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.
More Post-Election Left Wing Hate Watch here, here and here.
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.
We’ve got it all wrong when we call these lefties a mob, Sam, you see: These people do work!
They’re doing a public job of the utmost importance! They’re rendering a unique service to society! It may be unsolicited by you and me and millions more (in fact by the majority, it is fair to assume) but what do our opinions count in the Grand Scheme of Things – little to nothing, right? So why don’t we just shut up and put up, maybe with a little help from a “friend”, if need be?
I mean, come to look at it this way: Not only is our point of view of no importance. It also has no relevance and is very dangerous to society (Mrs T has said all there is to know about the s-word, but did it stop universities from making money and ruining lives with their sociology classes? I digress…).
Now, being thoroughly individualistic, a conservative point of view is very dangerous to society and corrosive to social-cohesiveness or whatever the up-to-date wording for a progressive, lefty-approved version of their old favourite, the Volksgemeinschaft, would be.
You see: The Greater Good must be served at all times, and it must take precedence over pitiful bourgeoise types like us; mere minions of the establishment that we are (hence arise need and justification for a universal income, by the way: to serve The Greater Good, which I’d oppose).
At the very least, that’s how your off-the-shelf lefty would think about him- or herself (if indeed they’d “do” intellectualism in all honesty, which of course they’d find very challenging and won’t be bothered to even attempt); aided and abetted by a proficient state-broadcaster that has its fingers in every pie, a.k.a. the British Brainwashing Corporation.
What does this terribly verbose rant mean for the future? Being cast and raised in the soft-core-communist mold of the welfare state, these lefty rent-a-mobs are always at hand should “society” come to the conclusion that if they can’t get rid of ideas, they can at least get rid of people; not that it hadn’t been tried before.
See: It’s only a small change in their self-given job discription as the guardians of proper conscience to go from distinguishing between good and evil (thus ruling over people) to “protecting” themselves (and their “cause” of course) from everybody they distrust. And they do distrust anybody, but luckily and at least for now: They’re at war with themselves most of the time.
You see, the world would be a small price to pay for living in lefty-land, wouldn’t it?
Ceers, and have a good week-end
It’s one thing employing verbosity in the service of reasoned argument, but quite another employing it as a smoke-and-mirrors distraction from the lack of any supporting evidence for an argument, my disdainful friend.
Well you must teach me all about it because it seems like you know an awful lot about obfuscation and disdain but more to your point (or rather the lack thereof) I would like to remind you that it is quite an idiotic stance pretending not to be aware of the evidence brought forward on this very page by this very blog, evidence that on the very same occasion you have lamented (see your verbatim quote in the last paragraph).
Any intelligent person would have to be completely and utterly detached from the real world not to see what is going on and how people in power, albeit people of power and a certain “political” persuasion, use the many extremists in their (and presumably your) “political” movement to further their goals.
And it is not as if those “street workers” documented above weren’t eager to rise to the challenge, busying themselves as Stormtroopers of The Cause, that has become ironically a rather established cause, at least to judge from the myriad “progressives” in my part of town. Looks like they’d taken the lumpenproletariat for a ride but why would I care…
So don’t feign ignorance (though it maybe becomes you) when in a related post you bang on about “people at my end of the political spectrum being notoriously bad at holding themselves to account” because it will only make you look like a bigot. Or is this just another attempt to give yourself a pass?
Being either unwilling or unable to understand the context and meaning of my comment – and using that misunderstanding to accuse me of ignorance and bigotry – is hardly the best inducement to a constructive dialogue, though I somehow doubt that constructive dialogue is what you want from this conversation.
I do apologise for my previous dig; it was a little too pointed, although it was made as an attempt to draw you out of lazy clichés about lefty rent-a-mobs and BBC bias, in order to engage with some of the real ideas and issues that are playing out in (and beyond) Parliament right now.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to “do intellectualism” – presumably becoming temporarily right-wing for the duration of my essay on Derrida.
I find this behaviour as unfortunate and damaging to political discourse as you, but I do wonder why you think it is acceptable, on the one hand, to lay this sort of behaviour at the doorstep of the entire “British Left,” while, on the other hand, criticising people for holding individual MPs responsible for the bad behaviour of other (former) members of their party: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31565770 The equivalent would be me attacking the entire “British Right” on the basis of stories such as the one I have just linked, and refusing to engage with any constructive ideas or reasonable voices.
