Matthew Parris, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown And Turbo-Charged Brexit Derangement Syndrome

Yasmin Alibhai Brown - Brexit - Mental Health - The edge of mental illness and madness

Warning of economic Armageddon didn’t work, and nor did peddling ludicrous conspiracy theories about government perfidy. So now, prominent Remainer opinion-setters are resorting to tear-stained pleas that Brexit is so personally stressful as to be injurious to their mental health

One of the more annoying aspects of modern political journalism is the way that those who cover events increasingly seek to insert themselves into the story, either by oversharing on social media, grandstanding during press conferences or writing tell-all books full of juicy campaign gossip which inadvertently reveals just how much the journalistic class traditionally suck up to those in power rather than holding them to account.

In Brexit Britain, however, this is being taken to a whole new level with newspaper columnists and TV talking heads – particularly those of a pro-establishment, pro-EU Remainer persuasion – taking a break from offering soundbites and analysis to let us all know just how traumatised and stressed Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union is making them feel.

First up this week was Matthew Parris, with a long stream-of-consciousness confessional in the Spectator:

My spirit is restless and I must confess. This Brexit thing is driving me slightly mad. And I do mean that clinically: not as a rhetorical flourish. My mental state, like that of so many I know on both sides of the Remain/Brexit divide, is capable of medical diagnosis. A shaft of insanity has pierced our interior lives. I really am becoming a Remainiac.

Is it not the first and clearest indication that the balance of one’s mind has been disturbed that, when having done all one reasonably can to achieve a result, one simply cannot let something go? What is the point of waking up at 3 a.m. and fretting sleepless until sunrise that we are leaving the European Union? What is the point of reading every one of the Times readers’ online posts beneath one’s column (they numbered more than a thousand last Saturday) and actually trying to answer scores of those many that are critical of one’s point of view? One knows perfectly well one will never change their minds, and they know perfectly well they will never change one’s own. So what are we doing staring at our stupid screens and taking verbal jabs at each other when outside the sun is shining?

[..] Well (you may say), isn’t that what fierce public debate on important questions of politics is all about? But no, not really. In my time I’ve taken sides with some passion on many great political questions, variously suffering reverses, chalking up victories or acknowledging myself impotent to influence the outcome — yet have always been able to sleep. But this ridiculous Brexit thing is spoiling my summer, spoiling my life; and I can see it’s doing the same for my adversaries on the Leave side too. I’m beginning to pine for a perhaps-imagined golden age when a Conservative-led coalition was in power and we didn’t all hate each other and the EU thing — whichever side you took — was just a minor irritation.

Of course, Britain’s EU membership and slow subsumption into antidemocratic continental political union was never just a “minor irritation” to those millions of British citizens who wholeheartedly objected to the project and would have loved to have made their feelings directly known at the ballot box much earlier, if only they had been given the opportunity. But then Matthew Parris displays that peculiar, almost robotic lack of empathy for people outside his own social caste common to many prominent Remainers, and so he could not have possibly known this.

But unlike many other prominent Remainers, at least Parris has the self-awareness to recognise that his behaviour may be counter-productive:

I mentioned the first indication of a disturbed mental balance: being unable to let something go. But I think there’s a second too, perhaps more worrying still. It’s when you self-diagnose and know this is the case, know you’re going crazy, know you’re self-harming, know that friends who tell you to leave Chazza alone because he isn’t worth it, are right — yet feel no inclination at all to mend your ways.

Like the paranoiac who is persuaded by the patient rationality of a kindly counsellor that ‘they’ are not all out to get him, but pursues his own mad train of reasoning undeterred by what he accepts to be wise advice, I rave on into the night.

I know it’s doing no good. I know I’m boring my readers; know there’s almost nothing left to be said; know that the voice in my head, my mother’s voice, telling me I just need a good night’s sleep, is right. But I’m not going to take a blind bit of notice of it. Having seen friends and colleagues drawn to their professional ruin by a fixation they cannot shake off, I resolve this summer to trudge forward, head down just like them, towards the wreck of whatever reputation I have left for dispassionate objectivity.

How bracingly, unexpectedly honest.

Not to be outdone by Parris, though, fervent EU hagiographer and Remainer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown then immediately took to the BBC Daily Politics studio to confess that Brexit has left her “feeling on the edge of madness and mental illness”:

I’m so glad that Matthew wrote this. I am behaving, feeling kind of on the edge of madness, of mental illness with this.

[..] I can’t go anywhere anymore, including with distant relatives, and not have a fight. I was at a wedding party last week, a wonderful wedding party – and it isn’t even left or right – and there were people from Momentum at this wedding party talking about why they were Brexiters, I had a big fight with them. And I had to go out and, like, cigarette smokers, get deep breaths, and I thought what are you doing, this is a wedding party.

