Embracing ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ Will Not Make The Rootless Tories More Popular

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Compassionate conservatism barely won David Cameron a majority government in 2015, even against the hapless Ed Miliband. Rebooting the flawed concept, especially against Jeremy Corbyn’s turbo-charged ultra-compassionate socialism, means fighting the Left on their own terms and is doomed to failure

Despite its complete and utter failure to deliver a solid electoral victory for the conservatives, or to meaningfully detoxify the Conservative Party’s “nasty party” image, the woolly, nebulous and thoroughly unhelpful concept of “compassionate conservatism” refuses to die.

Following Theresa May’s abject failure in the 2017 general election – losing the Conservative Party their majority by failing to counter the appeal of a marauding socialist who actually has principles, stands for them unapologetically and convinces more and more people of their value – all manner of ideologically limp Wet Tories are now coming out of the woodwork to proclaim that the only way for conservatism to survive is to meet Jeremy Corbyn half way.

These appeasers of the Left (I won’t call them pragmatists because that kinder term suggests a kind of nobility and wisdom for which there is very little evidence) seem to sincerely believe that staying in power means accepting vast swathes of the Left’s argument about the welfare state, wealth redistribution and fiscal restraint. They would have the rest of us believe that conservatives face inevitable defeat unless the Tories compete with Labour to be the loudest cheerleaders of the bloated public sector.

Charlie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, is only the latest to advance this defeatist theory, writing in Conservative Home:

Step one to victory is to conquer the idea that the Conservatives are on the side of the rich. Every Conservative I know is in politics because we care about the vulnerable and the least well off. At the election, we failed to explain to people how our values offer the best for people and their families.

Conservatism is at its best when we communicate a vision of Britain as a land of opportunity, aspiration and success. A place where anyone, whatever their background, can achieve and succeed. Where they can climb the ladder of life. A country where people can get jobs, a home to call their own and achieve their full potential. Where Government gives people a hand-up, not handouts – and hard work brings rewards.

Our caring conservative tradition is also central to all that we are. This is why we must showcase our values as the party of compassion. The conservatism that seeks to protect people from the worst excesses of the system.

Protecting people, and being the party of compassion, matters every bit as the land of opportunity. This means standing up against rogue landlords, overcharging utility companies, loan sharks, tax dodgers, and unscrupulous employers.

And yet rather than proposing that the Conservatives do what Margaret Thatcher did to the hard left in the 1980s – namely, steamrollering over their socialist squeals, failed dogmas and entrenched special interests to speak directly to the people and sell them an alternative vision of Britain’s future – Charlie Elphicke proposes instead that we prance around humming The Red Flag and hoping to convince enough wavering voters that we are little more than the Labour Party with a brain and a calculator.

Elphicke proposes capitulation to the false leftist narrative that it is in any way “compassionate” to redistribute wealth and income from those who earned it in order to better fund a welfare machine which encourages dependency and helplessness more than self-sufficiency. Elphicke – though he would never say so out loud – effectively accepts the idea that we should give a man a fish, and then another fish, and then another one until the barrel is empty, rather than teaching people to fish for themselves.

Elphicke continues:

I’ve spoken to colleagues from across the country who were asked by people on the doorstep what our manifesto offered for them. They struggled to find positive things to say.

Now I’ve heard people say we didn’t have a “retail offer.” But, you know, we’re not selling soap powder here. We are about caring for people and changing lives. We failed to explain how we would do that – and so people didn’t know.

It’s not difficult to think how we could have done so much more to support traditionally Conservative motorists, aspirant home owners, small business people, and the elderly. Or how we could have reached out to families and younger people with lifelong learning, greater help for carers, and more support to get on the housing ladder.

We should have showcased our record of action, too, because it is pretty incredible. We brought Britain back from the brink. We have delivered record employment, a strong economy, a powerful recovery from Labour’s crash, along with pumping vast amounts of cash into the NHS. Our failure to highlight our record cost us heavily.

Many of these observations are correct, but the conclusion which Elphicke draws from them are depressingly wide of the mark.

Yes, the Tories did an abysmal job of standing up for their record. At a time when the Labour Party manifesto offered an series of calculated bribes catering even to firmly middle class voters, the Tories went to battle with their mindless slogan of “strong and stable”, and a deafening silence when it came to defending their limited efforts at fiscal restraint since 2010.

But Charlie Elphicke’s vision of “caring conservatism” is not the solution. Rather than standing up to the politics of Me Me Me or turning away from the notion of bribing voters with cynical manifesto pledges, Elphicke merely proposes that the Tories start using the same playbook. Even the term “caring conservatism” should raise the hackles of any self-respecting conservative, suggesting as it does the idea of government as an omnipresent, watchful auxiliary parent, charged with wiping our noses and keeping us safe at the expense of our freedom and individuality.

