Friday, 12 February 2016

Message to Chris Mullin and the Left in general: people who don't share your peculiar beliefs are not necessarily evil

The diarist and former left-wing Labour MP Chris Mullin is in the Spectator this week, casting his eye over the Republican race for the presidential nomination. While I probably disagree with Mullin on most issues, I don't see him as a bad man. He may believe some strange things, and I'm certain that the policies he espouses would be utterly disastrous for this country -  but I don't think that automatically makes him evil. He's just wrong. Mullin, on the other hand, seems convinced that people who don't share his beliefs are evil:
Hopefully the victory of Ted Cruz in Iowa last week will shed some welcome light on another of the seriously bad men in the running for the Republican nomination, who until now has been eclipsed by the sheer mesmerising awfulness of Donald Trump. Cruz ticks all the boxes: climate-change denier, death-penalty enthusiast, opponent of even the most minimal gun control. After the recent nuclear deal with Iran, he described President Obama as ‘one of the world’s leading financiers of radical Islamic terrorism’. He managed to include a reference to the Nazis in his unrelenting opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Needless to say, Cruz is in close touch with God, who features regularly in his campaign speeches: ‘I believe that this will be a religious liberty election.’ ‘My prayer is… that the body of Christ rise up to pull America back from the abyss.’ ‘Through prayer the Lord has changed my life.’ And so on. If it comes down to a choice between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, which please God (this God stuff is catching) it won’t, give me Trump any day.
So, let me get this straight: if you believe in God and are willing to say so, are a climate change sceptic, support the death penalty for certain crimes, don't think that socialised medicine necessarily provides the best health care, think that law-abiding Americans should be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves and their families, and worry that handing over or releasing billions of dollars to a country that has a horrendous history of backing terrorism - well, if those are your views, according to Mullin, you're a "seriously bad man".

Now, I'll admit to being agnostic about guns - but I'm not an American, and things are different over here. And, while I'm a Christian, I can't pretend I've ever prayed for "the body of Christ" to rise up pull Britain "back from the abyss"- and, absent the threat of attack by a foreign power or the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn winning the next general election, I would be unlikely to do so. But, while a politician saying that sort of thing here, where Christianity is either a source of fear or embarrassment, would be career suicide, the rules in non-coastal America are very different - and the religious Right is vital to Cruz's hopes of winning. Is Mullin seriously suggesting that a politician pandering to his power base is a sure sign of wickedness?  As for Cruz resorting to a reductio at Hitlerum argument regarding Obamacare - well, I can understand Mullin being upset: after all, when did any left-winger ever characterise a policy or person they were opposed to as "fascist"?

Given that I agree with Ted Cruz on most issues, would that also make me a seriously bad person in Mullin's eyes? He's never met me me, and it's extremely unlikely he ever will, but that doesn't matter - I hold the wrong opinions. Like the senator from Texas, I'm more interested in the content of a person's character than his race, I have a horror of totalitarianism, I don't wish to see slavery reintroduced, I despise terrorism, I believe in the rule of law, I believe in equality of opportunity (not outcome) and personal liberty and small government and all that good stuff. Are any of those beliefs inherently evil?

By the same token, holding the beliefs Ted Cruz espouses doesn't make anyone a good person either. Neither does holding left-wing opinions. Some left-wingers are very bad people indeed - they lie, they cheat, they bully, and their main motivation seems to be hatred: they hate the monarchy, their own country, white people, the West, America, Jews, Israel, businesses, the white middle classes, anyone who's been to private school, Christians, the armed forces, the police, the Daily Mail and its readers, white working-class people who don't share their opinions... well, it's an extremely long list. But it's easy enough to spot the moral difference between someone as deeply nasty as, say, Ken Livingstone, and a loopy Bennite  like Chris Mullin - one of them's a shit, the other's just wrong.

I'd have been perfectly happy if Mullin had simply told us that he suspected Cruz of being a bad man because there was something creepy about him - after all,  there is something televangelically oleaginous about the senator when he's being "sincere": he's hard to warm to. But, no - being an extreme leftist, Mullin had to confuse the man's political beliefs with his moral worth. Justifiable if the person you're judging believes in, for example, genocide or torture as a punishment - not when they're a traditional conservative who believes in freedom, democracy, and the American Constitution.


  1. The wife and I saved £10 at the Wimbledon Bookfest 2015 by booking to see first Charles Moore and then Chris Mullin.

    Mullin spoke very well and amusingly and I was pleased to pay for a signed copy of A Very British Coup for the son and heir's birthday present (with the little money I had left after being prodded into buying two signed copies Mr Moore's authorised biography of the blessed Margaret vol 2).

    Chris, as I think of him, was quite enlightening on the qualities needed by political leaders, and he swerved professionally round any attempt to be drawn on the subject of E. Miliband.

    He chortled with the audience about being Tony Benn's representative on earth and commended Jeremy Corbyn to us as the sort of man who would share his sandwiches with you if you met him unexpectedly on the tube.

    He couldn't resist tilting at a Conservative MP who had drafted some legislation about buy-to-let property investments while his son or father or barber, I forget which, was himself a B2L investor. The audience took that with unshaken equanimity as most of them had attended church locally with Michael Meacher MP, now deceased, RIP, the proud possessor of 19 buy-to-lets.

    And there were no brickbats either when Chris inveighed against the privileges of public school boys denied to people like him. I looked him up when I got home, and suddenly he seemed less straightforward, "Mullin was educated at St Joseph's College, a Roman Catholic boarding independent school for boys (now co-educational) in the town of Ipswich in Suffolk".

    1. A socialist trying to break the ladder up which he shinnied? You astonish me.

      Chris Mullin strikes me as the sort of chap who would have been an amusing colleague at BBC Westminster - and, for me, that should automatically disbar anyone from holding political office.

  2. Eight's Peach18 February 2016 at 10:24

    Chris Mullin's wife is Vietnamese and I hope that, in the spirit of Diversity and Multi - Culturalism, the former MP assisted with his wife's filial exhumation duties.

    1. Thank you for this tasteless, unpleasant and pointless contribution.

  3. Eight's Peach19 February 2016 at 11:43

    A grave error.

    Mea Culpa , Mea Maxima Culpa.