And so another supposedly peaceful left-wing anti-austerity protest (this one timed to coincide with the Queen’s Speech) ended with the now-familiar scenes of an beleaguered right-wing politician being escorted to safety by police with baying mobs of young protesters in pursuit, chanting “Tory scum!” and “racist scum!”.
Never mind that Douglas Carswell, their latest victim, is actually UKIP’s member of parliament and no longer a Tory. The protesters may not have done their homework in this case, but the scene would only have been worse had more of them known this fact.
(The general degree of hatred and outright hostility shown by the activist Left increases exponentially as you move further away from the dull, lumpen centre of British politics and towards the right.)
From Carswell’s own account of the incident:
“I’ve just been attacked by a – by a mob, walking home. You can see I’ve just been surrounded by several hundred people, by hard lefties, just… just unbelievable. It got really, really nasty, and I’m an elected MP trying to get home at the end of the day and I run into a mob who, you know, were insane.”
Insane is just about the only word strong enough to describe the hysteria which has gripped much of the Left since David Cameron’s unexpected election victory. From the expressions of disgust in their fellow voters for not embracing Ed Miliband, the alarmist warnings that the NHS would now immediately be sold off to Evil American corporations and the melodramatic apocalypse warnings sounded by those who just like their government big and intrusive, it quickly became apparent that the Left were drinking so much of their own Kool-Aid that they were no longer capable of viewing conservatives as anything more than two-dimensional cartoon villains.
Beyond that, there really isn’t much more to say. This blog stands by its analysis of the general election result, how and why things ended up the way they did, as well as what this means for the Labour Party and others on the political Left. Unfortunately, it is far easier to take to the streets in blind, incoherent protest against reality than it is to sit quietly and dwell on the causes of Labour’s electoral ruin.
And it is far easier to shout “Tory scum” while chasing UKIP’s sole MP into the back of a police van than it is to ruminate on why his party picked up thirteen per cent of the national vote.
The only comfort for the British Left – not that they are rational enough to notice at present – is the fact that the Tories are so timid in their embrace of real conservatism, and so intellectually stymied from having nodded along to arguments about the inviolability of the post-war consensus for so many decades, that even given a free hand with their slim parliamentary majority they are unlikely to do anything to radically shrink the state where it most needs to be shrunk.
But this won’t be a comfort forever. Eventually, at some point in the next few years, the Left will stop taking so much joy in self-righteous opposition and actually aspire to govern once again. And this will not be possible if the Labour Party becomes indelibly associated with screaming, hate-filled mobs shouting “Tory scum!” at decent public servants as they go about carrying out our democracy.
Appearing on the BBC’s Daily Politics show today, Douglas Carswell had this to say when asked by Andrew Neil if he had not somehow deserved the abuse he received because of UKIP’s political stances:
Andrew Neil: Does it have something to do with UKIP, though, because it is – although the UKIP overall policy attempts not to be racist, there is a widespread feeling that there is racism in your party?
Douglas Carswell: Well, maybe one or two commentators watching this show and watching those clips might want to ask themselves has stuff they’ve said over the past seven or eight months perhaps created the intellectual space that allows a mob to feel it’s justified to attack an MP.
I’m not sure that “intellectual space” is necessarily the best term to describe the cumulative effect of all the anti-UKIP commentary flying around before the election – after all, there was certainly nothing remotely intellectual going on in the minds of the snarling young activists who hounded Carswell yesterday – but his point is a good one, and well made.
A number of high-profile columnists and politicians should – in light of this incident and other recent attacks on Nigel Farage – be taking a long, hard look at the kind of actions their intemperate rhetoric has inspired.