The real problem, in America, Britain, Canada, Oz, NZ, is not the left, who know what they want and are serious about getting it, but the pansy right. It’s easy to mock AOC and Justin and Jacinta Ardern, but all they’re doing is sailing full steam ahead for their desired utopia. The right, who profess to disdain the final destination, nevertheless follow along, albeit at a more desultory rate of knots.
We see this routinely in their urge to “distance” themselves: In Washington, as I mentioned the other day, House Republicans ostentatiously distanced themselves from their colleague Steve King, because in an ill-advised interview with The New York Times he appeared to endorse “white supremacist” concepts such as “western civilization”. For some of us, it’s hard to see the point of a conservatism that distances itself from western civilization.
The same fate has now befallen the most thoughtful and serious of living conservative philosophers, Roger Scruton. I have a modest acquaintance with Sir Roger, both personal (he’s married to a friend of a friend) and professional: We once appeared in a debate moderated by none other than Margaret Thatcher. Mrs T obviously adored Roger and reckoned I was there just for the cheap laughs.
But that was then, and this is Theresa May’s Tory Party. So Roger Scruton gave an interview to The New Statesman, which is left-wing but once employed him as its wine critic. But that was then, etc. At the new New Statesman he fell into the hands of one of those lefties whose goal in the interview is to talk to you for two hours and then pluck three partial quotes uttered twenty-five minutes apart that destroy your career and get you banished from public life. In this case, it was various Scrutonisms on China, Islam, Hungary and homosexuality, all of which are worth thinking about seriously.
But, as I say, that’s the leftie hack’s objective, and you can’t blame him for achieving it. Douglas Murray, quite rightly, is more disgusted by the craven pile-on of so-called conservatives:
Within four hours of Eaton tweeting out his misquotations of Britain’s most prominent living philosopher, the housing minister (James Brokenshire) announced that Scruton had been dismissed with immediate effect from his role as Chairman of the ‘Building Better Building Beautiful Commission’. The sacking from this unpaid, advisory position came because of these ‘unacceptable comments’.
What’s the point of James Brokenshire? He is the so-called “Communities Secretary” and was formerly a most undistinguished Northern Ireland Secretary. But, more importantly, what’s the point of the Conservative government in which he sits? Roger Scruton is a humane and decent person: He wrote a novel about the girls of Rotherham, which none of the more fashionable literary types could be bothered with. He thinks seriously about everything from “Islamophobia” to social dancing. If there is “no place for the likes of Scruton” in public life, then there is no place for conservatism either. Douglas Murray again:
Even today the chances are that when you show up at any institution which has a position in the gift of the government the person still in charge there will be someone who used to write press releases for Tony Blair some two decades ago. And in nine years what have the Conservatives managed? Nothing. Or almost nothing. They pat themselves on the back for their heroism in a single successful appointment, only then – as Brokenshire showed today – to reverse and retreat when a left-wing magazine pumps inaccurate quotes onto social media.
There are many reasons to feel contempt for the modern Conservative party. Personally I can see no reason, after the fiasco they have made of Brexit, to ever vote for them again.
Indeed. I wish Douglas were correct that in nine years the Tories have managed merely to accomplish nothing. On everything from Brexit to Scruton to their new Internet clampdown they are making things worse.
And in case there is any curiosity about how it is done, there is this from Instapundit to remind you:
And in case you missed what she said and how she said it, here it is again.