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BLAIR TAKES THE HEAT FOR FALL OF THE U.K.

The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana

By Peter Hitchens

Encounter Books

332 pages, $22.95

Count on it. There's money to be made being a good scold. In the wake of Jeremy Paxman's book, "The English," bemoaning the evaporation of the British Empire, the withering of the Church of England and the irrelevancy of Parliament, now comes Peter Hitchens, hard-arguing brother to Christopher, a journalist already well known in the United States.

Peter Hitchens can't abide Prime Minister Tony Blair and what he stands for. Hitchens blames the imminent extinction of a "great civilization, whose greatest possession is liberty," on Blair. (Blair told him to "sit down and stop being bad" after a particularly cantankerous set-to with the press.)

Blair, of course, runs a government along the lines of his idol, Bill Clinton. Everything is politically correct. Focus groups, omnipresence, political fervor and polls are de rigeur. The author traces Blair's modus operandi to our former president.

Blair is Clinton incarnate to Brits. May 1, 1997, the Labour victory election day, denotes for Hitchens the breakup of the United Kingdom into a European feudal state. The author outlines a couple of the effects of the Labour Party and its policies on Britain:

The age gap:

Few people under the age of fifty now possess what could be described as a Conservative imagination. Their attitude toward sexuality, drugs, manners, dress, food, swear-words, music and religion has little in common with the traditional idea of Conservative behaviour.

The death of the people's princess:

Television, by taking the side of the new, emotional, victim-loving faction, made it seem as if the pro-Diana, anti-Windsor mood was universal and unchallenged, causing many people to wonder if they were personally flawed because they did not feel the sensations that TV was reporting and encouraging. ... Diana had become the grotesque combination of Marilyn Monroe, Eva Peron and John Lennon, martyred by the mythical 'establishment,' the strange false enemy whose alleged existence was and is the excuse for Labour's slow-motion coup d'etat.

Why should this all be so? Hitchens' view is that the British people do not see themselves as citizens of a broad union, a nation state, anymore. They choose to think of themselves instead as citizens of the U.K.'s smaller nations, with little pride in Britannia ruling anything. Certainly many forces converged after World War II to defeat the notion of a Great Britain. Family life changed, as it did in the States. The influence of U.S. culture, with its pervasive money and sexuality, spread its capitalistic stench over the land. At least that's Hitchens' view. In short, England was invaded by its ally. But that's too simple a pleading. There was plenty of gloom and desuetude to build upon within the United Kingdom before Tony Blair. "The Abolition of Britain" is, nevertheless, a full-throated polemic and wonderfully readable.

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