The conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd makes last summer’s Black Lives Matter mania in British institutions look even stranger. The British Museum, Oxbridge colleges, Sir Keir Starmer, football teams, government departments, Kew Gardens, the National Trust and numerous corporations indulged in various forms of self-abasement. Some ‘took the knee’. At the Ministry of Defence, the permanent secretary, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, broke professional political impartiality by emailing his staff about the ‘deep roots’ of ‘systemic racial inequality’ in Britain, and signing off with a BLM hashtag. He was subsequently promoted to be the UK National Security Adviser. It was never clear why, among the many dreadful injustices and atrocities in the world, this particular one required formal reaction or policy change from public bodies. If they start reacting to one horrible killing in Minneapolis, why not react to Chinese persecution of the Uighurs, the killings of protestors in Burma or the mass beheadings by Isis in Mozambique? The idiocy is even clearer now, because Chauvin has been fairly convicted by a jury. Racial problems in America are real enough, but it is a country with due process and the rule of law. BLM constantly rejects this. Do British institutions reject it too?
New Zealand is supposed to be the place where the rich buy property to escape global political conflagration. Its politicians, however, seem to feel less secure there. In February, when China was imposing trade sanctions on Australia, New Zealand chose to upgrade its free trade agreement with Beijing. This week, Jacinda Ardern’s government declared it will no longer work within the Five Eyes intelligence network (with the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada) when dealing with China. It dislikes signing statements which condemn China’s treaty-breaking suppression of democracy in Hong Kong.