Tory Zac Goldsmith admits he is a non-dom - Times Online.
Another headline lusciously loaded with malevolent meaning. An "admission" carries the unspoken connotation of guilt, as in this headline we shall sadly never see;
"Labour Gordon Brown admits whole life warped by envy"
Labour has not learned from Crewe & Nantwich. How could it? It is a party founded on an ideology of class hatred. "New" Labour's only real political innovation has been to create new classes of people to hate. They have added spice and variety to the embittered vocabulary of Leftist hate speech, but they still relish attacking their traditional foes; the successful, the prudent and their heirs. Unless of course, like Tony Benn in his day and the Milliband brothers in ours, they are Labour too. Their family trusts and tax structuring (not to mention their dynastic tendencies) are perfectly fine, of course.
The quality of political debate in Britain drives me to despair. The blogosphere has not really helped in that respect. Given the regularity with which classical liberals are venomously smeared and ridiculed in the mainstream media, it's perhaps not surprising that, given an outlet by blogging, some sought to give as good as they get. Not surprising, but disappointing. It has escalated the war of insults, which increasingly alienates reasonable people from political life, leaving the field to bruisers and back-stabbers.
Much as I enjoy his blogging and recognise the wit behind his delicate use of foul language, I worry about the election of Chris Mounsey of Devil's Kitchen fame as the new leader of the Libertarian Party. I know, like and respect Chris, but I feel he has queered his political pitch with his blogging. Not only will we, his readers, now lose the original (and best) swearblog, but his past writings (of which he has every reason to be proud) will give his opponents every excuse selectively to lower the tone of debate even further.
A recent casualty of the declining standard of public discourse is Anna Raccoon, who has thrown in the towel at her popular blog. I enjoyed her writing very much, but I also enjoy the writing of the gentlemen who stand accused (not by her, but by some or her readers) of "bullying" her into silence. I always enjoyed (though I often disagreed with) both blogs; while always knowing I would prefer to have lunch with Anna.
In her parting post, she wrote;
It seems to me that the world of blogging is fuelled by petty
jealousies, vitriol, feuds, unsubstantiated allegations, apostrophe
police, and a whole host of people who in another age would have been
happy twitching their curtains and writing letters in green ink. I have
watched in horror as several new forums have descended into a cesspool
of hatred and nastiness, and you know what? I got up this morning and
decided that I just didn’t have the energy any more, or the thick skin,
to do it any longer.
Save as to the thinness of her skin, as to which she is best able to judge, she is quite wrong. There are many corners of the political blogosphere where civilised debate is attempted. Her bitter words will help mainstream politicians and journalists build their dismissive stereotype of bloggers. As if the professions that spawned Lord Mandelson and Alistair Campbell had any moral standing to criticise.
A sad week then. One more reasonable voice falls silent, enemies of libertarians are licensed by the party to call us all c***s, and the political charlatans mob the toff de jour as if it were still the 1950s. I have been both poor and prosperous in my life and I can't correlate the contents of my bank account to my wisdom or morality at the time. The only remarkable part of Zac Goldsmith's story is, though even better placed than Anna to kick back and enjoy life, he is prepared to give up his non-dom status to become an MP.
Even those who envy his wealth certainly can't fault the man's enthusiasm.