Louise Mensch, squabbling Congresses, and the rise of extremism
I note that Guido Fawkes is championing Louise Mensch as a brave defender of our freedoms. If you go to the MP’s twitter thread, you’ll also note that other boobies are showering her with praise. She’s clearly enjoying the fan mail.
Ms Mensch’s bravery so far in the Hackgate saga can be summarised as follows: she made two accusations under the safe umbrella of Parliamentary privilege; they were both wrong; her consequent apology to Piers Morgan has given him an annoying reprieve; and she fobbed off an alleged blackmailer by admitting to the accusations anyway.
I want if I may to focus for a para on the last of these courageous acts. First off, none of the accusations were serious. Dancing with some obscure personage while inebriated isn’t a capital offence yet. Second, there is no address on the ‘blackmail’ letter. It has no printed letterheading. It is amateurish in the extreme. My suspicion is that it is at best a prank, and at worst a fake. The latter alternative would beg the question, ‘Who faked it and why?’ Either way, in dismissing it, Louise Mensch has shown all the bravery of a battle-dress squaddie swatting a fly.
Over in the US, the Democrats blame the Republicans, and the Republicans blame the Democrats. The Left tars the Right with risking higher interest rates that will wipe out what the Americans call their middle class; the Right says debt reduction has to start somewhere – and only by sticking to its guns can that start right now.
Back over here again, Hackgate is quickly degenerating into a purely Party political issue. After a week in which the only thing the Guardian has highlighted about Piers Morgan is Louise Mensch’s apology to him, we now look forward to another week in which Tom Watson is hungry for new scalps….provided they don’t work for left-wing newspapers. Tom is a good bloke with a dry sense of humour, and a penetrating style of interrogation. But he doesn’t want to investigate either Tom Baldwin’s exceedingly murky past – or the incompetently corrupt Mirror Group management under which (it is now clear) Piers Morgan got up to lots of things on a par with his close mates Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson of News International.
What do all these apparently random news developments have in common?
Quite a few things actually, but above all:
1. Blind partisanship and hypocrisy.
2. Showboating and grandstanding.
3. Scant regard for the ramifications for the ordinary citizen.
4. No interest at all in arriving at an objective truth.
“Ah yes,” we all observe, nodding with more than a hint of tiredness at the end of the day, “That’s politicians for you”.
For Western political ‘leaders’ in 2011 – be they Italian, Australian, German, British or American – the missing ingredient is easy to summarise: honesty about reality. They are, all of them, like fee-seeking consultants arguing the case for medicatory or surgical intervention, while the patient dies of a congenital condition.
I call again and again for Accountable Leadership and Radical Reality. But what we get is unaccountable blame-storming and backwards-looking fantasy.
Now there is a lot more to my thesis tonight than rhetoric. My original discipline was political history, and since 2006 I have been using the Weimar Republic analogy. That is, I have been saying for five years that despised, democratically elected buffoons can be very quickly replaced by authoritarian leaders. In 2006, I was dismissed as an alarmist crank – but not today.
Consider the parallels with 1930: a global economic mess, a widely distrusted political class, minorities offering an outlet for anger, and a media set continuing to behave in a manner so irresponsible, it almost seems to be begging for neo-authoritarian regulation.
Take dear old Boris ‘Harmless Really’ Johnson. He started off calling Hackgate ‘a load of left-wing bollocks’, but now his enormous weight has been added to the already creaking anti-media bandwagon. As a rabble-rouser, he has the capacity to lay into Islamics and Bankers in one fell swoop. Thus, his appeal can be both National (Muslims) and Socialist (Bankers). Even worse, both of those groups has behaved in a staggeringly insensitive manner.
National. Socialist. Nazional Sozialismus. Nazi.
Don’t get me wrong: nobody is more critical of the Matthew Goodwin-to-Peter Hain axis of invented ‘Nazi’ enemies than I. But BoJo could do all the things he needs to do to take charge in Britain – the ambition to do which obviously consumes him – and look nothing like Hitler or his SA, SS or any other parts of the 1930s paraphernalia. History won’t repeat – there will be no torchlit rallies and jackbooted goose-stepping – but as Twain remarked, history rhymes.
Or take dear old Harriet ‘Obviously Bonkers’ Harman. She has an even more clever rhyming strategy…..a limp-wristed, spineless pillock as the front-man for her own brand of fascist correctness. In fact, she can do exactly what Josef Djugashvili did: demonise both police and right-wing press as the allies of greedy bankers; and put forward the case for a Caring (Nanny) EU State as the antidote to globalist free-market Friedmanite drivel. Again, all of her potential targets currently display the sensitivity of a Chinese policeman in Tibet.
Socialism in One Country (1931) followed by repelling the foreign Nazi hordes (1941). Stalinism.
It really doesn’t matter whether you’re replacing a corrupt and weak democratic regime or a smug, insouciant Tsarist State. When nobody in authority displays the slightest sign of having an answer to the problems faced by that society – beyond taking a bribe – then the door is wide-open to the opportunist power freaks. Add to this a general populace in the UK sinfully ignorant of history’s lessons (and woefully fed bread-and-circus dumbness) and you arrive at Plato’s greatest nightmare: the uninformed, distracted electorate.
We already display in Britain (and the US for that matter) all the signs of an extreme culture that cannot compromise about anything, preferring instead to stick with dated beliefs based on bad science. Examples of this are as eclectic as, on the one hand, a free-market model insisting that everyone must look after themselves – a thought in complete denial of the certainty of becoming old and frail; or the insistence by media contractors that lasting talent can emerge from risible talent shows that are nothing but a vehicle for the cruel egotism of people like Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan – an idea unable to grasp that no great star today graduated from this school for scoundrels.
The growing awareness that tabloid ‘concern’ and television ‘reality’ are both of entirely bogus manufacture is a healthy sign. But the revelation that Westminster is devoid of ideas, research, ethics and solutions is, while welcome, an incredibly dangerous threat to our liberties. We no longer have an erudite electorate capable of understanding either the importance or responsibilities of liberal democracy. Given the careering truck of global fiscal disaster heading our way, the chances of that liberal democratic ideal surviving look depressingly slim.
I’m sure Louise Mensch is a well-meaning person. Unfortunately, she personifies what’s wrong with the people who stand for election in our country: that is, Ms Mensch is a half-baked, badly-briefed lightweight more interested in her own media profile than effective governance. Her interventions are nothing more than spanners thrown in the works of cultural management.
Such are the people swept away by revolutions than could never happen here.