Thursday, December 25, 2014

Why UKIP should shut up

Here’s why UKIP and others should shut up. This is not a sudden realisation – dear God, I’ve thought and felt this for a long time. Rather, I would like to think this is something akin to what far greater people than I would have described some 250 years ago as a self-evident truth.

As I write, it is Christmas afternoon. I am on the island of Tenerife of the Canaries, and it is 26 degrees Celsius and sunny. All is well.

Apart from one thing. One of my family was admitted to hospital earlier today with pneumonia. The immediate prognosis seems good and they should be fine, but this is nevertheless a grim and undesirable state of affairs.

At present, they are in hospital, being tested, observed and cared for. As far as I know, no questions were asked about their eligibility to receive this care, and they were submitted to analysis as quickly as possible.

What an utterly humane and proper way of doing things. Is that not the same thing you would do if a stranger arrived at your door with a serious injury? Treat first. Ask questions later. At any rate, it strikes me that asking any questions right now would be most inhumane. If they turned up with a claim for long-term care, having traveled solely for that purpose, then maybe (and I stress the word "maybe"), but, as it is, having suffered a severe but immediately short-term illness, care is necessary.

By now, you will have seen the analogy which I am drawing and abducted from that the argument I wish to make. Being benevolent to strangers is exactly what a modern country should aspire to do.

I know that things are more complex than that. I know that one has to consider national income, national expenditure, the global economy, population growth, and so on and so on, but UKIP (and indeed many others) and not asking questions about those things, though they are willing to deputise them into their arguments. They are asking questions about what sort of country we should be with relation to outsiders. What should we aim to be?

Well, my response to that question is that we should aim to be an inclusive country, a generous country. We should be a country that, as far as we can, aims to be charitable. We should take in the tired, the poor, the huddled masses as much as we can, and not treat them with suspicion, disdain or even hatred but with the simple capacity for human generosity and compassion.

My stating of this, at this particular moment, stems from the most selfish premise: you too could be in need. But how much better would it be for a nation to be generous simply for the sake of it. This is one of the major questions facing the UK as we head into 2015. Let us hope that we can answer it selflessly.