Birmingham is different from London but the London mindset doesn't realise. Birmingham does England and patriotism. The centuries of industry and manufacturing that conferred such power that Birmingham regarded London as a playground, a divertissement, but no more than an equal in political heft, and readily looked in the eye even on financial resources, have stamped an independence on Birmingham that London has resented and often tried to cripple.
In Birmingham University's Great Hall last night David Cameron's quick ear heard the now so faint but ever-lovely strains of Elgar playing through the gloriously municipal building, heard them still playing in the hearts and minds of the audience seated before the leaders of the parties. Cameron assured us that there would be no euro, that there would be no further invasion of values and culture, that the way out of Brown's economic disaster is work and growth, lowered taxes and encouragement of enterprise, offered the closing down of the client state and a country where people get on with whatever they wish to make of their own lives, while every opportunity to better ourselves is offered within what can be afforded.
Clegg was skewered by his proposals to leave behind the English way of life and embrace some unEnglish - no doubt worthy but not for us - European way. And he knew it; he could hear the Elgar too as he tried to turn down his Party's music (and in Birmingham we know our music, ask Rattle.) But much as Mahler is listened to with interest and respect, Verdi sung with gusto, Faure and Bartok, Schoenberg and Nono puzzled over in Symphony Hall, the Mystery Sonatas venerated in the Oratory - in Birmingham Elgar holds sway.
Brown reminded us all that he had the privilege to have been elected by the people with whom he grew up, where he was at home; in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath no doubt they have their ways and presumably Gordon Brown embodies them. Those ways do not go down well in Rochdale where plain speaking, honest dealing face to face, with a powerful streak of egalitarianism is also a very English way. Even less do those ways go down in the feisty English Midlands where economic adversity, any adversity, brings out determination, grit, inventiveness, and an intensely romantic strain of pride in country and history - everybody's history, for Birmingham has always had its face turned towards trade and the world. Gordon's globalism, though, doesn't go down in Brum - not the globalism of permanent elites administering global regions and determining resource and wealth allocation, democratically unreachable and with a leading role for Brown. Last night he was forced to face the music.
"What is morality?"
14 hours ago