HomeFeminismBryony Gordon: screw-up fascism


Bryony Gordon: screw-up fascism — 12 Comments

  1. OT but sort of related, have you seen the article by Matthew Parris in the current edition of the Spectator? Where he admits that he as a politician was basically contemptuous of ‘public opinion’ and saw it as his job as one of using his power to thwart any parts of public opinion he found distasteful?

    I have to say if the referendum result of 2016 achieves nothing whatsoever on Britain leaving the EU, it will have done one massive public service – it has forced vast swathes of the political class to openly admit their utter contempt for the voters, and that if they personally don’t agree with them, the voters can go hang, they’ll do everything they can to prevent anything happening they don’t like. Its made the nature of our ‘democracy’ incredibly clear for all to see.

    • I don’t have a Spectator subscription. Might have to get one, so many Spectator links I want to click on.

      Parris’s stance isn’t a surprise to me, but his admission is. Although not a total surprise, because he’s always been pretty open about his contempt for the masses.

      • Why I don’t, never have, and never will trust the people, Matthew Parris – 15 December 2018, 9:00 AM

        “It was late, and a friend and I were left to talk Brexit. He’s a keen and convinced Tory Brexiteer MP but to stay friends we have tended to steer off the topic. This, however, felt like a moment to talk.

        The conversation taught me nothing about Brexit, something about him, and a lot about myself and the strain of Conservatism I now realise I’m part of — and which is part of me. Oddly, then, this column is not really about Brexit, but about trusting the people. I don’t. Never have and never will. Our conversation forced me to confront the fact.

        My friend knows well enough why I’m a Remainer, but guessed correctly that I’ve puzzled about why he isn’t. I had not quite expected what I heard. He understands business and finance and is good at facts and figures, so I’d supposed his wish for a ‘clean’ Brexit would be all about the economic advantages. He’s a firm believer in individual choice, too, so I had supposed he would dwell on the need to ‘take back control’.

        No doubt he holds to these strands of the Leave argument — but talking to me he hardly mentioned the practical benefits of Brexit. No, there was something else that seemed to drive his anxiety that we leave the EU. Otherwise, he said: ‘I just worry about our democracy, respect for our constitution and the effect that a betrayal of the 2016 referendum result would have on the people who voted for me and our party last year.’

        He returned to this repeatedly, and I saw that he was sincere. As a democrat, and a Conservative who owed his position in Parliament to a little piece of England that he came from, that he knew, that knew him, and whose electors’ minds and feelings he had come to understand over the years, my friend felt with a quiet passion that he must not break his word to them, must not slither away from undertakings that had been given.

        He felt the same about the electorate nationally, the British people’s trust in the Conservative party, and their confidence in politics itself. He felt, in short, conscious of an unseen bond between parliament and people, and fearful of the wider consequences should it be broken.

        I did not say much, because I could see he meant it; and what he meant was not really the kind of assertion one can confound with counter-argument or counter-assertion. It was about weighing things and, the scales being within his own breast, the way the scales tipped was for him just a fact, and undeniable.

        But for me they tip differently; and for me too that is a fact, and undeniable. I lay in bed that night thinking about this; and my conclusions follow. As I’m not running for office I shall not pull punches.

        Tories like me, and I think we used to be in the majority, see good governance as an effort to live with democracy rather than to an effort to live by democracy. It is why we were so chary about referendums in the first place. We are wary of the populace and instinctively hostile to the instincts of the mob. We see the popular will as a sometimes dangerous thing, to be handled, guided, and on key occasions (and subtly) thwarted.

        We know, however, that the people’s will cannot be overlooked. We see it as a corrective to the over-mighty and a warning to those who govern not to lose touch with popular feeling. But at the idea that the people should dictate the policies of government on a daily basis, we shudder.

        Our kind of Conservatism is either in temporary abeyance, or going permanently out of fashion — I do not know which. Its decline since the middle of the 20th century has been so gradual as to mask its extent over time. At the beginning of that century it was possible for Arthur Balfour to remark: ‘I have the greatest respect for the Conservative party conference, but I would no more consult it on a matter of high policy than I would my valet’ without this being thought anything but wit; today its utterance would end a political career.

        When I first went into politics, initially as a researcher, in 1977, it was commonplace among us Tories to see and describe ‘the will of the people’ not as our mentor but as a rock to be navigated. Capital punishment and judicial flogging were very popular with the public. The hanging debate at party conferences was an annual nightmare for our leading spokesmen, but I never heard it suggested, even by colleagues who supported the return of these punishments, that we should bring them back because the people wanted it.

        As for colleagues opposed to both, our challenge was to find ways of ducking the issue. Once I became an MP, I did so by voting for the principle and against the practice. This subversion of democracy (in Theresa May’s phrase) caused me embarrassment, but not a second’s guilt. Sod democracy: hanging was wrong.

        In the late 1970s, we Tories were painfully aware that popular feeling opposed any confrontation with the trade unions, but we believed this would prove necessary. Our response was, so far as possible, to tiptoe round the issue during the 1979 general election. We succeeded. Among ourselves we talked cheerfully about subterfuge. The Britain of 1979 and 1983 most emphatically did not vote for a massive confrontation with the coal miners. We made sure the electorate was never asked.

        Even today, of course, politicians can and sometimes must dodge the popular will, and they know it. But who now dares say these things? And what today we do but no longer dare say we do, tomorrow we may not dare do. Tory paternalism is in long, slow retreat. People like me will stay where we are, increasingly exposed as our friends melt back. But what the heck.”
        (c) The Spectator 2018


  2. Pingback:Quote of the Day – Hector Drummond

  3. Thanks Pcar. I suspected it might come back to hanging. I never understood the attraction that being anti-capital punishment had to the ‘intellectuals’ of the 1950s. With all the problems of the world in those days, and they were worried about hanging murderers? That was screw-up fascism right there.

    Of course I can see the attraction of resisting the people’s will if the people’s will is to, say, kill all the Jews, but whether to be ruled by an undemocratic gang of foreigners is exactly the sort of thing that we should be listening to the public on.

    The other thing to say is, if we are to be ruled by an intellectual elite, why do the likes of Matthew Parris, or David Lammy, or Gavin Barwell, think they’re it? I have published more academic papers that all of them put together. So why am I not part of the elite instead of, say, Alistair Campbell? What’s his qualification to be running the country?

    We just end up with competing tribes on this model, and we end up settling things with armed struggle. That’s why we go for democracy, even if it produces decisions you don’t like, we put up with it to stop it all going back to violence.

  4. @Hector

    If you want a Spectator article for a blog piece, PM me in a comment @TW with links to spec and you.

    I read most days. Email checked ~weekly as no longer capping – google x264-Pcar 🙂

  5. Thanks Pcar.

    Liz Jones’ money is obviously a joke. As, I expect is Hannah Betts’ for her regular article about having a drinking problem, which she’s published in virtually every newspaper in the country numerous times.

    But then someone like Rid Liddle is probably underpaid, because he’s the only reason I’d ever buy the Sunday Times.

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