Post-Election Left Wing Hate Watch, Part Two

Bankers Toffs And Tory Scum - General Election 2015 - London Protests - Downing Street


Long before the first votes were cast in the 2015 general election, this blog was warning that Labour’s arrogance and sanctimonious moralising was likely to cost them any chance of forming a new government.

One can almost forgive them their arrogance. After all, so commonly heard is the left wing worldview and so widespread is the belief that right wing ideas are inherently selfish and lacking compassion that many Conservatives – including some very prominent figures – have been forced to radically adapt their messaging to this most inhospitable of climates, sounding more like Diet Labour than the Conservative Party of old.

Even in the aftermath of David Cameron’s victory, many members of the public are still too afraid to openly admit that they voted Conservative or UKIP, for fear of the inevitable social backlash that would result: painful real world consequences for holding perfectly normal, middle-of-the-road political opinions.

But it isn’t just young and intemperate activists – the kind who scrawl obscene graffiti on a war memorial during the VE Day celebrations – who are now giving Labour a reputation as a party of sore losers. Take the case of Matt Woodruff, the mild-mannered owner of a garden centre in East Sussex, whose smarmy anti-Tory message, scrawled on his shop’s blackboard, was posted on Twitter and quickly went viral.

The Guardian reports:

The owner of a small garden centre in East Sussex whose anti-Tory blackboard went viral on social media says he has no regrets, despite admitting it could put him out of business.

Matt Woodruff, the owner of Woodruffs Yard in Lewes, said he was moved to vent his political views on his shop’s blackboard after the Conservatives took the local seat that had been occupied by the Lib Dem former Home Office minister Norman Baker.

The sign proposes a “Tory tax” of 10% on any customer who voted Conservative as one of the “‘tough’ decisions I need to make to ‘balance the books’ under your preferred government”.

The sign also says Ukip voters should “shop elsewhere”.

Matt Woodruff - Garden Centre - Conservatives - Anti Tory - Blackboard

This anti-Tory hatred combined with a self-righteous, blind fidelity to left wing rhetoric – fermented so effectively on left wing blogs and columns – has now percolated through to ordinary members of the public, some of whom think nothing of letting politics intrude where sometimes it shouldn’t.

The same people who would rightly be shocked if a business posted a sign disparaging any protected minority group see absolutely no contradiction – or irony – in inflicting precisely the same kind of “shaming” technique on their political opponents.

Well, two can play at that game. Here is this blog’s effort, a blackboard for Socialist Sam’s Tea Shop, having a preachy dig at people who dared to vote Labour:

Labour Fairness Tax

There you go. £10,000 cups of tea for billionaires, because since wealth inequality is such a corrosive evil we should be using all means and levers at our disposal to reduce it, including extreme government-mandated price discrimination on all goods and services, based on a person’s wealth. See, we can all have fun lampooning our political opponents by exaggerating and distorting their original positions.

But this doesn’t help us move forward. It doesn’t help us understand one another and engage in substantive debate. So it is particularly disappointing to see this virulent strain of angry left wing denialism infecting not only the angry young activists and regular members of the public, but also the world of academia and people who supposedly think for a living.

Step forward Rebecca Roache, lecturer in philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London. Roache is so assured of the righteousness of her cause and the moral turpitude of those who disagree with her that she used an article in Practical Ethics to declare “if you’re a Conservative, I’m not your friend“:

One of the first things I did after seeing the depressing election news this morning was check to see which of my Facebook friends ‘like’ the pages of the Conservatives or David Cameron, and unfriend them. (Thankfully, none of my friends ‘like’ the UKIP page.) Life is too short, I thought, to hang out with people who hold abhorrent political views, even if it’s just online.


So, unfriending. Is it okay? Well, the view that I have arrived at today is that openly supporting a political party that—in the name of austerity—withdraws support from the poor, the sick, the foreign, and the unemployed while rewarding those in society who are least in need of reward, that sells off our profitable public goods to private companies while keeping the loss-making ones in the public domain, that boasts about cleaning up the economy while creating more new debt than every Labour government combined, that wants to scrap the Human Rights Act and (via the TTIP) hand sovereignty over some of our most important public institutions to big business—to express one’s support for a political party that does these things is as objectionable as expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views.

