Disraeli, Labour Mediocrity, Human Rights and the SNP

Time was that David Cameron was referred to as the “heir to Blair”, and indeed he has proved this many times over. After five-years of a blisteringly right-wing agenda – even with the Lib Dems supposedly in a restraining role – he is now free to move even further right. Where to, I hear you ask. Is there really any where left to go? The Coalition government, rather than setting a new model for good government, as some naive PR enthusiasts hoped, was a circus of calamity, with government ministers rushing into one disaster after another. Most people in this country would agree with the general spirit of “let’s reform welfare”, but when you get to the nitty-gritty of what to cut, when and where, you come up against the hard truth that firstly, there is very little left to cut without inflicting a huge amount of pain on people who work much harder in a day that David Cameron has in his whole life; and secondly, that contrary to this government’s deeply held belief, and the belief that they came into office with five years ago, there simply aren’t millions of people fraudulently claiming benefits; there simply aren’t hoards of work-shy slackers bleeding the public purse (or if there are, they’re the sort of people who bankroll Conservative campaigns).  Cameron has no more intention of ruling for “One-nation” with a Conservative majority than he was in a coalition with the Lib Dems. He no more represents a new brand of “compassionate conservatism” now than he did when he was lying his way into office in 2010. So don’t expect moderation, expect more of the same, more misappropriating the legacy of a great uniting ideological tradition for his grubby brand of divisive liberal conservatism.

Now onto Labour mediocrity. The more I hear about the Labour leadership contest, the more overwhelming my despair becomes. How has the party of Keir Hardie, Clement Atlee and Nye Bevan got to the depressing stage where the most left-wing candidate in a leadership contest was deeply implicated in the privatisation of the NHS and has recently described “wealth creators” as “heroes”. There’s that noxious phrase again, this time straight from the mouth of a prospective labour leader. I’ve written so many times about the absurdities of that phrase that I feel no need to do so again. The cabal of dismal mediocrities lining up to be the first to bow down to the conservative agenda are a sad reflection on the state of the labour party. They all fail to inspire any sort of confidence, and I can’t be the only one thinking it. The Labour party has got to the stage where the whole nation cringes every time they casually abandon all their principles. “If you didn’t worry so much about electoral viability”, they cry, “then you might actually win one!”

As I understand, the attempted scrapping of the human rights act is part of a long tradition of Conservative misunderstanding of where the threat to our sovereignty really comes from. The main argument for scrapping it is the misinformed belief that British courts must bow down to the will of Strasbourg, which simply isn’t true. They are only bound to take their views into consideration. It’s true, as written in today’s Spectator, that Britons had human rights before a labour government made a law for it, but the European convention on Human Rights wasn’t principly designed for Britain, it was designed for those countries in the European sphere which are more saddled with corruption, and in which things like police brutality are more likely. Then why, you ask, do we need to be part of it? Because the whole point is to create a minimum international standard in order to keep countries like Russia in line. Britain’s exit would only bolster the courage of those countries, and weaken an already feeble consensus. But not to worry, this will be a hurdle which likely trips the new government in its infancy, which should be fun to watch.

No words can express my frustration with the SNP and its wiles. But I’ll try. Tommy Sheppard, the new MP for Edinburgh East, gave a terrific maiden speech in the House of Commons recently, and it left me gasping with frustration. I share many of Labour’s arguments about the childishness of the SNP, and I despise nationalism anyway. So you can understand my frustration on hearing Sheppard’s typical list of social democratic complaints, many of which I agree with; and I do believe that those arguments have not been made forcefully enough in the house of commons. But I wish he hadn’t come to Westminster. I wish none of his ideologically opaque, morally loose compatriots had turned up. I wish they hadn’t come, talking loudly about their “civic”, inclusive brand of nationalism, as if such a beast even exists, as if such a beast has ever existed, anywhere in the world; as if nationalism doesn’t always have the potential to be a divisive, insular force. I wish he and his friends hadn’t come, showing perfect disdain for the traditions and customs of a noble institution built upon the age-old community he is trying to tear apart. I wish they hadn’t come, claiming their willingness to work constructively towards what Nicola vaguely described as “progressive goals” throughout the campaign, ignoring of course the rather obvious point that progressivism is about building a community, a community which, in this case, the SNP are trying to tear apart. And of course they didn’t “seek a mandate” for independence during this referendum, but why do they become angry with those who don’t believe them, when their ideological DNA, the whole reason for their existence, is to seek separation? And given that nationalism is famed for seeking any opportunity to advance its rather narrow goals, and that historically and in modern-day Scotland, nationalism is rather good at dressing itself up in whatever ideological clothes are fashionable at the time, how do they expect anyone to believe them?

Having said that, I look forward to hearing more from him.

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