Worse still, to even talk of “compassionate” or “caring” conservatism is to concede that ordinary, vanilla conservatism is somehow cruel or lacking in compassion. It suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with our worldview and our politics, and that only by being born again and accepting the “compassionate” modifier do we become semi-respectable people with whom it is just about acceptable to associate in public.

This is incredibly counterproductive. Economically speaking, conservatism at its best means government getting out of the way so that people can succeed according to their merits, and providing a limited but dependable safety net for those in real need by not lavishing unnecessary benefits on over half of the population who are arbitrarily declared “vulnerable” and in dubious need of government assistance. The point that conservatives should be screaming from the rafters is that real conservatism would do more for the truly needy, by rolling back a benefits culture which sees as much as 50% of taxpayers becoming net dependants on the state and compensating for that rollback by lowering general taxation and restructuring the welfare state so as to provide something more than grim subsistence for those who need to use it.

You don’t see Labour MPs or activists describing themselves as “sane Labour” or “grown-up Labour”, effectively conceding that the more statist, big-government policies of their party base are somehow insane or childish (even though they are). They own their left-wingery and proclaim it proudly, not apologetically. Centrist Tories or “compassionate conservatives”, meanwhile, come across as ashamed of their own party and apologetic for their own beliefs, and seem determined to tack as closely to Corbyn’s party as possible before the cognitive dissonance becomes too unbearable.

This is a contest that conservatives can never win. In the race to be more paternalistic, more restrictive of behaviour and more redistributive of wealth, the Tories will lose to Labour every day of the week. And with Jeremy Corbyn in charge of the Labour Party it won’t even be close.

Look, I get the superficial appeal of Charlie Elphicke’s proposal. It offers a quick and easy route to staying in power, where rather than having to do the hard work of challenging voter assumptions and telling the electorate difficult but authentic truths, instead we can just act a bit more like the Labour Party and stay in government forever. But it won’t work.

If the 2017 general election taught us anything, it is that an entire generation of young voters have grown up experiencing all of the wealth, liberty and opportunity which Thatcherism helped secure for them before they were even born, but that these same people have been taught to despise the very things – capitalism, free markets, a less activist state – which made our material wealth possible in the first place.

Corbyn’s cohort of young admirers literally share memes on social media using smartphones and personal computers which were only put in reach of ordinary people thanks to the free market they are busy disparaging, and they do so without a shred of irony because throughout their young lives, nobody has dared to forcefully defend Margaret Thatcher’s legacy or to suggest that real “compassion” means more than blindly firehosing taxpayer money at every social problem and expecting positive results.

An entire generation has grown up (and older voters gone over two decades) without really hearing a stirring argument in favour of smaller-government, pro-market policies from any senior politician. Even most Conservative MPs have preferred to talk about mitigating the “damage” done by the market, or as Elphicke puts it, “protect[ing] people from the worst excesses of the system” rather than explaining how “the system” is a good thing, not to mention a hell of a lot better than socialism.

Neither has there been an adequate effort on the part of Conservatives to rebut the Left’s cynical and dishonest attempt to portray every failure of regulation, every act of crony corporatism as a failure of capitalism itself. Here, Charlie Elphicke’s idea of a “rapid rebuttal” unit actually has real merit. Too often we cower and equivocate whenever the Left trot out their Capitalist Bogeyman of the Day – be it Philip Green or “the bankers” – rather than pushing back and explaining that criminal acts or regulatory failure does not discredit the economic system which has delivered more wealth and prosperity to more people than any other in human history.

But all of this needs to be done under the overall aegis of a vision of conservatism as a force which liberates people and sets them free rather than one which coddles them.

Sure, the Conservative Party might eke out another few general election victories (or at least 2017-style non-defeats) by playing up the “caring conservatism” angle and chasing Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party ever further to the left. But any such battles won will come at the expense of losing the wider war. If the Conservative Party is to be nothing more than the Labour Party with a modicum more economic sense then really, what’s the point in even bothering? A succession of such Conservative prime ministers, having totally forsaken their own raison d’être, could be in office for years yet never really in power. Theresa May in perpetuity.

The Thatcherite revolution was made possible partly because years of stultifying, socialist post-war consensus led Britain to a crisis point, teetering on the brink of irreversible national decline. In 1979, the Conservative Party took advantage of that crisis to discredit the status quo and present their alternative offering as both beneficial, necessary and inevitable, shifting the Overton Window of British politics firmly to the right. And while there were negative side effects which should not be overlooked or minimised – particularly outside the southeast – the Thatcherite medicine worked.

We are at another such crisis point today, this time brought about through the confluence of Brexit, the unmitigated side-effects of globalisation, an economic recovery which has been intangible for too many people, an over-centralised Westminster government and a terminally unreformed public sector. Labour are already moving to take advantage of this crisis and shift the Overton Window back to the left. And they are succeeding – ideas which were fringe absurdities twenty years ago, like wage councils and the renationalisation of industry, are now stunningly back on the agenda, while the man who promotes them is a few false moves by Theresa May away from 10 Downing Street.

