This week I would like you to share the deep pain of a liberal who has been called ‘right-wing’. This is a terrible thing to happen. It is hard to think of anything worse. There you are, being dutifully liberal all over the place and suddenly, perhaps inadvertently, you divest yourself of the opinion that — for example — Islam may, in some way, have some sort of weird, unfathomable connection to the jihadists of the Islamic State and kaboom, your credibility is blown to shreds. All of a sudden people are calling you horrible names online, like ‘right wing’. People who are quite like you calling you this. Nice, bien-pensant people with adorable views.
This has happened to a chap called Tim Lott, a journalist for one of our regional newspapers. Tim expressed his anguish in that national landfill site of educationally challenged, whining liberal anguish, the Guardian. The problem is that whenever Tim dares to venture vague and inchoate doubts about liberal orthodoxy regarding Islam or gender, to take two examples — people are absolutely horrid to him online. And so there is the danger that he may not say those things at all, for fear of incurring opprobrium.
How can we help Tim, do you think? My first response was a wish to smack him about the face with a half-cooked kipper and say: ‘Well, get a job more suited to your talents and sensitivities then, you gutless, pointless, sap.’ I know that this might seem to you a tad harsh. But I can record that it was also my second response, and third, as it happens. And fourth and fifth. I tried to think of a more caring and considered response, but unfortunately none occurred.
I know I should feel a sense of comradeship towards a fellow hack, but the truth is I genuinely loathe these people, these boring, asinine, middle-class metro-liberal scribblers for whom the terms ‘original thought’ and ‘backbone’ are anathema. Journalism is a pretty sullied trade these days, what with the hacking and the inveterate laziness and the precipitous decline in sales across the board (apart from here, natch). The least we can do is try to honestly present our opinions, even if we are sometimes horribly wrong and even if our friends become quite beastly on Twitter. And not whine about it later, or duck down and peddle convenient PC lies. You think you’re telling us something new, Tim, about what happens if you transgress any one of a vast array of Stalino-liberal shibboleths? You think we don’t know that liberal absolutism is kinda anti-democratic in spirit? You think this is a bombshell, you think we should sympathise? You know, it often occurred to me that these lazy liberal scribblers weren’t telling us what they really thought, but were instead telling us what they thought we thought they ought to be telling us. I mean, they couldn’t really believe that crap, could they?
I very much doubt that Trevor Phillips, the former boss of the Commission for Racial Equality or whatever the hell it ended up being called, will have had much sympathy for the saddened pixie Lott, either. Something rather wonderful happened to Phillips — formerly a journalist and New Labour career politician — when he became boss of that organisation: almost miraculously, he didn’t get suckered in. I don’t want to get too racist here, but my suspicion is that if Phillips had been a white liberal instead of a black Briton, he might have succumbed and bought the whole shebang. But this is perhaps unfair to Phillips, who effectively sacrificed his career for dissing the dangerous and divisive creed of multiculturalism at a time when it was not permitted to argue against multiculturalism, and did so as head of an organisation which hitherto had seen multiculturalism as its holy grail. Black or white, he was his own man — a proper socialist who found the smug, competing, well-heeled factions within UK identity politics both absurd and damaging to the nation. For making a stand — more than half a decade ago now — he was estranged from the political party of which he was a member and suffered insults from the likes of that old charlatan and darling of the London liberals, Ken Livingstone. ‘I expect soon he’ll be joining the BNP,’ was Ken’s revolting assessment of Trevor Phillips’s principled refusal to endorse multi-culturalism, to have suggested that integration might be a better way forward for the nation than these clamorous and ghettoised blocs each trying to out-victim one another and blaming the straight, white imperialist state for every conceivable misfortune, while cheerfully pocketing the vast grants it bestowed upon them. As you might imagine, there was no political capital for Phillips in taking this stance — only substantial political loss. But he did it. Not many, I’d venture, would have done the same.
Phillips has written a very good article, and made a documentary reiterating his misgivings about the whole charade of identity politics and the now discredited ideology of multiculturalism. And he is right, I think, on every point. Not least the corruption, the racket, of multiculturalism; as Phillips puts it, ‘Self-styled community leaders bargained for control over local authority funds that would prop up their own status and authority. Far from encouraging integration, it had become in their interest to preserve the isolation of their ethnic groups.’
And the stuff that you were no longer allowed to say — that African-Caribbean people are more likely to commit some kinds of crime (i.e. murdering other African-Caribbean people, for starters) and that like it or not, Romanian immigrants are far more likely to be pickpockets. And if you can’t say that sort of thing without the likes of Tim Lott and his friends calling you a racist, how do you begin to tackle it? As we saw in Rotherham and beyond, you can’t tackle it.