Thursday, 15 November 2012

My views on a whole range of topics regularly change depending on what mode I’m in - don't yours?

I know I sound dead butch and dogmatic about most of the political and social subjects I choose to write about on this site (or unreasonable and blinkered – you choose). I’m a right-winger with a pretty standard set of right-wing views. But there are plenty of topics about which I change my opinions regularly, depending on which mode I’m in when considering them – frothingly anti-Left blogger, old-style conservative, mildly-believing Anglican, philosophy graduate, libertarian, Londoner, Neocon, foppish aesthete, nature-lover, tax-payer, Man on the Clapham Omnibus, friend, enemy, former-BBC employee, city boy, suburbanite etc.

Here are a few of the many subjects on which I vacillate, or simply shy away from thinking about:

I have absolutely no idea when a foetus turns into a human being with rights – my brain just freezes up whenever I start to think about it. When it comes to women sluicing out the foetus growing inside them as a method of post-facto contraception, my instinct is to side with pro-lifers. But the thought of Britain’s council estates being littered with yet more fatherless, semi-feral youths for whom the rest of us will have to pay in all sorts of ways for the rest of their lives is thoroughly depressing. Which leads onto…

Taking children into care
In theory I hate the idea of morally superior 25-year old sociology graduates deciding whether people get to keep their kids, but when the feckless regularly use their offspring to gain benefits or to protect themselves from suffering the consequences of their own morally incontinent behaviour, I’m all for interference. (Unfortunately, the state often appears to be more willing to remove children who aren’t at risk from decent, loving parents than they are to remove vulnerable children from useless slappers with psychopathic “boyfriends”.)

Yes, it is undoubtedly the best political system on offer, but when the number of voters who take more from the public purse than they contribute starts to approach 50%, elections are a bit like asking turkeys whether, on the whole, they’d prefer to see Christmas abolished. Yet I despise pretty much every other form of government.

An independent judiciary
God knows, we need someone to keep our politicians in check – but when the judiciary seems more determined to protect the rights of criminals, political fanatics and terrorists rather than those of law-abiding citizens, we have a problem.

Rehabilitating criminals
Love the idea to death, of course. You enter the criminal justice system a menace to society and pop out the other end as a responsible, law-abiding citizen. Only it doesn’t seem to work that way. Nine out of ten criminals sentenced in England and Wales have offended before. Either little attempt is currently made to rehabilitate these wretches, or current rehabilitation methods don’t work, or the very concept of rehabilitation is largely a myth and the vast majority of criminals are simply bad people who need to be locked up for much longer. I have no idea which of these explanations most closely matches the facts (but in the meantime, would suggest going for option three, because that seems to be the one that keeps the rest of us safer longer.)

Should the public continue to pay for the BBC?
"No" would seem to be the obvious answer. As I think I made clear in a recent post (read it here) I am utterly fed up with its unremittingly progressivist propaganda. But, then, who else is going to provide us with Radio 3 or BBC 4 or the sort of coverage we were treated to of the Olympics this summer, or national events such as Remembrance Day (last Sunday's coverage was perfectly judged - there wasn't a dry eye in this house)?

Local democracy
Nice in theory – rubbish in practice. A lot of commentators and politicians I admire are ever so keen on locals deciding what happens in their neck of the woods. But if it’s such a good idea, why does central government impose caps on the level of rates councils are allowed to charge? The other problem – as demonstrated by the election of police commissioners being held today – is that the British just can’t be bothered with local democracy when it’s offered to them, allowing the usual pack of tenth-rate wreckers to ride the Apathy Express to feather-bedded glory.

Scottish independence
Part of me says, fine, Jock, go ahead, make our day - we’re frankly tired of the endless whinging and sick of having to fund your socialist utopianism. Besides, it would mean a permanent Conservative government in England, and would offer the opportunity to gain revenge by charging Scottish students an absolute fortune for attending English universities. But, then, I’m half-Scottish by birth, I like the Scots enormously, and I really don’t want to see my mother’s homeland descend into irrelevance and penury, ruled by self-important little prats like Alex Salmond.

Decriminalising drugs
We waste billions trying to control the traffic in illegal drugs – and it doesn’t seem to do any good. So, fine – legalise them and let individuals head for hell in the handcart of their own choosing. But (1) we have no idea how many more people would become addicted to drugs if they were decriminalised – and Britain produces few enough employable people as it, and (2) as a weak-willed person who has displayed a tendency to over-indulge in harmful legal substance (tobacco, drink, rich food) I’m rather glad I didn’t have another potentially even more ruinous legal temptation placed in my way. I know that demanding things be banned because of one’s own susceptibility is cowardly and unreasonable – but in this instance I’m a nanny-stater. Unless, of course, I'm in libertarian mode.

There are dozens of other subjects on which I've never been able to settle on a final position for long. Does this make me odd? Or do most people feel this way?


  1. In the order in which you pose the questions, No. Yes, I suspect so.

    Capital punishment is another one. Most of the time I still believe it is wrong for the state to take a life and not just because they will end up topping the odd innocent person every now and then. At the same time, abolitionists can hardly have imagined that those who would have been hanged under the 1957 Homicide Act or earlier legislation would these days be eligible for parole after serving half the tariff recommended by a judge as to what " life" should mean in the circumstances. That seems a betrayal to me and when I think of it, I come over all Albert Pierrepoint.

    And for the vast majority of murderers that flit across the pages of the Telegraph, I find myself thinking that actually there's absolutely no hope of rehabilitating them and wouldn't we be better off in every sense if they no longer existed. I find it difficult to reconcile these conflicting views into a settled position.

    Good post, Mr Gronmark.

  2. I've never been opposed to capital punishment, but I occasionally have doubts - and then I hear about some psychopathic child murderer petitioning the European authorities to be allowed access to a jacuzzi and a sunbed in prison, or I see a photograph such as the one featuring the Yorkshire Ripper meeting "stars" of TV and the boxing ring, and those doubts evaporate. I almost included capital punishment in my list, but I will always believe that those who commit certain acts forfeit the right to breathe.