Conservatives cannot afford to squander this opportunity, to allow the current political crisis (or state of flux) to be used by Labour to drag Britain further to the left without even putting up a fight for the small-government, conservative values which once saved this country. And breathing life back into the corpse of compassionate conservatism will only aid the Left in their endeavour. It will be a huge signal to our ideological foes that we accept the premise of their argument (compassion = a bigger state and more redistribution) and only encourage them to expand their demands move further and further to the left themselves.

It is ludicrous that we even find ourselves in this position. Jeremy Corbyn was twenty points down in the opinion polls until Theresa May launched her disastrous and thoroughly un-conservative general election campaign, and now he is within striking distance of 10 Downing Street. Red Conservatism or Blue Labour, a la Nick Timothy and his disciples, doesn’t work. If people want swivel-eyed socialism they’ll pick the real deal over the off-brand equivalent, every single time.

Corbynites believe that conservatives are evil, heartless, amoral “Tory Scum”. We will not suddenly win their friendship, or their respect, by deferring to them on a few specific issues or taking the sharp edge off our message of economic freedom, individual liberty and a smaller, more efficient state. No appeasement is possible or desirable. The only thing to be done is to get out and win the argument in public, to have a million difficult conversations with people who are currently quite sympathetic to the Corbyn worldview because of our shameful failure to adequately preach our own values.

The alternative – if we insist on reanimating the corpse of compassionate conservatism – is to doom ourselves to more centrist malaise at best, and a truly frightening Jeremy Corbyn socialist government at worst.

 

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The Southern Poverty Law Center Is Enabling Islamist Extremism By Smearing Its Most Stalwart Opponents

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By labelling dedicated anti-extremism campaigners like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Majid Nawaz as anti-Muslim extremists themselves, the deluded and morally compromised Southern Poverty Law Centre is doing the Islamists’ work for them

There have been few sadder debasements of once-fine and noble institutions this year than the Southern Poverty Law Center’s decision to stop serving as a fearless searchlight highlighting violent extremism and instead become a trendy-lefty Islamism-denying propaganda outlet.

That might sound harsh, but there really is no other way to describe the SPLC’s fawning, slavish deference to leftist SJW dogma – a philosophy which furiously denies that there is any problem within the Islamic community or with a certain branch of the Muslim faith, and that anybody who disagrees and dares to draw attention to problems within Islam is effectively Hitler.

Last week, in a blaze of publicity, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a list of fifteen individuals singled out by that organisation as holding and disseminating false and extremist information and opinions about Islam.

In the preface to their report, the SPLC declares:

The anti-Muslim extremists profiled here have, between them, claimed that Islamic extremists have infiltrated the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and other agencies; asserted that there are “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims including police are afraid to enter; suggested that there is a Muslim plot to impose Sharia religious law on U.S. courts; and claimed that President Obama is a secret Muslim. These claims, along with many others, have been shown conclusively to be false.

This misinformation and hateful rhetoric have consequences. When huge numbers of Americans believe that a majority of Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, it can hardly be a surprise that some percentage of them engage in hate crime attacks. After all, they learned of the threat they believe Muslims pose from sources who were presented by the media as authoritative experts.

This country faces an array of complex and daunting problems, the threat of terrorism indisputably among them. Let’s not make them worse by allowing self-described “experts” to propagandize our fellow Americans with defamatory and frightening falsehoods. Our media, in particular, has the opportunity to present an objective picture that illuminates, rather than distorts, reality.

So far, so noble, you might think. There is certainty a lot of hyperbolic and often baseless scaremongering about Muslims and Islam in the media, and flagging particularly odious or disreputable sources for media attention is not in and of itself a bad thing. Until you realise who is on the list.

Some of the names are old suspects that one would expect to see. But in news which has provoked widespread outrage, the list also includes the names of entirely innocent and worthy activists fighting against Islamist extremism, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz.

And what is the SPLC’s charge sheet against Maajid Nawaz? What actions classify him as an “extremist”?

In the list sent to a top British security official in 2010, headlined “Preventing Terrorism: Where Next for Britain?” Quilliam [Nawaz’s anti-extremism think tank]  wrote, “The ideology of non-violent Islamists is broadly the same as that of violent Islamists; they disagree only on tactics.” An official with Scotland Yard’s Muslim Contact Unit told The Guardian that “[t]he list demonises a whole range of groups that in my experience have made valuable contributions to counter-terrorism.”

Well, what’s so shocking about that? It as an entirely logical statement on Nawaz’s part. Unless the people at the SPLC are truly dim and do not recognise a difference between Muslims and Islamists then there is no excuse for trying to turn a perfectly obvious point – that some people who support a fundamentalist ideology will choose violence while others do not – into some kind of “gotcha” smoking gun evidence of Nawaz’s secret Islamophobia.

