David Cameron just batted another century. I think I’ve got that right: On this side of the pond we say “hit a home run.” In Blighty, I believe one says “bat a century.” (English and other members and former members of the Empire will feel free to correct me.) [UPDATE: As many have. The correct equivalent is “hit a six.” And, I am reliably informed, one “scores a century.”] Just a week or so back, Mr. Cameron demonstrated that he was not, as many of us believed, a sort of blancmange with legs. In vetoing the proposed revisions to the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, he showed that he actually possessed a back bone and that he was willing and able to stand up for Britain. “It has to be in Britain’s interests” was his constant, and correct, refrain. When he went to Brussels for the Merkozy all-nighter, he had reportedly intended to go along to get along. But when he absorbed what the Treaty revisions would mean for the city of London (billions of pounds in new fees), he told Angela and Nicolas that they would be sailing to Eutopia without Britannia.
Mr. Cameron must enjoy standing tall. For just yesterday in a speech about religion in the public square, he told Rowan Williams, the self-described “hairy lefty” and “Druid,” who also happens to be Archbishop of Canterbury, where he could get off. He has made a pastime of criticizing the Cameron government’s spending cuts, the legitimacy of its coalition, and has recently demanded increased taxes on banks.
“I certainly don’t object to the Archbishop of Canterbury expressing his views on politics,” Mr. Cameron responded, but “he shouldn’t be surprised when I respond.” The Telegraph reported that “Downing street aides” were “concerned” about Mr. Cameron’s speech. But that’s what God made aides for: to oppose plain speaking. Reagan’s aides repeatedly struck the line “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” from his famous Berlin speech in 1987. They kept removing it, he kept putting it back in. It stayed in.
Mr. Cameron said all sorts of things calculated to give the Sir Humphreys of the world dyspepsia:
Put simply, for too long we have been unwilling to distinguish right from wrong. “Live and let live” has too often become “do what you please.”
Bad choices have too often been defended as just different lifestyles. To be confident in saying something is wrong, is not a sign of weakness, it’s a strength.
One of the biggest lessons of the riots last summer is that we’ve got to stand up for our values if we are to confront the slow–motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations.
And where has the Primate of All England been as the slow- and not-so-slow moral collapse of Britain has been unfolding? Occupying his left-wing Islamophilic eyrie and assuring his flock that Sharia law was inevitable in Britain. It took the prime minister to do his job of reminding Britons that Christian values are central to British life and deserve to be “treasured.” Mr. Cameron left the theological values largely to one side and concentrated on the pragmatic side of the religious compact: “responsibility, hard work, compassion, and humility.” Those are, Mr. Cameron said, “values that speak to us all — to people of every faith and none. Those who oppose this usually make the case for secular neutrality. They argue that by saying we are a Christian country and standing up for Christian values we are somehow doing down other faiths. I think these arguments are profoundly wrong.”
Quite right. In another time, you might have expected this message to emerge from Lambeth Palace instead of 10 Downing Street. But it’s part of what Trollope called “they way we live now” that many historical institutions and those who lead them have joined the forces of opposition. Instead of preserving and transmitting the values they were created to cherish, they undermine them. Rowan Williams is a case in point. The very least we ought to be able to expect from the Archbishop of Canterbury is public support for the traditional values of the Church he leads. But no, Rowan Williams has thrown his lot in with what the American critic Lionel Trilling called “the adversary culture of the intellectuals,” leaving it to the prime minister to stand up for the moral values that made England England.