Sunday, February 12, 2006

Is Britain Institutionally Leftist?

Rod Liddle has gradually become one of my favourite columnists. Today's offering in the Sunday Times is worth a look. He discusses how Britain has turned into a 'lefty nation'. I suspect that if I ever met Rod Liddle I might not like him, but he never ceases to write thought provoking columns. And isn't that what it's all about? Here's a short excerpt to give you a flavour...
The followers of Lady Plowden and Shirley Williams still
control our education system; children are ill-disciplined and the educational
emphasis is on interpretation rather than learning facts. The left has complete
hegemony within our social services. The criminal justice system has moved
gradually leftwards, with crimes against property considered to be less serious
than “hate crimes”; prison tariffs are shorter. The left has won the argument
over immigration (ie, unlimited and in perpetuity). The damaging creed of
multiculturalism is only now being challenged by a few brave souls. Homosexuals
may not only legally pleasure one another, but do so in a state of virtual
marriage; divorced women, meanwhile, have been the recipients of the second most
important redistribution of wealth in the last century, through alimony. Women
have equal rights — or slightly more than equal rights — in the workplace. There
has never been a better time to be disabled, either — and you might be disabled
without even knowing it: the disabled lobby groups suggest that one in three of
us suffers — or lives with — a disability. Popular culture, too. Find me a
right-wing Hollywood film, if you can. Or a right-wing play in the West End. Or
a pop star who wishes to give less money to Africa and thinks the war against
Iraq was just fine and dandy. Or a right-of-centre novelist up for the Booker
prize. Or, indeed, a programme on the BBC that presents a right-wing point of
view without irony or downright condemnation. One suspects that over there in
Wood Lane they were all, like me, lefties themselves. And maybe still are.

Hat-tip to Laban Tall


Anonymous said...

Very true, the Tories are always complacently saying "We won all the arguments." Did they f***. During their time in office the left consolidated power in virtually every sector of society. Education, then the Judiciary, now the Police. Next it will be the Army who become completely politically correct.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding, Iain? The piece has "will this do?" written all over it. Apart from reminding us, in the first few paragraphs, why the loony left was never as bad, or as dangerous, as the rabid right, it's just a series of back-of-an-envelope myths from an ageing conservative columnist, staring out of his ivory tower through net curtains and imaging all manner of things just aren't right any more. Chuck in a bit of mild swearing and it could have been written by Richard Littlejohn.

Liddle is wrong on virtually every point, and on the areas where he's right about the left dominating (social services, the creative arts), he obligingly ignores why they dominate: right-wingers either have no interest or no ability in those fields. Right-wing novelists don't get nominated for the Booker, for instance, because they are incapable of writing an original novel. Right-wingers don't believe in society or public services, so it's not surprising they find it difficult to dominate in social services.

This is weak stuff from Liddle, barely worthy of even being considered filler. It could be one of those irritating anonymous e-mail pieces that everyone circulates to everyone else until some money-grabbing tool puts it on a tea-towel.

Bob Piper said...

Hey... I hope so, but very much doubt it. The institutions of State adopt a facade that they think their political 'masters' expect. Wow! Shock, horror. If Cameron crawls fawning towards the political centre ground, why should anyone be surprised if others do the same? You people on the right are incredibly paranoid. Must come from years in the wilderness.

BondWoman said...

I think the problem stems from thinking about those sorts of things (e.g. whether or not homosexuality should be criminalised, and whether it is appropriate to provide for a form of legal relationship that those in same sex relationships can opt into) along a left-right divide. It just does not compute. Furthermore, I would suggest that the so-called "right" victory on (liberal) economics and international relations is far more comprehensive than any imagined "left" victory on social issues. Good thread to start though, and although I tend to agree with Gregg's evaluation of this particular piece I would agree that Liddle is often quite thought provoking, although I rarely agree with him.

Iain Dale said...

Gregg. "right wingers either have no interest or ability in those fields". Oh, really? Shows how blinkered the left can be. Right wing novelists incapable of writing an original novel? Oh please. Freddie Forsyth, unoriginal? I think not. You may not like him or his books but you can't just dismiss him. "Right wingers don't believe in society or public services". Sorry, you're so ignorant, I've lost interest now. The weak stuff is from you, not Liddle. D+ for effort.

Anonymous said...

Right wing novelists incapable of writing an original novel? Oh please. Freddie Forsyth, unoriginal? I think not. You may not like him or his books but you can't just dismiss him.

I like Forsyth's books a lot, but they aren't original. Well... OK, that's not fair. He can certainly come up with original plots, but he writes entirely conventional narratives. His books are easy reads - pulp fiction. That's not a bad thing (I'm trying to do it myself), but it puts them out of the scope of the field Liddle was writing about.

Forsyth's books aren't literary fiction - they aren't going to win the Booker Prize, because they aren't that sort of book. There are perfectly capable right-wing novelists, but I can't think of any who write the kinds of books that get long-listed for the Booker.

"Right wingers don't believe in society or public services". Sorry, you're so ignorant, I've lost interest now.

I'm sorry, but Conservatives, on the whole, don't. There have been some rhetorical shifts at the national level, but not enough to convince me, and the reality I've seen at the local level shows nothing but indolence from Tories unless there's something to be gained from appearing to care (and I know, from overhead conversations, that it is just a case of appearing).

That wasn't always the case. I come from a family that was heavily involved in Conservative politics locally in the Sixties and Seventies, and I know there was a strong commitment to public service amongst some Tories at the time. I also know it was the others, the self-serving hypocrites, the ones the Tories who did care about the local community despised, who went on to Parliamentary careers and, ultimately, dominance of the Tory Party.

I know a lot of Conservative politicians and activists, at the local and national level, and I can't think of any who genuinely share the values my parents and similar Conservatives used to hold. The only current member of the Conservative Party I've met who still holds such values is a septegenarian and a member of the House of Lords. I'm not a Conservative, and I'll never be one, but I can respect the real One Nation Tories, the Macmillan generations if you like. I feel nothing but contempt for the Tory Party I grew up with in the Eighties, and no reason to believe that party has changed.

How many Conservatives view social services as anything but a joke? How many don't still believe in that Thatcherite nostrum, as expressed in 'To Play the King', that any service which people wouldn't pay for out of their own pockets is a waste? Conservatives can't complain about not dominating in a field which they collectively refuse to take seriously. This is awful generalisation, I know, but so was Liddle's article. There are exceptions, but they are just that: exceptions.

The weak stuff is from you, not Liddle. D+ for effort.

It was no effort whatsoever - but nor was Liddle's piece (for which he was no doubt well paid).

Bob Piper said...

"Right wingers don't believe in society or public services".

It may have been a generalisation... but as a generalisation it seems to be true. Iain, you can put on your cuddly social conservatism face to curry favour with the new boy, but don't put all your eggs in Cameron's basket. He may go the way of the boy Hague and then uou'll have to suck up to DD again.

Remember the She Devil... "There's no such thing as society."