And worse:

According to a Jan. 24, 2014, report in The Guardian, Nawaz tweeted out a cartoon of Jesus and Muhammad — despite the fact that many Muslims see it as blasphemous to draw Muhammad. He said that he wanted “to carve out a space to be heard without constantly fearing the blasphemy charge.”

Was this provocative? Perhaps. But again, Nawaz is himself a Muslim. Who better to judge what is or is not offensive to one’s religious moral code than the person tweeting the image? And even if doing so is “offensive”, are there not times when the offence is a price worth paying to make a broader argument in support of universal free speech? And if the Southern Poverty Law Center is so concerned about the emotional harm that may be inflicted by “blasphemous” acts like this, how do they explain their deafening silence when it comes to Christian beliefs and symbols being mocked in the popular culture?

The SPLC is not taking the side of ordinary Muslims here, some of whom may indeed be quietly offended by depicting Muhammad. They are taking the side of violent Islamists who seek to enforce blasphemy laws in the 21st century.

And then the SLPC really descends into the gutter:

Nawaz, who had described himself as a “feminist,” was “filmed repeatedly trying to touch a naked lap dancer,” according to an April 10, 2015, report in the Daily Mail. The paper apparently got the security film from the owner of a strip club who was incensed by Nawaz’s claims to be a religious Muslim.

And how we have the inevitable SJW identity politics hit job, seeking to ruin Nawaz’s reputation in the court of public opinion by repeating the shocking news that Nawaz has not at all times lived according to the letter of his faith. Well, so what? Sometimes, without thinking, I accidentally eat meat on a Friday during Lent. Does that make me virulently anti-Catholic and unable to fittingly discuss my faith in the media? Of course not. People’s actions diverge from their faith in a myriad of ways, small and large, and this applies just as much to those who got upset about Nawaz’s strip club visit (like the Muslim strip club owner) as to Nawaz himself. None are in a position to judge. Yet the SPLC feels that any divergence from Islamic teaching is sufficient to declare people that they don’t like to be somehow anti-Muslim.

This National Review editorial laments the SPLC’s corruption and decline:

The SPLC is an example of the way in which the Left corrupts and perverts the institutions it controls, from the IRS to the universities. While decrying “conspiracy theorists,” the SPLC itself is obsessed with “Terror from the Right” that is, pardon us for noticing, so rare as to be nearly insignificant. For all of the SPLC’s hysteria about neo-Confederates, skinheads, secret Nazi cabals, and the like, there is very little evidence that these organizations, to the extent that they exist as more than shared social-media fantasies, are actually up to much of anything. Even if we accept the tendentious characterization of SPLC favorite Timothy McVeigh as some kind of right-wing extremist (as with many such figures, his actual beliefs were confused, contradictory, and eccentric), the main organ of white-supremacist nuttery in the United States is prison gangs, which constitute a fairly constrained and peculiar phenomenon with relatively little effect on the outside world.

Not so violent Islamic radicalism, which is a factor in the United States and in practically every country in Europe, Africa, South Asia, and beyond. That is the great irony here: People like Ayaan Hirsi Ali are doing the work the SPLC is supposed to be doing — understanding and countering violent extremists — and the SPLC denounces them for it.

Very strange.

Some of those on the SPLC list are Muslims, former Muslims, and lifelong students of Islam. What they mostly have in common is that they are, broadly speaking, conservatives, people who are influential among conservatives, or writers and activists admired by conservatives. The SPLC is so drunk on its own poisonous ideological brew that it has simply come to conflate conservatism with violent or potentially violent extremism. One of these things is not like the others: A category of social tendencies that includes both Aryan Brotherhood felons in San Quentin and Somali-Dutch atheist women with celebrated literary careers is not an especially useful category.

While Nick Cohen provocatively (but accurately) declares in The Spectator that “the white left has issued its first fatwa” against Nawaz:

It is an organisation that ought to share Nawaz’s values, but because of the crisis in left-wing values does the dirty work of the misogynists, the racists, the homophobes, the censors, and the murderers it was founded to oppose. It does it with a straight face because, as I am sure you will have guessed, the fascism in question is not white but Islamic. And once that subject is raised all notions of universal human rights, and indeed basic moral and intellectual decency, are drowned in a sea of bad faith.

Nawaz is from Essex. He has fought and been beaten up by white British neo-Nazis. He fell in with Hizb ut-Tahrir while he was young. When he ended up in a torture chamber in an Egyptian jail, he abandoned Islamism for liberalism. Since then, he and his Quilliam Foundation have struggled against both the white far right and the Islamist far right. They have defended liberal Muslims and, indeed, all of us from lethal blasphemy taboos and the threat of terrorism. They respect freedom of speech, including the freedom of their enemies to speak.