Racism, sexism, and homophobia are not simply misguided views like any other; views that we can hope to change through reasoned debate (although we can try to do that). They are offensive views. They are views that lose you friends and respect—and the fact that they are socially unacceptable views helps discourage people from holding (or at least expressing) them, even where reasoned debate fails. Sometimes the stick is more effective than the carrot.

For these reasons, I’m tired of reasoned debate about politics—at least for a day or two. I don’t want to be friends with racists, sexists, or homophobes. And I don’t want to be friends with Conservatives either.

This is exactly the type of preening, moralising, Holier Than Thou, virtue-signalling claptrap – from an intelligent person of the Left – that resulted in the Labour Party only returning 232 MPs to Westminster.

With such a big head, inflated from from basking in her own compassion and moral superiority, you would think there might be some spare capacity for Rebecca Roache to attempt to actually understand the conservative worldview rather than glibly misrepresent and slander it. But apparently such efforts are beyond the ability of a Lecturer in Philosophy from the distinguished Royal Holloway university.

Rebecca Roache is not a stupid person. You don’t achieve her level of professional success by being stupid. And yet, when it comes to weighing conservative policies against left-wing policies, the brain simply never engages. The idea that conservative policies are selfish and help only the rich is taken as a given, and her analysis proceeds only from this assumption. The idea that it might be a good and moral idea to encourage people out of welfare – or seek to eliminate the deficit and pay down the national debt to avoid burdening future generations with the cost of our present-day profligacy – is never even considered.

(Note also the irony of Roache’s opposition to TTIP, on the grounds that it represents “hand[ing] sovereignty over some of our most important public institutions to big business”. This, apparently, is an unpardonable sin, while giving away sovereignty over our entire democracy to the undemocratic bureaucracy of the European Union is perfectly acceptable).

Fortunately, an increasing number of commentators are noticing the degree to which Labour and much of the British Left has lost the plot, blindly lashing out at the electorate rather than seeking to understand why they remain so deeply unappealing to the general population.

Writing in The Independent, a young student and Conservative voter asked:

So, why is there such hesitancy among Conservative voters to support this record? The simple answer is that for many, particularly students like myself, it is still seen as taboo to support the Conservative Party. F**k Tories signs dotted across university, student unions dominated by the far left – who worry more about solidarity with Peruvian revolutionaries than they do about issues for students on campus – and being called a murderer for expressing  right wing opinions – all combine to make it feel as if the Left has a monopoly on university life.

The Telegraph’s Tim Stanley also weighed in against the increasingly “juvenile left”, and continued a very welcome fightback against the ludicrous assertion that the Left has a monopoly on compassion, charity and altruism:

This is hogwash. It implies that the Tories are far, far more Right-wing than they really are – for David Cameron is the man who legalised gay marriage, poured money into the NHS and ring-fenced foreign aid. It suggests, too, that there’s something fundamentally bad about the millions who voted Tory, which ignores the role that active Tories so often play as civic leaders, charity workers, teachers, doctors etc. Fraser’s attitude might also be why “shy Conservatives” don’t tell pollsters how they intend to vote. Who wants to be called “scum” outside of an S&M convention?

As the American Tea Party movement grew in noise and influence during the second half of President Obama’s first term of office, the blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote extensively about the epistemic closure enveloping the political right – or what came to be known as the “closure of the conservative mind“. He presented powerful evidence that the confluence of dedicated right wing news websites and a sympathetic cable news channel (Fox News), served to create an ideological echo chamber which adherents never had to leave, and never wanted to leave.

In this world of confirmation bias and groupthink, wild theories – such as the President of the United States being an illegitimate, Kenyan-born usurper intent on destroying America from within – seemed not only plausible, but naturally and inescapably true. Many Tea Party politicians ended up embarrassing themselves because of the ideological company they kept. And the same thing is now in real danger of happening to the British political left.

