THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Alice through the ideological looking-glass

Guilt by association?

Link: Diary | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited.

Guilt by association anybody? Pay close attention to the use of the passive voice in the linked article as various leftist luminaries complain of the way they were treated by members of the public at a public meeting. Frankly, given the damage they have collectively done to our nation, they were lucky to escape with no more than verbal abuse.

Without a shred of evidence that the people of whom they complain had any claim to speak for his party, they try to sling mud at the Conservative speaker (although admitting in passing that he was in "obvious discomfort" at the remarks made).

I have news for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I too have been called a c**t in my time and I honestly didn't feel the need to call my race or sex in aid. If her skin pigmentation no longer bubble-wraps the second most odious woman in British journalism perhaps it is a sign of progress towards racial equality? Welcome to the life of the ordinary Briton, Yasmin. Enjoy.

How delightful, incidentally, that such smear tactics are supported by this person ("person" being pronounced here as Lady Bracknell might pronounce "handbag"). This, though he is always so quick to complain of any robust attack upon his heroes. This, though he appears constitutionally incapable of writing "David Cameron" more than 10 words away from "Bullingdon Club." I suppose, given the feeble calibre of the present Cabinet, we must simply be grateful that he is not yet Home Secretary.

Comments

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Tom Paine

Well Blithe, maybe so. Generally I would start from civilised discussion. But if someone wants to strike first, I would reserve the right to strike back. If someone wants to play the hypocrite and smear and slur his opponents while demanding restraint against his own team, then to hell with him. Some people (Hitler, Stalin, Karl Marx, Al Gore) were/are so dangerous that personal attacks would be justified in the interests of humanity.

Gordon Brown has just committed the greatest cock up in Britain's economic history over Northern Rock (and in breach of European Law too) but the namby-pamby Opposition are not going in for the political kill. A bit less restraint would be more than justified when he has squandered the economic output of thousands of working lives propping up a Labour supporting private company. Actually, a lamp-post and a rope would be justified. So no, I am not quite as much in favour of restraint as you are. But I will give anyone, including an opponent, the benefit of the doubt to begin with. And if I attack someone it is for what they do or say, not for what people unconnected with them happen to do or say in their presence. The Guardian and the Independent (and Paul Burgin) clearly lack such ethical constraints.

Blithe

Dear Tom,

Thanks for your post. I'm sorry if I misunderstood you. In my assertion that Yasmin A-B *was* the subject of racist abuse I was responding to the comments in your third paragraph; I was not making any judgements about Boris Jonson's reaction to it (but I would expect that he would be as discomforted by it as most decent people would, left or right-wing). In this I think we would both agree.

I fully take the point about nostalgia re: nineteenth century 'courtesy' - not necessarily a healthy indulgence, though from where I'm standing it's a natural one. But is there an inconsistency in your argument that "insults reflect on those who give them" and your view that "we learn to give as good as we get when we encounter the foul-mouthed and lack-brained"? I'm not a regular reader of your blog, but surely we'd be better off attacking ideas rather than people?

Blithe

Tom Paine

I have been robustly abused both for being "English" and for being "white" but frankly what grown-up gives a damn? Insults reflect on those who give them more than those who receive. Generally speaking (except when humorous or when exalted to poetry by the Devil's Kitchen and Mr Eugenides) they are the way ignorant people admit defeat.

You rather seem to have missed my point, Blithe. Unless the offensive audience members were part of Boris's campaign team, why does their behaviour reflect on him? Obviously it doesn't. So why are the Guardian and the Independent (and Paul Burgin) associating him with them? Answer: to smear him.

More courtesy would be nice, but there's nothing more pointless than nostalgia. I can't envisage any likely social сhange which will create that. Once innocence is lost, it's lost. So I suggest we accept reality, try to be courteous when we can and learn to give as good as we get when we encounter the foul-mouthed and lack-brained.

Oh, and Disraeli yes - Gladstone, no.

Blithe

If I remember rightly, Alibhai-Brown was told (by the same person) to "go back to Uganda" after levelling the insult you discuss. This DOES place it in a context of racism, even if - as you suggest - to be called a c**t is not, in itself, a racist insult.

To me, such an article simply encourages us to lament the apparent dearth of courtesy among contemporary Brits of all political and indeed apolitical affiliations. We need to embody the values we feel are lacking in modern politics: to look deeper at the causes of these rifts, and try and act reasonably and generously, even towards those whom we disagree with, if things *are* going to change. It's too easy to get angry, take sides, sling mud and apportion blame, this is exactly the approach the more enlightened among the electorate are tired of. Personally, I'd have Gladstone OR Disraeli back any day!

Dave Petterson

Another line crossed and we slowly move towards the big line. Soon my pet. Soon.

jameshigham

It never changes.

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