A significant faction on the left hates them for upholding the values they have forgotten,  and will use any smear to denigrate them. As my secularist friend Faisal Saeed Al Mutar observed, when he, Nawaz and hundreds of others step forward and try to liberalise Muslim communities from within, they are attacked, ‘for being not Muslim enough, not Arab enough, not Pakistani enough, not filled with enough revenge and enough hatred’.

In the liberal orientalist world view the only ‘authentic’ Muslim is a barbarian. A battery of insults fires on any Muslim who says otherwise. They are ‘neo-conservatives,’ ‘native informants,’ and ‘Zionists’: they are as extreme as jihadists they oppose, or, let’s face it, worse.

This searing criticism could not be more accurate. For there is nothing so racist as the tyranny of low expectations in which the fashionable leftist intelligentsia holds the Muslim world, viewing them not as people with moral agency of their own but as little pets to be protected (or overgrown pets to be cowered from), people whose sometime decision to commit violence and murder cannot be condemned because it is supposedly “provoked” by forced beyond their control.

I have personally interviewed Maajid Nawaz, back when he was running as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the London constituency of Hampstead & Kilburn in the 2015 UK general election, and whatever one may think of his domestic political views, this is clearly not somebody who belongs on a list of violent, hateful extremists.

What is concerning is that the Southern Poverty Law Center would actually now prefer the old incarnation of Maajid Nawaz, back in the days when he was a member of a legitimate extremist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir. As such, he would be protected under the umbrella of leftist denial and fawning appeasement, so central to the SPLC’s new dogma, and they would bend over backwards to excuse his fundamentalist beliefs and violent actions.

By contrast, having long since rejected violence and an extremist fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, the SPLC would have us believe that Nawaz is somehow full of hatred and antipathy to normal Muslims, the equivalent of a knight of the Ku Klux Klan. It is absolute nonsense – pure, amoral leftist bilge.

This is also how Western civilisation destroys itself – by furiously denying the existence of opposing forces or in some cases openly bending the knee to them, while attacking those who actually recognise the danger and seek to confront it. In a world where precious few people have a remotely coherent strategy for tackling fundamentalist Islamism, Maajid Nawaz stands out as one of those with genuine understanding of the problem, and a plan for addressing it – and so the debased SPLC must now attack and undermine him at all costs, by pretending that he is an anti-Muslim extremist.

And one can only concur with Nick Cohen’s assessment that it is “heartbreaking” to witness an organisation so integral to the American Civil Rights movement, which bravely shone an unforgiving light on genuine violent extremism where it once existed, now creating McCarthyite lists of people who offend leftist/Islamist dogma and labelling them with the same term of “extremist”.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list too. Why? Because she actively and gleefully foments prejudice and violence against ordinary innocent Muslims? Of course not. The SPLC include Ayaan Hirsi Ali in their leftist collaborationist fatwa because she had the temerity to renounce her faith and speak out passionately for the cause of secularism, thus gravely offending the real extremists to the point where she has to hire bodyguards to ward off assassination attempts.

It takes some twisted morality to come down on the side of those who seek to carry out an execution for the crime of apostasy over their intended victim, but somehow the SPLC has found a way.

Cohen concludes:

Do these jerks not think about the consequences of their rote-learned, pseudo-leftist bombast? Have they not heard that, across the world, lists circulate of ‘apostates’ along with invitations to the faithful to kill them when they can?

Maybe they have but do not care, and it will take drastic action to shake them out of their spiteful stupor.  A court action could do it. If Nawaz sues, SPLC’s work in fighting the white far right will suffer grievously. But, as it is so eager to be on the wrong side in the fight against the religious far right, I think we could call it evens.

It is hard to disagree. Gone, it seems, are the days when the Southern Poverty Law Center could be found seeking justice for the victims of real prejudice, oppression and extremist violence.

Where once the SPLC battled segregation and fought civil cases to ensure that racist lynchings and arson attacks were acknowledged at a time when the criminal justice system did not want to prosecute them, now they can be found patrolling the borders of our language, seeking to excommunicate decent and honest people from polite society for the high crime of having caused “offence” to certain protected groups.

And when an organisation has drifted so far from its founding ethos to the extent that a one-time civil liberties group is now in the business of making McCarthyite-style lists of people whose blasphemy offends Islamist extremists, then the time has probably come to wash our hands of that organisation, sad though it may be.

 

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Top Image: Wikimedia Commons

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The Daily Toast: After Paris, Andrew Neil’s Bravura Anti-Islamist Speech

Three cheers to Andrew Neil for his bravura speech praising Western enlightenment values in comparison with murderous “Islamist scumbags” – and their sleazy apologists on the British Left

It’s fair to say that this blog has not always been the biggest fan of Andrew Neil, or what he has done with the BBC’s flagship political television output.