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Thanks as always Haz for reading and providing an alternative perspective 🙂
However, I don’t think that my criticism of the “British Left” is the equivalent of holding all right-wingers accountable for the racist utterances of loony UKIP activists. The point I’ve been trying to get to in my “Left Wing Hate Watch” series is really to pin the blame on the Labour leadership and left wing commentariat, who through their hysterical reaction to the rise of UKIP created an environment where those who hold right wing ideas are widely now seen as “immoral” or “bad”. Douglas Carswell talked about this yesterday when he recounted his experience at the Westminster protest, calling out left-leaning journalists, commentators and politicians for creating the “intellectual space” for aggressive and violent behaviour, justified because the perpetrators are encouraged to think of themselves as fighting a battle of Good vs Evil.
It’s not my intention to pick on the individual left wing activists (well, generally speaking) – as you rightly say, that would be hypocritical as I am quick to raise objections when the misdeeds of right wing activists are used to smear UKIP or the Conservatives. I’m running the “Left Wing Hate Watch” series to point out that too many of the “thought leaders” (to use that horrible management consulting buzzword) in the left wing movement are guilty of 1) dumbing down the debate to a ridiculous extent, and 2) whipping up the base to such a degree that acts of violence and intimidation are increasingly inevitable.
Also, I would probably add that there is a difference between the racist, homophobic or idiotic rants of some individuals on the political right and the way that *groups* of left wing activists are currently acting out. It’s a totally unscientific hypothesis, but it seems to me that the fact that left wing passions are currently manifesting themselves in acts of group intimidation while right-wing transgressions tend to be the acts of individuals acting alone suggests that the problem is greater on the left than the right.
I absolutely believe and know that the majority of those on the left are thoughtful and non-violent. But these recent incidents are strongly suggestive of an engrained problem within mainstream left wing thought, perpetuated by many leading figures at the top.
It looks like Owen Jones is actually arguing along similar lines to yourself in his latest column on the Douglas Carswell incident: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/29/attack-douglas-carswell-ukip-austerity
Yes – I read his column shortly after writing my reply and wished I had worded things a little better! I actually find your “Left Wing Hate Watch” a valuable exercise; people on my end of the political spectrum are notoriously bad at holding themselves to account, though I hope we are getting better (I am not making any friends on my pointless-petition-destroying crusade). There is a danger, though, that blanket criticism lends itself to the kind of lazy disengagement from left-wing beliefs that is becoming depressingly prevelant in the press, which itself is becoming surprisingly uncritical of those in positions of power. Left-wing political ideas are increasingly dismissed as “leftist,” “trotskyist” (I mean, really) and, er, “soft-core-communist” – and using these labels, apparently, shuts down the need for any kind of constructive engagement or debate. These labels are just as unhelpful as “racist,” “fascist” and “Tory scum” – ultimately, anything that shuts down debate, from whichever part of the political spectrum, can only be a bad thing for the country as a whole.
Athough I am peresonally as comfortably off as you, I am aware of how badly a minority have been treated by the so-called coalition, and why they should be distressed that even the supposed restraining influence has been removed.
The sad thing is, and I grant you the mobs lashing out don’t get it either, the Basic Income could heal this sore. Read ‘Dynamic Benefits’, the report which thought up the Universal Credit, which is a reality for 0.5% of those who should be partially protected by it from the worst of the DWP policies, for an excellent statement of the case for the Basic Income.
I think you do have a legitimate point about the Conservatives sometimes targeting certain groups for unduly harsh treatment, not because it will necessarily do anything to reduce the deficit but just because it looks “tough”. This kind of unnecessary scapegoating is always wrong. But not every effort by the Tories to curb the welfare bill and reduce exploitation can be explained as scapegoating – the vast majority is well-intentioned, if occasionally ill-conceived (I’m still yet to decide when it comes to Universal Credit).
I’ll have to take a read of “Dynamic Benefits” as I am not familiar with this background, but as a general rule I am all for radical change when it comes to our patchwork welfare state.
Many thanks Clive as always for reading and sharing your thoughts.