Friday, 7 February 2014

According to Russell Taylor, we on the Right are the monsters now

Typical right-winger
Labour’s health spokescreep Andy Burnham (who made such a splendid job of running the NHS when he was Health Secretary) was in Manchester today attacking UKIP leader Nigel Farage for his “extremist” views. Nowadays, anyone expressing opinions which would have seemed boringly normal to the vast majority of our parents' generation is considered a swivel-eyed loon by this country’s ruling politico-media-academic elite. Which is odd, when you think about it, because, of course, it’s the elite whose views are weird – in fact, their beliefs would strongly suggest that they’re as mad as a box of frogs. Now, of course, we are the nutters.

Russell Taylor has expressed this very well in an article on Bogpaper, which I strongly recommend you to read in its entirety (here). It’s so good, I can't resist quoting the  first two lengthy paragraphs:
At the end of the Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, the sole survivor of a global epidemic is captured and imprisoned by the vampires who have taken over the world. As he awaits his execution, it dawns on him that to these creatures that he has spent years trying to destroy, he is the monster. They are now the norm and he is the bogeyman who hunts them while they sleep. A similar realisation has struck many conservatives and libertarians in recent years. Having spent years thinking we represent the voice of decency and sense, we are waking up to the fact that we’re the monsters now. The effete guardians of modernity scream and drop their champagne glasses at the sight of us. They call for us to be ostracised, silenced or locked-up. They want children to grow up fearing us and the antediluvian past we represent. The world has turned and, like Matheson’s protagonist, we find that we are legend: ‘the new superstition, entering the unassailable fortress of forever’. 
Throughout the darkest days of the post-war era, when socialism stalked the land, the nation’s cultural values remained largely conservative and held the promise of a return to sanity. During the 1980s, conservatives kidded themselves that they’d woken from the progressive nightmare. Thatcher was in office and the unions had been smashed, but by then the Left’s real power was in the public sector, the media, and our schools and universities – institutions that lay beyond the reach of transient politicians. Through these channels, the Left was able to advance its agenda, without the help of a sympathetic government. Then New Labour came to power and the floodgates opened, releasing a torrent of progressive reforms. Even at this late hour, many conservatives imagined they could hold the barbarians at the gate, unaware that they were already in the king’s chamber, delivering the coup de grâce to what remained of Old England.
I’ve made the same point about the 1980s regularly on this blog - albeit not as cogently. Of course, broadcasting, the unversities and our schools had already been infected by the virus of galloping progressivism well before Mrs Thatcher came to power - but, in retrospect, the 1980s provided a disastrously missed opportunity to halt the public sector rot. Until I read Russell Taylor’s article, I had assumed the reason the Tories allowed the complete takeover of the public sector by the Left during Thatcher’s reign was that they were just too damned busy getting the economy back on its feet after its many years in intensive care. Now, I’m not so sure. Certainly, there was something terribly smug about Tory politicians from the point where Mrs Thatcher survived the Westland helicopter crisis in January 1986 until the Poll Tax riots in March 1990. Even the 1987 stock market crash and Chancellor Nigel Lawson’s resignation didn’t dent the party’s sense of its own invincibility. As Taylor points out, this was the period when “conservatives kidded themselves that they’d woken from the progressive nightmare”.

I don’t claim in any way to have seen this coming, but I can’t have been the only right-winger who, even while celebrating John Major’s election victory in 1992, felt that the inevitable had merely been delayed for a few years – a suspicion which became a certainty with the horror of the ERM fiasco a few short months after the election, which destroyed the party's hard-won reputation for economic competence. By the time Blair came to power in 1997, left-liberal madness – a view of the world based on the pathological need of believers to feel morally superior to the rest of us – had taken firm, seemingly ineradicable root.

I’ve just read a fascinating article (here) about Maurice Cowling, a viciously cynical, genuinely eccentric, deeply anti-progressivist Cambridge history don who advised his students to attack liberals with “irony, geniality and malice”. Cowling – who taught Michael Portillo - finally retired as a fellow of deeply conservative Peterhouse in 1993. So complete has been the triumph of progressivism in the public sector, I wonder if any major British university will ever again appoint anyone who doesn’t (at least in public) subscribe to the prevailing left-liberal belief system which is so rapidly dissipating thousands of years of painfully accumulated human wisdom  Depressing thought.

Just remember: we are not the weirdos - they are.


  1. He got my vote the moment he mentioned Richard Matheson (hugely underrated and much mourned).

    There is another angle to the Conservatives' failure to prevent the Left's hegemony in education. The Blessed Margaret was not universally supported by her colleagues, after all. I've often wondered whether she was really a sport of the Conservative species, who flourished briefly but in no way represented the average Conservative politician since WWII.

    I suppose what I am trying to say is that I think Maggie did, indeed, have her hands full, not just fighting the unions but her own back stabbers, too and that the final collapse of education was amiably tolerated (if not actively encouraged) by her dripping wet colleagues.

    Strange, in that context, that you should mention Portillo. It is hard to think of him ever having been to the Right of, say, Ken Clarke. I wonder how conservative (small 'c' this time) he ever really was?

  2. Agree entirely about Richard Matheson:

    Portillo, of course, was a true believer - he got very upset when Mrs Thatcher was ousted, even offering fisticuffs to one of the plotters. But I think he wimped out because he couldn't take the hatred that came later in his career from being a fervent Mrs. T supporter. I hate it when right-wingers come over all reasonable - it's an affront to nature.

  3. Janet Daley has an interesting take on this issue in today's Sunday Telegraph - particularly so as she was part of the far-Left when all this was starting.

    1. Daley's article is excellent: she's usually very sound. Commentators who once shared the leftist view of the world seem particularly clear about what the enemy within is up to - Melanie Phillips is another one. I presume that's why their articles attract such vicious trolls. Christina Odone is another former leftie who invariably receives spittle-flecked hate messages.

    2. Absolutely agreed, though Odone's piece today about Putin's antics making her decide to support gay marriage nearly had me posting my application form to the 'spittle-flecked hate society'.

      I wonder where Mrs Phillips went after the Mail ditched her? She is a much missed voice of sanity.