But I have only admiration for his opening monologue on today’s Daily Politics, responding to last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. It’s worth transcribing Neil’s speech in its entirety:

Welcome to This Week. A week in which a bunch of loser jihadists slaughtered a hundred and fifty-two innocents in Paris to prove the future belongs to them rather than the civilisation like France.

Well, I can’t say that I fancy their chances. France: the country of Descartes, Boulez, Monet, Satre, Rousseau, Camou, Renoir, Berlioz, Cézanne, Gauguin, Hugo, Voltaire, Matisse, Debussy, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Bizet, Satie, Pasteur, Molière, Franck, Zola, Balzac, Blanc, cutting edge science, world class medicine, fearsome security forces, nuclear power, Coco Chanel, Château Lafite, coq  au vin, Daft Punk, Zizou Zidane, Juliette Binoche, liberté, égalité, fraternité and creme brûlée.

Versus what? Beheadings, crucifixions, amputations, slavery, mass murder, medieval squalor, a death cult barbarity that would shame the Middle Ages. Well, IS, or Da’esh, or ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever name you’re going by, I’m sticking with IS – as in Islamist Scumbags.

I think the outcome is pretty clear to everybody but you: whatever atrocities you are currently capable of committing, you will lose. In a thousand years’ time, Paris – that glorious city of lights – will still be shining bright, as will every other city like it, while you will be as dust, along with a ragbag of fascists, Nazis and Stalinists who have previously dared to challenge democracy. And failed.

What a marvellous, stirring speech in defence of Western civilisation. Between Andrew Neil and John Oliver, here we have all the response we need to those who preach an ideology of hatred, ignorance and death.

If only more of our political and civic leaders had the self-confidence and moral fibre to speak like Neil (Oliver would probably be going too far) – and not just in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on a European capital – perhaps we would not be facing such a crisis of confidence in Western and British values.

And that crisis of confidence is unfortunately summed up in some of the responses to Neil’s speech on Twitter:

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Through an insatiable desire to signal their virtue, flaunt their multiculturalist credentials and deliberately misinterpret those who dare to criticise the Islamists – but never Muslims in general – there are some on the Left who will only ever see bad in the West, and a plucky underdog in the murderous fanatics who bring death to innocent people in Paris, Madrid, New York and London.

These people are despicable. If our civilisation does ever collapse, it will be entirely thanks to their self-flagellating, virtue-signalling, moralising vacuity – not the Islamists, whose brief time strutting around the world stage will perish just like all of the failed ideologies that came before it.

A big toast to Andrew Neil for a full throated and very welcome defence of Western enlightenment and civilisation in the face of primitive Islamist barbarism.

And shame on each and every one of the virtue-signalling, West-hating, terror-appeasing, amoral leftists who chose to attack the speech on social media to flaunt their warped “tolerance” credentials.

They and the murderous Islamists fully deserve one another.

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The Daily Smackdown: Jeremy Corbyn’s Non-Clarification On ‘Shoot To Kill’

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Why is it so hard for Jeremy Corbyn to say that the police should kill terrorists in the process of committing a massacre?

Sensing the storm that was about to break over the Labour Party following his catastrophically weak  response to a simple question on the merits of shooting terrorists in the act of attacking innocent civilians, Jeremy Corbyn reluctantly scrambled to contain the damage.

Yesterday, on Corbyn’s Facebook page, the Labour leader took the opportunity to scold everyone for supposedly misinterpreting his remarks:

I am therefore disappointed that comments I made yesterday in regard to a “shoot to kill” policy have been taken out of context [..]

Nonetheless, I would like to clarify my position. As we have seen in the recent past, there are clear dangers to us all in any kind of shoot to kill policy. And we must ensure that terrorist attacks are not used to undermine the very freedoms and legal protections we are determined to defend.

But of course I support the use of whatever proportionate and strictly necessary force is required to save life in response to attacks of the kind we saw in Paris.

Here, Corbyn is trying to pull off a classic bait-and-switch. Yes, of course we must ensure that terrorist attacks are not exploited as an excuse to clamp down further on already-threatened civil liberties – this blog has consistently said the same thing, and did so again following the Paris attacks.

But that’s a side issue. People were not angry with Corbyn because he was taking a plucky stance in defence of civil liberties, they were simply incredulous that the Leader of the Opposition – when presented with a golden plated opportunity to come out on the side of human decency and rebut some of the criticism that he is soft on terror – point blank refused to countenance the shooting of armed terrorist gunmen actively engaged in committing a massacre.

Even in his so-called clarification, Jeremy Corbyn remains unable to force the words “kill” and “terrorist” from his lips in the same sentence, giving only the bland statement that he supports “proportionate and strictly necessary force”. This might be sufficient coming from another politician, but the trouble is that in Corbyn’s case, the public strongly suspects that his idea of a “proportionate and necessary” response to a terrorist massacre might mean sitting down with a cup of tea and talking about our feelings rather than eliminating a clear and present threat to the British public.

