochdale pioneers or the co-operative corn millers of the 1760s – who reacted to tough economic conditions.’


  5. It is puzzling, because you’d have thought the one things think tanks have in abundance is unpaid student interns who can rewrite the pamphleteer’s crappy prose and give the final text a fairly decent subedit. I like the way in which sentences just reappear in the pamphlet, so he tells us on both p.11 and p.65 that he is proud to be an Essex boy, that when he goes to continental Europe he feels European, and that “as a Catholic, part of me is defined by two millennia of history and an allegiance to the Pope”, not that any of this interferes with his pride in being British, oh no.

  6. If he’s defined both by allegiance to the Pope and British pride, how does he celebrate Guy Fawkes night? (By the way, Chris – any signs of Petainist rhetoric or ideology?)
    Maybe the student interns just gave up on trying to read and edit it? I wouldn’t want to have to edit it even if I were being paid, much less gratis. (But then I’m also not the type to work at Demos, perhaps).

  7. Not sure about Pétainsm. The leaflets that were produced by the Labour Party at the time that Byrne was elected to parliament were pretty much indistinguishable in terms of content from British National Party literature, though, so you don’t have far to go to find Unsavory Rightwing Comparisons.

  8. Which is more vacuous? ‘Shared values’ (Brown) or ‘shared standards’ (Byrne)? When I either of these phrases, I want to give both men a determinedly good kicking for being so arrogantly, stupidly vapid.

  9. “because you’d have thought the one things think tanks have in abundance is unpaid student interns who can rewrite the pamphleteer’s crappy prose and give the final text a fairly decent subedit.”

    yes, and furthermore it is HIGHLY IRRITATING because some people feel that they could do a better job being an unpaid intern but don’t get a look in because they don’t know the right people.

    it is striking though the extent to which modern organisations now incorporate unpaid interns into their fundamental working structure. It is also frankly disgusting that many self-proclaimed ‘left wing’ organisations are as happy to take unpaid labour which only the rich and well connected usually have a chance of getting their hands on.

    sorry i’ve done it again, but this stuff is getting my goat a lot at the moment.

  10. sorry for the sentence that doesn’t make sense.

    maybe Demos should just employ me outright, looks like i’m over-qualified to intern.

    (oh the embarrasment)

  11. Steve Platt used to run a little ‘from the editor’ column on the letters page of New Statesman & Society (on one occasion he used it to tell me personally to shut up). I remember once he devoted the whole column to the story of someone who’d rung up asking to be an intern (as we didn’t then say) at the NSS and been turned down. Apparently Platt had said he’d think about it, then decided that, on balance, they were already employing people to do all the work that needed doing, and having an extra person following the editor around like a lost dog wouldn’t really add value (as we didn’t then say). Cue great disgruntlement from the would-be intern, whose letter Platt quoted at length.

    I was with him. I could understand that person being disappointed – it would have been a great way to get experience and, more importantly, meet people – but not the megalomaniac sense of entitlement. And, as Paul says, it’s premised on the assumption that people who can afford to do the job as a hobby are the people you want around. I was chatting to a gallery owner once, years ago, and (being on the lookout for work) asked him how much he paid his assistants. He quoted some eye-poppingly tiny figure, and explained that he didn’t actually want people who needed the money – if they could afford to work for the money he was offering, they were probably loaded, which probably meant that their friends were loaded, which would mean they’d bring custom to the gallery.

    In most jobs salary sets a lower bound – to get this job you need to be good enough to ask this much. If it starts being an upper bound – you need to be rich enough to accept this much – something’s wrong somewhere.

  12. Apropos of this interesting little diversion, it’s interesting to note that banking and accountancy internships tend to be quite well-paid, while legal internships tend to be on the exploitative basis.

    (My last job paid students on a year-long industrial placement about £20k, IIRC. Not exactly a fortune, by any chalk, but liveable on with care.)

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