According to the Daily Mail, Cleese, who's currently doing a stand-up tour in Australia, was interviewed on the Australian T.V. show 7:30, and was asked what he thought about British culture and the recent London riots. Cleese, who is a Liberal Democrat supporter, replied that London is no longer an English city, and that he feels like a foreigner when walking its streets. From the London Evening Standard:
"I'm not sure what's going on in Britain. Let me say this, I on't know what's going on in London because London is no longer an English city and that's how they got the Olympics.
"They said 'we're the most cosmopolitan city on Earth' but it doesn't feel English.
"I had a Californian friend come over two months ago, walk down the King's Road and say to me 'well, where are all the English people?'.
"I love having different cultures around but when the parent culture kind of dissipates you're left thinking 'well, what's going on?'"
Here's a video showing the segment:
Cleese's point is further buttressed by the fact that of the eight million people who currently live in Greater London, 2.7 million residents were born outside the UK, and more than 300 languages are spoken in the city. And it's not the first time he has bemoaned the dissipation of traditional English culture in his homeland. In 2010, Cleese lamented the state of modern England, bemoaning a decline in traditional middle-class values, which he says has been replaced by a yob culture.
Cleese immediately got support from the English Defence League, which posted a link to Cleese's comments on its Twitter page. U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage also praised Cleese for for articulating what an increasing number of people in London are thinking, saying "For him to make these remarks shows a tremendous strength of feeling on this matter". And while the British National Party did not specifically react to Cleese's statement, they note that on the average, one-third of births in the United Kingdom are to at least one foreign parent, and in some places, the number reaches as high as 75 percent. The BNP also reported that nine out of 10 jobs in Britain were taken by foreign nationals in 2010.
Naturally, the multiculturalists trotted out their champions to discredit Cleese. London Mayor Boris Johnson criticized Cleese, saying that Britons should celebrate the capital's diversity. A spokesman for the Mayor said, "If the King's Road is jam-packed with visiting foreign tourists then that is something we should celebrate", while an unidentified friend of Johnson added "Only an idiot would not want London to be the global capital of retail, food and fashion".
Of course, John Cleese was NOT taking issue with tourists; after all, tourists come and go. Instead, Cleese was taking issue with immigrants -- excessive numbers of immigrants -- who come and STAY, and make little effort to assimilate. And many of those immigrants will never need to spend a single shilling on sunscreen, if you know what I mean.
One other London politico took a whack at Cleese. Labour's London Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone said, "To stay competitive London must be what New York is to the USA, a global centre of business, culture and innovation, none of which can be achieved without people of all nations working and living here. Without that London's status as a driver of the British economy would be permanently lost."
It seems like the recent riots U.K.-wide tend to support Cleese's viewpoint much more than the establishment politicos.