By curating our news consumption and social media networks to include only those people who agree with us – and in Rebecca Roache’s case, actively cutting out those who think differently – we fail to subject our ideas to the scrutiny of examination and criticism, eventually leaving us with nothing but a dead ideology wrapped in the dried husk of a dying political party.

There is less chance of the British political right suffering the same fate – so hostile is the environment to small government and conservative thought in general that some degree of intellectual rigour is all but guaranteed. But the Left, used to scraping by based on unearned credentials for being on the side of compassion and generosity, has all but forgotten how to make any kind of intellectual argument.

This is not about taking the actions of angry young protesters, smug business owners or uncurious professors and and claiming that they represent the entirety of left-wing thought. Neither is it about picking on the actions of a vocal minority just to score political points. It’s about recognising that our democracy can not function properly when one of the two main parties, trapped in its own ideological echo chamber,  remains so utterly divorced from reality.

Whoever becomes the new Labour leader will have a narrow window of opportunity to lead their party back out of the bubble, and re-engage with a country which – thankfully – does not yet believe that all conservative ideas are the work of the devil.

They must also possess the restraint to stop chiding the British people for failing to support Labour in the past, and the vision to offer the country something actually worth supporting in the future.

The only alternative to this is a very long, very cold purgatory in permanent opposition.


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17 thoughts on “Post-Election Left Wing Hate Watch, Part Two

  1. shy conservative May 14, 2015 / 10:04 AM

    Firstly, thank you for writing such an intelligent and well-balanced piece on this topic. I’m what you might call a shy Tory (I voted conservative but do not admit this in public for fear of being openly criticised for my political views) and I’m tired of seeing a daily torrent of abuse directed at right-wing voters. I wholeheartedly agree that conservative voters should not be defined as selfish/uncaring or worse because of the way in which they decided to vote. Ahead of the election I decided to find out as much as I could about the issues we’re facing as a country and what the proposed solutions were. If I could vote on policies I would have had a very split vote but I made a decision on what I thought would deliver the greatest good for the greatest number of people. My belief is that if we have a strong economy and if we can continue to grow GDP, then we will be able to increase the number of jobs available, seeing more people in work and therefore seeing more people contribute to tax meaning that there is more for those services that need government support. This is of course a very simplified version and political issues are of course riddled with nuances and complexities and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have enough information about all of the issues at hand to know for certain that a centre-right approach is what’s going to help us most at this time. I’m also painfully aware that I am incredibly fortunate in that I earn a good salary at a relatively young age, but the idea that my vote may have been swayed because it will put more money into my pocket is wrong; I’m delighted that my personal success and the tax that I pay as a result makes a contribution to those essential services that we need as a country and I think it is my duty to give back where possible which is why I make regular donations to charity. I would however disagree with your comment that conservative voters are out of touch with the poorest in society; my father grew up on a council estate and worked hard his whole life for a better future for himself and his family. His ambition has been passed on to me and I credit that with my success today, not because I came from a middle class background. much of my extended family are lower income families. I think many conservative voters will either come from or have strong links with lower income families, so it is unfair to dismiss them as people who do not understand our who do not empathise with the poorest in our society.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. squimple May 12, 2015 / 3:18 PM

    Interesting to read an account of this from the ‘other side’. The divisions between those of the political left and right have increased. I think the political parties are to blame for the rhetoric, rather than the vast majority of citizens There does seem to be less discussion and debate between the two camps. Increasingly we seem to be living in different worlds, actually it does take effort to find the actual view of the other side. Behind the rhetoric.There are people who seem to want to actually stifle debate. Some people have given up on argument, the facts seem unimportant. It is sad that the perception from a minority who only hurl abuse makes it harder for more moderate people to keep listening. Too often people place the ‘other side’ in a neat little box labelled, ‘completely wrong’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper May 13, 2015 / 12:33 PM

      Many thanks for reading, and for your comment. I’m not sure I agree, though, that the fault lies with the parties rather than their supporters. Ed Miliband’s message of “fairness” and “equality” may have provided intellectual cover for angry left wing activists to denounce anyone who disagreed with them as being cruel, heartless and morally defective, but by the end of the campaign I felt the influence working the other way. To me, it seemed like Labour high command was so attuned to the denunciations of “Tory Scum” coming from their own supporters that they tricked themselves into believing that Labour was far more popular than turned out to be the case.

