Cultural Diplomacy News (CDN)
The Rt. Hon. Bill Cash (Member of British Parliament)

25.08.2011 - Interview conducted by Jason Dudhee

Q. how relevant do you think art is as an accessible form of cultural diplomacy?

A. Absolutely fundamental! The spontaneity of the artist is based on freedom, and it is this freedom which actually determines whether it is the political market place or economic market place through general elections and the decisions taken at an international and a national level whether the world will be stable or not and artistic expression is one of the fundamental components of that freedom so we must maintain that freedom for the artist as well as freedom for the politician.

Q. how do you think art exchange can foster or encourage future multiculturalism?

A. it can generate an understanding of the basic freedoms and principles on which modern civilisation will continue to develop. Unfortunately it is up against an increasing desire to internationalise legal structures and to create a homogenised legal system with laws that will have an impact just as in the days of the Soviet Union or the days of Hitler’s tyranny, or even during Napoleon’s time, in an attempt to turn the artist into a subordinate tool of the state.

Q. use of cultural diplomacy and your opinions on cultural diplomacy in international relation and intra-cultural relations?

A.  I think it is incredibly important that politicians and diplomats should keep the question of art, literature, architecture, sculpture, paintings in their minds that it should be indigenous and diverse, not homogenised and uniform and that when they are promoting different conferences and seminars, whether it is through the United Nations  or in the British Council that the most important thing to remember is that the freedom of the artist and freedom of the spirit is also at the heart of that individualism which lies at the heart of freedom and liberty in the political context as well.

Q. Does culture have a role to play in British politics? Should British policies reflect this?

A. yes, it certainly does and always has done. It will never die because the British believe in freedom above all else and therefore will always stand up for the individual artist even if they are critical of certain individual forms of expression because we believe in freedom and accountability, and we believe in cultural diversity.  But at the same time, if you have started imposing conditions through government on the manner in which people express their opinions, whether through music, art or theatre then you end up with a very dangerous situation as you had, for example, in Nazi Germany or in China, and I’m afraid that the EU has its own parameters on what they believe to be European culture and this should not be a matter of state control, it shouldn’t be something that is embedded in a treaty but something that should be allowed to flower separately from state apparatus and control. It is interesting that the Maastricht Treaty, which I strongly opposed, helps to monopolise and institutionalise European Culture which it will then attempt to define, whereas the beauty and importance of European culture has been its spontaneity during the renaissance and music of the 18th and 19th centuries and in the more modern times such as the impressionists(Picasso etc).

Beauty and character come from its spontaneity. Not to try to impose a muffle homogeneity on it.

Q. opinion on multiculturalism in Europe? Britain as well? Continue will policies or has it failed as David Cameron said?

A. I have been arguing that multiculturalism has failed from the days when other leaders were arguing that it was the best way to go. I don’t believe in the term multiculturalism but believe in the individual rights for individual people as expressed in the ballot box and I do not believe in any of those that come from certain minorities that believe they can impose their religious views and say that that is the only way you can go. I believe in religious freedom, toleration , and fairness. I do not believe in imposing equality  by an act of parliament, I think what you should do is to generate  the circumstances in which the freedom, the fairness and traditions of British democracy are present in their attitudes towards one another and I believe that all people are free and are equal but I get very concerned when people begin to impose requirements through restrictive legislations which prevents the spontaneity of the fairness and tolerance which comes from the natural attitudes of people who come from british political and social values.

Thank you very much for your time!