This is a question everyone is grappling with now that British PM David Cameron has thrown his lot in by stating that he wants a more muscular promotion of British values to include freedom, tolerance of others and respect for the rule of law.
Cameron has directed this at UK citizens, who are followers of the Islamic faith, in light of the recent “Trojan Horse,” letter which has proved to be an utter hoax. Yet main-stream media keep banging on about it on a daily basis as if it were an established fact.
So we must now ask in earnest, what are British values? Are they unique to all who live in the British Isles or are they shared universally? It is somewhat confusing to define a value as being pertinent to one nation or flag; should they not be the same in China as they are in South Africa or Brazil or indeed, Syria? Why do they have to be defined by nationality?
Historically, recent times and the more distant past has shown us the face of British values when we consider the colonization of nearly half the peoples of the world in the past centuries. For example, the East India Company occupied, ruled, and taxed to death, each and every citizen in India for over 400-years; the company held Hong Kong until 1997 when it was handed-back to China, and most of Eastern and Southern Africa. Then there are the Chagos Islands, whose original native inhabitants were forcibly removed under the pretext that the Islands were sinking and it was no longer safe for them to inhabit them. This was in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and the displace people now languish in abject poverty in Mauritius and the Seychelles Islands, while heavy B52 Bombers and other military aircraft from the US Air Force take-off and land on a daily basis. This most probably contributes to the sinking of the Islands, not to mention the thousands of US and British Forces who live and work on the Islands without ever worrying that they may wake up one day floating in the Indian Ocean. Where are the muscular British values of freedom, tolerance and respect for the rule of law for the Chagossians.
Then there is the small matter of attacking, invading and occupying Iraq for over 11-years based on a lie about weapons of mass destruction. Don’t forget the 45-minutes claim that Saddam could launch Scud missiles against British interests in Cyprus. Over one million Iraqis were murdered based on this lie. The vociferous promotion of British values to include freedom, tolerance of others and respect for the rule of law has been absent when it comes to the Iraqis.
Let’s not forget Libya either - the 2011 campaign led by Sarkozy and Cameron resulted in the very brutal murder of the revolutionary Muammar Gaddafi, as well as thousands of Libyans. Chaos still blights the country today. Where are the promised freedoms, democracy and rule of law?
British values needs to be defined; it is still a mystery what these values entail and not one person has been able to define them. Are they abstract or real, can we touch them and can they be the same as the ones universally enjoyed by those nations not being destroyed by NATO, led by, not least, those precious and elusive British values.
Moeen Raoof for RT
Moeen Raoof is a UK-based defense consultant
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.