[..] I can’t talk to relatives; I even had a fight with somebody on the bus, normal citizens talking about why they wanted out because they didn’t want foreigners here, I got up and had a fight. I think I’m there with Matthew.

But why is Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union so profoundly and earth-shatteringly disturbing to the likes of Matthew Parris and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown? Why is this event so much more weighty than any other political setback they may have endured in the past?

Part of the answer is that they are in fact not reacting just to Brexit, but to what they think that Brexit represents – Britain turning toward being a more introverted, hostile and unpleasant place – in a way that no other single political decision (such as a tax cut or education reform) alone can symbolise replicate. This much is evident from the Twitter timelines and public pronouncements of much of the #FBPE #WATON “Brexshit” crowd – not only do they (correctly) see Brexit as far harder to reverse than a normal political policy shift, they also fear a sea change in the character and fortunes of Britain.

But there is also something deeper and more obvious at work, driving this unprecedented hysteria from a group of commentators and public figures who generally love to portray themselves as calm, reasonable and pragmatic – the fact that the likes of Matthew Parris have never really known until now what a true political setback feels like. In recent decades (and in the case of younger pro-EU activists, their entire lives) many of the EU’s loudest cheerleaders have never known what it is for their political agenda to stall, their worldview to be repudiated or their preferred policies not to be enacted.*

For these opinion-setters and those they represent, general elections – supposedly the greatest regular opportunity for political change and democratic course correction in this country – have been largely meaningless, their outcome worth tussling over on a superficial level but never reaching the level where it might have grave or existential consequences for present trajectory of the country or for their own lives.

A decade after Tony Blair’s New Labour government took power, the top rate of income tax had not been raised from the level set by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1988. Meanwhile, privatised industries had not been renationalised, nor was there any likelihood that they would be, to the chagrin of the Corbynite Left. And to the frustration of more conservative citizens, six years of Tory rule had seen no halt to the march of social progressivism or the persistence of a broken welfare and immigration system by the time of the EU referendum. It was not that there was no popular dissent against the effective bipartisan consensus on these issues, it was merely that in each case the political class had effectively decided to lift the “correct” course of action out of the bothersome influence of electoral politics.

Thus the Matthew Parrises of this world have long slept easy in their beds, knowing that Britain would be run as a technocratic social democracy with swathes of policy outsourced to the EU where the public could less easily interfere, and that broadly pro-business and pro-middle aged, middle class homeowner policies would prevail whoever sat in 10 Downing Street. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader gave an early wake-up call that not everybody was entirely happy that the country was effectively being run for the personal benefit of Matthew Parris and others like him, but even then it was airily assumed that Corbynism would flame out and that moderate establishment centrism would reassert its dominance within the Labour Party, restoring balance to the universe and predictability to their lives. A pleasant predictability utterly lacking in the far more precarious and uncertain lives of millions of fellow citizens whom Matthew Parris and his cohorts barely deigned to notice, but a pleasant predictability nonetheless.

This is why what we are now witnessing from many establishment commentators more closely resembles an hysterical toddler’s tantrum than reasoned analysis or advocacy. With Brexit, something very precious of theirs (to their mind, their natural right to see the arc of history bend favourably toward their wallets, careers, lifestyles and preferred holiday destinations) has been rudely stolen – and they are not going to take it lying down.

Unfortunately, this strangely unmoving bid for public sympathy will prove to be just another failed tactic to add to the gallery of missteps and forced errors of the Continuity Remain campaign. Insulting Leave voters and accusing them of xenophobia or racist tendencies didn’t work. Casting aspersions about the intelligence and education attainment of Brexit supporters (as though a degree in chemistry or gender studies imparts some special wisdom about the best forms of government to secure freedom and prosperity) likewise did not work. Resorting to unhinged conspiracy theories (such as in-house Remainer intellectual AC Grayling’s insistence that the UK government planned to provoke China into sinking a Royal Navy frigate in order to distract from difficulties in the Brexit negotiations) failed to generate anything other than derision and embarrassment.

And now this belated establishment bid for public sympathy will also fail; not only because it makes a mockery of real mental illness and those who face stresses and mental difficulties of an infinitely more severe nature with none of the financial and social cushions enjoyed by prominent media personalities, but because those people now seeking sympathy in their time of “trial” have tended to show an astonishing disregard – and sometimes outright contempt – for the worries and concerns of those they now paint as the enemy and pick fights with at wedding receptions.

The next time a famous and well-remunerated journalist or opinion-setter takes to the television studios to bemoan the harm that Brexit is apparently doing to their mental health, they should first perform this role-reversal thought experiment: imagine that rather than Brexit being the first time in their life that they didn’t get their way on a matter of deep and abiding personal importance, that it was the first time that they ever knew victory. What might that have felt like, to have been so disenfranchised and overlooked for so long?