Look: nobody expects Jeremy Corbyn to be the man in the SWAT flak jacket kicking down doors, throwing flash-bang grenades and pulling the trigger in these situations. If Corbyn wants to follow his absolutist pacifism in his own private life, that’s fine. But it is not okay for the Leader of the Opposition, the holder of an important official constitutional position in our national life, to take such a fundamentalist stance when the security of our country and our citizens is at stake.

When the man seeking to become Britain’s next prime minister can’t even bring himself to utter the words “kill” and “terrorist” in the same sentence, it naturally raises questions as to what possible group of people – which vitally important constituent base – he is desperate to avoid offending by giving a more full-throated response. And as this blog noted yesterday, sadly there is only one plausible answer: the people Corbyn is unwilling to offend, is even willing to take a political hit in order to avoid offending, are those people who think that maybe Paris and the West had it coming on Friday the thirteenth.

But even putting this distasteful fact aside, Corbyn needs to learn that not every crisis or event needs to be a teaching moment for the British people in the ways of pacifism and non-violence. When Laura Kuenssberg asked Jeremy Corbyn yesterday if he would be happy for the police to take down an active terrorist, the answer should have been a simple “yes, of course”. Case closed.

But instead, the Labour leader – and the army of online Corbyn fanboys and fangirls blindly backing him up – decided instead to quibble sanctimoniously about whether “happy” was the right choice of word, bring up misleading comparisons like the mistaken shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes when no terrorist attack was underway, and generally refute the premise of the question.

That’s the kind of behaviour that would just about be tolerable from a smarmy sixth-former. It’s the kind of behaviour that has become eye-rollingly predictable from a far-left backbencher. But it is most definitely not the kind of behaviour acceptable from somebody who plans to stand before the British people and ask them to make him prime minister.

Jeremy Corbyn - Paris Attacks - Terrorism - BBC Interview

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Paris Attack Response Proves He Is Unfit To Lead

Jeremy Corbyn - Paris Attacks - Terrorism - French Flag - Tricolour

Jeremy Corbyn refused to say that he would order the police to kill active terrorist gunmen if the Paris attacks were to be repeated in London. Anyone unable to see this stark issue in clear moral terms is unfit to lead the Labour Party, let alone their country

Jeremy Corbyn was asked a very straightforward question today.

While giving an interview to the BBC about the terrorist attacks in Paris, the Labour leader was asked:

“If you were prime minister, would you be happy to order people – police or military – to shoot to kill on Britain’s streets?”

To be clear: this wasn’t about armed robbers, car thieves or crazy people with knives – it was specifically about a future terrorist attack like the bloodbath in Paris on 13 November.

And the Leader of the Opposition – our alternative prime minister in waiting – responded:

“I’m not happy with a shoot to kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous, and I think can often be counterproductive. I think you have to have security that prevents people from firing off weapons where you can. There are various degrees of doing things as we know, but the idea you end up with a war on the streets is not a good thing. Surely you have to work to try and prevent these things happening, that’s got to be the priority”.

So that’s a no, then. If armed terrorists killed innocent Londoners having dinner at a restaurant before going on to commit a massacre at a West End theatre, authorising the use of lethal force to subdue the terrorist attack and save the victims would be “counterproductive”.

If a politician equivocates or dodges a simple question, it is usually because they know that giving an honest answer or revealing their true thoughts on a subject will offend or alienate a critical voter bloc, special interest group or audience.

When David Cameron refuses to explicitly say that he might campaign for Brexit if he does not get the concessions he wants from his EU renegotiation, it is because he wants to appear tough to eurosceptics while desperately trying to avoid scaring pro-European Tories and his EU partners.

And when Chuka Umunna says that he supports the junior doctors but opposes their planned strike action, he is willing to endure looking ridiculous on national television is because he is determined to suck up both to NHS workers who want to strike and to his constituents, who do not want to see their health service disrupted. It’s Boris Johnson’s policy on cake all over again.

So what group of people could Jeremy Corbyn possibly be so desperate to avoid offending that he point-blank refused to say that the British police should shoot to kill any hypothetical terrorist gunmen on the rampage in London?

Exactly who is Corbyn trying to appease or placate by twisting himself in such rhetorical knots and avoiding giving the answer that 95% of the British public want and expect to hear? There can only be one answer. And it is a sickening one.

Jeremy Corbyn can’t publicly say that he would definitely order British police to kill armed terrorist gunmen in the middle of carrying out an attack because the people he is desperate to avoid offending – the constituency he is trying to court but cannot do so out in the open – are either those who might themselves one day decide to go on the rampage with a Kalashnikov on Oxford Street, or those who would cheer them on from the couch. Just like his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell could never find a bad word to say about the IRA, because they were secretly his constituency.

