If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Right Wing - some thoughts

I've been prompted to write this by a post over at Wrinkled Weasel's place, where he asks if he has become more right wing over the years, or if society has moved to the Left:

This may sound a bit craven and a bit crass, but I am not sure if it is me that has gone further and further to the right of the political spectrum, or merely that the climate of opinion in this country has become so nihilistic and politically correct that any sane person would seem right wing against that background.

This stirred a few thoughts in what I am pleased to call my 'mind', and I concluded that I feel the same. My ideas and principles have definitely drifted to the right of the accepted spectrum of opinion over the last 20 years or so, but I always assumed that this was because we all get more right-wing as we get older. As Aristide Briand is reputed to have said:

The man who is not a socialist at twenty has no heart, but if he is still a socialist at forty he has no head.

But I now think that is wrong (not Briand; the idea that I have changed significantly). The things that I believed at twenty, I still believe. I might be a little more realistic and less naïve, but my core beliefs haven't changed at all.
  • I believe in equality of opportunity - genuine equality, not massaged to fit some socially-engineered target
  • I believe that, given the huge variability of human talent, equality of outcome is an impossible ideal and should not be pursued as a public policy
  • I believe in obeying the law, and that those who disobey it should face society's punishment (and if I ever find myself in a position where I must break the law on a matter of principle, I would accept the punishment that went with the offence)
  • I believe that the punishments that society inflicts on wrongdoers should be meaningful and rigorous, as maintaining the rule of law is essential to everyone's peace of mind and security, especially those who are least able, through wealth, to insulate themselves from chaos and violence
  • I believe that everyone should be free to act in accordance with their own consciences and desires, provided that by doing so they do not harm the well-being of others
  • I believe that everyone should accept responsibility for their own actions and the consequences of those actions, and that most things that go wrong in people's lives are the result of their own stupidity, weakness or lack of foresight
  • I believe that rights come with responsibilities, and if you harm the human rights of others you should not be able to claim human rights in your own defence
  • I believe that a nation has the right to determine its own affairs - whether that be social and economic policy, or allowing those from other nations to settle within its borders
  • I am proud to live in a tolerant and welcoming country, but recognise that tolerance and welcome have limits, especially when those limits involve our own freedoms and security
  • I believe in paying one's lawful taxes as part of the 'contract' of living in a civilised society (although those taxes should be as low as reasonably possible and spent on things that society wants and needs, not the pet projects of the ruling class)
  • I believe that the first duty of a British government is to protect British society and British interests, not those of foreign governments
And so on.

Hardly revolutionary, but today they mark me out as right of centre. And yet if you go back a few decades, the positions above fit remarkably well with core Labour values. I'm pretty sure that my father, who was Old Labour to his fingertips, would have agreed with them all.

The argument is no longer between the classic Left and Right. The Labour Party abandoned any pretence at socialism when it elected Tony Blair to the leadership. What Blair offered (and, to be fair, delivered) was a route to power by sounding reasonably left-wing while garnering support from the middle-classes and entrepreneurs. With the possible exception of the National Minimum Wage, there have been no truly socialist changes enacted by Labour since 1997. We have been ruled by a cabal of lawyers and media luvvies, with what seems to be a fairly successful attempt to push through all the agenda items from 1970s student debates that weren't successful the first time round, when everyone cleared off for the bar before last orders.

To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof

has now become

To mould society, by force if necessary, into an image of how we would like to see it; to ban everything we personally disapprove of; to vilify and demonise people we disagree with; to use any means, legal or illegal, ethical or not, to hang onto the levers of power so that the Utopia that we desire to see can be achieved and people will recognise that we have been right all along and be bloody well grateful.

And that is what has led me, since 1997, to loathe and detest the party that commanded the love and loyalty of my parents and grandparents, and me at a younger age. It is why if, should it come to pass that Labour were not just defeated at the next election but annihilated and destroyed beyond any recovery, I would be delighted.

It's funny, though. I stopped copying Clause IV before the bit about common ownership, but the bit I have reproduced above still seems quite reasonable. I could still support that. It's the deceit and the spin and the manipulation and the arrogance and the poisonous briefings and the treasonous disloyalty to Britain and the British that I hate.

And hate is the right word. I have never felt as passionate about politics as I do today.

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