Any pro-EU personality of honour and dignity might then pause before flaunting their mental trauma and parading their emotional scars before a nation with far more important things to worry about.

 

* This hysteria and sense of a coming apocalyptic event which must be prevented at all costs is also what allows politicians like Lord Andrew Adonis and activists like Gina Miller to pose as plucky underdogs and doughty defenders of democracy in their long guerrilla war to derail Brexit. Many of the arguments they make about the dangers of unchecked executive power and disparagement of the judiciary are entirely valid, in principle, yet these Crusaders for the Preservation of Democracy had absolutely nothing to say when the executive under David Cameron was making highly questionable actions to sway the EU referendum in favour of the Remain campaign (such as the £9m government propaganda leaflet or the violation of the spirit and possibly letter of purdah rules). Their commitment to constitutional observance and separation of powers extends only so far as these principles can be leveraged to their own advantage – they have no compunction violating these principles when doing so serves their own purposes.

 

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Social Justice Warrior Karma, Part 1 – Owen Smith Edition

Owen Smith - Social Justice Warrior

He who lives by the sword dies by the sword

Well, well, well.

Once again, leftists are reminded that the revolution always eats its own:

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign has demanded an apology from Owen Smith after the challenger apparently described his rival as a “lunatic”.

Corbyn’s team reacted with anger over claims that Smith, a shadow Cabinet minister until just weeks ago, used the term about his former boss at a rally in London last night.

The Labour leader, who has himself faced an onslaught of criticism overnight because of his controversial video on a “ram-packed” Virgin Train service, said Smith’s language had descended into “personal abuse”. This morning Smith issued a partial apology.

[..] “And what you won’t get from me, is some, you know, lunatic at the top of the Labour Party, you’ll have someone who tries to form a coherent narrative about what’s wrong with Britain,” it is claimed Smith said.

A spokesperson for the Jeremy for Labour campaign, today said: “Owen Smith has degraded this contest by descending into personal abuse. He should apologise to people suffering with mental illness, many of whom would have been dismayed and upset to to hear such offensive language used in public by a Labour politician.

“He should also withdraw his remark, and spend time with people suffering from mental health problems to develop some sensitivity in his use of language. This is simply not the language that someone standing to lead our party should use, and it injects an ugly tone into this contest that no Labour member wants to see.”

Smith’s intervention also prompted dismay from the Labour Campaign for Mental Health. In a statement posted on Facebook today the group said: “While we tend not to comment on the leadership contest, we were saddened to see that the term ‘lunatic’, a term with a long history of abuse toward those with mental illness, has been used in this contest as a term of derision against a colleague. We, as a party, should be fighting to end the stigma and support those in our community with mental health issues, and not use these cruel, oppressive names to insult opponents.”

One probably shouldn’t gloat at Owen Smith’s misfortune – but let’s indulge ourselves just this once. Because nothing restores the conservative soul more than watching preening, virtue-signalling Social Justice Warriors self detonate on the very same verbal land mines they themselves have laid across our political and cultural discourse.

Does anybody seriously think that people suffering with mental illness are in anguish today because of Smith’s remarks? Is anyone at this moment penning an angry letter declaring “On behalf of lunatics everywhere I am appalled by Owen Smith’s cavalier appropriation of the term ‘lunatic’ and his lazy attempts to describe the state of madness while making a political point”? Of course not.

But this is the rod which the preening social justice Left have made for their own backs. They have weaponised language to such an extent that even normal, everyday expressions are loaded with dynamite – not because their use actually “harms” the so-called victim group in question (lunatics, in this case) but because it offends other professional offence-seekers on the Left, parasitical people who gain power and social status within their social circle by pointing out and loudly criticising the supposed intolerance of others.

And you have to hand it to the Corbyn campaign – they responded magnificently to Calamity Owen’s latest gaffe, immediately portraying their man as the virtuous Protector of the Mentally Ill, standing up to Smith’s supposed deliberate denigration of their suffering. Like Ronaldo on the receiving end of a light tackle, Corbyn played the victim brilliantly, immediately falling to the ground and flopping around (metaphorically speaking) as if stunned by Owen Smith’s sheer inhumanity, before donning the white robes of virtue and sanctimoniously “defending” mentally ill people from a supposed microaggression which none of them would have noticed in the first place were it not for Corbyn’s skillfully weaponised victimhood.

But don’t feel sorry for Owen Smith – he will have learned nothing from this latest escapade. Despite himself now having come under attack twice for violating PC / Social Justice dogma (the “smashing Theresa May back in her heels” remark, and now this) you can be sure that Smith will soon have reverted to type, clutching his pearls in mock horror and seeking to make political capital out of the garbled speech of some or other unfortunate Conservative MP. He knows no other way. None of them do.

Snarling, weaponised victimhood is literally all that the modern Left have going for them at present.

