It’s time to own up to a rather unfortunate – though pretty minor – claim to fame in being, until very recently, a friend of Dr Jonathan Lockhart, chief executive to Kilroy-Silk’s Veritas. Around this time last year, we went on holiday together. Well a weekend break. That’s him on the right having a cup of tea at Carnforth Station.
What changed Jonathan was 9/11.
A committed Christian, Dr Lockhart is a disenchanted former public policy academic, who used to believe policy should be based on evidence and principle. Not so long ago he was a leading light in the United Religions Initiative, a harmless enough body launched at the Millennium Dome in 2000 to a welcome message from the Prime Minister. A world apart from Veritas, URI strives ‘to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace’. Jonathan’s big idea was to develop vocational qualifications in inter-faith studies that would inform community work. But nothing happened. And around the time a new chair decided this rather inept organisation should have ‘a tighter approach… and a proper business plan’, Jonathan left them.
Coming alongside the post-9/11 war on terror, this failure to find a role uniting the great religions led Jonathan to a false epiphany – we’re fighting a religious war – and a populist truth. Now Jonathan finds Daily Mail hysteria ‘so good – and so important – that it deserves the maximum possible attention’. After the anti-Arab article that got him sacked, Kilroy happily admitted he didn’t know what an Arab was, but still Jonathan saw someone to belive in: he realised policy needn’t be based on evidence or principle after all. Now his truth is summed up in Kilroy’s Express columns. In his last e-mail to me, Dr Lockhart revealed he’d be selling many of his books on eBay. From now on his politics would come from the gut and he would express himself through a blog of the shrillest brouhaha.
Like Kilroy-Silk’s, Jonathan Lockhart’s descent has parallels with that of Oswald Mosley. Like Mosley he gave up on the left and helped found something called the ‘New Party’, but where Mosley’s New Party evolved into the British Union of Fascists, Jonathan’s split over Kilroy. With his partner, the Irish composer Ailis Ni Rian (who now risks comparison with Wagner for all the wrong reasons), he briefly led the Commonwealth Party, written off by the Guardian for its ‘Nazi-style logo’.
Today’s Dr Jonathan Lockhart writes of the ‘continual sparring to establish the extent to which the host culture will accommodate, adapt or concede ground to Muslims’ and endorses the view that, ‘we are engaged in a long term war against international terrorism… essentially, a war against radical Islam’. He writes admiringly of Enoch Powell, who stirred things up in the 1960s and ’70s, wrongly predicting ‘rivers of blood’ by the mid to late 1980s. So it’s little wonder that Veritas should be so welcomed by the BNP.
Jonathan used to grow tense when discussion turned to friends’ business in Spain because he was formulating an anti-Europe policy, the logic of which would require them to return home to take jobs made vacant by deported migrants. His blog has won plaudits from the usual band of hysterical Europhobes (a, b, c, d, e etcetera), at least one of whom is most excited to discover Jonathan’s new found infamy; anti-UKIP bloggers have been given jobs (which makes me chuckle); and on the other side people wonder who Jonathan might be, finding a business address (suite 201) that’s no more than a pigeon hole at Mail Boxes Etc.
Anyway. While it’s sad to break with Jonathan, it’s far sadder to break with Ailis, a talented composer and apparent darling of the RNCM, whose work I’ve sort of reviewed here. Doubly sad because making your way in classical music’s got to be tough enough without nasty associations with the far right, so let’s hope she doesn’t end up composing a career killing Kilroy’s theme. It’s bad enough that Jonathan’s rendered himself unemployable.
Getting the Indy past the BNP