Try to spot the connection between the two articles that I’ve quoted from.

Here’s an extract from a 2003 New Statesman column regarding Anthony Browne:

“The Conservative Party is now committed to taking MI5 officers away from these urgent tasks and giving them the drudge work of screening applicants. Duncan Smith and Letwin must know that their proposal endangers national security, but to point out their deliberate folly is to miss the point of elite populism. In its strange mental universe, those who object to Letwin and the Murdoch press are themselves “elitists”, who snobbishly disregard the fears and wishes of the masses.

This line of cant has been developed by Anthony Browne, an occasional contributor to this paper, and a writer for the Times and Spectator, elite journals both. “Blair’s epidemics” of Aids, TB and hepatitis B are being spread by asylum-seekers, he has asserted to great acclaim. You can understand the reasons for the applause. Browne has moved the debate on. Asylum-seekers are not only scroungers and terrorists but plague carriers, like the rats that brought the Black Death.

Browne insists that he is a brave dissident bringing a truth which few dare utter. The “elite” has covered up the crisis and attacks men such as him with the “McCarthyite” smear of racism. In his writings, Labour is no longer a party which has denied legal entry to asylum-seekers and slashed their benefits, but a government “whose intellectual faculties are so crippled by political correctness that not offending would-be immigrants has become more important than saving the lives of British people”.

As with Algerian terrorism, Aids offers no obvious authoritarian solution. You can screen asylum-seekers from Africa for, say, Aids, but what about visitors from Africa? Or east Europeans? The fantasy of the right is of a world without movement.

There are darker thoughts, too. Browne complained that David Blunkett, under the protection of parliamentary privilege, had described his writings as “bordering on fascism”. If the Home Secretary were to repeat this outrageous slur outside the Commons, he would, he implied, sue.

Blunkett would have a little supporting evidence should the case come to court. The Observer printed details of a US anti- immigration website that hero-worships Browne as “Sir Anthony”. Browne was delighted by the compliment and brought news from the disease-ridden dictatorship that is Blair’s Britain. No one dares criticise asylum-seekers because the BBC “brainwashes the people about the delights of multiculturalism at every opportunity”, he told the appalled Yanks. But there was hope. A page of pro-British National Party views run recently in the Times was, he said, “a truly incredible event”.

Browne told the Observer that his remarks about the BNP had been in a private e-mail, and in any case he hadn’t meant “truly incredible” as in “absolutely marvellous” but as in “utterly unthinkable in a country usually wary of fascism”.

Make of that what you will, but at the very least I think we can safely say that barriers are being broken in politics and the media; and old restraints, which were only ever feeble, are being loosened.”

And here’s extract from a recent Evening Standard column regarding Anthony Browne:

“It’s not political correctness he (and they) are against but the perversion of liberalism by Whitehall and the BBC, which holds that it is somehow wicked to talk about racial attacks on whites, anti-Semitism or tensions between immigrants. After the hysterias of the Livingstone administration, his arrival in City Hall ought to be a welcome sign that London is at last moving on and becoming a more honest city.”

I’ve have no problem with changes of opinion – maintaining one merely for the sake of consistency is silly – but Nick Cohen could at least admit to his. In the latter column he remembers being impressed with Browne in 2002 – about a year before the former column.

Hat-tip: Simon, commenting at London, Mayor And More

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