Michael Howard’s Globalized Campaign

Old fashioned jingoism and new fashioned marketing collide on the British campaign trail

The candidate’s grandfather was an illegal immigrant, his campaign strategist is Australian, and his party’s voter database software was developed in India. But as Party Co-Chairman Dr Liam Fox told the faithful in Brighton:

We need a Prime Minister willing to defend our traditions and heritage, who is in tune with our national identity, and who believes in an independent United Kingdom. Michael Howard will be that Prime Minister. And with your help we will deliver a government for Britain that really believes in Britain.

It’s a good thing that the Tories’ election campaign doesn’t have to pass the government’s new “Britishness test”.

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Philip Gomes
2021 years ago

Yep I’ve been following the rhetorical evolution of the Tories under Howard lately and it’s got Textor written all over it. Amusing that the Tories are stealing the BNP’s tone and texture, just like the Libs did to One Nation.

Another once great Tory party has now descended into the gutter with the fascists of the hard right. It’s tradition of Tory Liberalism is dead.

The Canadian Tories shoot themselves in the foot daily, the Australian version will eat itself alive once this electoral winning cycle is over, and the UK Tories are on the road to disrespectability.

Good riddance to this morally bankrupt left over of Empire and colonialism. Hopefully they’ll take the traditions and heritage of the monarchy with them.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Indeed, Don, but it’s a pity that the Blairites have been doing a bit of dog whistling themselves about Howard’s “Britishness” or otherwise.

John Morhall
John Morhall
2021 years ago

“Good riddance to this morally bankrupt left over of Empire and colonialism. Hopefully they’ll take the traditions and heritage of the monarchy with them”. They were in their prime at their most morally bankrupt, when the Empire was supreme, or at least there was more pink ink on the maps than currently. The more things change the more they stay the same. Fox’s promotion of Michael Howard is desparately seeking relevance by raising the same issues that were raised in the 60’s over Europe. Time has moved on, yet the Tories race to embrace the past. There must be a Tardis somewhere.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

It’s worked very well for John H, and for the Republicans in the US (that’s where Textor learnt it). So it’s probably in the Tory tradition – globalised free trade in xenophobia. And maybe the Republicans (and John H) got it from Enoch Powell or Alf Garnett in the first place. They’re all white, and even the Indian software is in the great tradition of Empire, as long as they’re kept in their place.

Nic White
2021 years ago

Can we say hypocrite?

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

Xenophobia? Fascism? Pretty strong words.

A point system based on skills seems like a fair enough measure to me – and being able to speak English is by far the most important skill needed to function in an English speaking country.

How would you tolerant types decide which of the 5 million applicants gets one of the 100,000 or so visas each year?

A lottery?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Ooh, thanks for pointing that out Sam. I’d been lazy and hadn’t clicked on all Don’s hyperlinks. While it IS true that the Tories have been trying to beat up a John Howard-style anti-refugee hysteria under the tutelage of his black propaganda team, Don’s reference to a “Britishness” test is a little misleading. This policy sounds almost indistinguishable from Australia’s longstanding points test for skilled and other migrant streams, which includes points for English language skills etc. It sounds like an entirely rational policy to me.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2021 years ago

After reading the Times article Don links to I was none the wiser as to what a Britishness test is. I googled it and now I’m not sure that it’s not an April Fool’s joke, let alone convinced it’s an ‘entirely rational policy’. This, for example, is the first hit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3077964.stm

Does anyone care whether a new migrant knows who the past prime ministers were? Apart from skills and English proficiency, I think what people want to know about a prospective immigrant is their values. If they’re into foot-binding, honour killing, female circumcision, jihad, littering, horn-tooting, not stopping at pedestrian crossings, and queue-jumping at the butcher’s, they are unlikely to be very welcome. If someone could come up with a Britishness or Australianness test that detected these things, it would do wonders for public confidence in the immigration system.

One other thing is that refugee status and skills seem to be still separate, and I can’t see the need for this. Most Western countries could acommodate more refugees if they took their skills account too. This would mean less immigrants from peaceful countries, but it’s only fair to give priority to desperate people. I think the language test for skilled refugees could be waived or maybe postponed.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

James, I suspect it’s modelled on the quizzes people have to do when they apply for American citizenship. It was introduced last year by the previous Home Secretary – can’t remember his name – the guy that had to resign over stuff that arose out of the affair he had with a Spectator columnist.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Geoff Hoon.

James

There are conceptual and human rights problems with dealing with refugees in the same way as skilled migrants. The refugee convention requires signatory countries (including the UK and Australia) not to “refoule” any refugees (send them back to their home country while they still face persecution there). Thus, once an asylum seeker within Australia or the UK is found to be a refugee, it would be a serious breach of the Convention (not to mention human rights) to impose an additional requirement that they pass a skills test and send them home if they didn’t. Refugee entry and ordinary migration entry need to be treated as quite separate matters.

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2021 years ago

I think Mark is referring to David Blunkett

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Yes you’re right. Silly me.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2021 years ago

Ken

I meant the ones in camps in Congo, Chad, Nauru and places like that, who have established their refugee credentials with the UNHCR but have nowhere to go unless someone offers. We, and I suppose the poms, have a quota for people like that, and we could increase it if we took some of them on the basis of their skills, albeit at the expense of skilled (and better-English-speaking) applicants from Finland or India or wherever.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

James

Yes, there’s no international law problem with imposing selection criteria on offshore asylum seekers. Australia does that to a limited extent with its offshore humanitarian stream, but it’s a much lower bar than applies to skilled migration streams. And I agree it’s a good idea, as long as they keep roughly matching the intake to demand for semi-skilled labour etc. With very full employment (by contemporary standards), there might well be scope for further increases in Australia’s humanitarian stream at present. The Howard government has actually increased the overall humanitarian quota over the last couple of years anyway, without any political odium.