I’ve spent most of the afternoon and evening since that interview in a state of incredulity, trying to think of another possible reason for Corbyn’s long-winded evasion, and I have come up short. There is no other explanation. Jeremy Corbyn’s core constituency – the ones who must never be questioned, insulted or offended – are the people who watched Death shroud the City of Light last weekend while cheering with glee.

I was wrong. I supported Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest after a navel-gazing general election campaign focused almost exclusively on domestic policy and lacking any compelling vision for Britain’s future. In that context, it seemed that having a major party leader planted firmly outside the stale, centrist political consensus could only be a good thing.

I hoped that a left wing true-believer at the head of the Labour Party might force David Cameron’s Coke Zero Conservative government to rediscover its ideological backbone and make a real dent in the bloated British state. It was a noble dream, even though I caveated my endorsement of Corbyn at the time by pointing out that Corbyn’s foreign and defence policies were utterly wrong:

For all that Jeremy Corbyn has done to breathe life into a stale political scene, his foreign policy positions are indefensible and often dangerous. Where there should be simplicity – like abhorring the murder of British soldiers by terrorists – Corbyn sees great moral complexity. And where there is genuine complexity – like tackling extremism and radicalisation in modern Britain – Corbyn sees simple solutions which demand nothing of those most likely to forsake their British freedoms and take up arms against us.

But Corbyn’s foreign and security policies are not just wrong – they are downright dangerous. Never mind the sixth-form naivety behind his desire for unilateral (and unreciprocated) British nuclear disarmament. Never mind his desire to run down the Armed Forces to a degree that would make David Cameron look like a neoconservative defence hawk. Jeremy Corbyn cannot even look the British people in the eye and tell them that he would authorise the use of deadly force to save them from an ongoing terrorist attack. Because he would much rather negotiate with the gunmen instead.

There’s nothing to say in defence of that sentiment, of that ludicrous, naive stance. It blows any and all arguments in favour of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – and there are some, despite what those who have been against him from day one may say – clean out of the water. It embarrasses and shames those of us who supported Corbyn hoping that an unapologetically left wing voice at the top level of British politics might reinvigorate the domestic debate. And it should make us all very, very angry.

This blog strongly disagrees with Dan Hodges’ call for more government surveillance in the wake of the Paris attacks, but he is dead right in his assessment of the political reality now faced by the Labour Party.

Neither [Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell] actively supports terrorism. But their world view, their instincts and their need to appease a constituency that views Isil and “Western imperialism” as different sides of the same coin means that were they ever called on to confront the terrorists practically, they would falter. Reduced surveillance. Reduced global anti-terror cooperation. No airstrikes against Isil in Syria or Iraq. No drone strikes anywhere. Direct Stop The War input into UK security policy.

We have heard a lot from Labour MPs about the difficulties of finding a way of removing Jeremy Corbyn. Tough. They will have to find a way.

Because if they don’t, then it’s not just Corbyn and the terror appeasers who will pay the price. Every member of the shadow cabinet, every Labour MP and every Labour activist will find themselves tainted by the Tory charge that Labour cannot be trusted to keep this country safe. And they will be tainted with it because it will be true.

Nearly every politician can count some unsavoury groups or individuals among their supporters and core constituents, be it Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, media conglomerates, the firearms industy (in America) or others. And to some degree that’s the cost of doing business in our jaded political world – it shouldn’t happen, but it is very difficult to stamp out without draconian campaign finance reform.

It’s bad enough for a politician to legislate in favour of a certain industry when they receive campaign contributions from that group, essentially allowing our democracy to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. But it is even more of an outrage for a senior politician to advocate extreme pacifist policies toward aggressors when that politician already has a reputation for channelling the narrative of the group that most stands to benefit from a weak Britain.

The only public figure who might reasonably suggest – if taken literally – that we should turn the other cheek as we are being mown down in a hail of automatic weapons fire is that other, more famous pacifist and JC – Jesus Christ. But while Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party was many things, the second coming it certainly was not.

The Lord is allowed take an absolutist position on violence, and we should be inspired by His words as far as we can practically follow them. But Jeremy Corbyn – and British politicians in general – operate not in the spiritual realm, but rather the temporal world. They have a duty to preserve our country and protect our citizens – those of all faiths and none – above everything else.

Jeremy Corbyn is not a rabble-rousing backbencher any more. He is the Leader of the Opposition, and one of the most high profile politicians in the country. And therefore when he says that he is “not happy” with a shoot first policy when it comes to terrorist gunmen, we must take him at his word.

And then, once our shock has abated, we should immediately stop taking seriously anything else that Corbyn and his party have to say on foreign and security policy.

Jeremy Corbyn - Paris Attacks - Terrorism - BBC Interview

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