 

Owen Smith - Labour Party Leadership Coup

Top Image: BBC

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The Daily Toast: Ken Livingstone, Mental Health And The New Politics

Ken Livingstone.png

Ken Livingstone’s attack on Kevan Jones’ depression is typical of the hard activist Left. They are happy to use the poor, the sick and other minorities as cynical campaign props, but hate it when they dare to speak for themselves

Today’s Daily Toast goes to James Kirkup for his furious, relentless evisceration of Ken Livingstone in the Telegraph.

Some context: When Red Ken was unexpectedly appointed to co-lead the Labour Party’s upcoming defence policy review (bringing his open minded attitude toward vital questions like Trident renewal), the Labour MP Kevan Jones – who had previously spoken out in a parliamentary debate, attempting to reduce the stigma of mental illness by revealing his own struggles – raised political concerns about whether Livingstone was the right person for the job.

And in response to Kevan Jones airing his political concerns, Livingstone responded with an extraordinarily personal attack:

Mr Livingstone told the Mirror: “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed.

“He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.”

So this is the New Politics that we were promised with the Jeremy Corbyn era – more of the same coarse, unbecoming personal insults that we have always had.

It’s no surprise. Because many on the Left see themselves as the only virtuous people in town – the sole custodians of the nation’s morals – they think that somehow it “doesn’t count” when they say rude, aggressive, condescending, racist or sexist things. They believe are allowed to get away with it because they spend their careers policing the debate and controlling the language, casting out anyone else who says or thinks the wrong thing. Just like a corrupt cop might consider themselves above the law, so the egotistical leftist believes that they have carte blanche to cross any of the lines that they draw to constrain the rest of us.

All of which makes Kirkup’s takedown of Livingstone so satisfying – and worthy of the Daily Toast:

I believe in civilised debate and generally try to avoid throwing around personal abuse when writing about politics. But there’s no way of being polite or restrained about this. Ken Livingstone’s words are vile, a poisonous act that would leave him consumed by shame if he had a shred of decency.

Yet he’s standing by those comments. He told the London Evening Standard: “It doesn’t matter what disorders he’s got, he doesn’t have the right to be rude … to be constantly undermining Jeremy Corbyn.”

This is utterly hateful. Mr Livingstone he hasn’t just grotesquely insulted Mr Jones, denigrating his suffering and his bravery, he has sent a brutal message to anyone else who suffers mental illness: stay quiet or you’re fair game.

Even if he wasn’t part of a leadership team that had so piously promised a nicer, kinder politics and to embrace open political debate, Mr Livingstone’s behaviour would be disgusting. The staggering hypocrisy involved just compounds his disgrace.

And if Mr Corbyn does not act quickly and firmly, by dropping Ken Livingstone into the deep dark hole of political obscurity where cockroaches like him belong, he deserves to share every bit of that disgrace.

Ken Livingstone was eventually forced to apologise for his behaviour, but was unable to stay contrite and was soon walking back his apology with justifications and angry asides to journalists.

The Labour Party – and the British Left in general – can’t have it both ways. They can’t spend half the time prancing around pretending to be high-minded emissaries of the New Politics, holding hands and singing Kumbaya, and then spend the other half acting like vicious thugs, smearing people because of their mental health conditions or whipping their activists up into a Tory-hating, phlegm-lobbing rage. It’s time to pick a side.

And yet Ken Livingstone is perfectly entitled to say mean or ignorant things about his fellow MPs in public if he chooses. That much is a fundamental free speech issue, so let’s see no talk about Parliament needing to be a “safe space” where coddled MPs need to be praised and affirmed at all times.

However, the question here is not one of free speech, but one of hypocrisy. Ken Livingstone and much of the virtue-signalling Left love to use the mentally ill, the poor and other groups as cynical campaign props, showering them with ostentatious sympathy in order to make themselves look good and pick up votes. But as soon as one of those same people becomes a threat – whether it’s a former welfare recipient questioning the welfare state or a fellow MP simply raising a political objection – suddenly the tribal thuggishness comes out and the Left’s feigned concern for the disadvantaged is revealed as the sham that it is.

That’s the real story here. Yes, Ken Livingstone’s behaviour was boorish and inexcusable, but he’s a left wing bruiser and unlikely to change his ways any time soon. But this incident was just the most high profile recent example of behaviour that is not uncommon on the Left: behind the friendly faces, the talk of inclusivity and a new, kinder politics, too often there lurks a hardened, egotistical ideologue who always responds to criticism by lashing out.

So by all means let’s haul Red Ken over the coals – certainly Corbyn should publicly condemn Livingstone if the Labour Party’s newfound passion for mental health is to be taken seriously – but let’s not pretend that this incident is anything other than standard behaviour from a certain segment of the activist Left.

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