      On your point about the importance of making the effort to find and understand the actual view of the other side, I wholeheartedly agree. Having once been a pro-European left-wing Labour voter I hope that I am able to do this in a way that doesn’t reduce my political opponents to the stature of 2D cartoon villains. When this happens, whether on the left or the right of politics, we all lose out because we deny ourselves the opportunity to gain new knowledge and insight, and to test our own beliefs and motivations.

      While both sides are guilty at times of putting their opponents in the “completely wrong” box, I think it is Labour and the British left who are at greater risk of succumbing to this tendency at the moment.


      • squimple May 13, 2015 / 6:45 PM

        I do think the problem lies with the parties. Instead of election campaigns being arguments for a manifesto, the parties have learned to use misinformation and sloganeering to garner support from the floating voters. This is then picked up by activists and extremists (who always shout the loudest), so it becomes like tribal chanting at a football match, rather than any serious discussion of the the nations politics. The quieter, reasonable voices are not heard, and the ordinary person is dis-encouraged from engaging for fear of being shouted at, or worse.
        Perhaps the British left have always been louder. Unchallenged, feel they have ‘won’ the argument. The left are angry perhaps because it seems no -one is listening, they are not listening because they are not presenting an argument, just tribally shouting. People on the British right are compassionate people and believe in the Union (of the UK), yet their party, the Conservatives, are pursuing policy, opposite to their own supporters, Labour is as guilty of this too. Hence it is the parties rather than people of left or right persuasion. Neither the Conservatives or Labour gained a popular mandate. The winners were UKIP and the SNP. The people already convinced, of moderate left or right persuasion are the ones now left out in politics. This is highly disturbing and very divisive.


    • Andy R May 29, 2015 / 10:12 AM

      Indeed. Occasionally I find someone of an opposing viewpoint who is willing to point out the evidence and debate with me, and we can often come to a compromise. But this is increasingly rare.

      The instant dismissals I read, along the lines of “You’re a racist and a bigot – next!” reveal an immense sense of entitlement, i.e. “I’m politically correct so none of your arguments can possibly be true”.

      It deserves contempt – as does the massive overuse of the term “phobia” to routinely describe views you disagree with. We need to refuse to use these terms, instead using other terms to describe them when responding.


  3. waechterrat May 12, 2015 / 10:03 AM

    That’s all very well, Sam, and well intended throughout and though I share some of the sentiment I wouldn’t necessarily follow through with it. Because, let’s not kid ourselves: who says you need the Left in order to have a sensible debate, i.e. a discussion that is socially useful?

    I mean, the people in the examples you’re using have made themselves perfectly superfluous to requirements all by themselves!

    For anybody being capable of critical thought (and in my book that includes self-criticism) the Left is without their unique selling proposition and is also at a point where they’re losing their formerly claimed reason for being, fast.

    If they were a consumer brand (not some sect of faux-moral outrage mongers set out to intimidate and bully people into agreeing with them) they’d be out of business faster than you or I could file a Chapter Eleven.

    The adherents of their “political” cult apparently like to be shamed into submission, though; I have no other explanation for the continued, relative success of the Left; otherwise there’d not be 232 such relative successes sitting in the HoC now.

    It may be sad for all the money and effort that’s gone into their failed designs but I’m sometimes not entirely sure that it wouldn’t be a good thing if really the Left would shut down their shop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper May 13, 2015 / 12:46 PM

      You raise a really interesting question here. Do we need the Left in order to have a sensible debate?

      Well, the current British left certainly isn’t providing reason, you are quite right. Nor will they unless and until they can get past that psychological stumbling block which tells them that to believe in small government and personal freedom is to want people to suffer and remain poor. At present, whole swathes of the British left are incapable of grasping that conservatives can be just as keen on helping and empowering the disadvantaged, that they can be just as good and charitable and kind, as anyone on the left – they just have different ideas when it comes to achieving a better society, and as to what “fairness” and “equality” mean.

      In my experience, though, we do need a coherent party of the left, if for no other reason than the political right need an ideological whetstone against which to sharpen their own ideas. But they are also needed because despite Labour’s capture and digestion by a metropolitan wealthy elite, that party does still have better links to the poorer and more deprived communities of Britain. Sometimes it can be easy for conservatives to talk about what’s best for “the poor” in a rather cold, clinical way – a way that comes from the detachment of living a completely different life than someone like myself, who was raised in a single parent family on a council estate in Essex. You need that connection and that empathy if all of Britain is to be represented politically.

      That doesn’t mean that we then have to accept Labour’s bleeding heart, conscience-assuaging, money-bombing solutions to deprivation and other social problems – these have been proven repeatedly not to work. But until the parties of the right can claim a stronger direct line to the poorest and most vulnerable in society (and I hope that day comes soon), I do think that the Left are still needed, to keep these important issues on the table.

      Thanks as always for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts.


      • Andy R May 29, 2015 / 10:40 AM

        Reading your argument that “we do need a party of the left”, I am tempted to say “we need a party that is a bit more like the Old Labour party” – in particular, the post WW2 government which was responsible for the establishment of the Welfare State and the NHS – two institutions we wouldn’t want to be without today.

        Also, I do see situations where the free market alone is not incentivized to provide the best solution – for example, medical research that would find a cheap cure for a disease rather than an expensive drug to treat it for years of profit.

        However, the modern left has gone past the ideas of “a fair wage for a fair days work” and has become the movement of career victims. Theirs is a philosophy of people who don’t WANT to find a solution to their problems, because they have become addicted to sympathy, entitlement and being provided for by others.

        I believe that for everything you do to help the needy, you must be prepared to ask for something in return. If you spend money to educate children in deprived areas, then these children must in return work hard and use the opportunity. And if they disrupt those that want to work, they must be punished.

        This, fundamentally, is what is wrong with the modern left. They make career victims of those they say they want to help, they have a philosophy of “give,give,give” and they refuse to acknowledge the need for tough love.

        This is why the last Labour government spent so hugely on education and yet companies tell us that their young employees – supposedly with A grade exam results- are often inarticulate and illiterate. We have spent a fortune on spoon feeding exam technique to pupils in order to lie to ourselves about how well educated they are.

        Until a social justice party arises that seeks to create empowered people instead of career victims, the left will never be a force for good in politics.


        • Samuel Hooper May 30, 2015 / 12:44 AM

          I agree – we live in an age where the “career victim” is exalted and encouraged to bask in their perceived disadvantage (real or imagined) rather than trying to overcome it. The combination of the rise of Generation Me and the ridiculously inflated sense of entitlement many of us now have, combined with the the pervasive acceptance of left-wing ideas about welfare and healthcare in Britain, makes it very hard for advocates of individual freedom and liberty to argue their corner.

          It is very popular these days to say that the old Left v Right dichotomy is old fashioned and doesn’t represent our modern politics. And in a way they are right, all of the main parties have gravitated to the dull political centre. But this isn’t a good thing – when there is no basic ideology underpinning party politics, general elections essentially degenerate into a battle of competing shopping lists of voter bribes and perks.

          While I would strongly disagree with much of what a revived Old Labour party had to say, I could at least respect them and appreciate that their policy proposals drew on a coherent ideology and world view. Labour used to fight to improve the lot of the working classes – but now it just demands their vote while serving the interest of the parasitic political class who hijacked the party.

          As you suggest, at the end of the day it comes down to the empowerment of the individual. At the moment, Labour worships at the altar of the non-existent Common Good over freedom and empowerment of the individual. It’s hard to see them finding new electoral success unless they change course and rediscover their roots.


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